For kids who grew up in the 1980s believing their baseball cards would be paying their way through college or providing the only retirement nest egg they’d ever need, it’s been a bummer.
Unlike their grandfathers’ 1940s and 50s collections, the modern era cards were plentiful but not valuable. Too much media attention brought too many speculators and way too much product for the actual demand. Are there any great sports memorabilia investments? The answer is yes.
There is still a belief in mainstream America that sports cards and memorabilia are worth something. The question is…what to buy. Mom and Dad want something cool to put away for their kids that isn’t in a bank somewhere. Baby boomers are tired of playing the stock market all the time and still hear rumblings that guys can make a killing in cards. Others just want a small group of items they can display at home that might appreciate over time so that they don’t wind up in a garage sale.
What’s worth the investment for those of you wanting to dabble in the market? We can’t recommend vintage baseball cards strongly enough. While the values do fluctuate a bit, high grade Hall of Famers rarely drop much and we can’t imagine a scenario in which the bottom would fall out. The icons of the game are pretty safe. Pricey, but safe. Combine rarity (pre-World War II) with popularity and it’s usually a winning combination. Caramel cards been hot and are probably still underappreciated. Far fewer exist than T206 and while not collected as widely, they are still wildly popular with serious vintage card collectors.
If you’re not necessarily looking for a “great investment” but love a baseball card bargain, 1960s and 70s baseball commons in a PSA 7 or 8 type condition are still exceptionally nice and lately some cards from the condition-sensitive 1971 Topps set have been selling for $1-2 each–less than it costs to have them graded. You can build a very nice set quite reasonably–and even buy high quality graded sets in the PSA 7 type mold for what it often costs for an ungraded set.
We also believe NFL Hall of Fame rookie cards are vastly underpriced. Considering the level of interest has probably surpassed baseball and will continue to do so, we expect more fans to become collectors and their first priority will be to chase high grade examples of the guys they either grew up watching or have read about.
Football cards weren’t printed in quantities as large as their baseball counterparts and even 1980s Hall of Famers are probably worth latching onto. There is a strong group of Hall of Fame rookie card collectors on the PSA Set Registry that will give you competition, especially for the older material, but alert bargain hunting at card shows can pay off. If it’s truly an investment, we’d have to recommend those cards come in a PSA or SGC slab, especially for those not trained to spot small flaws or restoration.
Game used bats, especially those once belonging to Hall of Famers have also jumped in price. There is more knowledge in the marketplace and there has been a jump in the number of collectors in this arena lately. It’s something you can touch and even swing just the way the original owner did (we don’t recommend putting your own game use on it, of course).