The History of Baseball Cards


 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 
 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 
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 
 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 


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