Investing in Modern vs. Vintage Sports cards
As with any investment, the more promising the future, the greater the likelihood that you will make a profit. If you want to make a speculative investment in the next generation of sports stars, there is unquestionably a significant risk. Rookie cards tend to sell for far more than their non-rookie counterparts, and they are an excellent way to get your feet wet in the hobby.
What happens if an injury sidelines that elite athlete? Is it possible that they will never achieve success in the championships? When it comes to younger stars, there are several dangers to consider. Long-term sports card collectors understand this, so vintage cards are often considered a superior investment.
The Difference Between Modern & Vintage Trading Cards
Modern trading cards are analogous to the stock market, but historical trading cards are comparable to the bond market.
Modern sports cards are characterized by high volatility, but you may make a good amount of money if you are well-versed in the product. If you aren’t, you stand to lose a significant amount of money.
When it comes to vintage sports cards, there is less danger and, as a result, less profit. As is usually the case, buy what you want, but proceed with caution if you’re buying for investment goals.
Identifying Potentially Valuable Sports Cards
When selecting the most valuable sports cards, you may discover that some of the cards are not in good condition. If that’s the case, you may generally skip the rest of these procedures without any difficulty. The quality of vintage cards (often defined as those produced before 1980) can be held to a lesser standard, but if you see a lot of creases and bent edges, you’re not looking at anything worth much money. Even the most sought-after cards of the hottest players are worthless if they are in terrible physical shape.
Age is crucial. Many of the sports cards discovered at yard sales and other similar venues date back to the late 1980s and early 1990s when the card makers were producing many cards. The majority of cards from that era are no longer valuable.
Either older cardstock (mainly if it is pre-1980) or more recent is what you should be on the lookout for (say, five years old or less). Find the year on the card fronts or seek a copyright date on the card backs you want to double-check. Even common cards from some vintage sets may be worth a lot of money, so keep an eye out for older cards that might be worth anything.
There is a market for all but the most obscure players’ autographs, yet this does not imply that you will have to spend a lot of money on most of them. Even if the cards you discover are from the 2000s or later, it’s not a bad idea to see if any of them are signed before discarding them.
Card companies’ certification of authentic autographed cards is a relatively recent phenomenon, so be cautious if you encounter earlier signed cards. Even if these autographs are genuine, there is no way to determine if they are genuine without utilizing a third-party authenticator, which may be costly and may still not resolve the question.
Authentic rookie cards are the cornerstone of the pastime, and their enduring appeal has weathered the test of time. The challenge is identifying them without a pricing guide, which is not always straightforward because some cards that say rookie card on them are not, in fact, rookie cards.
Your sports knowledge can be helpful in some situations, as in many circumstances (particularly in football cards and basketball cards), a player’s rookie card is from their first or second season on the field. Always presume a rookie card when in question and check the card afterward to be sure.
A Prospect card is a card before the player reaches MLB. A Rookie card is of course the first season. The year-1 prospect card is always more valuable. Subsequent years are typically valued at significantly less. Prospect cards are more of a gamble. When the card is released, nobody knows how the player will do. There is more certainty with a Rookie Card.
In addition, late-blooming sportspeople might have rookie cards that rise in value considerably as their careers progress. For more reasons than any other type of card described in this article, rookie cards should be kept on hand, hoping that they may be worth more in the future.
As is true of most collectibles, a limited supply can lead to greater demand and, consequently, a higher value. Keeping this in mind, investigate if any of the ordinary base cards may be rarer parallels of more common cards. You won’t be able to distinguish between short-printed and serial-numbered cards unless you’re incredibly familiar with the set from which they came. Still, serial-numbered cards have the print runs stamped directly on them.
Generally speaking, print runs of 25 or less might be regarded as a loose cut-off for transforming otherwise boring cards into products of some monetary worth. Always save any one-of-a-kind cards you come across in your collection. As a result of their extensive distribution, they are no longer the guaranteed jackpot they once were, but they will still generate some interest when placed on the market more frequently than not.
Stars shine brightly in practically every situation. In some instances, base cards and garden variety inserts might be worth anything if the proper person’s photo is on the front of the cards. In most situations, you can expect cards of sports’ top stars – think Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth level here – to pique a collector’s curiosity sometime down the line.
