Baseball cards have a very
broad history. In the beginning, god made man. Then, man
produced…….. the baseball card. From 1887 to the
present, billions of baseball cards have been produced.
Some cards are valued at ten cents, while others, are
valued at over one hundred thousand dollars. Since 1887,
Baseball cards have been a major part of many people’s
lives. The Beginning of the baseball card collecting era
would lead cards to a path of greatness and immortality.
The first baseball cards were made of a cloth like material.
Many of these cards were “home made” (SCD)*. No one
but the creator of these cards, (there all dead) knows for
sure what exactly was used to produce these early cards.
This time period started on 1887 and continued on until
1901. The 1887 baseball cards were part of a unique set.
Not only did this set contain baseball cards, but it also
contained boxing. golf, and horse racing cards. These cards
are very high in value because of their rarity and because
they are some of the early baseball cards. The common
card is worth around $800. All of these cards are common,
considering that there were no star athletes back then.
There were not many cards sizes during this time period.
The only size that I could find was one and a half inches by
two inches. There were many company’s that manufactured
cards during this time period. They were: Mayo Tobacco
Works, Buchner, Kimball’s, Old Judge, Allen ; Ginter,
and Goodwin (SCD). These cards are rare, but are not
very difficult to obtain if you’re willing to pay top dollar.
What many collectors call “the golden years of baseball”,
took place from 1902 until 1935. One reason that
collectors call this time period that is because cards took
many different changes during this era. Cards were starting
to be packaged with Chewing Tobacco, crackerjacks, and
Chewing gum. The value of cards during this time period
depends on many different factors. A large percent of these
cards have misprints (flaws). Because of these misprints, a
card may have a higher value than the exact same card
because of a misprint. The reason there were so many
misprints was because the card industry was just starting to
experiment with the printing process (SCD). The most
expensive baseball card of all time was produced during
this era. That card was the Honus Wagner T-206
produced in 1909. The reason that this card is so
expensive is because only 4 of these cards were ever
produced. Honus Wagner didn’t want kids buying tobacco
for the Baseball cards. One of the Wagners sold at an
auction recently for 451,500 to Wayne Gretzky (SCD).
There were three main sizes of baseball cards during this
time period. One of the sizes was the “tobacco” size cards.
These cards were one and a half inches by two inches. The
second card size was a rectangular sheet of three cards.
These were about two inches by five and one fourth inches.
The third and final size was a square about two inches by
two inches. Cards were packaged with chewing tobacco,
cracker jacks, chewing gum, and cigarettes (SCD). Many
company’s produced cards during this era. Some of the
major manufactures were : Piedmont, Soverign, Ramly,
Hassan, Mecca and Turkey Red. The T-2.. series is very
common at card shows. With the exception of the Honus
Wagner, most of these cards can be acquired for a
reasonable price. From 1936 until 1960, not much
happened in the card collecting era. Three major changes
occurred during this time period. The cards themselves
changed to a size that would carry them to present time.
Also, two ground breaking companies would arrive and
last until the 21st century. The value of the 30’s and 40’s
cards is around forty dollars for a semi-star (BKM)*. The
value of the 50’s cards is a little higher at forty five dollars
for the semi- star. Mickey Mantle’s rookie is included in the
1952 Bowman set. It is valued at $9,000 . Also, another
Mantle , his ’52 Topps is worth $35,000 (BKM, SCD,
TUFF*). The 60’s common cards are worth between one
dollar and five dollars. There were two main card sizes
from 1936 to 1960. The first was two and a half inches by
three and one eighth inches. The second card size is two
and a half inches by three and a half inches. This is the size
that ball cards would remain to be for the next 36 yr.. The
major company’s that produced cards during this time
period are Bowman, Topps, Goudey, and Play ball. The
common card from these years is pretty easy to come by.
This time period really set cards for 80’s and 90’s. Many
present and future Hall of Famers had cards during this
age. Cards basically remained the same. One new card
company came into the card industry. These cards aren’t
valued very highly because they are very easy to find. A
few cards are valued at over $200.The common card is
valued from around ten cents to three dollars. The size of
these cards remained the same as before, two and a half
inches by three and a half inches. There were only a two
company’s who produced cards during this time duration.
The two company’s that produced cards during this time
period were Topps and Fleer. These cards are very easy
to find. From 1980 to 1996, cards took several
revolutionary changes. These changes would affect the
value and collectability of baseball cards forever. The value
of these cards is actually quite high considering how long
these cards have been on the market. Some of the older
cards, such as Cal Ripken Jr.’s 1982 Topps Traded, are
valued at over $350. Newer cards, such as Ken Griffey Jr.
and Frank Thomas’s rookies are around $80. Card
companies devised a scheme to lure the card collector into
buying more cards, the INSERT!!!! The “Insert card” is a
special card that has a certain chance of you pulling it out of
a pack. The higher the odds, the higher the value of the
card. This was designed to make the collector buy lots of
packs to try to pull an insert. Card company’s also
introduced a card called the redemption card. These cards
are usually seeded at about 1:360 packs. If you pulled one
of these cards, you could send it into the company and they
would send you back a limited edition set. Finally, those
devilish little fellows at the card company’s decided to to
created a premium card. These cards were special cards
that cost more to buy. They have a UV coating that gives
them a slick look. Also, the company only makes so many
of these cards. It is harder to get a autograph on these
cards because of the UV coating. The autograph beads up.
The sizes of these cards remained the standard size of two
and a half by three and a half. The only difference is the
new UV coating on the cards. The companies that
manufacture baseball cards now are Topps, Upperdeck,
Bowman O-Pee-Chee, Fleer, Score, Studio, Donruss,
Pinnacle, Leaf and Stadium Club. Baseball cards have a
very broad history as you can see. Whether it’s homemade
cloth cards or store bought premium cards, you’ll probably
find something you like. Well, have baseball cards affected
your life since 1887? You’ll have to decide yourself. *
BKM – Beckett Baseball Card Mothly TUFF-Tuff Stuff
SCD- Sports Collectors Digest