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The SlabStox Monthly Trading Card Market Report

Welcome to the SlabStox Monthly Trading Card Market Report!

A lot has changed since SlabStox began tracking the sports card market in 2018. And for a lot of you, we’re sure the market has evolved since you started collecting. Whether you’re new to the hobby or a long-time collector, you know things are moving fast. SlabStox Trading Card Market Report is the first of its kind—we’re going to break down key factors in the card market each month so you get a sense of what’s next. It’s for anyone who wants to understand the forces impacting card-buying and selling decisions.

Each month we’ll:

  • Present data and our takeaways that illustrate the current state of the card industry
  • Co-host a live podcast with @CardTalkPod breaking down the report and debating its findings
  • Encourage you to learn, comment on, debate and share it out with your card community

The SlabStox/Card Talk “State of the Card Market” podcast premieres soon! Stay tuned to our social media for updates.

If you want to get notified when the SlabStox Monthly Card Market Report gets published, subscribe to SlabStox’s Daily Slab newsletter, delivered to your inbox every morning at 7 a.m. ET. Besides the monthly report, you’ll get daily card market news, card-sales data on trending players, and a whole lot of SlabStox curated top-auction targets. 

Enjoy, learn and share. Give us feedback–it matters and will make each trading card market report even better.

June 2022: 5 Hot Takes On Today’s Card Market

How is the card market performing in a down economy? Which card categories are hot, and which are not? Whose recent performances are driving their card values up or down? What should card collectors be thinking about next? 

Here’s our takes on the current state of the card market, based on data provided by Card Ladder.

Two time periods are used in this first report to get a sense for the overall: 

  • Monthly (6/1/22 – 6/30/22)
  • Year to Date (1/1/22 – 6/30/22)

DISCLOSURES: All market data in this report is from Card Ladder. Card Ladder is a partner of SlabStox, but operates independently, providing card collectors and investors insights to make informed, up-to-date data-driven decisions. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research before making a decision. 

Takeaway 1: Sports card index down, but outperforming the “bear market” and “crypto winter”

There has been a lot written and reported on the current state of the U.S. economy:

  • Record gas and energy prices
  • Inflationary growth that hasn’t been seen for multiple decades
  • A shift from a “bull” to a “real bear” stock market
  • Rumblings of an oncoming recession 
  • Run-up of cryptocurrency and NFTs, and a prick of the bubble

So where does that leave the sports card market? 

Card Market Year-to-Date

According to Chris McGill, founder of Card Ladder, a data platform that tracks verified card transactions from 14 marketplaces (eBay, PWCC, etc.), sports cards have been fairly flat over the last year — but down 8% in June and it has dipped 13.76% year-to-date.

Card Ladder built the CL50 Index, an index of 50 highly transacted cards, to represent the overall market. Some of the cards included are the Wayne Gretzky 1979 O-Pee-Chee RC PSA 8, LeBron James 2003 Topps Chrome Base RC PSA 10, Patrick Mahomes 2017 Prizm Silver RC PSA 10 and the Hank Aaron 1954 Topps RC PSA 5. Here’s a look at how it changed over the last two years.

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From January 2021 until March 2021, the CL50 Index doubled in value — from 16,120 (1/3/21) to 33,200 (3/7/21) in just two months. It didn’t take long to correct in value. From March to June 2021, the CL50 dropped back to 16,800 (6/27/21).

“The CL50 Index hasn’t moved much over the last year,” McGill says. “The card market had a mania in 2021–a bull run unlike ever seen before. All those gains were wiped away.

“The bear market we’re seeing in other sectors, whether it is Bitcoin or the S&P taking a hit, the card market had about 14 months ago,” he explains. “What I see happening in other markets I remember watching it real-time in the card market a while ago.”

Here’s how the CL50 Index performed to other standard market indicators:

Markets Year-to-Date (1/1/22 – 6/30/22)
SlabStox

Andy Albert, owner of Indy Card Exchange, says boots-on-the-ground metrics prove there is still energy in the card market. 

“The optimism is still there and holding something tangible to collect or invest in will never go away,” Albert says, who recently organized the “Midwest Monster” card show that attracted nearly 4,000 card collectors to its first show in Indianapolis, June 17-18. 

“At our shop, there hasn’t been any dip or downturn in the number of people walking in and out,” he adds. “Obviously, people are spending money more wisely. The market is still strong but people are more selective in what they are buying.”

June 2022: 30-Day Performance

When comparing the June CL50 trend to the other months so far in 2022, it comes as the second worst performing month (-8.07%), right behind May (-8.71%).

The cards in the CL50 that have gotten hit the hardest this month are the Mike Trout 2011 Topps RC PSA 10 (-20%), Charizard 1999 Pokémon 1st Edition Holo PSA 9 (-20%) and the Oscar Robertson 1961 Fleer RC PSA 6 (-20%).

SlabStox

Buying the “surefire thing” with Patrick Mahomes and Luka Doncic was praised for years, but rubber hit the road for two of their high-end cards in June, as both of them experienced a card that lost ~$500,000 since the last time it sold. Mahomes’ 2017 National Treasures Gold RC Patch Auto /10 BGS 9.5 sold for $1,080,000 on 9/18/21, but recently sold for $480,000 on 6/16/22. Luka’s 2018 National Treasures Emerald RC Patch Auto /5 BGS 9 sold for $1,000,000 on 8/2/21, but recently sold for $504,000 on 6/16/22.

