History of Baseball Cards


The oldest and most popular category of sports trading cards; baseball cards have been produced since the late 1860’s. Originally included in packs of chewing gum, tobacco, and cigarettes as a marketing tool; baseball cards were not mass produced until the 1930’s.  The early tobacco cards are among the most collectible cards in the sports collectible hobby, due both to their age and scarcity.  The 1933 Goudey set is considered by collectors to be one of the first mass produced baseball card sets, and features the first cards for some of the game’s greatest stars: Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.  The 1934 Goudey set is smaller, but also very popular.

The production of baseball cards declined during the Second World War, but exploded again in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. Between 1948 and 1955, the baseball card industry was dominated by the Topps and Bowman companies. The rivalry ended in 1955 when Topps purchased Bowman in a dispute primarily over Bowman’s exclusive contract with Mickey Mantle.  Topps essentially monopolized the industry until the early 1980’s, with only limited competition from companies such as Fleer and Leaf.

Fleer sued Topps over Topps’ exclusive agreements with Major League Baseball and in 1981, Fleer and new company, Donruss, re-entered the baseball card industry. Combined with an explosion of interest in the hobby, the arrival of new competition (including Upper Deck in 1990) spurred what has been dubbed the “Age of Overproduction.”   The value of baseball cards declined drastically as the market was flooded with new sets.

In the late 1990’s, with a declining customer base and sagging card prices, card companies began including ‘memorabilia cards’ in their sets, featuring game-used pieces of jerseys, bats, gloves, and even bases. These insert cards have been largely responsible for revitalizing interest in the hobby. In late 2009, Major League Baseball signed an exclusive contract with Topps, granting Topps the sole right to use MLB team logos. The long-term effects of this contract on the industry remain to be determined.

1999 Topps baseball complete set series 1 & 2 FACTORY SEALED UNOPENED BOXES
1999 Topps baseball complete set series 1 & 2 FACTORY SEALED UNOPENED BOXES
$60.00
Time Remaining: 30m
1991 Score Baseball Collector Set Factory Sealed
1991 Score Baseball Collector Set Factory Sealed
$19.95
Time Remaining: 30m
(4) 2013 Topps QUBI Baseball Sealed 18 Pack Box-Collectible Stamper Qube $216
(4) 2013 Topps QUBI Baseball Sealed 18 Pack Box-Collectible Stamper Qube $216
$49.99
Time Remaining: 30m
1988 Leaf Baseballs Greatest Grossouts Full Box 36 Pack
1988 Leaf Baseballs Greatest Grossouts Full Box 36 Pack
$19.20
Time Remaining: 30m
Buy It Now for only: $19.20
1-BOX OF 2002 UPPER DECK MVP BASEBALL BOX FACTORY SEALED
1-BOX OF 2002 UPPER DECK MVP BASEBALL BOX FACTORY SEALED
$28.00
Time Remaining: 31m
3 1987 FLEER SLUGGERS & PITCHERS SMALL BOX SETS /  2 SEALED
3 1987 FLEER SLUGGERS & PITCHERS SMALL BOX SETS / 2 SEALED
$7.50
Time Remaining: 32m
Buy It Now for only: $7.50
DEREK JETER 2002 FLEER BOX SCORE AMAZING GREATS INSERT CARD # 1 B2263
DEREK JETER 2002 FLEER BOX SCORE AMAZING GREATS INSERT CARD # 1 B2263
$1.29
Time Remaining: 32m
1999 BOWMAN SERIES 2 HOBBY BASEBALL BOX FACTORY SEALED
1999 BOWMAN SERIES 2 HOBBY BASEBALL BOX FACTORY SEALED
$35.00
Time Remaining: 33m
2002 TOPPS RESERVE TRJ-BB BARRY BONDS JERSEY   GIANTS       BOX # 50
2002 TOPPS RESERVE TRJ-BB BARRY BONDS JERSEY GIANTS BOX # 50
$16.99
Time Remaining: 34m
Buy It Now for only: $16.99
2-BOXES OF 1994 SCORE SELECT SERIES 1 HOBBY  BASEBALL FACTORY SEALED
2-BOXES OF 1994 SCORE SELECT SERIES 1 HOBBY BASEBALL FACTORY SEALED
$45.00
Time Remaining: 34m
2-BOXES OF 1995 SCORE SUMMIT EDITION BASEBALL BOX FACTORY SEALED
2-BOXES OF 1995 SCORE SUMMIT EDITION BASEBALL BOX FACTORY SEALED
$50.00
Time Remaining: 34m
1999 UPPER DECK CHOICE SERIES 1 BASEBALL BOX FACTORY SEALED
1999 UPPER DECK CHOICE SERIES 1 BASEBALL BOX FACTORY SEALED
$25.00
Time Remaining: 34m

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