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Category Archives for "Baseball"

The “Little Wonder” of Strip Card Sets

w515-ruthTo some, these are the ugliest cards ever created, yet I believe the 1923 W515 strip card set is one the most underrated baseball card sets of all time.

It’s got star power; two Babe Ruth cards, a Ty Cobb and cards of 22 other Baseball Hall of Fame players.

There are celebrity look-a likes, brother cards, print variations and some of the more interesting cartoon color combinations you’ve ever seen.

And with all of that, the cards can be found for a fraction the price of some of the other more popular tobacco or caramel cards of the era.

One variation to the set (aka W515-2) is known as ‘The Little Wonder Picture Series’ due to the additional words ‘The Little Wonder Picture Series’ (hence the title for this post) printed across the entire uncut strip.

Let’s take a closer look at the W515 Strip Card Set.

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Introducing The All Vintage Cards “Value” Portfolio

value-portfolio

As you might have picked up in past posts, I like to find value when looking for new cards to buy.

I have an investment background so this is only natural for me–my whole life is involved with finding the best funds or stocks for a portfolio.   Of course, part of that equation revolves around finding good value.

There are definitely some similarities in picking a stock versus picking a card to buy!

As I always say, card prices are a determination of demand versus supply.  For stocks, it’s a similar story.

And if there’s excess supply (think 1988 Topps) with minimal demand, the cards are pretty much worthless.

But if there’s excess demand versus supply (think Tesla in the stock market or the Green Portrait Cobb) the price rockets higher.

With cards, we determine a card’s scarcity and attempt to evaluate the future demand based on a myriad of factors – player popularity, the card set popularity, etc.

This is NEVER a perfect science and not all collectors think this way, but it’s a good habit to get into if you are making some serious investments in baseball cards.

There are some givens for me.   Names like Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner will never see a drop in future demand.

But depending on the card set we are considering, there could be more variability in demand over time.

Sure, there’s no certainty in any of this, but it’s the way I think about collecting.

I know common T206 cards might see an increase in line with inflation over time, but there’s no reason to think they should increase significantly in value.

I mean how much future demand should we expect for Buck Congalton’s T206 over time?

congalton-t206

So, with that said, I am assembling what I call the All Vintage Cards ‘Value’ Portfolio.

In the stock market, funds labeled as “value” tend to have valuation characteristics below that of the market.  Due to this value discrepancy, investors look for these lower valued stocks in hopes there is some reversion to the mean with valuation.

For example, today Ford (ticker F) would be considered a ‘value’ play, as it trades at a very low multiple versus its earnings (or P/E ratio).  Whereas a company such as Tesla (TSLA) is very optimistically valued and trades at a significant premium to its expected future earnings.

Hence, I’m attempting to put a portfolio together of cards that I think offer good relative value and have opportunity for future appreciation.

Before getting started, I will reiterate this IS NOT INVESTMENT ADVICE.  While I think cards are a good portfolio diversifier, please do your own homework.  Don’t assume that I will be right about any of this!

Thus, without further adieu, here are the components of the All Vintage Cards ‘Value’ Portfolio.

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T206 Ty Cobb Green Portrait: Is It Worth The Premium?

green-cobbIf you’ve spent any time in the tobacco groups on Facebook, you’re well aware of the popularity and the mystique of the T206 Ty Cobb Green Portrait Card.

If you’re new to the ‘Monster’ you might not realize that Cobb has four cards in the set.  A green and a red portrait card along with a ‘Bat off Shoulder’  and a ‘Bat on Shoulder’ card.

The portrait cards have consistently over time been the most valuable of the four, with the green portrait card the rarest and most valuable.

In this piece we take a closer look at the values and the scarcity of the Cobb cards and attempt to determine the future values.  Our main goal of this piece is to determine whether the Green portrait Cobb is worthy of the premium it holds over the other Cobb cards in the set and other Cobb cards in different sets.