SlabStox Bottom Line
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  • Playoff misses. While -8% for the CL50 and -20% for the Mike Trout PSA 10 is a substantial monthly slide, it does understate how bad June has been for some of the cards in the market. Buying cards of players that rose in price due to playing at their peak performance proved to be an incredibly bad investment, as Jayson Tatum’s 2017 Prizm Blue RC /199 BGS 9.5 decreased 45% and Jordan Poole’s 2019 Prizm Fast Break Blue /175 RC PSA 10 decreased 52%.
  • The stalled flip. Buying cards to flip within a 30-day period was next to impossible in June, as your only luck would have come with capitalizing on a hot playoff flip.
  • What we’re feeling. People are selling if they: 
  1. Need money for living expenses/savings
  2. Are substantially in the green over the past three years or more
  3. Want cash flow to make stronger plays at the The National
  4. Don’t believe in a certain card long-term (generally base cards)
  5. Want to re-invest into a different “down” card.
Takeaway 2: Baseball’s upswing + F1 surge lead card market

While overall the card market is down this year, there are some standout bright spots—hockey up 2% in June with a Stanley Cup bounce, while baseball and racing have increased since the start of the year.

Card Market Comparisons
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Baseball, while down 3% in June, has increased 3.5% for the year, outpacing other major sports—football (-8.28 / -13.40%) and basketball (-6.15% / -15.13%). 

Racing, fueled by the exponential growth of the F1 card market coming off the success of the first 2020 Topps Chrome F1 release last year, has grown the most this year (+19.22%). For June, F1 sales have leveled off, trending down a hair (-2.63%) as the season is well underway, with one team dominating (Red Bull).

“2022 feels like baseball’s turn in the spotlight,” McGill says. “2020 was the year of basketball, 2021 football exploded on the heels of Brady and the Bucs Championship. A lot of people seem to now be interested in baseball.”

Albert’s perspective is that the market, whether up or down, is largely driven by the strength of rookie classes in product sets. 

“Baseball is up because of how strong the rookie class is,” he says. “People are looking into baseball because they can buy affordable products and can get good rookie cards. Bobby Witt Jr. and Julio Rodriguez—those guys are studs and with huge upside.

“Quarterbacks dominate the (football) marketplace,” Albert adds. “People who held and invested in the QB class of 2020 are very happy.”

Some specific category highlights from June: 

Racing: All-Time High Sales for MULTIPLE drivers in June
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Each of these drivers converted an all-time high sale for a card.

  1. Max Verstappen
    • 2020 Topps Chrome Red Auto /5 PSA 9/10 – $90,000 on 6/25/22 via Goldin
  2. Mick Schumacher
    • 2021 Topps Chrome Superfractor RC Auto 1/1 PSA 10/10 – $39,600 on 6/25/22 via Goldin
  3. Guanyu Zhou
    • 2021 Topps Chrome Superfractor Future Stars 1/1 PSA 8 – $18,000 on 6/4/22 via Goldin
  4. Team Logo: Mercedes
    • 2020 Topps Chrome Mercedes Superfractor 1/1 PSA 7 – $13,200 on 6/25/22 via Goldin
Baseball: High-End Bowman Chrome Rolls On
SlabStox

Some of the most important modern Bowman Chrome cards sold in June. Here are the 5 top selling players.

  1. Shohei Ohtani
    • 2018 Bowman Chrome Red Auto /5 PSA 9 – $240,000 on 6/16/22 via PWCC Premier Auction
  2. Mike Trout
    • 2009 Bowman Chrome Orange Auto /25 BGS 9.5 – $228,000 on 6/25/22 via Goldin
  3. Juan Soto
    1. 2016 Bowman Chrome Red Auto /5 PSA 7 – $144,000 on 6/16/22 via PWCC Premier Auction
  4. Christian Hernandez
    • 2021 Bowman Chrome Red Auto /5 PSA 10 – $58,200 on 6/25/22 via Goldin
  5. Marcelo Mayer
    • 2021 Bowman Chrome Red Auto /5 PSA 10/10 – $54,000 on 6/25/22 via Goldin
  • F1 benchmarks. Not only was the Topps Chrome Red Auto /5 the most expensive Max card ever, but it also was the most expensive Topps Chrome F1 Auto to ever sell. While Mick Schumacher’s sale was his “rookie,” he actually had a 2020 Topps Chrome Superfractor Auto 1/1 which was an F2 Future Stars card. The 2021 Guanyu Zhou is in the same boat as the Mick, except Zhou’s card isn’t a rookie, it’s his 2nd F2 Future Stars card. That fact combined with the sale price ($18,000) makes for a head scratcher. The Mercedes Superfractor was the first F1 Team Logo card to cross 5-figures, with the next closest sale being the Mercedes Sapphire Red /5 PSA 10 ($9,000 on 5/21/22).
  • Baseball slides. Bowman Chrome took a big hit from the peak prices, but not everything can go up forever, right? Ohtani’s Red decreased $72,000 (-23%) since the previous sale on 12/18/21. It was the exact same card (#3/5). Soto’s Red decreased $129,060 (-47%) since the previous sale 10/25/21. It was also the exact same card, and funny enough, matches the serial number on the Ohtani (#3/5).
  • Prospect prospectus. Bowman Chrome Red autos of Christian Hernandez ($58,200) and Marcelo Mayer ($54,000) sold for huge price tags. Both have only played in A-ball or below, and neither have put up impressive numbers. There were multiple bidders willing to pay $50K-plus for their red autos. Remember, just because a player is young and has tools doesn’t mean he is destined to be a star. This is a risky investment, but one that could pay off big. 
Takeaway 3: Like gold, vintage cards strong in a down market
SlabStox

New to Card Ladder are Pre-war Vintage, Vintage, Modern and Ultra-Modern card indexes. What do these new categories tell us about the market? 

  • Vintage cards are holding up in a down market
  • Vintage and Pre-War Vintage cards are significantly outperforming the CL50 Index
  • Modern cards overall have slipped dramatically in 2022 (-18.76%) 
  • Ultra Modern cards have dropped double-digits in June due to a correction (-10.17%)

Vintage runs hot 

Why are Vintage and Pre-War Vintage cards holding strong? One hypothesis is the icons of this era are historically proven out and their cards are a limited resource. This makes vintage cards less risky in collectors’ eyes. Does this equate to gold, which typically runs hot during market downturns?  

