The trading card industry has all types. Some collect purely for the joy and hobby
of it. They collect the entire set, their favorite players, or their favorite teams.
Others speculate purely on the monetary value potential of cards and how to most
effectively sell their cards. Others do a little bit of everything- they enjoy collecting
and holding onto some of their cards while moving others that they don’t think they
want, that they can make money off of, or that someone else would enjoy more. Choose
your own path, but if you collect for the pure enjoyment of it, then you are less
likely to be disappointed if the value of your favorite player goes down, because
you chose to collect the player because you liked him/her in the first place and
not how much his/her cards were worth.
An immediate question asked by many collectors is what their cards are worth. The
worth of a card can be defined by a collector in several ways. First of all, it
can be measured in terms of personal or sentimental value- the card may be deemed
important because it is the collector’s first card or the card features the collector’s
favorite player. Still, the most common determinant of a card’s worth centers around
In order to find out a card’s monetary value, one can simply consult a hobby trade
magazine (such as a Krause sports publications like Tuff Stuff). These guides set
card values (low and high) based on market activity. For more information, these
guides also contain pricing guidelines. You can also check out internet auction
sites to check bidding amounts on similar cards.
You can get a sense of a card’s worth before picking up any of these publications
or going to an internet auction site. Ask yourself the following questions: Does
the card feature a popular player? Is the card an
insert-set card? How rare is the card? Does the card contain a piece of
memorabilia? Is it autographed? What is the condition
of the card? All of these are primary factors in determining the financial
value of a card.
An unfortunate aspect of the trading card industry is when some try to make a quick
buck by cheating the system. This is especially true when it comes to printing of
counterfeit cards that closely resemble the real cards. Where there is a will to
make money, even if it is illegal, then there is a way.
Printing technology today has allowed some bad apples to produce fake cards that
deplete the confidence of the entire industry. The fear of getting ripped off by
a fake card and the growth of on-line card trading, have made the concept of card
grading much more popular. (For more information on card grading, please see
What is card grading?).
The Upper Deck Company was founded on the principle that cards will have a trademarked
security hologram printed on the back to prevent counterfeiting. Other card companies
have followed suit over the years and created different ways of guaranteeing that
their cards are authentic, as it is extremely important to the authenticity of high
value insert cards such as autographs and game used cards.
Still, there are fake cards still being produced and distributed out there today,
so before you make a big purchase, have an industry expert like your trusted local
hobby store owner or a paid grading service analyze the card for you. The extra
time and money you put into it may save you in the long run.
I saw a box in my local retail store for $29.99, why is my local shop charging me
over $60 for the same box?
Before you think that your local shop owner is trying to give you a raw deal, please
make sure that you are sure everything being offered within both boxes is the same.
Manufacturers create many different box sizes with varying numbers of packs and
contents within the same product line for different customer needs. That box for
$29.99 likely has fewer packs and less value content within it. Don’t be afraid
to ask your local shop dealer questions about the products and points of differentiation
between the boxes. Most likely, they are not trying to give you a bad deal.
The most valuable trading card in the world is the Honus Wagner T-206 tobacco trading
card issued in the early 1900s. Reportedly, Wagner did not want children to have
to collect his cards through an association with tobacco products, so he demanded
that he be pulled from distribution. Through this “short printing” and the many
years that have passed (and the countless number of cards lost or damaged), the
Wagner card has become one of the most rare and desirable in baseball card history.
This card was originally sold at a Sotheby's auction for $451,000, purchased by
Wayne Gretzky and Bruce McNall. The card has since traded hands a few times, and
has since been reported to have been privately sold for well over one million dollars.
It is the only known T-206 card in the world of Wagner to be in this type of condition.
Other T-206 cards of Wagner have not even come close to the price tag that this
card has sold for due to their condition. Today, the card remains with a private
I’ve started my collection, now how can I protect and store them properly?
Congratulations and thank you for starting a trading card collection. We hope that
you will join the many generations of collectors, who have enjoyed collecting cards
throughout the years.
Protecting your collection is a logical next step, as you have paid money or traded
for some cards you obviously feel worth holding onto.
Like most things of value, the better the condition of it, the more attractive and
valuable they are. The same is true of trading card collecting. Cards that have
bent corners, creases through them, or other issues that prevent them from being
classified as “mint condition” (which is perfect) have less value.
Therefore, don’t put your trading cards in the spokes of your bicycle tires or play
flipping games with them if you want to trade or sell them in the future. Please
don’t leave them in the sun (the printing will fade), your pockets (the washing
machine may get to them), or anywhere that your little brother or sister (or pet
dog) will get to them. Also, it’s better to not wrap them with rubber bands or paper
clips, as these can destroy the edges of the cards.
What you can do to store your cards depends on how you want to display your cards.
Some like to show off their individual cards by putting them in individual plastic
holders and keep their collection in boxes away from the elements. Others like to
put several cards into 9-card pocket sheets and keep all of the sheets in three
ring binders. Either way, such supplies are fairly inexpensive (especially when
considering the value of your collection).
There are a number of companies that produce such supplies with the latest in technologies
to help you protect your collection. Look them up or contact your local dealer for
the many options that you have and choose what is right for you.
Card grading has been a phenomenon over the last few years. An unbiased company
grades the card based on the condition of the card. This allows the owner and prospective
owners of the card to get a third party’s opinion of the card. This would prevent
any debate over the condition of the card. There are many grading companies in the
market but the more recognizable Grading companies include PSA and SGC.
Some of the Upper Deck releases offer graded cards within the boxes, while the majority
of our releases only have raw cards (i.e. Non-graded cards).
The majority of cards submitted for grading are Rookie cards. The higher grade the
card receives, the higher value the card will receive in the market. However, the
values of the graded cards are dictated by the population report of the graded cards.
Typical of a supply and demand market, the fewer of the higher values a given card
has received, the higher value the card will command on the market. Prices of the
graded cards could be found in publications such as Sports Market Report, and online
auction sites such as Ebay.
Most collectors grade the card with the hopes of receiving a high grade, thus increasing
the value of the card. Graded cards are great to have a third party’s opinion to
help enhance the sale of the cards. In most cases, if collectors are content with
the card, and plan on keeping it (especially if you are storing the card in a 9-pocket
sheet), then there isn’t a need for the card to be graded.