Why Vintage Sports Cards Hold Value
Collectors should constantly consider the investment side of collecting and the potential for appreciation before buying. You may consider your desire to acquire a particular player’s card or a specific set, but the investment side of the deal should always play a part in the equation when making a decision.
So, would it make sense to consider a collection of sports cards along the lines of an investment in, say, the S&P 500 or multi-family income property? It does. And here’s why:
Every venture is built on the fundamental concepts of supply and demand.
A three-family property amid a flourishing metropolis with increasing real estate values will always have high demand. And there aren’t enough of those homes around, so the demand will constantly exceed the supply, resulting in inflated prices.
They aren’t creating any more land, just like they aren’t making more 1952 Topps Mantles.
There is only one of each significant piece of art, and given the popularity of fine art, it is apparent that as long as there is a demand, the price will always, at the very least, be consistent. That painting will always be worth a lot of money. So, in the same manner, investments in Baseball, Basketball, or any other sports card will react the same way: by employing the simple laws of supply and demand.
If there is heightened demand and restricted supply, we have a very hot card or group of cards. But if we find a card or collection of cards gaining in value with maybe more supply than we believe is acceptable, given the growth in the pricing, it could make sense to look at something else.
In addition, with the arrival of professional grading companies like PSA and SGC, we now have a clearly defined grading and verification system. We know (for the most part) how much sports cards should be valued. This benefits the hobby by protecting the overall value and nurturing possible financial appreciation over time.
Card Grading Explained
Explanation of the Card Grading System
It is the procedure of sending a trading card to a specialist organization for it to be evaluated and graded. The card’s authenticity is checked, and then the condition of the card is assessed on a scale of one to 10, as is standard practice. Finally, the card is classified as being of a certain grade, enclosed in a container that is tamper-proof, and given a serial number that is listed in a catalog, bringing the procedure to a successful conclusion.
In addition to giving verifiable confirmation of authenticity, Card grading also provides accountability through an online database. It eliminates the need for subjective condition ratings by removing their necessity. When comparing a graded card in the same or comparable condition to an ungraded sportscard in the same or similar situation, the combination of all of these elements will considerably increase the card’s value.
Before sending cards to a card-grading firm, several considerations must be taken into consideration. These considerations include understanding what cards you need to grade, selecting an appropriate grading service, and understanding the logistics of shipping and product insurance.
What Should Be Graded?
Selecting suitable playing cards for grading is a very personal decision. If you follow a few easy guidelines, it is feasible to save money on your collection while simultaneously enhancing the value of your sportscard collection. Consider the habit of evaluating any unique card, which makes no monetary sense, even though many people carry on doing. Expenses associated with shipping, grading, insuring, and returning a card are not going to increase the value of a card that is already exceptionally valuable enough to cover and make those expenses worthwhile. On the other hand, some collectors might prefer the greater protection that a graded card slab provides.
Historic baseball cards, in particular, may be pretty valuable, making them an excellent investment to have them professionally graded. Those that collect player cards, team collectibles, set builders are constantly on the lookout for cards in a certain grade. It is possible to construct a foolproof technique of confirming that the card may truly be the condition indicated by the owner by eliminating the subjectivity of self-assessment.
A competent card grading service can determine the value of even popular cards from the past, allowing them to be sold at an affordable price. The fact is that lots of collectors make the error of not considering these commons when dealing with vintage cards. It’s worth a lot of money to a lot of high-end builders of sets, since the utility infielder’s card is rated NM or Mint, and it completes their graded cards in that condition.
Additionally, modern-era prospect and rookie autographs, particularly in high grades, are highly sought. This is because, if a player becomes famous, their most liked rookie cards will be autographed and in Mint condition.
Sports Card Collecting
The card investor is the polar opposite of the card collector. When you collect cards, you buy the cards you like, but when you invest in cards, you buy the cards that other people like.
The pure investor anticipates trends in the sport or genre they wish to maximize their investment. In recent years, smart card investors who are willing to put in the effort and study a certain sport have made a lot of money by predicting who will be the next superstar or who will receive the most media attention.
Sports cards are a high-stakes market. Sportscard prices are determined by supply and demand. The higher the demand for and scarcity of a card, the higher its value.
What sports cards are valuable?