“The way I look at it, the card market consists of three types of buyers—collectors, investors and gamblers,” Albert explains. “Vintage appeals to two of those three buckets—collectors and investors—because it creates stability. Twenty-five years ago the vintage market was based on emotions, but now with grading it is quantifiable and vintage is constant and stable over time.”

He also thinks it goes deeper. Vintage cards connect on an emotional level with collectors. 

“The younger generation can see the impact these players had,” Albert adds. “Jackie Robinson–you can watch on YouTube and see the impact he made. He’s an exception in every way because of the fact he broke the color barrier and is so well loved across every generation. I never see that going away.”

Some trending vintage cards in June include:

  • 1955 Bowman Mickey Mantle PSA 4.5
  • 1981 O-Pee-Chee Paul Coffey PSA 8
  • 1957 Topps Bill Russell PSA 5
SlabStox

*Note: Vintage cards of the same grade can often vary in final sale price. Eye appeal is extremely important, and just because one grade sells for a certain amount does not mean the next sale of the same grade will match. That variance could contribute to certain cards rising in price quickly within one month.

A Deeper Look at Price Levels
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Surface numbers don’t always tell the full story of what is happening in the current market. While Modern and Ultra-Modern cards are taking a hit overall, it isn’t indicative of the entire market in these categories. 

For example, the Base card market has been wiped out from its peaks. Players like Luka Doncic (-25%), Ronald Acuña Jr (-47%) and Kylian Mbappé (-47%) have all gotten crushed since the start of the year on their extremely high population Base RC PSA 10s. Keep in mind, cards like the Luka Doncic 2018 Prizm Base RC PSA 10 are still nearly triple the price they were three years ago.

SlabStox

Albert says these numbers reflect a market correction that was long overdue.

“There was nowhere to go from a year ago but down,” he says. “It comes back to the local card shops educating people and steering them away from Luka Doncic PSA base rookies and Zion Williamson base cards that were way overpriced. 

“​​People are spending money on the right things now, buying National Treasures, Flawless and low-number Prizm color,” he says. “They’re still spending money—what is dragging those categories down is the standard, everyday flagship stuff. It’s finding its level because it dropped so hard and so fast.”

SlabStox Bottom Line 

Where’s the floor? The Base PSA 10 market still has room to drop. While the Luka Doncic 2018 Prizm Base RC PSA 10 is $333, which could look like a deal from the peak price of $2,000, that same card used to be $40. When they were $40, there weren’t 20,000 PSA 10s flooding the market like there are now. The market is extremely smart compared to two years ago, and the trend will continue on the low supply, sought after brand cards taking all of the market money.

Takeaway 4: Big players, big performances, big rewards (and some misses)

If you follow the Ultra-Modern card market, there’s one rule worth remembering: Performance plays out. 

Here are some key players and cards we tracked and reported on in June that are outperforming the market and their competition. Likewise, we’re including some cards that have sputtered—often for the same reason: Underperformance.

Let us know in the comments what cards are your winners and losers in June.

Winners
Andrew Wiggins
SlabStox

Nine seasons after being picked No. 1 in the 2014 NBA Draft, Andrew Wiggins has made the most of his shot at redemption. He earned a starting spot on the Western Conference All-Star team (to the dismay of some fans), and in the Finals, he played a key role for the Golden State Warriors, including a team leading 26-point Game 5 on the way to the Warriors fourth title in 8 years.  For a player labeled as “lazy” and “lackadaisical” for most of his NBA career, Wiggins put on a playoff show on both ends of the court against some of the best players in the league. Now, he has a ring.

Paul Goldschmidt
SlabStox

Paul Goldschmidt ended May with a Cardinals record that eclipsed some of the best hitters in the game. He finished the month with 23 extra base hits, topping Stan Musial (1954) and Albert Pujols (2003), who each previously held the record with 20. In June, Goldy has continued his hot hitting with a team-leading and career-best slash line of .342/.424/.630 with a 1.054 OPS. Holders of Goldschmidt’s 2011 Topps Update Rookie PSA 10 have been rewarded with his strong performance. It’s increased 12.91% over the last 30 days, with the most recent sale at $175. (6/28/22).

Cale Makar
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Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar has been nothing short of amazing during the Avalanche playoff run. Back when they clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals, he was praised by Wayne Gretzky. “The Great One” compared the 23-year-old Makar to Bobby Orr, considered the greatest defenseman of all-time. Makar has led the Avs throughout the playoffs with 29 points on 8 goals and 21 assists. Makar’s 2019 Upper Deck Young Guns Rookie PSA 10 has skyrocketed in the last year, growing 150.64%. Makar is already a Calder Trophy winner, as he was the top NHL rookie in 2019-20. He also won the Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup at age 23.

Losers
Juan Soto
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Deebo Samuel
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Jayson Tatum
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SlabStox Bottom Line
  • Free falling. If you hold cards of players that are DOMINATING in the playoffs, you better be ready to sell if you’re looking to take profit. Once a playoff run ends (win or lose), oftentimes the cards come back to earth (or fall to the core in Tatum’s case).
  • Offseason moves. If you are extremely impressed by a player whose cards rise in the playoffs, take the offseason as the perfect opportunity to invest for the long-term. If you bought Giannis in the offseason after they blew a 2-0 series lead on the Raptors in 2019, you’d be a very happy buyer right now.
Takeaway 5: What’s Coming & What to Watch

We want to end our market report with a look ahead. Here is what’s on our mind for the coming months. Let us know what you’re thinking about—we just may cover it in our next SlabStox Monthly Card Market Report.

The Fanatics Effect

Where does Fanatics Collectibles, now holding the lion’s share of the card market including the Topps brand and most of the major sport licenses, lead the market during the second half 2022? It’s an unanswered question. 

The market has gotten a peek at some things Fanatics is rolling out—direct to consumer selling, blind dutch auctions for zerocool cards products, more transparent reporting on product runs (zerocool)—but there are many unanswered questions. 

