Sports cards pricing and values

Fleer - Michael Jordan basketball card
Fleer – Michael Jordan basketball card

Learn more about how to find the right price and the value of your sports cards. This article will help you determine the value of your sports trading cards

Many sports memorabilia collectors consider trading, buying, and investing in sports cards very rewarding and profitable.

Since the 1800s, collecting sport cards has become a promising industry gathering sports fanatics, hobbyists, and sports memorabilia investor altogether to trade cards.

During 1980s and earlier, the main resource for sports cards pricing were the price guides provided by sport card manufacturers, printed on magazines, or sports cards catalogs.

The emergence of the internet paved the way of creating online sports card stores and websites. It had greatly helped in the growth of selling, buying, and trading sports cards at the same time opened doors for fraudulent transactions.

Fake sports cards were being traded and modes of payment were becoming questionable.

This phenomenon has made sports card sellers and buyers become more skeptical, scrutinizing the basis of sports card pricing guides. They started learning how to value their sports card collections for themselves before asking for professional opinion on sports cards appraisal.

A reliable approach in learning sports cards pricing is becoming aware of the factors that influence sports cards pricing and value. Here are such factors:

  1. Condition of your sports cards

The first thing that a collector, a buyer, or a seller sees in a sports card is the condition – does it still look pleasing to the eyes, does it have good quality, does it have signs of tear? To determine the condition of your sports card, you would need to have it graded by third-party authenticators.

Sports cards grading is the process of evaluating the state of your sports trading cards. A primary tool in grading sports cards is a handy flash magnifier (10x magnifying power) with light. Grade standards are usually in the scale of 1-10 with 10 as the highest or perfect grade. There are some sports cards authenticators that use a 1-100 grading system with 100 as the top grade.

A sports card grader would look into the following for evaluating the sports cards condition:

Corners – see if the corners have sharp points like those found on newly produced cards; rounded corners (similar to dog ears on pages of books) will have lower grades.

Edges – chipping, tearing, rubber band marks, or any other sign of damage should not be found on the sports card edges.

Surface – is a grade-sensitive area because even minor imperfections can be visible on the surface of a sports card.

The image must be clear, photo is sharply taken, and it must be free from scratches, spots, or foreign lines.

Centering – perfectly centered image on the card will increase its grade. Uneven margins or border sizes is a flaw on the trading card. To be safer, some sports card companies do not put white borders to their collectible cards. The image on the sports card can be off-center due to printing difficulties and other technical problems during production.

Sports autograph or signature (if there is any) – the athlete’s autograph must be free of smudges, blotting and blur that might degrade the eye appeal of the sports card. Most importantly, there must be no fake sports autographs on the card, else it will lose its value.

  1. Rarity of the sports card

Rarity may increase the sports cards values, only of course, if such card is in demand. In economics, high demand plus low supply is equal to high price. The rarest, most valuable sports card is the T206 Honus Wagner card.

  1. Player performance and the popularity of the player on the sports cards

The player’s performance is his way to fame. Naturally, sports cards featuring a sports legend or an athletic superstar are highly in demand, thus, are generally more expensive.

For example, the most popular basketball rookie card is the 1987 Fleer Michael Jordan Rookie card, a part of the 1986-87 Fleer card set. Other basketball rookie cards in the said Fleer set cost $5 to $60. The Jordan rookie card was sold for $600 to $800 – the only piece with a three-figure value.

  1. Presence of a sports autograph

It can be amazing to know the value of sports autographs and its effect on the price of a sports card. A player’s signature could mean everything to an avid collector. It seems to make a fan feel connected to his idol in some way. Because of such demand for an autographed sports card, it would be priced higher than those cards without that worthy scribbled name.

  1. The type of sports

Hockey cards, football cards, golf cards, soccer cards – all these are collected by many sports fans and enthusiasts. But baseball cards stay to be the most widely collected sports related cards through the years followed by basketball cards. Because of the great demand, the value of basketball cards and baseball cards value can be generally higher than cards from other sports.

  1. Brand of the sports card

The popular sports card manufacturers and brands which avid sports cards collectors recommend are Upper Deck and Topps. These are the biggest names in the sports trading card industry known for their quality. Inferior brands may cost less and are less likely to be valuable through time as well.

  1. Authenticity of the card

Only authentic sports cards are worth anything. But certificates of authenticity are given by a reputable third-party sports card authenticator (like Professional Sports Authenticator or SportsCard Guaranty) rather than just by the dealers themselves.

Price Guide for Sports Cards: Beckett and Tuff Stuff

Two prominent institutions in publishing sports cards pricing and other information (through magazines) are Beckett and Tuff Stuff. They both feature different updates and articles about sports and the sports related memorabilia industry. Because of their extensive and wide coverage on sports and sport collectibles, many collectors become “followers” of their every issue.

These publications also provide sports card enthusiasts free sports card pricing guide online. Beckett have their sports cards free sports card price guides frequently updated in the web while Tuff Stuff updates their price guides on their hard copy magazine more often than in their online price guides.

Last note: In many circumstances, the sports cards value is determined on how much a person is willing to pay for it. There may be some cards that are not valuable to one buyer, but is important to another that he would spend for the sports card no matter how much it costs him.

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