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.

1990 Topps Baseball lot of 3 unopened rack pack boxes Frank Thomas Sammy Sosa rc
1990 Topps Baseball lot of 3 unopened rack pack boxes Frank Thomas Sammy Sosa rc
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2005 DONRUSS CLASSICS TEAM COLORS MILTON BRADLEY , DODGERS   BOX  # 18
2005 DONRUSS CLASSICS TEAM COLORS MILTON BRADLEY , DODGERS BOX # 18
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2003 BOWMAN  BASEBALL FACTORY SEALED HOBBY BOX !! 1
2003 BOWMAN BASEBALL FACTORY SEALED HOBBY BOX !! 1
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2007 TOPPS SERIES 2 BASEBALL BLASTER BOX
2007 TOPPS SERIES 2 BASEBALL BLASTER BOX
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1991 Conlon Collection - Megacards - Factory box of 36 sealed packs
1991 Conlon Collection - Megacards - Factory box of 36 sealed packs
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LOT (4) 2011 Topps Lineage Baseball HOBBY BOX
LOT (4) 2011 Topps Lineage Baseball HOBBY BOX
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2012 UPPER DECK GOODWIN CHAMPIONS BASEBALL 12-PACK BOX (BLASTER)
2012 UPPER DECK GOODWIN CHAMPIONS BASEBALL 12-PACK BOX (BLASTER)
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Collectors Cal Ripken Jr. 23 Karat Gold Foil Sculptured Trading Card/Bleachers
Collectors Cal Ripken Jr. 23 Karat Gold Foil Sculptured Trading Card/Bleachers
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2011 USA Sealed Box Set Topps National Baseball Team Auto Per 62 Card w/FreeShip
2011 USA Sealed Box Set Topps National Baseball Team Auto Per 62 Card w/FreeShip
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2012 BOWMAN PLATINUM BASEBALL 8-PACK BOX (BLASTER)
2012 BOWMAN PLATINUM BASEBALL 8-PACK BOX (BLASTER)
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MARK McGWIRE OAKLAND A's mid 80'S
MARK McGWIRE OAKLAND A's mid 80'S "THE PRESS BOX" BASEBALL CARD
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2002 FLEER HEADLINERS TODD HELTON  !! BOX 4
2002 FLEER HEADLINERS TODD HELTON !! BOX 4
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