From a popularity standpoint, Cobb’s cards remain in high demand, with his four T206 cards remaining among the most highly sought after in the hobby.  In fact, using the tools at All Vintage Search we can see that the Cobb cards in the white borders set are among the top ranked for ‘watchers’ at eBay.

Follow along as we examine the population reports and historical values.  Have a question on a T206 Cobb?  Feel free to get in touch with me at chris@allvintagecards.com

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Exhibit Baseball Cards: A Comprehensive Guide

1921-Exhibits-RuthExhibit Baseball Cards were often overlooked by vintage card collectors and little known to newcomers to the hobby.

The over-sized Exhibit cards were produced by the Exhibit Supply Co out of Chicago, with the first set produced in 1921.

The larger ‘postcards’ were sold out of vending machines in arcades and amusement parks and featured not only ball players, but other stars of the day including actors and actresses.

The Exhibit cards have become more popular in recent years, as for vintage collectors, the cards offer a more affordable way to purchase cards of star players during their playing days.

In this piece we take a look at the history and various issuance’s of Exhibit cards, along with examining some of the more valuable Exhibit cards over the years.  We hope you enjoy.

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Are We In A Vintage Card Bubble?

baseball-bubbleFor any stock investors that were active traders during the late 1990’s the mention of the word ‘bubble’ brings back some rather unpleasant memories.

A more recent ‘bubble’ that younger collectors would be more familiar with involves the recent hysteria surrounding Bitcoin and other associated cryptocurrencies. Cards even experienced their own bubble during the early 90’s.

While I’ve advocated that vintage cards can be viewed as a good long term investment for collectors, there are some warning signs that we should all be aware of.

I want to review some of my concerns and alert collector’s to some of my research on the topic.

Note this isn’t meant as a piece to scare collectors into selling their entire collections but something that I think at least warrants a discussion.

I hope you will provide some commentary as to your thoughts on the subject.

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T3 Turkey Reds: An Over-Sized Beauty

chase-t3I had always been vaguely familiar with the Turkey Red (T3) Tobacco Cabinet cards, but it wasn’t until I had one in my hands that I truly appreciated their beauty.

These over-sized ‘cabinet’ cards feature beautiful full length lithography and were issued as a premium for customers of Turkey Red cigarettes from 1910 through 1911.

The 100 card set is chock full of Hall of Famers, including Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Cy Young and Nap Lajoie.

What I found to be the most appealing feature of the set is the fact that the images (for the most part) are identical to their T206 counterparts, yet in a beautiful over-sized lithograph.

The cards are actually scarcer than the T206 and T205 cards, and in my opinion undervalued comparatively.

In this piece, we’ll take a deep dive into the T3 Turkey Reds set, examining the details and history of the cards, along with ways to collect and distinguish from counterfeits on the market.

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Shoeless Joe Jackson Cards: The Definitive Guide

m101-5-jackson‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson was one of the best hitters to ever play the game of baseball. He batted over .370 in four different seasons and is third all time in overall batting average.

Babe Ruth named Jackson to his all-time baseball team, as did Ty Cobb.  Jackson hit .408 in 1911, which still marks the sixth-highest single-season total of all time.

Despite his prowess on the field, Jackson was never enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, due to his involvement in the Black Sox scandal of 1919.

While some still argue that Jackson doesn’t deserve to be a Hall of Famer, his baseball cards remain immensely popular.

Shoeless Joe might never make it to the hall, but his old baseball cards will likely remain high desired by vintage collectors.

In this piece, we take a look at Shoeless Joe’s baseball cards from his playing days.  Unfortunately, the majority of his cards are on the scarcer and pricier side, making it a bit tougher for the most cost conscious collectors.

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How To Buy Vintage Cards At A Discount

48-ruthLet’s face it, none of us want to pay full retail price for our vintage cards. Sometimes we don’t have a choice if we’re targeting some of the most in demand and valuable cards in the hobby.

But there are a few ways to save a few bucks, whether it’s utilizing various eBay discounts or cash back deals.

In this guide, we take a closer look at some of the easiest ways you can use to try and amass a killer vintage collection at a discount.