  • When will new sports products be released? 
  • Will they be flagship brands (Topps, Bowman) or Fanatics? 
  • What is the timing of releases? 
  • What is the distribution model for local card shops? 

There are so many unknowns, but we’ll be watching.

Panini Quality

We’ve reported a number of quality issues coming out of Panini last month. Here are a few that we covered in June:

Imagine you buy a box of 2021 @paniniamerica Optic Contenders FOTL at the floor price of $675, you get your box in the mail, open it, and there’s NOTHING inside. Well, that just happened to @mikeybcards. The damaged cards are one thing, but no cards at all? Has anything like this ever happened to you? (NOTE: To Panini’s credit, they quickly replaced the empty box.)

A MONSTER Reece James Obsidian Dual Patch Auto 1/1 was hit on Obsidian Soccer release day by @tanpulls for @joeyc_cards… but @paniniamerica put the wrong autograph on it. Instead of it being an auto of the Chelsea superstar, it was Heung-Min Son’s autograph (forward for Tottenham Hotspur). Son was one of the best Premier League players this season (23 open play goals), but on such a huge card, it’s less than ideal. Would you request a replacement if you pulled this?

We’ve seen the back damage, we’ve seen the poor centering…but how about a missing corner?! @mjbreaks pulled this monster Ja’Marr Chase Prizm Gold RC /10 except the bottom right corner is chopped off. The QC on 2021 Prizm has lacked quality. What do you think this would grade?

With Fanatics Collectibles likely having more impact on the second half of the year, what does Panini need to do to step-up its game? More importantly, will they secure various sport license deals that are now running out?

The National and other shows

Some plan all year for The National. This year it returns to the East Coast—Atlantic City, N.J., July 27-July 31.

It’s SlabStox’s first time in AC (2020 was canceled due to COVID-19), so we really don’t know what to expect. Be sure to visit SlabStox at Booth 1461; @CardCollector2, Booth 1560; and @CardTalkPod Booth 1060, 961.

This is what we do know:

  • The market dynamics will be different than last year. Vendors will be picky with what they buy and attendees will be more budget conscious.
  • Shameless plug—SlabStox’s Camp Kesem Charity Night will be held through multiple online events leading up to The National and will culminate at the popular Trade Night hosted by @CardCollector2 and @RoadShowCards. To participate and contribute to Camp Kesem Charity, check out this video and watch here to see last year’s results
Card Shows Worth Checking Out
  • July 1-2
    • A-Z Cards and Collectibles, Clovis, CA
    • Fort Lauderdale Card Show, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • July 7-10
    • (July 7-9) S&B Sports Promotions Sports Card & Memorabilia Show, North Wales, PA
    •  (July 9-10)  GG2 Sportscard Show, Springdale, AR 
    • Garden State Trading Card Show, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
    • (July 9-10) Bay Area Sports Card Show, Clearwater, FL 
  • July 14-17
    • Dallas Card Show, Allen, TX
  • July 22-24
    • (July 22-23) Tampa Bay Sports Card Show, Tampa, FL
    • Battlefield Mall Sports Card Show, Springfield, MO
  • July 27-31
    • The National Sports Collectors Convention, Atlantic City, NJ
July Product Releases

Many product releases have been delayed by manufacturers due to supply chain issues. The release dates below are subject to change by the manufacturer. Dates provided by Cardboard Connection.

July 1: 2022 Select UFC 

July 6: 2021 Topps Chrome Bundesliga 

July 8: 2021 Prizm NBA; 2021 Finest Bundesliga 

July 13: 2021 Topps Finest UEFA 

July 15: 2022 Prizm WNBA 

July 20: 2021 National Treasures Basketball; 2021 Optic Football; 2022 Bowman Chrome Road to UEFA U21 Euros Soccer 

July 27: 2021 Select Football 

July 29: 2021 Impeccable Premier League Soccer

August Barometer for the Card Market

This time of year is funky for the card market. We’re in the middle of the baseball season, football camp begins at the end of the month and with the 2022 basketball draft complete, all eyes are on the NBA offseason and where players move.

McGill from Card Ladder perhaps summarized it best, and it is worth sharing: 

Chris McGill

It’s a very interesting time of the year in the hobby.  There isn’t a lot of sports news and sports headlines from the Big 3 sports that will fire people up to go out there and buy cards. It’s always interesting to watch and see how it unfolds. When we start ramping up to football season and basketball season coming back, and that overlaps with the playoffs in baseball, the lead up to that will be a good test of our market. Will we see prices climb up again or not? That’s going to be the real test—August will be a good indicator of where we’re at.

SlabStox Last Word
  • Reasons to sell. Just like other markets (stocks, crypto, NFTs), people are selling for a multitude of reasons. Maybe people need living expenses, maybe people are saving for The National to buy that grail when they find it on the dip, or maybe people just don’t believe in a certain card as a long-term investment anymore.
  • Buy on the dip. While selloffs create short-term price drops, it could also create opportunities that might not have presented themselves. If you have the disposable funds, it might be time to focus on a few cards you want to stash away long-term. If you believe in the hobby and collecting for the long haul, view this as a time to secure cards you may not otherwise see for sale.
  • The X-factor. The real barometer for hobby health is not the day-to-day fluctuations in price. It’s the excitement that collectors have for not only the cards themselves, but to be involved in a great hobby with others like themselves. We experienced a tremendous amount of excitement at the Midwest Monster in Indianapolis in June, and we cannot wait to see the amount of collectors that show up to Atlantic City in July!
Categories
Popular Culture

The Top Jackie Robinson Baseball Cards

Before we talk about the top Jackie Robinson baseball cards, let’s talk about the man. In all of sports, few individuals remain as iconic and revered as Jackie Robinson. He’s the only player in any professional sport to have his number retired by every franchise.  A paramount advocate of civil rights, Robinson endured unrelenting prejudice and scrutiny in his military and baseball career.  Nevertheless, he persevered through all of this and ended his playing days as an MVP and World Series champion.  

