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.

1962 Jello Mickey Mantle cardThe 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.

1992 Classic Best Minor League (2) Jumbo Boxes, Foil Card every pack, Jeter RC?
1992 Classic Best Minor League (2) Jumbo Boxes, Foil Card every pack, Jeter RC?
$44.95
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1983 Topps Baseball Album Stickers Box of 100 Packs
1983 Topps Baseball Album Stickers Box of 100 Packs
$26.99
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1990 Topps Baseball Rack Pack empty display box
1990 Topps Baseball Rack Pack empty display box
$6.00
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2- 1989 fleer bill ripken black box cards
2- 1989 fleer bill ripken black box cards
$1.25
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1988 topps vending box 500 cards unsearched
1988 topps vending box 500 cards unsearched
$2.25
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2012 Topps GOLDEN GIVEAWAY 2 MICKEY MANTLE/1 WILLIE MAYS/3 KEN GRIFFEY JR
2012 Topps GOLDEN GIVEAWAY 2 MICKEY MANTLE/1 WILLIE MAYS/3 KEN GRIFFEY JR
$14.99
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*RARE* 1985 FLEER BASEBALL FACTORY SEALED RACK BOX 24CT FROM SEALED CASE! L@@K!
*RARE* 1985 FLEER BASEBALL FACTORY SEALED RACK BOX 24CT FROM SEALED CASE! L@@K!
$419.99
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2015 Topps Archives - WILL FERRELL WF-3 SP INSERT CARD
2015 Topps Archives - WILL FERRELL WF-3 SP INSERT CARD
$2.99
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Lot of 1950's and early 60's baseball cards-great lot-look
Lot of 1950's and early 60's baseball cards-great lot-look
$12.39 (2 Bids)
Time Remaining: 47m
JACKIE ROBINSON HOF CEREAL BOX OVAL BASEBALL CARD PORTRAIT ODDBALL VINTAGE 1960?
JACKIE ROBINSON HOF CEREAL BOX OVAL BASEBALL CARD PORTRAIT ODDBALL VINTAGE 1960?
$65.00
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Pair of Nr mint or better 1992 Mariano Rivera Rookies
Pair of Nr mint or better 1992 Mariano Rivera Rookies
$33.00 (4 Bids)
Time Remaining: 50m
2015 PANINI PRIZM HOBBY BASEBALL 5 BOX LOT / 2 AUTOS & 9 PRIZMS PER BOX
2015 PANINI PRIZM HOBBY BASEBALL 5 BOX LOT / 2 AUTOS & 9 PRIZMS PER BOX
$275.00 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 51m

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