First, we’ll walk through a few methods of saving via online purchases and then we’ll examine some other ideas for striking a good deal.  Enjoy!

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How To Spot A Fake 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle Card

52-topps-mantle

The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card is one of the most iconic and valuable cards in the hobby.   A mint condition version of the card sold recently for nearly $3 Million.

It’s not even a rare card, as it was actually double printed by Topps, even despite the fact that thousands of the high series 1952 Topps cards were dumped into the atlantic ocean.

And while it is Mantle’s first official Topps issue it’s not technically his rookie card (that award would go to Mantle’s 1951 Bowman card), although many often refer to it as such.

As with all desirable cards, there exists a fairly prominent counterfeit market trying to dupe vintage collectors into believing their fakes are the real thing.

With this guide, we examine the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card and help collectors in distinguishing a real Mantle from a fake one.

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Five Rare Ted Williams Cards That Look Undervalued

goudey-premiums-williamsTed Williams (aka ‘The Splendid Splinter’) was one of baseball’s all-time greats and one of the purest left-handed hitters to play the game.

Even with his career interrupted for three full seasons during World War II and later in his career for duty in the Korean War, Williams amassed 521 home runs with a staggering .344 batting average.  If he hadn’t served in the military, it’s hard to say what Williams might have been capable of.

Today, demand for Williams’ cards is still quite strong among vintage collectors, with his early Bowman and Play Ball rookie cards the most highly desired.

In this piece, I take a look at some of Ted Williams’ rarer and more obscure cards, while examining the population relative to some of his more widely produced cards during the early 1950’s.

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Everything You Need To Know About Counterfeit Cards

real-fake-cardsThe advent of eBay and other card collecting marketplaces has opened up the lines of communication between buyers and sellers, creating a more liquid and transparent card market.

However, with the ease in buying and selling comes a dark and mysterious side of the hobby that continues to infiltrate for sale listings.

Of course, I’m talking about counterfeit cards. Now, this isn’t a new thing, fake baseball cards have been circulating for decades. But, the sophistication of the printing methods will only get better and better as time goes on.

To this point, we’ve put together single card forgery guides, such as the one on spotting fake Michael Jordan rookie cards along with the guide on detecting a Wayne Gretzky rookie card.

This piece will take a closer look at the overall counterfeit market, including telltale signs of spotting a fake vintage card along with other key information to help you all become a more educated collector.

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T206 Hall of Famers – A More Attainable Goal for Collectors

t206-cobb-on-batThe T206 ‘White Borders’ set is most indeed a ‘Monster’.  The set features 524 cards, which for most collectors is a rather expensive and time consuming adventure.

A lot of vintage collectors I know forgo the actual Monster and head right to building out the T206 Hall of Fame subset.

While it’s still a pricey proposition, it’s a lot easier to hunt down 74 different cards (or 76 including Plank and Wagner) as opposed to the 524 that make up the entire set.

In this piece we examine the nuances of building a Hall of Famers only T206 set while also speaking to someone that’s one card away from completing the challenge.

Hopefully this piece provides the motivation to some of you on the fence!

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T205 Gold Borders Set: An Underrated Gem

mathewson-t205If you’ve spent any time around vintage baseball card circles, it’s quite evident that the T206 ‘White Borders’ set gets ALL the attention.

And what’s not to love? The T206 cards are gorgeous; featuring breathtaking artwork with multiple player poses and eighteen different back variations.  The T206 Honus Wagner card has helped propel the T206 set to the most highly sought after set among vintage card collectors.

And while I love the T206 cards (and begrudgingly collect them myself) I believe the set’s successor deserves a bit more notoriety from collectors.

The T205 set is smaller in size, more affordable, and scarcer than the T206 set. This for me also makes it attractive from an investment standpoint. And well, you all know what I think about cards as an investment.

Let’s take a closer look at the T205 set, examining the history and detail of the cards, including pricing and what I think of the set as an investment for the longer term.

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Are Baseball Cards A Good Long Term Investment?

