How to Value Sports Cards

People have been enthusiastic about sports since ancient times, and with the advent of the radio and television in the 20th century, they have become an even greater influence in entertainment and popular culture.

Sports Cards

Lot of assorted sports cards

Thus it is no surprise that many people collect sports cards as a way to express their enjoyment and admiration for their favorite sports teams and players. Do you have a sports card collection that you would like to have valued? You may be pleasantly surprised by your discoveries.

A Brief History

The first examples of sports cards can be traced all the way back to the period just after the Civil War, when baseball saw a great increase in popularity amongst Americans, and photographs of baseball players would be printed on either cabinet cards, or the smaller ‘carte de vistes’, and kept as mementos. Later on, sports related images would be printed on cards with advertisements on the back and passed out on the streets as ‘trade cards’. Tobacco companies in the late 19th century would include small sports cards in pack of tobacco with the intentions to boost sales. 

However the sports card as we recognize them today until the middle of the 20th century, with brands like Bowmans and Topps producing large numbers of products to be collected by young sports enthusiasts.


As with any other collector’s item, one of the first aspects to take into consideration when endeavoring to determine the value of your sports card is its condition. Naturally, cards that are in pristine condition are the most sought after, and the more like new it appears, the more money it will be worth. If a card has suffered from any type of severe damage, such as noticeable rips, tears, folding, fading, staining, or water damage, its value will be significantly decreased. However, if your item is particularly rare and in high demand, some damage may be allowed for.


It goes without saying that the level of rareness of your item will significantly impact its pricing. Even if your card is in mint condition, if there is a disproportionately large supply to demand, it will be worth very little if anything at all. Generally, the older your sports card is, the rarer it will be and thus the more monetary worth it will have as well. The most valuable cards tend to date from the first half of the 20th century, of course with some exceptions. One of the rarest sports cards, with only 50 known copies to exist, is the 1909 T206 Honus Wagner; in 2016, one of these cards sold for £2.43 million.

"In many cases, the content of the card will be a motivator for interested buyers if the featured figure was particularly interesting or influential."

Other Factors

There are a variety of other factors that come to play when attempting to make an accurate estimate of a sports card’s value. In many cases, the content of the card will be a motivator for interested buyers if the featured figure was particularly interesting or influential. Similarly if the card itself has an interesting history behind its production or cultural significance, this will also play into how much it is worth. 

Price Guides

Another tool that can be helpful when it comes to narrowing down your estimated range of value, are price guides. Luckily with the availability of the internet today, there is a variety of price guides free for you to access; these guides are essentially lists of different cards and their estimated value, or how much they have sold for in the past. However it is important that one takes the suggestions of these resources as merely that - suggestions; for the sports card collecting market, as any other, is constantly changing and evolving, and the value of each item will reflect the same.

The Next Step

The above tips in determining an estimated value will help you attain a ballpark idea for what your item may be worth, however in order to get the most accurate estimate possible, the most important step in this process is to seek professional appraisal. An appraiser will be able to eliminate as much risk for error as possible and thus lead you towards the right path in your endeavor to value your piece. Here on Value My Stuff, we have experts in the field to help you find the most accurate valuation as possible!

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