Born in 1919, Jackie was a standout star at UCLA before playing for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro leagues.  After stints for minor league ball clubs, he made his Major League debut on April 15, 1947, becoming the first baseball player to break the color barrier.  He would go on to play for nine more years before retiring in 1956.  

The Top Jackie Robinson baseball cards, much like the cards of his former teammate and rivals, remain as staples from the golden era of trading card collecting.  The vibrant hues and designs from early Topps and Bowman designs hold up exceptionally well.  And, in an increasingly digitized world, Jackie’s cards stand out as powerful remnants of postmodern Americana.

Today, we are going to do a deep dive into the top Jackie Robinson baseball cards.  We will also talk about the market for these vintage gems and their rarity. So, without further ado, let’s get right into it:

1. 1952 Topps Jackie Robinson #312: $5,000-$950,000
CardLadder

The importance of the 1952 Topps Baseball set has been well documented over the years. Containing some of the most valuable pieces of cardboard in existence, this set features unrivaled artwork and detail that we just don’t see in modern products.  And the Jackie Robinson #312 is no exception.  This is Jackie’s most expensive card to date, reaching a price of $960,000 in 2021.  

The cards from ‘52 Topps are a slightly bigger size than the 2.5” x 3.5” dimensions we see in most products today.  These cards were also found in the bike spokes and baskets of many young collectors in the 50s. Finding one in the PSA 9 condition shown above is quite a daunting task.  There are currently no PSA 10s registered, and with 70 years gone by, it’s unlikely that an ungraded copy has remained in perfect condition all this time.

Lower graded versions of the #312 can be found online for a lot less than $960,000.  This is a card that stands at the top of many holy grail lists, and it’s undoubtedly one of the best baseball cards in history.

2. 1948 Leaf Jackie Robinson #79: $5,000 – $470,000
Heritage Auctions

The 1948 Leaf #79 is considered by most to be his true rookie card. The sharp contrast between the blue Dodger cap and yellow background makes this card pop nearly 75 years later.  This PSA 9 sold for $336,000 in 2018. With no existing PSA 10s, it would probably bring an exponentially higher auction price in today’s market.

A PSA 8 copy sold in February for over $470,000, marking the highest price for any Leaf trading card.  This is one of the most sought-after post-war cards, and it deserves a spot on pretty much any vintage baseball card list out there.

3. 1949 Bowman Jackie Robinson #50: $2,000 – $500,000
CardLadder

Here is the first showcased card from Bowman, who produced cards independently until being acquired by Topps in 1956.  Much like the 1948 Leaf, it doesn’t resemble the traditional trading card size that we see today. And, much like the 1952 Topps, it features a crisp red background that beautifully contrasts the famous Dodger blue on Robinson’s jersey and cap.

Like most on this list, this card has yet to produce a PSA 10 grade.  However, there are ten PSA 9s in the registry at this time, with one reaching a sale price of $510,000 in April 2021.  You can find lower-grade PSA, Beckett, and SGC copies for sale on eBay, and the color still pops on those seven decades later.

4. 1953 Topps Jackie Robinson #1: $500 – $295,000
CardLadder

The ‘53 Topps is unique for this list because it’s the only card where Jackie is #1 in the set.  It is also an extremely tough grade due to the black edges and corners on the bottom right.  Remarkably, there is still a single PSA 10 in the registry, but it has yet to surface for an auction.

Jackie hit for a phenomenal .329 batting average in 1953 and helped to continue Brooklyn’s string of success.  This Topps design is almost as iconic as its predecessor., The PSA 9 copy above sold for nearly $300,000 last year, the second-highest sale for a 1953 Topps card, with Mickey Mantle’s PSA 9 being the only card to sell for more.

5. 1950 Bowman Jackie Robinson #22: $1,000 – $120,000
CardLadder

This beauty from 1950 Bowman is the first on the list to feature an “action” shot.  The card pictured shows Jackie’s follow-through after he takes a swing.  The background also showcases historic Ebbets Field, the former home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. 

There are twelve of these PSA 9s, which is very impressive considering the card’s small 2-1/16″ by 2-1/2” dimensions.  This is Jackie’s second and last appearance in a Bowman set, which also speaks to the rarity of the item.  You can find this mini piece of artwork here, as lower grades tend to sell for only a fraction of the $120,000 PSA 9 price.

6. 1954 Topps Jackie Robinson #10: #300 – $55,000
CardLadder

The next three entries highlight the unparalleled excellence of 1950s Topps designs.  The 1954 Topps set includes rookies of Hank Aaron, Al Kaline, and Ernie Banks. It also boasts exceptional coloring and neat in-action shots of players. The ‘54 Jackie showcases bright yellows, reds, and blues that still illuminate a collection today.

This card is the most affordable on the list so far, as ungraded singles can be picked up in the $200-300 range. A PSA 9, the highest grade for this card, sold for over $55,000 last year, marking another impressive price for a mint condition Jackie Robinson card.

7. 1955 Topps Jackie Robinson #50: $200 – $75,000
CardLadder

The first horizontal card on the list, 1955 Topps features Roberto Clemente and Sandy Koufax’s rookie cards. It’s some of the most visually striking printed cardboard you will ever see.  Also of significance, it’s the year of Jackie’s one and only World Series win, triumphantly defeating the Yankees in seven games.

This card is also the only one on the list to have a known PSA 10 sale.  In 2007, Memory Lane Auctions sold the sole Gem Mint copy for $44,000, and it would likely be 10x that price if it hit the market today. Conversely, a PSA 1 can be picked up for around $325, and it’s a necessary addition to any vintage baseball collection.