Some cringe at the thought of baseball cards as an ‘investment’, but it’s hard to deny the appreciation in the most cherished vintage baseball cards.

The rise in value of old sports cards has led to a new line of thinking about how collectors should think about cards as a long term investment.

Based on work from PWCC, a basket of some of the most expensive and popular cards has outperformed the S&P 500 by over 200% since 2008.

baseball cards investment

Most collectors don’t entertain the ‘investment’ part of card collecting, but focus on building a collection that suits their interest, regardless of the value.

Still, I think collectors and non-collectors alike should consider vintage baseball cards as an overall part of their entire investment portfolio.

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Five Rare Mickey Mantle Cards That Sell For $1000 or Less

mickey-mantle-exhibit-cardThere aren’t many baseball players that had the same sort of impact on the game as the legendary Mickey Mantle.

Mantle carried the torch from the legends before him – Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig – while putting together one of the all time great careers in baseball history.

Although injuries got the better of him towards the end of his career, Mantle is considered one of the best ever to play the game of baseball.

It’s no surprise that Mantle’s cards to this day are still some of the most highly sought after.  His 1952 Topps card continues to break records, while his other early Topps and Bowman cards continue to be some of the most sought after in the hobby.

But since most of us don’t have the funds to access some of Mantle’s high grade six figure cards, I wanted to provide a list of five Mickey Mantle cards that can be purchased for $1000 or less.

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Collecting The “Monster” – The Infamous T206 White Borders Set

t206-honusEven non-baseball card collectors are familiar with the historic T206 Honus Wagner card, the hobby’s most valuable baseball card.

While Honus Wagner was one of the best players in baseball, it’s the rarity of his T206 card which makes it such a prized collectible.

Despite the popularity of the Wagner card, the remainder of the T206 set as a whole has always been a target of for many vintage card collectors.

Filled with both major and minor leaguers (along with 75 Hall of Fame subjects), the 524 card set is also commonly referred to as the “White Borders” set.

Add on the fact that the cards were produced with thirty-six different backs advertising the various brands from the American Tobacco Company and it’s no surprise that many label the T206 set as “The Monster”.

In this piece, we discuss the history of the set and provide collectors with a background in collecting the T206 set.  Along the way we get some help from the terrific Scot Reader, author of the amazing ‘Inside T206’ book and the founder of the T206 Insider website.

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A Collector’s Guide to Pre-War Strip Cards

ruth-cobb-stripWithin vintage collecting circles, “strip cards” (as they are known) have long been thought of as the forgotten step-child in the hobby.

The cards were initially either sold or provided to customers in various retail stores in the 1920’s.  The cards were issued in a long strip (hence the name) and either cut or distributed in partial uncut strips.

The anonymity of the cards (most have no known issuer), the low quality of the card stock, and a lack of a printed back has led to strip cards not maintaining the same level of popularity as some of the more well known candy or tobacco issues.

In addition, from a grading perspective, the cards remain a challenge, since the cards were meant to be hand-cut.  While some cards have surfaced in uncut sheets, those that have been cut get somewhat different treatment from the card graders.  PSA for example with label a strip card as only ‘Authentic’ with no numeric grade if the card has been cut within the pre-dotted line, despite the overall condition.

Yet, despite the obvious flaws, these cards offer baseball card collectors a more reasonable way to collect some of the biggest names from yesteryear, including Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner,  Christy Mathewson and more.

While some also complain about the ‘ugliness’ of many of the strip cards, I tend to overlook this in many cases, knowing that I can get a card of one of the big name baseball stars while they were playing for the fraction of the cost of say a T206 or American Caramel card.

Please enjoy this review of some of the most popular strip baseball card sets of the era!

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Five Cy Young Cards With Tremendous Upside Potential

cy-young-m116Denton True “Cy” Young is the most well known pitcher from the pre-war era.   Young’s baseball cards are among the most popular of all players in the early 1900’s.

Young’s lifetime baseball statistics are purely staggering and he still holds records that will likely never be broken, including most wins (511) and complete games (749).

