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The sports card industry rakes in more than $1 billion each year for card retailers and manufacturers. Collecting sports cards might seem like an outdated hobby, but they’re more valuable than ever.
Baseball and basketball sports cards take the lead; 20 out of 25 of the most expensive sports cards fall into these categories. The most sought-after sports cards are worth six and seven figures each.
Whether you’re interested in buying or selling, check out the list below of the top ten most expensive sports cards in the world. Read on to discover the current value, population reports, and the unique history of each card.
What Makes A Baseball Card Expensive?
Baseball card collecting is a popular hobby that many people enjoy. It can be a fun way to spend some time and learn about the history of the game. There are many different types of baseball cards, and each has its own unique features and history.
Each company produces a different type of card, so there is a wide variety to choose from. There are also many different ways to collect baseball cards, including buying them individually or in sets, trading them with other collectors, or auctioning them off. Trading cards and auction cards are two of the most popular ways to collect baseball cards.
The holy grail of baseball card collecting is a complete set of cards from every team. This is a very difficult task to achieve, and it is not something that most collectors attempt to do. Instead, most collectors focus on collecting cards from specific teams or players.
There are many different types of baseball cards, and there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced collector, there is sure to be a card that interests you.
Baseball cards are usually expensive because they are rare and collectible. Some of the rarest cards are those from very early in the history of the game, and these cards can be very expensive to acquire. Many collectors also focus on specific types of cards, such as rookie cards or retired players’ cards. These cards are often more expensive than other types of cards.
For example. The 1914 Baltimore News card is one of the most valuable baseball cards in the world. It is worth an estimated $6 million. This Babe Ruth card is also very valuable. The Shoeless Joe Jackson card is another example of a valuable card. The image on this card is one of the most famous baseball images of all time.
Some baseball card collectors also focus on memorabilia cards. These cards typically feature a player’s autograph or photo. These cards can be quite valuable, and they are often sought after by collectors. Minor League Baseball cards are often considered to be memorabilia cards, as are some World Series cards.
How to Collect Baseball Cards
There is no one way to collect baseball cards, as each collector has their own preferences and interests. Some people collect cards by series or by year, while others focus on specific players or card types. Many collectors also buy and sell cards online, which can be a fun way to explore the market and find rare cards.
You can start collecting baseball cards by following these steps:
1. Learn About Baseball Cards
Before you start collecting baseball cards, it’s essential to learn all you can about them. This step starts with researching baseball cards. For instance, you can get on Google and find information on this topic, along with tips for collecting. You can also find books on this subject, such as Mint Condition by Dave Jamieson or The Card by Michael O’Keefe and Teri Thompson.
You may also want to consider joining groups or finding others who collect and sell baseball cards. These people have knowledge about the hobby and may share their tips and tricks for collecting these valuable cards.
2. Select the Type of Cards You Want to Collect
Next, you’ll need to figure out the type of cards to collect. Many collectors focus their collecting efforts on a specific area or topic in baseball. Then there are different card manufacturers; you may want to focus on one of these.
In addition, you can collect certain team cards, rookie cards, or vintage baseball cards. Choose baseball cards that go with your personal interests rather than what others are collecting.
3. Purchase Baseball Cards
Once you’ve learned about baseball cards and chosen those you want to collect, you’re ready to buy cards. The key here is to ensure you’re buying baseball cards only from reputable dealers.
How to Take Care of Baseball Cards
Baseball cards can be damaged if they are mishandled or if they are kept in a humid environment. To protect them from damage, it is important to store them in a safe and dry place. It is also important to keep the cards clean, as dirt and dust can damage the card’s surface.
You may want to consider storing your baseball cards in a binder that has inside pockets designed for collecting baseball cards. Another option is to store the cards in hard plastic sleeves and keep these in boxes or drawers. No matter what storage method you choose, be sure to keep the baseball cards out of direct sunlight, which can cause fading.
Here are the most expensive baseball cards:
1. 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Mike Trout Superfractor Autograph
Mike Trout is a center fielder for the Los Angeles Angels and an eight-time Major League Baseball All-Star. Trout was picked by the Angels during the 2009 MLB draft and is nicknamed the Millville Meteor.
The 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Mike Trout Superfractor holds the record for being the most expensive sports card in the world. Superfractor baseball cards are known for their unique gold background that’s emphasized by a circular pattern.
This incredibly rare baseball card was purchased for a whopping $3.9 million.
