“How can I sell my baseball cards?” It’s a question that we are asked by folks calling us from all over the country. What they really mean or ask as a follow-up question is, “Where can I sell my baseball cards?” We're pretty good at helping answer these folks and will provide with you with a few important steps and answers to those same questions on this page.
Before getting started, you should make sure that you know what cards you have. There are lots of great tips below on this page to help you identify what you have. Most vintage cards have some value, even if they're not in the best of condition. Modern cards, especially those printed from the late 1980’s through the early 1990’s, suffer from mass production and hoarding and do not have much value.
There is, however, a big market for older baseball cards and other sports cards (generally cards manufactured before 1980). The vintage and prewar market is at least partially driven by the "Holy Grail" of cards, the 1909 T206 Honus Wagner. What your cards are worth will depend on several factors including the demand and the condition of the cards.
A few card shops are still out there, but most have disappeared from local communities. Most local sports card dealers may be interested in buying your collection but only if they know they can turn it around for a profit quickly and will likely not offer you representative value. You would be wise to seek an offer from a nationally known dealer that will have both the financial resources and customer base to pay you more for your cards than the card shop across town.
Each collection is different and each seller has unique goals, but there are some basic steps that even a complete novice can follow to be able to sell sports cards. Follow the steps below and you'll get an idea of what you have, what condition it's in, what grade it might receive, and what it's sold for recently. From there you can decide what avenue is best for you to sell, and the pros and cons of each.
Look at the year and manufacturer of each card. If you're not sure how to tell what year a card is from, look on the back. If there are statistics listed, look for the last year mentioned on the player's stats. The card will almost always be from the following year. So for example, if there are stats on the back of the card going up to 1955, the card is from 1956. Check for a copyright date and a manufacturer on the back of the card in the fine print as well. Some cards will feature this, but not all.
The back of a 1958 Topps Mickey Mantle card. Notice that the stats on the back don't indicate the year. In this case, to identify the card, you'd want to Google, for example, "Mickey Mantle Topps #150." You can tell it's a Topps card because on the right side it says T.C.G. for Topps Chewing Gum (highlighted here in yellow).
If there are no stats, no copyright date, and you can't determine the year and/or the brand, google the player's name and card number along with some of the text on the back in quotes. The text may include a summary of the player's career or even a bit of advertising for cigarette or candy manufacturers. You'll most likely find information about the card this way. Use Google Images or even YouTube to help you narrow down your results.
Go to Google Images and click the camera icon on the search bar to use this handy feature.
If a set is pre-1980 and post WWII (1945) it's considered vintage, if it's from before WWII (1941) it's considered pre-war, and anything post-1980 is considered modern. Typically, vintage and pre-war collections command a much higher value than modern cards --- assuming they're in good condition.
The value of any set or collection of cards is directly proportional to the number of star cards it includes. A collection of 10 baseball cards with three superstars is usually more valuable than a collection of 100 cards with only one superstar. There are, of course, exceptions including Old Judges and T206s. If you fail to identify all of the superstars in your collection you might accidentally sell your cards for much less than you should have.
If you don't know who the stars are, cross-reference your collection with some online lists of the greatest athletes of all time.
If you've got a bunch of these guys, you might have something really special.
Once you know what you have, what era it's from, and what stars are involved, you're well on your way to determining the value of your collection.
A 1949 Bowman Jackie Robinson --- one of his most coveted cards
Step 2: Evaluate the condition of your cards
Do your best to analyze the condition of your cards. If you're able to find problems, your potential buyer will surely find them (and probably others as well). Any flaw in a card will affect its overall value. Baseball card flaws can be as simple as corner wear, creases, surface scuffs, off-centering, paper loss, being out of focus, and writing on the card.
A common misconception is that all cards fresh out of the pack are in mint condition. Vintage and prewar cards were manufactured using older printing processes and equipment and therefore frequently display print defects, centering issues, and miscuts. Manufacturing-related flaws will all factor into the condition (and value) of the card and are unfortunately entirely out of your control.
Once you've identified your cards and inspected their condition, make sure you place the important ones into plastic sleeves, toploaders, or in plastic sheets in binders or albums. This will ensure that they won't be subjected to any additional wear and tear and will preserve the value of your cards.