His impact on baseball was so profound, that only one year after his death, the Cy Young Award was established to honor the league’s best pitcher.

Young’s baseball cards have always been in high demand and remain as sought after as some of the biggest names in baseball, including Cobb, Wagner, Ruth, Gehrig and Mays.

Many of Young’s early cards are somewhat out of reach for vintage collectors, but there are a handful that can still be found at a reasonable value.

Thus, here are five Cy Young baseball cards that we believe offer tremendous value for long term baseball card investors.

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Ten Babe Ruth Baseball Cards That Look Undervalued

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Babe Ruth baseball cards garner the most demand of any other single player in the history of the game.

The “Babe’s” lifetime baseball stats are purely staggering: .342 BA, 714 HR, and 2214 RBI’s, making him one of the best to ever play the game.

Add on the fact that he played for the Yankees, he cursed an entire franchise (the Red Sox of course), and had one of the most memorable personalities in baseball, and it’s no surprise that collector demand for Babe Ruth’s baseball cards remains very high.

But, you say that Ruth has cards that are (gulp) undervalued??

Part of our mission at All Vintage Cards is to help collectors identify baseball cards that look mis-priced in the marketplace. We utilize our research on Availability, Collector Demand, and Current Valuation to determine whether a card looks Fairly Valued or potentially Undervalued (or even Overvalued).

Using our research, we’ve identified ten Babe Ruth Baseball Cards that look Undervalued relative to investor supply and demand.  Enjoy!

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1886 N167 Old Judge: A Closer Look At The First Baseball Card Set

n167-old-judge-keefeAs we discussed in our first article about the history of baseball cards, there is some debate about what cards are actually the first true baseball card set.

Some believe that early “cabinet” cards from the 19th century deserve the honor, but as we noted, these cards don’t meet the true definition of a “baseball card”.

In most collecting circles the tobacco cards of 1886 included in packs of Old Judge cigarettes are indeed the first true baseball cards.

The set (cataloged as set N167 by J.R. Burdick in the historic American Card Catalog) is small in stature, as only twelve cards were created and feature cards from only the New York Giants.

Of the twelve cards, six are hall of famers, thus for a set with such diminutive size, it really packs a punch.

Finding the N167 cards is kind of like finding a needle in a haystick, thus the cards hold tremendous value.  Let’s take a closer look at the set!

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The 30 Most Valuable Baseball Cards of All Time

dimaggio-rookie-cardAfter our first article about the history of baseball cards we’ve had so many people ask us: what are the most valuable baseball cards?

With this list, I’ve narrowed down the field to thirty cards that both hold tremendous value and are considered to be some of the most sought after cards for baseball card collectors.

From a price standpoint, some of the baseball cards on this list may unfortunately be out of reach for many collectors.

However, if you come across a low grade version of one of these cards it will likely be more affordable and something you could consider adding to your collection.

Whatever the case, it should be well understood that the business of baseball cards is alive and well.  Thus, some baseball cards, especially pre-war cards or even some created after World War II are worth a lot of money.

If you have any of the cards on this list, consider yourself one of the lucky ones!

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A History Of Baseball Cards

honus-wagner-t206I’ve been collecting cards for over thirty years now.  Until recently I wasn’t really interested in learning about the history of baseball cards.

When I started back in the 80’s, I was more focused on collecting cards of the guys that I watched.  Rookie cards of Cal Ripken Jr., Wade Boggs, Eric Davis, Andre Dawson and Eddie Murray were more my speed.

Sure, I knew of the all time greats such as Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, Robinson et al, but it didn’t interest me as much as my own heroes.

But as the years moved on, I slowly got this itching desire to learn more about the early days of baseball history and the associated trading cards.

Thus I embarked on a fact finding mission; to learn as much as humanly possible about where baseball cards got their start.

I consider this a living, breathing document, so if I have anything wrong–please let me know (I’ll fix it!)  I would also love to hear any stories you might have regarding early baseball cards.  Feel free to share your story in the comments section below!

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