When the pandemic shuts down live games, fans appear to have turned to trading cards to solve their athletic problems, driving the collectible card market soaring. In 2020, the collectible card category, which includes sports, collectible card games and other areas of pop culture (including Pokémon), grew by 142% domestically year-over-year, according to eBay.
Just like in the late 1980s and early 1990s, investors again saw value in sports cards and invested heavily in them. How much? In 2021, a T206 Honus Wagner baseball card sold for a record $6.606 million.
Not every trading card needs that much money. The value of a card comes from the player’s importance to the sport, the authenticity and rarity of the card, and its condition. To determine authenticity and condition, collectors mainly use a 10-point grading scale developed by the Professional Sport Authenticator or PSA, from 1 (poor) to 10 or “gem” (as perfect as it is).
Midwest Cards ranks among the top 25 sports cards with the highest market capitalization, according to PWCC calculations. The dataset only covers cards before 2000, and only auction sales are included in the calculation. In addition to the market capitalization of each card, the dataset also includes the 5-year and 10-year ROI for each card. The market cap was last updated on March 30, 2022.
While baseball dominates this list with 18 of the 25 most valuable cards, other sports are also gaining traction in the market. eBay found that the baseball card market grew by 73%, but other sports cards grew even faster, with hockey cards up 258%, basketball cards up 373%, and football cards up 1,586%.
Before you dig up your childhood trading cards to try and profit in a bull market, read on to see which ones are on the list. Keep in mind that it can take decades for a trading card to realize its true value, as only three of the top 25 cards are from 1980 or later.