These cards are frequently more valuable than others:
- Important and well-known players’ cards
- Cards for rookies
- Cards from major manufacturers
- Uncommon cards
- Cards that are old and popular
- Cards in the best possible condition
Many individuals make the mistake of believing that a player’s performance would affect the value of a card. That is sometimes the case, however it is solely according to the supply and demand for the card. If a player starts performing well, a card will always become more popular.
Cards will not generate revenue unless sufficient individuals are prepared to pay for them.
Some sports cards are more valuable than others. This value is determined by several things, including the player on the card and the card type.
Important and well-known players’ cards
If you have a card that checks at least one of these two boxes, you have a valuable card.
If the card checks both boxes, the prices will be substantially higher. However, if you have a player’s card that is not well-known, no one will be prepared to pay the money to obtain the card. As a result, the card’s value will be low.
The supply and demand for the card will be the key determining factors for the card price: the smaller the supply and the greater the demand, the more costly it will be.
If a popular player’s card is selling well, collectors will be prepared to pay a higher price for the card. And if more people purchase the card, there will be a greater demand, which means that prices may begin to climb rather quickly.
Sometimes, the player’s performance will enhance the demand for the card – but not always.
This may merely be a temporary increase in demand, but the prices will not remain high if the player does not remain popular.
Cards will only be worth what people are willing to pay for them.
Rookie Playing Cards
Rookie cards will be a player’s most popular card. Why is this the case?
- Because no matter how long a player’s career lasts, he or she will only have one rookie season.
- Because card producers can only design rookie cards once in a lifetime, it’s difficult to predict whether a player will succeed or fail.
- They can’t create more rookie cards, however, future cards are much simpler to sell in quantity after the player becomes more popular, hence the prices will be lower.
There is also some precedent with rookie cards. Rookie cards used to be far more difficult to obtain than they are now. Another major issue was the state of the rookie cards. Because not many people expected a certain player to do well, these were typically not as kept as later cards.
Things are a little different today, but the rule remains the same: rookie cards are still the most valued cards of a single player.
Main Brands Playing Cards
If you want to acquire cards with a higher value, stick to the major brands. Occasionally, card companies may issue unlicensed cards with player portraits but no team names. As a result, they do not appear in uniform, or club logos are airbrushed off. On the other hand, main card brands will normally include actual club logos and player photographs because they are licensed. These cards will always sell better than non-licensed cards.
When purchasing a card of a beloved or well-known player, search for cards with a strong reputation. Each sport has its card brand, however some companies produce cards for many sports.
Some of the most popular NBA and basketball cards brands include Panini, Donruss, National Treasures, and Crown Royale. Even though Panini is the only legally licensed vendor for NBA cards.
Topps will be the winner in baseball and football. Bowman and Upper Deck baseball cards will also be popular.
This should go without saying, but the rarer the card, the more valuable it will be.
Consider the 1909 T206 Honus Wagner card. It is one of the most expensive cards globally, with nicely kept examples costing several million dollars.
Honus Wagner is, without a doubt, one of the greatest players in baseball history.
However, it is the card’s scarcity that makes it so precious. Only roughly 50 copies of this card remain in the world. And, because it is from 1909, not many of these cards will be in good condition. So if you have a nicely graded Honus Wagner card from 1909, you’re in luck.
Cards with limited print runs, as well as numbered cards and counterparts, will be more costly. Again, we’re dealing with a supply and demand situation. The more cards there are and the greater the supply, the more the card will cost.
Not all vintage cards are valuable, although they are more expensive than some new cards for numerous reasons:
- The situation. It’s considerably more difficult to find an old card with a good grade than to find a current card with a high grade. If the card can weather the test of time, it will be more valuable than newer cards.
- Rarity. Before the 1980s, card print runs were significantly lower than later print runs. Before the so-called Junk Wax Era (1986–1992), there weren’t as many possibilities as there are now, thus rookie cards were occasionally scarce and difficult to get.
- Popularity. The more popular the player, the more costly the old card.
In general, ancient cards in good condition will sell for very high prices since most people just want to get the best-preserved card available (those who can afford it, of course).
It is clear from the above information that Vintage Cards will naturally have greater demand, as typically far fewer were ever printed. Finding a vintage card with a higher grade is also not so easy as with modern cards. That is not to say that modern cards cannot be an investment, just that even with the knowledge of current players, the risk is far greater than with vintage cards. Modern cards by necessity are more of a gamble,