by Joe Amadon
The popular All-American pastime of collecting baseball cards has been around almost as long as the actual sport of baseball. The thrill of seeing a collection grow with the addition of each card can be addictive. Throughout the years, just as the game of baseball has experienced change, the art of collecting baseball cards has also undergone significant changes. However, even with these changes, collecting of baseball cards has remained a popular hobby and, for some enthusiasts, an investment for the future.
History of baseball cards: The modern baseball card era began around 1950. Before that, sports cards were promotional products for companies, mostly tobacco companies. The first baseball cards are considered to have been made in 1868 by a sporting goods store in New York. In the 1950s, baseball sports-card companies started producing baseball cards for their intrinsic value.
Baseball card values: The value of baseball cards varies greatly. What kind of condition the card is in and the availability of the card are the two main factors in determining its value. Common cards often sell for pennies, while extremely rare cards in excellent condition can be sold for millions of dollars. The two baseball cards with the highest value are a 1914 Babe Ruth rookie card and a 1909 Honus Wagner rookie card, both estimated to be worth more than $3 million dollars.
Baseball card conditions: The condition of a baseball card is very important when determining its value. The main factors that determine the condition of a baseball card are the centering of the picture, the clarity of the surface and the sharpness of the card's corners and edges.
Baseball card trading, selling and buying: Baseball card selling and trading used to take place entirely at baseball card conventions and local sports memorabilia shops, but ever since the mid 1990s, the baseball card marketplace of choice has been the Internet. Specialty shops are able to reach a wider audience online, which increases the chance of finding a rare card. Additionally, large online retailers are usually able to offer better prices for all types of baseball cards.