8. 1956 Topps Jackie Robinson #30: $200 – $75,000
CardLadder

Number 8 on the list is Mr. Robinson’s last Topps card, and it is just as aesthetically pleasing as previous Topps copies.  In 1956, a 37-year-old Jackie hit for .275 and led the Dodgers to another World Series appearance, narrowly losing to the rival Yankees.

‘56 Topps also famously contains gray back and white back versions of its cards.  Cards #1-100 are typically sought after as a gray back, but the difference in rarity for series 1 cards is slim.  So, in the case of Jackie Robinson, you can typically find both for sale pretty easily. This includes a $75,000 sale of a PSA 9 copy last year, one of 17 in existence.

9. 1952 Berk Ross Jackie Robinson: $1,000 – $100,000
CardLadder

Here is the first “alternative” card on our list, which is a card produced by a smaller company that still remains relevant.  New York photographer Berk Ross released two sets in 1951 and 1952 that have achieved quite a fandom as time has passed.  Robinson does not have a card in the ‘51 set, but the slab above shows the Dodgers legend leaping in the air for his ‘52 photo.  

Rare items like the Berk Ross set remind us of the importance of cards and the story they tell.  Almost every collector will know about Jackie’s 1952 Topps card, but cards like these just never appear.  There are only three PSA 9s out there and zero Gem Mint 10s.  The PSA 9 copy shown sold for over $100,000 last year, a true collector’s piece.  Lower-graded iterations for sale can be found here.

10. 1947 Bond Bread Jackie Robinson: $1,000 – $50,000
CardLadder

To round off our list, how about a card from … a bread company? In 1947, Bond Bread released a photo set that included 13 different cards of Major League Baseball’s first African American player. The copy shown above, which is the only one from the set to contain a facsimile autograph, sold for over $50,000 in May.  This is a big sale for alternative vintage cards, so it will be interesting to see if this set gains more traction in the hobby.

This is also the only card on the list from Robinson’s rookie campaign, a remarkable year where Jackie won ROTY and silenced many critics in the press.  This stunner from Bond Bread serves as a great reminder of that legendary rookie season.

Did we miss one of the top Jackie Robinson baseball cards? Let us know @CardTalkPod on Instagram and Twitter!

Categories
Popular Culture

Prepare for the National – Your Ultimate Guide

We are quickly approaching the best time of the year for trading card collectors: the National Sports Collectors Convention. Since 1980, the NSCC has consistently been the premier event for hobby enthusiasts.  And this year is no exception, as the show will make its way to Atlantic City, NJ on July 27-31.  While it has become a hotspot to meet new people and add grails to your collection, it’s also a place to see unreal pieces of memorabilia.  Just last year, Goldin Auctions featured displays of game-worn Air Jordans and an authentic boxing robe of Muhammad Ali.  Needless to say, this show is like a trip to the Smithsonian at times, but how do you prepare for the National?

When you are attending the biggest card show on this planet, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the buzz and excitement circulating in the building.  If this is your first time navigating through the National, it may be wise to channel your best Phil Jackson and make a game plan.  Luckily, we know just the right person to explain the atmosphere of America’s greatest card show.

Card Talk’s own Ryan Johnson (aka CardCollector2) has an excellent YouTube series on how to prepare for the National.  As a prominent figure in the hobby, Ryan has been documenting his experiences at shows for years now, all while sharing important tools of the trade with newer collectors.  And chances are that if you are reading this article, you have seen a few of his videos.  

Today we are going to highlight a few of Ryan’s key tips from his series and hopefully add a couple more quick pointers that will make your trip to the NSCC a success.  So, let’s just get right into it. Without further ado, here is a quick guide to the biggest card show in the world:

When to Go?
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm
A view from last year’s National of the Main Stage schedule

As we mentioned previously, the National is a 5-day show, and some may not have the availability to be there for every minute of it.  One of the best points that Ryan brings up is fitting the show to your schedule and needs.  If you are looking to browse through hundreds of boxes/showcases to find some deals, then getting there on day one should be a priority.  Grading with PSA and Beckett is also an important endeavor to take care of early- the lines can really build up later on in the week.  However, if you are just looking for a few pieces, or you just want to meet your favorite player, it may be best to plan around the autograph schedule.  This can be found on the NSCC website, and it shows the list of all the athletes you can expect to see. 

This isn’t to say that being there every day is not worth your time. It is.  You will see jaw-dropping, magazine-cover stuff.  But prepare for the National in advance, so that when you’re pressed for time you can maximize your experience.

VIP Packages/Perks
https://nsccshow.com/tickets-and-vip
NSCCshow.com

It is also important to note the VIP options of the show, which are currently listed on the NSCC site as well.  Choosing the right package for you is one of the most important ways to prepare for the National. Ryan outlines a few of the benefits of purchasing a VIP or Super VIP bundle, including a private lounge area, 30-minute early access, and free parking passes.

The VIP package features a gift bag, tickets to a VIP party that’s typically on Wednesday before the show opens and features some autograph opportunities, and a badge to keep on when you’re entering the show.  This badge becomes really important when you are running in and out of the convention center, as you can just show it to security without any hassle or wait times. You also get an extra half hour to peruse the aisles before they become insanely crowded, which can be a real advantage if you have your eye on a particular card.

Another benefit is the promotional items that Panini, Topps, and Upper Deck put out for the National every year.  VIP members will typically receive a standard promotional set from each company,.  VIPs are entitled to one from each company. Super VIPs are entitled to two of each giveaway.

As of early June, the Super VIP package has already sold out, but general admission tickets and regular VIP are still available.  

The Essentials
https://zioncases.com/
ZionCases.com

Another facet of the show that many forget to prepare for the National is packing correctly and bringing the essentials that every hobbyist may need.  

If you’re bringing cards to trade or sell at the show, you may want to consider a backpack or a carrying case.  Zion Cases are a fresh way to keep your cards both handy and safe, all while having the suave briefcase look.  If you would like to save 10% on these cases use code “CardCollector2” at checkout.