Population reports show that there’s only one 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Mike Trout Superfractor Autograph card with a Becket Grading Score of Mint 9.
Date Of Sale
This exclusive 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Mike Trout Superfractor Autograph card was sold on August 23rd, 2020. The card was sold at a private auction, and the buyer’s name was not disclosed.
In 2018, gambling consultant David Oancea – AKA “Vegas Dave” bought the card for $400,000. Friends and family were skeptical of his purchase, but Oancea predicted the card would eventually sell for $4 to $5 million. His intuition certainly worked out in his favor!
2. 1909 T206 Honus Wagner
Honus Wagner was a prominent player who played 21 seasons of Major League Baseball. His career spanned 20 years from 1897 to 1917, and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.
The 1909 T206 Honus Wagner card was distributed by the American Tobacco Company. The exact number of cards produced is unknown, but it’s estimated that only 50 to 200 cards were made.
This card is the second most expensive sports card in the world and was purchased for $3,323,760. It broke the $2.8 million record sale of the Gretzky Wagner card in 2007.
There is only one 1909 T206 Honus Wagner card with a PSA EX 5 score.
Date Of Sale
This valuable sports card was last sold on October 1, 2016, through Goldin Auctions.
Wagner is the source of this card’s limited production. He reportedly prevented the American Tobacco Company from producing additional copies.
The exact reasoning behind Wagner’s involvement remains a mystery. Some speculate that he didn’t want to encourage youth to purchase tobacco. Others say he wasn’t satisfied with the payment he received for his likeness being used.
3. 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle
Mickey Mantle is a household name among baseball fans, and this recording-breaking card is incredibly treasured. The sale of the card made headlines multiple times due to the staggering price tag.
$2,932,287 is the most recent sale price for this card. In 2016, the card was purchased for $1,135,250.
Recent population reports list 2,372 of these valuable cards. However, only six are graded with a PSA 9. Only three cards hold the prestigious Gem Mint 10 grade.
Date Of Sale
The most recent sale took place on April 19, 2018. At the time, the sale set a record for a post-WWII card.
Evan Mathis, a retired NFL lineman, sold this card to help purchase his family’s dream home. The former football player is an active sports card dealer.
This sports card is very rare today, but many of them were disposed of in 1960. Sy Berger, co-designer of Topps baseball cards, dumped three trucks full of 1952 Topps cards into the Atlantic Ocean.
At the time, the cards weren’t considered valuable and Berger got rid of them to open up space in the Topps warehouse.
4. 2013-14 National Treasures Giannis Antetokounmpo Logoman Autograph
Basketball player Giannis Antetokounmpo is dubbed ‘The Greek Freak’ and ‘Greek Wonder’ by fans due to his astounding skill and height. The 25-year-old plays for the Milwaukee Bucks after being selected during the 2013 NBA draft.
The 2013-14 National Treasures Giannis Antetokounmpo Logoman Autograph holds the record for the most expensive basketball card in the world. The card is incredibly rare, and Antetokounmpo’s Rookie cards are coveted by collectors, too.
The card most recently sold for $1,857,300.
There’s only one copy of the 2013-14 National Treasures Giannis Antetokounmpo Logoman Autograph card, and it’s graded BGS Mint 9/10 for the autograph.
Date Of Sale
The most recent sale of this card took place on September 20, 2020, through Goldin Auctions.
The 2013-14 National Treasures Giannis Antetokounmpo Logoman Autograph broke the record for the most expensive basketball card just six weeks after the record was set in August 2020.
5. 2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout Red Refractor Autograph
Mike Trout is an active Major League Baseball player for the Los Angeles Angels. The young center fielder is an eight-time MLB All-Star. The 2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout Red Refractor Autograph is one of the two most modern expensive sports cards in the world.
The card was recently purchased for $922,500. Before that, it was bought for $400,000 in 2018. The most recent sale broke the record for the most valuable modern-day sports card.
Population reports state that there are five of these rare sports cards with a BGS score of GM-MT 9.
Date Of Sale
The 2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout Red Refractor Autograph card was sold on May 20, 2020, through Goldin Auctions.
The card was purchased by David Oancea, the seller of the 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Mike Trout Superfractor Autograph – AKA the world’s most expensive sport’s card.
6. Lebron James 2003-04 Exquisite Rookie Patch Autograph
Lebron James is an internationally recognized name among basketball fans. James has broken numerous NBA records and won several MVP awards throughout his career. Two separate cards featuring the LA Lakers player are among the most expensive sports cards in the world.
