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.

1991 Topps Baseball Toys
1991 Topps Baseball Toys "R" Us Rookies Complete Box Set FACTORY SEALED New!
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DEREK JETER  *RARE* 1999 TOPPS STADIUM CLUB CHROME #SCC25 YANKEES
DEREK JETER *RARE* 1999 TOPPS STADIUM CLUB CHROME #SCC25 YANKEES
$10.00
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DEREK JETER *RARE* 1998 FLEER ULTRA
DEREK JETER *RARE* 1998 FLEER ULTRA "TOP 30" #18 YANKEES
$2.00
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1997 fleer series 2 unopened box 18 retail packs 11 cards ortiz rookie
1997 fleer series 2 unopened box 18 retail packs 11 cards ortiz rookie
$36.00
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1990 LEAF BASEBALL SERIES 1 FACTORY SEALED BOX - 36 PACKS
1990 LEAF BASEBALL SERIES 1 FACTORY SEALED BOX - 36 PACKS
$79.99
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1984 Perez-Steele Baseball Great Moments First Series Boxed Set #1734
1984 Perez-Steele Baseball Great Moments First Series Boxed Set #1734
$79.99
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1997 BABE RUTH Minted Collector's Card 22k Gold Foil Baseball Card in Box COA
1997 BABE RUTH Minted Collector's Card 22k Gold Foil Baseball Card in Box COA
$7.99
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-1987 TOPPS 500 count box set
-1987 TOPPS 500 count box set
$15.00
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2014 TOPPS FINEST ORANGE
2014 TOPPS FINEST ORANGE "HOT BOX" REFRACTOR TIM BECKHAM RC #7 RAYS SP
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1983 Topps Cal Ripken Jr Porcelain Card With Wood Base + Box Orioles
1983 Topps Cal Ripken Jr Porcelain Card With Wood Base + Box Orioles
$6.00
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2014 TOPPS FINEST ORANGE
2014 TOPPS FINEST ORANGE "HOT BOX" REFRACTOR CHRIS DAVIS #18 ORIOLES SP
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2014 TOPPS FINEST ORANGE
2014 TOPPS FINEST ORANGE "HOT BOX" REFRACTOR DUSTIN PEDROIA #29 RED SOX SP
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