One thing that Ryan and many others will emphasize is the importance of comfortable shoes.  This show has an entire convention center at its disposal, so there will be a lot of walking and a lot of standing in lines.  Thankfully, there are typically areas on the side where you can find a seat and rest for a minute if need be.

Also, if you’re new to a card show, it is always a good idea to have some cash on hand.  Most dealers will accept PayPal or some sort of digital transaction, but having a couple of crisp bills will always make a transaction quick and simple, especially if there is an inconsistent cell signal.  Having some cash on hand when you get there will definitely save you some time, as going to the bank could be tricky and you won’t have to deal with ATM transaction fees and limits.

Dealer Etiquette/Relationships
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

This may be the single most important aspect of the National.  You may just be attending to grab a quick autograph or to see a few seven-figure cards, which is perfectly okay.  But if you are starting to focus more on branding yourself in the hobby, then it is paramount that you work to build new relationships. 

This starts with some key rules of “dealer etiquette” that Ryan outlines in the series.  For starters, it is generally impolite to buy a card from somebody when two parties have already started a deal.  It’s also vital to remain respectful of the dealer’s setups as well. Try not to record their tables without asking, and you probably don’t want to put your cases/backpacks on their glass displays without asking.  Mindful rules like the ones mentioned will make you more likely to get to know the sellers and establish that relationship. Those handshakes and conversations can go a long way in the hobby, and finding those familiar faces will help when you’re in such an overwhelming space.

On-Site Grading/Show Exclusives
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Another benefit of the NSCC is the exclusive opportunities that companies offer.  We touched on the on-site grading that PSA and Beckett typically provide, which will range in price depending on the service you select.  However, there are options to receive the card on the same day you submit it, but those prices increase as the show progresses.  It’s best to take care of your grading endeavors early so you can avoid the lines and extra fees that may be added on.

Panini also provides an enticing service for collectors with expired redemption cards, known as their White Boxes.  A Panini White Box Redemption will include an encased 1/1 card that has been taken out of circulation from the product it came from.  And, just like the exclusive promotional packs, these White Boxes can bring in a pretty penny as well.

Trade Nights
@cardcollector2

The final video from Ryan’s series talks about the Trade Night at the National, which is by far the best way to connect with everyday collectors in-person.  According to Ryan, this event started back in 2015 and only had around 30-40 attendees in the beginning.  The picture above, taken at last year’s Trade Night, shows just how far it has grown in less than a decade.

At the Trade Night, you can expect many people set up with their cards on a table, all while chatting with friends or watching a game.  It’s a much more relaxed vibe than the buzzing and whirring of the show, and it provides an excellent opportunity to build relationships within the card community.  Additionally, it’s a great way to trade more liquid cards into a higher-end piece and vice versa.  This is a free and safe environment that was put together by two of the hobby’s best and most trusted figures. It will be held on Thursday this year, so make sure to stay tuned to @cardcollector2 on all social media channels for news and updates.

I was fortunate enough to attend this Trade Night and many other smaller ones while at the National last year.  Ryan and Jimmy from Kentucky Roadshow did an incredible job with the venue, and it enabled me to meet many new faces that I still communicate with on a regular basis.  If you have the time, I highly recommend stopping by the Trade Night for an hour or two.

See You in July!
meetac.com

The days are waning down until the 42nd National Sports Collectors Convention.  If you have any more questions regarding the show, be sure to watch Ryan’s vlogs from last year’s National.  They help to give a first-hand account of what it was like on the show floor.  

You don’t want to miss it in Atlantic City this year. As we’ve seen the hobby grow to new heights, so have the card shows across the nation.  Who knows what’s in store for the National this year? We hope to see you there!

Do you have any tips on how to prepare for the National? Share them with us on Twitter or Instagram @cardtalkpod

Categories
Popular Culture

How to Ship Trading Cards

We have seen the trading card industry grow exponentially over the last three years, ushering in an era of new collectors.  This comes at a time in the hobby where social media and e-commerce sites are used for a large percentage of sellers’ business. Sites like eBay and MySlabs provide a virtual card show anytime you open your phone, allowing you to seamlessly browse cards of your favorite players. If you don’t know how to ship trading cards, you could be costing yourself a ton of money.  

However, as Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben once put it, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  The physical act of mailing cards is not to be taken lightly, especially at a time when fans are paying millions of dollars for cards to be shipped to their door.

Selling online requires logistical prowess. The process of finding a buyer, negotiating a deal on your terms, and finalizing payment can be long and strenuous.  But securing a package after a transaction is just as important for the seller’s reputation.  Later on, we will be outlining a step-by-step guide on shipping a card.

But for now, let’s go over some essential do’s and don’ts to mailing out your trading cards.

The Do’s of Shipping
1. Sleeve and Topload Your Card
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

The #1 rule of how to ship trading cards is to ALWAYS sleeve and top load the card. Toploaders and penny sleeves can be found online and at pretty much any local card shop.  The process is pretty simple: sleeve the card first, and then carefully slide it into the toploader.  Be cautious and avoid dinging corners, especially on thin 35 pt. paper cards. A protected card is a common courtesy that goes a long way in the shipping process.

2. Provide Tracking on Packages
Getty

When you are trying to legitimize your online business, there is no greater step that you can take than to obtain tracking information on shipments.  eBay and many big e-commerce websites have built-in methods for tracking.  However, if you work out a private deal, it is imperative that you purchase the service that issues tracking for your card.  Relaying that tracking number back to the buyer can save a lot of stress and tension if the item gets lost in transit, and it builds a sense of security around your online presence.

3. Buy Shipping Materials in Bulk
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

The costs of moving large quantities of cards can add up.  Large stores and post offices will carry the mailers and boxes you may need, but paying for each individual item will really put a dent in your profit margin.  A quick search on Amazon will bring up ample deals for the shipping goods you will need on your quest to become a logistics expert.  And as you build your online storefront and sell more slabs, you’re going to be saving hundreds by having a large selection of materials at your disposal.

