He was barely 18 when he grabbed the requested writing instrument and began scribbling his name on stacks of cards provided by the Topps Company. The cards with the glossy-looking front Topps called “Chrome” would be randomly inserted into packs of its Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects baseball. Topps paid him of course–one of the perks of being a high pick–but little did young Angels draftee Mike Trout know how much those signed cards would be selling for a little more than ten years later. The 2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout autographs have proven to be among the holiest of grails in the modern card game.
As usual, for Trout and the other prospects Topps snared for autographs that year, there would be several different types of Chrome Prospect cards to sign; most essentially the same but with a different color scheme or coating. There was a standard, unnumbered version; there were Refractors, serial-numbered to 500; X-Fractors numbered to 225; Blue-bordered Refractors numbered to 150; Gold, numbered to 50, Orange numbered to 25; Red, numbered to 5, a 1/1 Superfractor and 1/1 Printing Plates.
As Trout’s career has played out to the tune of multiple American League MVP awards (it’s rare when Trout doesn’t finish in the top two) before his 30th birthday, collectors and investors have made the 2009 Bowman Chrome Trout autographs a popular target, with prices that have made a lot of money for early believers who bought, graded and held.
Trout’s Superfractor sold for $400,000 a couple of years ago. One of the five Red Refractors sold for over $900,000 through Goldin Auctions, generating national headlines. Those types of cards don’t often change hands but the market for the other Trout BoChro autographs has been the barometer by which all current era cards are measured.
The big money cards are those in the highest grades, of course, with the BGS 9.5 (Gem Mint) being the most actively traded and headline making examples. PSA 10s also bring sizeable cash.
Within the last few years, as Trout piled up the awards and the modern card market sizzled, prices have soared. If you want to get into the game at the highest end, you’ll need to be ready to invest five figures or more.
2009 Bowman Chrome Trout Orange Refractor Autograph # to 25
The rarest of the fairly liquid Trouts from ’09 is the Orange Refractor. Two BGS 9.5 examples sold for more than $180,000 in 2019. Even a PSA 9 netted $147,000 in February of 2020. That’s not a bad return on an investment when you consider that one of them sold on eBay in 2010 for $550.
However, even buying one just a few years ago would have been a smart move.
Prices for BGS 9.5s climbed to between $2,000 and $3,500 in 2012, jumped past $10,000 a couple of years later and in 2017, one sold for $50,753. PSA’s price guide valued a 10 at around $25,000 in 2017.
2009 Bowman Chrome Trout Gold Refractor Autograph # to 50
A BGS 9.5 Gold version closed Thursday night with a winning bid of over $90,000. The six-figure barrier had been cracked just over two weeks earlier and there were two sales in 2019–one for a 9.5 and the other for a PSA 10–that were just under that mark.
If you had purchased any of them in 2012 for the going rate of around $2,500, you did very well. Even as late as 2015, the top end was around $15,000.
2009 Bowman Chrome Trout Blue Refractor Autograph # to 150
As the availability goes up, prices go down, but that’s a relative term. BGS 9.5 Trout blues have risen to unprecedented heights, too, although prices have been somewhat volatile.
One sold for just over $5,000 in 2015. Sales jumped the $10,000 hurdle in 2017 and have sold for more than five times that amount on occasion over the last two years. PSA’s Sportscard Market Report now lists a 10 at $45,000 and a 9 at $20,000.
2009 Bowman Chrome Trout X-fractor Autograph # to 225
With a slightly funky look (you have to see them up close) and a slightly higher population, X-fractors have been popular with some collectors. Several 9.5s sold in the $15,000-$20,000 range in 2019. PSA 10s, which were bringing around $5,000 two years ago, have seen recent sales slightly above and slightly below $30,000, with 9s valued at half that.
2009 Bowman Chrome Trout Refractor Autograph # to 500
This one is the most common of the serial-numbered Trout autographs, but with a supply that still doesn’t come close to matching the demand. For those who want a card with a finite number but don’t want to play at the higher levels, it is more accessible, but has also become more expensive. Prices on BGS 9.5s have jumped significantly in the last two years with recent prices between $13,000 and $15,000. A PSA 10 sold for $25,000 in March.
2009 Bowman Chrome Trout Autograph (Unnumbered)
Guide prices for a standard 2009 Bowman Chrome Trout autograph were around $4,000 two years ago. The last sale of a PSA 10 came Thursday: $18,500. A PSA 9 sold in January for $6,550. BGS 9.5s have closed in on the $10,000 mark with two recent sales of BGS 9s at just under $6,000.
You can check out the current eBay market for all 2009 Bowman Chrome Trout autographs on eBay here.