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The Increasing Popularity and Value of Sports Card Investing

Sports card investing is the act of treating sports trading cards like assets that appreciate over time and can turn into profit. It is a big business, with over $871 million worth of sports cards traded on eBay in the first quarter of 2021. 

History of Sports Card Investing

Sports card investing has been around for decades, although it is experiencing a boom due to the pandemic. The first baseball cards were inserted into packs of cigarettes in the 1880s to help them stand upright. In the 1920s and 1930s, you could find cards in packs of chewing gum and Cracker Jack boxes.

It wasn't until the 1950s that Topps started selling sports cards as a separate product, rather than giving them away as prizes in Cracker Jack boxes. The hobby soon exploded, and by the 1980s, the value of certain cards, such as Mickey Mantle and Honus Wagner, started to skyrocket.

The Recession of Sports Card Investing

In the 1900s, the sports card investing world experienced a recession. Too many cardmakers entered the space, flooding the market with products. This abundance of cards disengaged hobbyists and sent prices plummeting.

When several cardmakers went out of business in the early 2000s, the sports card market corrected itself. The arms race ended with a handful of superpowers (Topps and Upper Deck) controlling supply to keep the market hungry.

Why Is Sports Card Investing Gaining Popularity Recently?

The buying, selling and trading of cards, like Pokemon cards and sports cards, became extremely popular during the COVID-19 pandemic because:

  • Many new collectors seeking a hobby they could afford at home entered the market.
  • Millennials and those feeling nostalgic for their childhood picked the hobby back up.
  • Investors saw an opportunity to buy rapidly appreciating assets and then sell them for a profit.
  • Many sports fans turned to trade cards to cope with the lack of sports on TV.

As a result, eBay reported a rise in general trading card sales in 2020 over 2019, which can be directly attributed to the pandemic-fueled trading card frenzy. 

Are Old Sports Cards Worth Anything?

If you have an old shoebox full of cards, there might be some in there that are worth something. Here's how to identify them:

  • Check the Condition: Even if a card is of a well-known player, it won't be worth much to investors if it's damaged. Cards must be in mint condition and authenticated by the Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) to have value. For example, PSA pokemon cards 7 in the Pokemon world typically sell for around 5 per cent of the value of a PSA 10 card.
  • Filter By Year: Cards from 1985 and earlier are generally more valuable than those from 1986-2016. The latter period is when sports cardmakers started flooding the market and thus devaluing cards.
  • Autographs Aren't Worth Anything: Pre-2000 autographs are tough to verify, so they don't have much value to investors. It might be better of keeping them for yourself or giving them as a gift.
  • Rookie Cards: Especially those of famous athletes, rookie cards are the most sought-after by collectors and investors. Vintage cards of famous athletes like Larry Byrd are the holy grail.
  • Check Market Values: The next step is to check how much they are worth by looking at SOLD listings on eBay and Sports Card Investor.


The growing interest in sports cards drove investors to purchase them, making them valuable and collectible assets. If you have kept your cards with high market value and in mint condition, they will be worth a lot of money.

Looking for sports cards to buy in Australia? Check out our extensive collection of Pokemon cards and other sports cards at Gamers Combined. We offer great prices, secure checkout and free shipping across the country. Explore the shop and send us a message today!