The Lebron James 2003-04 Exquisite Rookie Patch Autograph card was last purchased for $1,845,000.
There are only 23 copies of this card, and this particular copy is 14 out of 23. Becket Grading graded it a Gem Mint 9.5.
Date Of Sale
This prestigious basketball card was last sold on July 18, 2020.
The sale of the Lebron James 2003-04 Exquisite Rookie Patch Autograph set two sale records – one for modern-day sports cards and one for basketball cards. Leore Avidar, a tech company CEO, is the current owner of the card.
7. 2003-04 Exquisite Michael Jordan, Lebron James Dual Logoman
Michael Jordan and Lebron James are arguably considered the most talented basketball players of all time. Jordan, a retired NBA star played 15 seasons and won six championships as part of the Chicago Bulls. James has been an active NBA player for seventeen years.
The 2003-04 Exquisite Michael Jordan, Lebron James Dual Logoman recently sold for $900,000.
Only one of these unique basketball cards exists. It’s graded a BGS NM-MT+ 8.5, meaning the card is considered ‘near mint to mint condition’.
Date Of Sale
The 2003-04 Exquisite Michael Jordan, Lebron James Dual Logoman was recently sold in February 2020 through Goldin Auctions.
The 2020 price of this card set records for both modern-day card sales and basketball card sales. The card was purchased by Nat Turner, a collector of prestigious basketball cards.
8. 1909-1911 T206 Eddie Plank
Eddie Plank, also known as ‘Gettysburg Eddie’, played for the Philidelphia Athletics for most of his career. Plank was a three-time World Series champion and is featured on the Philidelphia Baseball Wall Of Fame.
The T206 series of baseball cards were issued by the American Tobacco Company from 1909 to 1911. Plank’s card is considered one of the rarest cards from the set and certainly one of the most expensive.
A 1909-1911 T206 Eddie Plank card graded PSA 7 was last purchased for $779,548.
Population reports for the 1909-1911 T206 Eddie Plank card vary based on the card condition. There are up to 100 cards in various conditions reportedly in circulation. There is only one card with the value listed above, and it’s graded a Near Mint 7.
Date Of Sale
The card was sold during the summer of 2012 via private sale.
Like the T206 Honus Wagner, the reason behind the rarity of T206 Plank cards is unconfirmed.
9. Babe Ruth 1915/16 M101-5 Sporting News (Blank Back)
Babe Ruth is a name synonymous with American baseball. Ruth was a two-time MLB All-Star winner, seven-time World Series champion, and won dozens of other awards. Additionally, the baseball star broke numerous records for batting, home runs, and more.
There are several Babe Ruth baseball cards in circulation, and many are undoubtedly popular and valuable. However, the Babe Ruth 1915/16 M101-5 Sporting News with a blank back stands out as one of the most expensive sports cards in the world.
This coveted baseball card was purchased for $717,000 through Heritage Auctions.
PSA population reports state that there are only three Babe Ruth 1915/16 M101-5 Sporting News with blank backs in Near Mint 7 condition.
Date Of Sale
This particular Babe Ruth 1915/16 M101-5 Sporting News card was last sold on August 28th, 2016.
Several versions of this card feature various company advertisements on the back of the card. As the title suggests, this specific card has a blank back.
10. 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle
Another Mickey Mantle baseball card ranks among the most expensive sports cards in the world. Sports card experts and fans often compare the 1952 Topps card and the 1951 Bowman. Heritage Auctions describes the comparisons as a ‘friendly sibling rivalry’.
This coveted baseball card was purchased for $763,616 via Heritage Auctions.
A recent population report states that there are just over 2,000 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle cards. However, there are just three cards with a PSA score of Mint 9.
Date Of Sale
This valuable edition of the Mickey Mantle 1951 Bowman was sold on April 20, 2018.
While Mickey Mantle baseball cards, in general, are very popular, the 1951 Bowman card is the only recognized Mickey Mantle rookie card.
Are Your Sports Cards Valuable?
The ten most expensive sports cards in the world are truly worth a fortune. Each one has a rich background and the conditions have been preserved carefully. If you’ve got your own sports card collection, the staggering price tags above may pique your curiosity.
Fortunately, you can easily discover if any cards you have are worth money. Check the value of your own cards using the Sports Market Report’s Price Guide found on the Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) website.