If you ever went through a phase where you collected baseball cards, you also have gone through a phase where you wondered what they were worth. That depends entirely on what cards you have and what condition they are in.
That’s probably not the answer people hope to hear. Everyone wants to think what they have has value. It very well may, but it will take time and a proper valuation of your card set to determine the worth.
What Baseball Cards Do You Have?
This is the key issue, of course. Just to show how crazy the valuations can be, here are five of the most valuable baseball cards. Just check out these numbers, put together in 2018 by Mental Floss. All these numbers come from sales in 2016.
- 1909-1911 American Tobacco Company Honus Wagner – $3.12 million
- 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle – $1.3 million
- 1916 Sporting News Babe Ruth – $717,000
- 1909 American Caramel “Shoeless” Joe Jackson – $667,149
- 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan/Jerry Koosman – $612,359
Now, you don’t have the Wagner card because there are less than 60 in the world (if you do, congratulations and keep that thing encased in glass). But, here are some values of cards based on this report from a decade ago that shows the estimated values of some cards.
- 1951 Bowman Yogi Berra – $400
- 1954 Topps Ted Williams – $800
- 1966 Topps Willie Mays – $250
- 1984 Donruss Don Mattingly – $25
- 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. – $40
Those were picked more or less at random in terms of names, but the values are indicative of what cards go for from different eras. You probably don’t have a fortune – but you may have a pretty good stack of cash depending on how many cards you own.
Condition of Baseball Cards
Baseball cards, like comic books and other collectibles, are valued for what they are and for the condition they are in. The valuations above, for example, are of “near mint” condition cards, which means a minimum of wear and tear. Values go down as the conditions move down to excellent, very good and good.
How to Value Your Cards
To get a value that will get collectors to check out what you have, you’ll want your collection scored by a grading company. They rate cards on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best condition, according to Kiplinger.
Treat grading companies like doctors. If you’re not happy with the opinion you get, simply get a second opinion. You’re likely to get a similar grade, but you never know.
A signed card makes it even more valuable. However, you will want to get the signature authenticated by a company that specializes in this field. The reason why is obvious – people fake signatures all the time.
Unfortunately, anything from the 1980s and 1990s is likely to be valued less because baseball cards flooded the market in those years, driving the value down. Of course, the fact the market was flooded with these cards also means they are likely the ones you have.
Like any other collectible or precious metal, the value in baseball cards is partially based on scarcity. In that context, good ones really are like gold.
That’s why the Wagner card – referred to among baseball card experts simple as “The Card” – is so valuable. In addition to featuring a talented player and being more than 100 years old, there’s the issue of there being less than 60 of them.
That said, if you have a full case – especially if it’s unopened – it can have value, even if it did come from the 1980s or 1990s.
There are many factors to consider when it comes to the value of your baseball card collection. The best idea is to get the opinion of professionals. No matter what, your cards will have some value – and something is better than nothing.