4. Recycle Everything
Getty

Now that you are already saving money on bulk orders, why not double up? That cardboard box you got from Amazon containing your bubble mailers? Reuse it.  The box that your new hoodie came in? Reuse it.  Any box that will appropriately fit your cards can be reused, saving both the environment and your wallet.

Older toploaders can also be reused on shipments.  Over time, the plastic may become yellow or scratch, but it can still serve the purpose of protecting the card.  With manufacturing delays that have ensued over the pandemic, we have seen the prices of toploader cases skyrocket. Therefore, it is in your best interest to keep those cases around.  They will come in handy on a rainy day.

5. Ship Graded Cards in Boxes
USPS

The hard plastic of a PSA or Beckett graded card is oftentimes strong enough to slice through a thin bubble mailer. This can chip the slab and damage the card, which will anger the person on the receiving end.  Adding a cardboard box as an extra layer of protection can alleviate headaches and, yet again, adds a sense of professionalism.

You can even have some USPS supplies shipped right to your door for free, including small boxes and envelopes.  These boxes work great for packaging a slab and sending it securely.

The Don’ts
1. Leaving Cards Unprotected
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Once again, this goes without saying.  But getting a card without a sleeve and toploader is the biggest red flag for a seller, and it will strongly fracture your chances of working out future deals if you ship trading cards in this manner.

2. Using Scotch Tape on Cards
Amazon

While it may seem the same as any other tape, the regular Scotch tape will leave unwanted residue on the toploader, which can damage the surface of the card.  Instead, elect to use painter’s tape, which we will talk about later when we showcase some of the best products to ship trading cards.

3. Shipping Expensive Cards in Plain White Envelopes
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Plain white envelopes (PWE) are an inexpensive and accessible option for shipping.  Nevertheless, they offer little safety for cards and really shouldn’t be used to ship trading cards worth more than $5-10.  As a result, the card could show up at the buyer’s house bent 90 degrees or ripped altogether.  For all intents and purposes, it’s best to leave PWEs for bills and letters.

4. Getting Unorganized/Lack of Branding
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

This is pretty applicable for all facets of the hobby, but losing track of cards or shipping supplies adds unnecessary anxiety to your online endeavors.  

We recommend taking some time and designating a space for a shipping station.  This could be an area to keep all mailers, toploaders, and eBay-listed cards in one place, which will avoid fiascos and negative reviews in your eBay account.

Additionally, a quick note or business card can go a long way in building your brand.  Large collectors will have dozens of shipments rolling in every week, so a stamp of your brand can distinguish you from the rest.

5. Shipping Late
Getty

Last is yet another necessary step to building a healthy reputation online.  If you ship a package 4-5 days after a deal is finalized it’s a huge detriment to attracting business.  This hobby sees the values of cards change daily, so getting those pieces in the hands of the buyers quickly should be a huge priority.  

Next, let’s break down the correct steps in how to ship trading cards.

How to Ship a Trading Card (Step-by-Step)
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Step 1: Sleeve and ToploadThis may sound like a broken record at this point, but this is the first and most important step in the shipping process.  

Step 2: Tape the Slit of the Toploader- Cut a piece of painter’s tape and create a seal over the top of the toploaded card.  This prevents the card from falling out in transit.

Step 3: Team Bag- A team bag is another handy piece of plastic that covers up your card.  Place the card inside the team bag and seal the team bag using its adhesive.

Step 4: Place in Small Bubble Mailer- Now that your card has multiple layers of protection, go ahead and drop it into your small bubble mailer.  Secure the adhesive and seal up the mailer.

(Optional) Step 5: Put Small Mailer in Bigger Mailer- To go above and beyond, you can place your small mailer into a bigger one for extra padding.  This can also distinguish your shipping methods from others, which can become an important component of your branding.  If you are shipping a graded card, make sure to add this big mailer into a cardboard box before proceeding to the next step.

Step 6: Add Layer of Tape Over Mailer- Whichever mailer you decide on, make sure you use some Scotch tape to secure the outer seal of your mailer.  In this case, the old adage applies: better safe than sorry.

Step 7: Write/Print Out Label- Most e-commerce sites have readily-available methods to print out your shipping label, but you can always manually write it on the outside of your mailer/box.  

Step 8: Tracking- Finally, make sure you always communicate the tracking number to the seller after shipping.  After you complete this step, the rest is out of your hands, but you have done all the right things that a shipping expert does.

Shipping Products You Need:
Penny Sleeves/Toploaders
UltraPro

This duo is the Shaq and Penny of sports cards.  Classic, iconic, and necessary if you are ever going to ship a card.  Check at this site or your local card shop, for they may carry the 100-pack of toploaders.

Team Bags
Ultra Pro

If we are continuing on this Orlando Magic theme, team bags are like Dennis Scott or Nick Anderson: still vital for the shipping process.  Check here to purchase some, but they are usually in stock at hobby shops as well.

Bubble Mailers
Amazon

As we discussed earlier, you need to buy these in bulk.  You’ll save hundreds on the back end over time.  Smaller mailers can be found here, while bigger mailers can be purchased here.

Tape Gun
Amazon

Say hello to my little friend! This can be used to secure and fasten openings on the exterior of the package, and they can be picked up online relatively cheaply.

Painter’s Tape
Amazon

We picked the frog tape because it looks cool, but any brand of painter’s tape will suffice.  One roll can make it through hundreds of cards, so you shouldn’t have to worry about restocking too often.  Although if you are having to buy more, it is a sign that business is booming.  Painter’s tape can be found for sale here.

Thermal Printer
Amazon

This last entry is not necessarily a requirement, but it makes a huge difference when you start shipping high volumes of cards.  The printer attached here is one of many you can find online. Some even connect to Bluetooth and will ship in correspondence to your eBay app.  If you’re looking for a more clean, crisp look in your shipments, we highly recommend picking one of these bad boys up.