A 1967 Topps Tom Seaver rookie card with slight corner wear and centering issues
Step 3: Get familiar with the grading system
One of the most important things to understand when evaluating your trading card collection is how the grading system works. By authenticating cards and providing a uniform standard for condition, third-party experts like Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), Sports Card Guarantee (SGC), and Beckett all help people put a value on vintage cards and memorabilia.
PSA (the largest of the three major grading companies) uses a 10-point grading scale to assess every piece. The higher the grade, the more valuable the card.
Important: Judging condition and understanding the grading system will allow you to see what similar cards have sold for. However, YOU SHOULD NOT NECESSARILY HAVE YOUR CARDS GRADED. If you are too eager to grade, you might end up spending more on fees, insurance, and shipping costs than your cards are actually worth.
Step 4: Check recent eBay sales
Go onto eBay and perform a search of a particular card in your collection. For best results, add in condition information as well. Then, filter your results and show only Sold items. This will give you an idea of what recent final sale prices have been for similar cards on eBay. Keep in mind though that you likely won't be able to fetch those prices, as there are additional costs associated with using eBay and Paypal. Most dealers will probably offer you around 50% to 60% of the recent final sale values.
Recent sales of a search for "T206 Lajoie." Notice that the sale prices display in green for sold items (as opposed to black).
Step 5: Research ways to sell your cards
One option that everyone usually thinks of first is selling on eBay. This can be a viable option for people with experience, but if you're a novice you should probably steer clear. We actually recommend against selling on eBay so often that we created a resource called 7 reasons why you should NOT try to sell your cards on eBay.
After eBay, many people think of Craigslist as an appropriate avenue to sell their card collection. This is usually not an ideal method either. Craigslist listings will limit you to buyers within your local area, and there are always risks of getting ripped off in one way or another. Even if you do manage to find a buyer through Craiglist, you could probably achieve a higher selling price by going elsewhere.
You used to be able to find a baseball card dealer in practically every town in America. But since the baseball card bubble burst in the late 90's and early 2000's, card dealers are fewer and further between. Today a significantly smaller number of large dealers buy collections from all over the country and the world --- especially collections involving vintage and prewar cards. Whether it's here with us or with another reputable dealer, we definitely recommend selling to a professional who does this for a living. This is by far the fastest, safest, easiest, and most secure way to sell a collection.
Below you'll find information on how our buying process works.
How we buy vintage sports cards and memorabilia
At Just Collect, our buying process always starts with a free appraisal. We offer several different options to get your items to one of our five appraisal locations. One option is to mail in the collection to our Somerset, NJ office for an evaluation from our vintage card experts. If your collection is worth a lot, we'll pay all shipping expenses. In the event you don't choose to sell to us, we'll also pay for return shipping --- no questions asked. However, we understand that some people are not comfortable mailing in a valuable collection of sports cards and memorabilia. If you are located near one of our appraisal locations, call our team to set up a free appraisal appointment. If you're not located within driving distance, but have a rare or high value collection that cannot be mailed, our team of experts can fly out to you for your free appraisal. Once we have a look at your collection, we'll make you a cash offer within 24 hours.
What we look for
If your baseball cards or memorabilia have value, we'll buy them. To determine the current market value of your items, we utilize information such as past auction sales from eBay and auction houses and published market guides.
We are always looking for (pre-1980) sports and non-sports cards. Large collections, especially those including complete or near-complete sets, are always on our list as well. We also like trading cards featuring stars or hall-of-famers, or even high-grade cards featuring common players. And if your vintage collection includes T206s or any other tobacco cards, 1952 Topps Baseball cards (featuring the Mickey Mantle rookie card), or 1933 Goudey cards, we are definitely interested! In addition to sports cards, Just Collect also buys other collectibles. These can include anything from autographs to vintage photos, game-used memorabilia, and comic books. In just the last few months alone, we have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars buying vintage sports collections from people throughout the United States and Canada.
You can reach us at 732-828-2261 Monday-Friday from 8AM to 6PM. You can also send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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