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 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