baseball cards

The hobby of collecting Baseball cards has turned into a valued commodity. 

Young baseball card collectors have grown up to realize their treasured items have become part of a community that has influenced baseball card collecting to this day.

Baseball cards were first sold in the 1880s. They were packaged in cigarettes as part of an advertising campaign. The tactic did not work with adults, but it did have an affect with children, who saved the cards to start their own collections. In the 1930s when the Goudey Gum Company began to include baseball cards in their packs of gum,  that started to target the kids.

Here are the most expensive cards ever sold.

1909–11 T206 “Jumbo” Honus Wagner$3,200,000
1909–11 T206 “Gretzky” Honus Wagner$2,800,000
1952 Topps Mickey Mantle311$1,135,250
1915-16 Sporting News M101-5 Babe Ruth151$717,000
1909 American Caramel E90-1 Joe Jackson$667,189
1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle253$588,000
1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth151$575,000
1955 Topps Roberto Clemente184$478,000
1909-11 T206 Ty Cobb$450,000
1909–11 T206 Eddie Plank$414,750
1909-11 T206 N.Y. NAT’L Hands up Joe Doyle Misprint$414,750
1954 Topps Henry “Hank” Aaron128$358,500
1938 Goudey Gum Company Joe DiMaggio274$288,000
1968 Topps Nolan Ryan Rookie Card177$132,000
1915 Cracker Jack Joe Jackson103$108,000
1915 Cracker Jack Ty Cobb30$103,000

1915-16 Sporting News M101-5 Babe Ruth

Date: August 2016

Auction House: Heritage Auctions

Price Realized: $717,000

Babe Ruth’s card is so valuable not only because it’s a rookie card, but because it shows him as a player on the Boston Red Sox before he was traded off to the New York Yankees.

1955 Topps #184 Roberto Clemente

Date: February 2016

Auction House: Heritage Auctions

Price Realized: $478,000

This Topps card’s value is driven by the popularity of the player and less by scarcity.

1954 Topps Henry “Hank” Aaron

Date: May 2012

Auction House: SCP Auctions

Price Realized: $358,500

Like Roberto Clemente, this card’s value is a result of Hank Aaron’s popularity. He made 21 straight All-Star appearances in his career.

Baseball cards are appraised based on many different criteria beyond the player on the card. Factors such as condition, errors, scarcity, and print variation can impact the price and value. 


Hall of Fame cards are typically worth more than common player cards, though there are exceptions. 


The condition of the baseball card affects the value of any card, regardless of the rarity. The condition of the card is determined by looking at the corners, edges, centering, and surfaces for wear and tear.


Print Year

Generally, the older a baseball card is, the more value it will have. For instance, a common baseball card from 1912 will be worth more than a common card printed in 1970.


When baseball cards are printed, there are often errors. These errors can often lead to price increases depending on the rarity. There are two types of errors in baseball cards, uncorrected errors and corrected errors.



Before the 1980s, the production of baseball cards was limited. As a result, cards before this time are worth more due to their age and their scarcity.