Baseball Card Guide

Baseball trading card collectibles have been printed on card stock, plastic and even silk over the years. Some cards even have some cool hologram effects in the design. They have the images of baseball players,  baseball teams or even a ballpark stadium.

Their popularity was highest in the 80’s and 90’s era. Sadly modern technology these days killed the poor card’s popularity with kids and adults that are more interested in spending their free time on Facebook or playing shoot-em up games on their favorite console, instead of getting up close and personal with card collectibles.

Baseball Cards however, remain to be one of the most expensive of all sports collectible items that can be traded for some big bucks. Baseball collectible cards are mostly found in the United States but there are many more countries such as Canada and Japan which also have baseball card fans.

Baseball Cards Quick Start

Dating as far as early in the 18th century, United Sates was basically the only country that traded in baseball cards. They were sold by specific companies and were used as a marketing tool. The earlier cards were smaller in size and most often had the face of player. The card would contain information about them, their team and any other personal information. Different companies made them differently. The back of the card was used as an advertising front by companies that sponsored the baseball games.

Due to popularity of baseball among children, confectionery companies chose to make cards as a way to entice children to not only attend baseball games, but also to buy candy. This gave rise to the cards which were used as an advertising front by such companies as Topps Candy and Gum Company.

With time, these cards became synonymous with such companies as Topps. TCGC clearly stood out as a monopoly that went unchallenged for close to 30 years. The other earliest companies were like Tobacco companies which used the cards as an advertising front for themselves. The earlier cards were about 6 cm by 9 cm in size, slightly larger than the average business card of today. This was simply in the states, in other countries such as Canada, these cards did not gain popularity until the early 1900s.

The Baseball Card Business

In 1975, the Fleer Gum Company filed a lawsuit against Topps claiming their use of cards as a violation of anti-trust laws. Topps contested the lawsuit on so many levels but lost the case. This foresaw the entry of two more companies into the baseball card business: Fleer Gum Company and Donruss, in 1981.

The Era Of Collectibles

In the glory days of baseball, the 1950s and 1960s, most of the cards sold at baseball matches were meant to entice children into buying gum or adults into purchasing cigars. As a result, they became more of a “play thing” than a collector’s item. It is recorded that children would engage in all kinds of games with the cards and as a result, cards from that era were impossible to find, and if found they were hardly in good condition.

With the rise of card production companies in the 80s, original baseball cards became a rarity. As a result, their prices grew in the market to exorbitantly high prices. This alone, made the whole card printing business an investment more than an advertising move. The older cards became a collector’s dream.

Subsequently, more people began to the see the need for cards. This, gave rise to what economists would describe as a rise in want. The demand for cards began to rise steadily but explosively, mostly because people looked forward to the hope that the prices of cards would only rise with the coming years.

As the demand rose, so did the supply, most companies entered the card production business in a bid to also partake of whatever it was that kept TOPPS in business for years on end.. The market for cards rose and with it the supply rose until equilibrium was achieved and surpassed.

Card Production Companies

Topps was the one company synonymous with card production from time immemorial. By the 1990s, there were many other companies such as Donruss, Fleer, upper deck and Panini. Due to the fall in profits, fleer only had one winning season before it was overtaken by Topps.

The fall in profits also saw with it a change in the card inserts. It became more a matter of enticing people to buy the cards than luring them with candy or cigarettes. The modern day inserts include such things as team logos or player’s autographs instead of the more conventional gum.

Through all this, Topps maintained its position at the top and the current market only has the following companies, Topps, Upper deck (acquired Fleer), Panini (Acquired Donruss).

Modern Day Cards

Modern day cards have player faces and information and autographs or any other information so deemed important. Most companies have shifted their inserts from goods to items such as player memorabilia, jersey cuts or pieces of game used equipment in a bid to hold the interest of the players. Some companies have also moved online as a move to attract the millenials.

With the rise of the internet and social media, baseball cards are simply losing their place in connecting people with their baseball heroes. But like many things that come and go one day we will probably see them right back in fashion once again with all the cool kids 🙂

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