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The History of Baseball Cards

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					The History of Baseball Cards


In the beginning, God made man. Then, man produced...the baseball card. Several years
later, man produced the insert card. Well, no one's perfect.


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 an important piece of baseball history and American culture.


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 material. Many of these cards were
"home made". No one but the creator of these cards, (they're 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...gee I
hope I get Man O' War!.


The 1887 cards are very high in value because of their rarity. The common card is worth
around $800. There were'nt 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. These cards are rare, but if you're willing
to pay top dollar - you can add them to your collection.


What many collectors call "the golden years of baseball", took place from 1902 until 1935.
One reason that collectors call this "the golden years" 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 without the error.


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 four were ever produced. Honus Wagner didn't want kids buying tobacco for the
baseball cards. One of the Wagner's sold at an auction for 451,500 to Wayne Gretzky.
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.


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 price.


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. 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. 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. This is the size that ball cards would remain to be for the next 36 years. The
major company's that produced cards during this time period are Bowman, Topps, Goudey,
and Play ball. The common card from these years is pretty easy to come by.


This time period really set cards for 1980s and 1990s. Many present and future Hall of
Famers had cards during this age. Cards basically remained the same. One new card
company came into the card industry.


These cards aren't valued very highly because they are very easy to find. A few cards are
valued at over $200.The common card is valued from around ten cents to three dollars. The
size of these cards remained the same as before, two and a half inches by three and a half
inches. There were only two company's that produced cards during this period - Topps and
Fleer. These cards are very easy to find.
From 1980 to 1996, baseball cards took several revolutionary changes. These changes would
affect the value and collectability of baseball cards forever.


The value of these cards is actually quite high considering how long these cards have been
on the market. Some of the older cards, such as Cal Ripken Jr.'s 1982 Topps Traded, are
valued at over $350. Newer cards, such as Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Thomas's rookies are
around $80.


Card companies devised a scheme to lure the card collector into buying more cards, the
INSERT. The "Insert card" is a special card that has a certain chance of you pulling it out of a
pack. The higher the odds, the higher the value of the card. This was designed to make the
collector buy lots of packs to try to pull an insert. Card company's also introduced a card
called the redemption card. These cards are usually seeded at about 1:360 packs. If you
pulled one of these cards, you could send it into the company and they would send you back
a limited edition set. Finally, those devilish little fellows at the card company decided to to
created a premium card. These cards were special cards that cost more to buy. They have a
UV coating that gives them a slick look. Also, the company only makes so many of these
cards. It is harder to get a autograph on these cards because of the UV coating. The
autograph beads up.


The sizes of these cards remained the standard size of two and a half by three and a half.
The only difference is the new UV coating on the cards. The companies that manufacture
baseball cards currently are Topps, Upperdeck, Bowman O-Pee-Chee, Fleer, Score, Studio,
Donruss, Pinnacle, Leaf, and Stadium Club.


Baseball cards have a very broad history. Whether it's homemade cloth cards or store bought
premium cards, it continues to be a multi-million dollar industry. Though baseball's fan base is
aging, card companies continue to create top-notch products aimed at young fans.


The Card I Really Wanted
In 1976 I was a real baseball card fanatic. Every chance I had I bought a pack of Topps cards.
They were my only option and I didn't care. Even the gum that ruined a card per pack with a
messy stain didn't bother. The Summer of '76 was the time of Mark "The Bird" Fidrych. He put
fannies in the seats of every park he pitched in as he talked to the baseball and generally just
acted goofy on the diamond. I loved it. And I had to have his card - which I got fairly fast early
in '76. But as I kept getting more and more Fidrych cards, I was missing the one I really
needed to make my collection complete - Bruce Kimm - The Bird's personal catcher. Finally,
my friend got a double of Kimm and I traded him two doubles of The Bird for my 'most wanted
card." If life were only so simple today. - Dan Holmes

				
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