The History of Baseball Cards

Baseball cards have a very broad history. In the
beginning, god made man. Then, man produced........ the
baseball card. From 1887 to the present, billions of
baseball cards have been produced. Some cards are valued at
ten cents, while others, are valued at over one hundred
thousand dollars. Since 1887, Baseball cards have been a
major part of many people's lives.
The Beginning of the baseball card collecting era
would lead cards to a path of greatness and immortality. The
first baseball cards were made of a cloth like material.
Many of these cards were "home made" (SCD)*. No one but the
creator of these cards, (there all dead) knows for sure what
exactly was used to produce these early cards. This time
period started on 1887 and continued on until 1901. The 1887
baseball cards were part of a unique set. Not only did this
set contain baseball cards, but it also contained boxing.
golf, and horse racing cards.
These cards are very high in value because of their
rarity and because they are some of the early baseball
cards. The common card is worth around $800. All of these
cards are common, considering that there were no star
athletes back then. There were not many cards sizes during
this time period. The only size that I could find was one
and a half inches by two inches. There were many company's
that manufactured cards during this time period. They were:
Mayo Tobacco Works, Buchner, Kimball's, Old Judge, Allen &
Ginter, and Goodwin (SCD). These cards are rare, but are
not very difficult to obtain if you're willing to pay top
What many collectors call "the golden years of
baseball", took place from 1902 until 1935. One reason that
collectors call this time period that is because cards took
many different changes during this era. Cards were starting
to be packaged with Chewing Tobacco, crackerjacks, and
Chewing gum.
The value of cards during this time period depends
on many different factors. A large percent of these cards
have misprints (flaws). Because of these misprints, a card
may have a higher value than the exact same card because of
a misprint. The reason there were so many misprints was
because the card industry was just starting to experiment
with the printing process (SCD). The most expensive baseball
card of all time was produced during this era. That card was
the Honus Wagner T-206 produced in 1909. The reason that
this card is so expensive is because only 4 of these cards
were ever produced. Honus Wagner didn't want kids buying
tobacco for the Baseball cards. One of the Wagners sold at
an auction recently for 451,500 to Wayne Gretzky (SCD).
There were three main sizes of baseball cards during
this time period. One of the sizes was the "tobacco" size
cards. These cards were one and a half inches by two inches.
The second card size was a rectangular sheet of three cards.
These were about two inches by five and one fourth inches.
The third and final size was a square about two inches by
two inches. Cards were packaged with chewing tobacco,
cracker jacks, chewing gum, and cigarettes (SCD).
Many company's produced cards during this era. Some
of the major manufactures were : Piedmont, Soverign, Ramly,
Hassan, Mecca and Turkey Red. The T-2.. series is very
common at card shows. With the exception of the Honus
Wagner, most of these cards can be acquired for a reasonable
From 1936 until 1960, not much happened in the card
collecting era. Three major changes occurred during this
time period. The cards themselves changed to a size that
would carry them to present time. Also, two ground breaking
companies would arrive and last until the 21st century.
The value of the 30's and 40's cards is around
forty dollars for a semi-star (BKM)*. The value of the 50's
cards is a little higher at forty five dollars for the semi-
star. Mickey Mantle's rookie is included in the 1952 Bowman
set. It is valued at $9,000 . Also, another Mantle , his '52
Topps is worth $35,000 (BKM, SCD, TUFF*). The 60's
common cards are worth between one dollar and five dollars.
There were two main card sizes from 1936 to 1960.
The first was two and a half inches by three and one eighth
inches. The second card size is two and a half inches by
three and a half inches.