Vintage sports cards have been valued collectibles for the past 60 years. Baseball cards were loved by kids in the 1950s who looked forward to the new cards sold in the bubblegum pack, trading cards with friends for complete team representations or their favorite player's card. Today's collectors range from avid baseball fans of all ages as well as to serious investors. The biggest differences between then and now are: 1) the cards no longer require the purchase of bubblegum and: 2) they are traded more on the internet than the playground. |
One of leaders in the history of baseball cards was, and still is, the Topps Company. The Topps Company was founded in 1938 by Morris Shorin whose tobacco import company faced difficulties during WWI with supplies of Turkish tobacco cut off. Shorin and his sons decided upon the manufacture of chewing gum to enable them to use the company's distribution network. It was initially a gum company, introducing the world to its still famous Bazooka bubblegum.
In 1950, Topps emulated the Bowman company that produced trading cards, packaging baseball cards together with the gum to increase their gum sales. The popularity of the cards resulted in gum becoming a mere a side product to the baseball cards that grew into the company's primary product. The familiar vintage sports card design that has little changed in the years since appeared in the 1952 Topps set of baseball cards. Designed by Sy Berger, the front of the card featured the player's name, portrait, and team name. The back of the card included the player's stats, height and weight, birthday, and a short bio. That 1952 set included the most valuable baseball card in existence today: Mickey Mantle's first Topps card.
It was in 1957 when Topps set the standards of size for most U.S. sports cards, changing the dimensions of their baseball card to its current measurements of 2-1/2 inches by 3-1/2 inches. This was also when color photographs began to replace the painted portraits of players on the cards. Topps enjoyed a virtual monopoly on the baseball card market during 1960s and 70s with the company holding the rights to the players. The monopoly ended with a 1981 lawsuit, but the company has yet to be replaced as the leader in baseball cards.
Topps has continued to evolve as a company with savvy marketing and forward thinking, but has wisely left their baseball card design and approach to the players and fans mostly in tact over the past six decades. The company was named the official baseball card of MLB with exclusive use of the MLB logos and trademarks as of the 2010 season. Vintage sports card collecting will not be going away.
Related Articles -
vintage sports memorabilia, strat-o-matic baseball, vintage sports card,