What are my sports cards worth?

26 Aug

How do I Identify my Sportscards?
While the companies producing cards today prominently display their name and logos, this has not always been the case. When looking at vintage cards, the back of a card is often more useful than the front in identifying the set of origin. Card backs usually include an issuer or sponsor’s name either spelled out completely or in abbreviated form, i.e. T.C.G., for Topps Chewing Gum. The biographical or statistical information found on card backs also provide other important clues in determining a card’s general age, if not specific year of issue. For example, if a Willie Mays card documents his statistical history through the 1964 season, the date of issue for that card would most likely be 1965.

Sportscard makers, dating back to the 19th century, have commonly assigned numbers to card backs in order to facilitate the collecting of a complete set. Cards that were numbered in this manner by their manufacturer are normally listed in that order. In the case of unnumbered card issues, the most common practice is to list the cards in the set by alphabetical order using the players’ last names.

What Constitutes Valuable?
Sportscards: High value sportscards are generally vintage cards that were made from the years 1969 and earlier. Of course there are exceptions to this rule with cards such as the 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky or a 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan. There are other card products from non-vintage years that can hold higher value as well, including wax boxes, complete sets, and sealed cases. On the whole, modern era cards from 1980 and later do not hold significant value as compared to vintage material simply due to the fact that there were so many of them produced and most of them still exist in top condition.

How Do I Find Out What My Sports Collectibles Are Worth?
If you have sportscards, we recommend one of the following reference books as a start: The Beckett Almanac of Baseball Cards and Collectibles or The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards by Bob Lemke. If you are looking for prices for items other than baseball material, both publishers (Beckett and Krause) offer similar types of price guides for Football, Basketball, Hockey, and Memorabilia. These books are available at most public libraries and bookstores.

The prices listed in these references are a good starting point, and can provide you with insight about rarity and premiums for a particular card. However, the references are printed annually, while the market for a particular sportscard can often change in a few weeks, often making printed prices inaccurate. Keep in mind also that printed references generally provide high retail values for cards in a fairly high grade, while cards in lower grades or with damage may be worth much less.

Of course, the best way to find out what sportscards and sports memorabilia are worth is to look at what people are paying for it. Heritage’s Auction Archives shows actual prices paid in our auctions for many fine sports collectibles, and more prices are being added all the time. With every individual item lot imaged, the Permanent Auction Archives are also an outstanding resource for identifying your material. The Auction Archives are a free resource

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