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The Sports Card Bulletin

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It’s important to collect what you like. Don’t collect what you think you “should” collect, or the most popular cards everyone else is collecting. You have a lot to choose from.

 
 

In baseball alone there are some 40 baseball sets released each year! If you're just starting out in the hobby a good thing to collect might be your favorite player or team.

Sets
As of 2006, there are two baseball card manufacturers, Topps and Upper Deck. Each manufacture puts out a basic set, this basic/base set is normally just named by the year and the company; for example, 06 Topps, 06 Upper Deck. The base sets are made up of large numbers of cards, 500 or more! The base sets normally feature high quality photography and exciting action shots of the players. These base sets are usually not too expensive and are very popular with set collectors.

Topps and Upper Deck produce several different sets. Sets can be premium sets (more expensive) or basic sets. In 2006 there are going to be about 40 different baseball sets released, so there is certainly no lack of sets to choose from! Keep in mind, packs of cards these days can cost anywhere from $1 up to $100, so there’s a pack to fit every budget!  Some people will only collect the basic set that Topps puts out every year and that’s it, others try to collect a basic Topps set and one of the premium Topps sets like Topps Finest or Bowman Chrome. Still others try to collect every set that they can afford! Our experience is that you’ll be able to afford more cards if you decide to become an active baseball card trader!

Most baseball card sets contain a wide variety of different types of cards including: The Base Set, Subsets, Inserts, Parallel Cards, Serially numbered cards, Memorabilia Cards. Sets might also contain Short Printed Cards (SP) meaning that there are fewer of them so they are more challenging to collect, but are often more valuable.
 
Rookie Cards
Rookie cards are a popular type of card to collect. As of 2006, rookie cards are released only after the player has played in his first MLB game. This has not always been the case and it will be interesting to see how this new rookie card requirement impacts the supply and demand of true rookie cards, our guess is that it will make rookie cards more valuable. Rookie cards are usually the most valuable base card for of a player. If you think you might like to collect rookie cards, you should consider collecting Bowman, a product made by the Topps company and known for having a lot of rookie cards. There's also a fancier version of Bowman called Bowman Chrome.
 

How do I know a star card from a semi-star and common card?

Star Cards
These are the cards of the most well known and best players. When you look up your cards in a price guide like Beckett you’ll see a lot of the star cards already listed in the set that you’re looking up; you’ll also see a category for “unlisted Star” cards. Go to the back of the price guide section and you’ll see a chart/listing of all of the Unlisted Stars.

Similarly you’ll see listings for Semi stars and Minor stars, again, check that chart in the back of the price guide to see who’s on those lists to help determine the value of your cards.

Common Cards
These are base cards that are worth the least (based on the price guides anyway). Common cards are very important to Team and Player collectors!


 
Graded Cards
Graded baseball cards are cards that have been evaluated by a 3rd party grading company and assigned a grade based on the condition of the card. Sports card and baseball card grading requires paying a fee. Some collectors only collect graded cards.
 
Autographed Cards
Just like it sounds, there are cards inside of most new products that have been autographed. For the most part, if you buy a hobby box you have a pretty good chance of getting an autographed card. There are cards that have been directly signed on and there's a newer phenomena of "sticker autographs" (also called "band aid" autographs by collectors. Players are given an entire sheet of stickers to sign and then those autos are put onto various products the company makes throughout the year(s). Since the player didn't sign the card directly, some collectors value these less.
 
"Cut Autos"
These are autographs that are taken from a document, letter, or check, that a player signed and are then placed into a card. When we think of cut auto cards we think of more historical players from the past who aren't around any more to sign the cards themselves. Cut autos are tough to get, odds are often something like 1 every 48 hobby boxes.
 
Memorabilia/Game Used Cards
These cards have a piece of something imbedded into the card that pertains to a particular player. Items might include a piece of the jersey, bat, ball, base, dirt, turf, etc. You'll also find cards that are a combination of an auto and a memorabilia card such as an auto jersey, auto bat, auto ball, etc.
 
Numbered Cards
Numbered cards are a popular thing to collect. These types of cards are more limited in production to various degrees. Generally the more limited the production the more valuable the card. So, a "one of one" card means that there's only one of those cards made, and it would have 1/1 stamped on it. If your numbered card corresponds to something about the player, like their jersey number, that can sometimes increase the value of the card.
 
Printing Plate Cards
These are usually low numbered cards that were used in the printing process. Printing plate cards are usually a numbered card with a few different versions relating to the printing process such as magenta, yellow, blue and red.
 
Error Cards
Sometimes the manufactures goof and there are collectors that want those cards. Sometimes error cards can increase the value of the card, but not always. It depends on how many were made and what type of error was made.

Digital Sports Cards
The Internet has provided card manufactures with the opportunity to create electronic baseball cards that collectors can keep on line in a portfolio or can exchange for the real card. Topps has Etopps cards which are located at etopps.com; these cards can be traded and sold with other people that collect them.

 


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