Originally issued as novelties for baseball fans and as a marketing technique by tobacco dealers, baseball cards have grown into a large industry of vintage collectors and resellers and new market dealers. They are available in most toy and big-box chain stores such as Target, across the nation at independent storefronts and through vendors online.
A relatively volatile market, the baseball card industry has prominent pieces that have and likely will always be quite valuable, but has seen instability in the last two decades. In the 1980s, a market of reselling vintage cards developed, and soon became oversaturated with newly issued and reissued cards as card makers and collectors alike sought to cash in on these hot commodities. It became quickly apparent that the majority of cards have little or no value in a resale market, and specially issued “rarities” were included in sets to entice buyers into purchasing bulk packages in the hopes of finding that gold nugget. While effective at generating sales, many of these specially issued cards lacked a rarity or even a demand that would be necessary to keep artificially inflated prices high for long. Even so, the card collecting industry, which has expanded beyond baseball and even sports in general, remains vibrant.
Similarly lauded baseball cards include the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card, regarded to be worth over $300,000, virtually any card featuring Babe Ruth (his oversized 1914 Baltimore News card the prize of the bunch) or other legendary baseball icons such as Shoeless Joe Jackson.
The Honus Wagner card is considered so valuable that it may be worth a second check through your grandparent’s old collection and a trip to your local card shop, even a severely damaged Wagner card would potentially sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.