Friday, October 8, 2010


Although I've only been writing this blog for six months, I began building my Vintage Baseball Cards website during the year 2000. Over the past decade, one of the most common questions asked of me is, "how much are my cards worth?"

For a variety of reasons, I've avoided playing the price game when it comes to cards. I don't give any values on the site for several reasons:

First, it's an informational site which is more geared towards identifying vintage cards than anything else.

Second, I really don't want to deal with emails from visitors saying, "you told me my card was worth $X, but my card sold for $(X-150) on eBay!" You know, the ones followed by the standard "You suck/I'm never going to visit again/You owe me $150" retort. Then, the eBay link shows a card that looks like it was run through the wringer (but assumed to sell for high Beckett value). Honestly, I have enough trouble in my life without adding to it.

Third, and most importantly...I'm just lazy (and cheap). Keeping up with prices means having to update my site constantly, and paying for price guides and services that monitor eBay auctions. By skipping over card values, I can remain cheap and lazy. More importantly, I can focus more on the fun part of the hobby and less on the stodgy, often cruel and callous business side.

That said, one of my buddies (who does happen to deal in the business side of this hobby) has written a tremendously informative page explaining some things about card values. Read it here. Really, go and read it. He says pretty much the same thing I've been explaining for years. About the only thing I would add to his explanation is that some cards benefit from a regional bias...Tigers sell better in Detroit, Reds cards have a higher demand in Cincinnati...we all know that Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox cards are in more demand due to their fan base, etc. The link to that page has been added to the Links section at the top of this blog.

I'll conclude with a demonstration of something that affects a card's value. Take a look at this card:

There are a bunch of things that are going to keep this 1957 Topps Lou Skizas card from getting a high Beckett price. The corners are rounded, there are visible scuffs and scratches on the card and a small wrinkle. Aside from the condition, Lou Skizas possessed enough athletic ability to earn a spot on a  major league roster, but he never was a star and is thus considered a common player. The A's were a second-tier team during the time they played in Kansas City (in fact, they were often derided as a "farm club" for the Yankees), so there's little regional benefit. It's not part of the harder series of 1957 cards, which keeps it form being more valuable due to scarcity.

In short, there's absolutely no reason to pay $15 for that card because a hobby magazine suggests that's what it's worth. However, if it shows up on a dealer table for $1-2, there are a lot of collectors who'll snap it up quickly for their sets. It's a decent enough card to use as filler.

However, if you compare that Lou Skizas card to this one:

A price tag of one or two dollars on that other card doesn't look so bad, does it?


  1. The regional bias is a great point regarding value. There are also certain players that have gathered a "cult" following and typically sell for over book value in many cases. The truth is, it's good to know current values of cards to not get ripped off, but value of a card should ultimately come down to what a collector is willing to pay for an item.

  2. Skizas is the second card I got from the Topps Millions giveaway. Haven't had it sent yet, but hopefully it falls somewhere above your first example...