“How much are my baseball cards worth?”
That question is right up there with, “Are we there yet?” and “How long until the weekend?” as among the most compelling queries in the typical card collector’s life.
And, while we can’t do much to reassure your kids that the wait is almost over or help you get to Friday sooner, we can start to pick away at the issue of card values.
The bad news is that your old cards may not be worth what you once thought they would be.
The good news is that there is still plenty of valuable cardboard floating around out there.
So how do you figure out what your baseball cards are worth?
Luckily, the Internet gives us a ton of tools to help with that task.
Let’s take a look at six of the best.
(NOTE: This post contains affiliate links to eBay listings for the baseball cards discussed.)
eBay “Sold” Listings
When I started collecting cards in the 1980s, it didn’t take long before I was spouting off the value of my cards to my dad, based on what I was seeing the yearly Beckett price guide (affiliate link).
Suffice to say, Dad wasn’t impressed.
“It’s only worth what somebody is willing to pay for it,” was Dad’s motto when it came to assessing the monetary value of anything, and it was good advice.
That’s why eBay is my go-to method for finding card prices. Not only can you find just about any card you might want for sale, you can also see much those same issues actually sold for in recent listings.
So let’s say you’ve heard that the 1990 Fleer Jose Uribe is a rare and valuable card (it’s not) and want to check on just how valuable it is.
Go to eBay and type in “1990 Fleer Jose Uribe” and you’ll see the usual ridiculous claims and asking prices for this dirt-common hunk of cardboard:
But remember, those are just the asking prices. To find out what the Jose card is selling for — what it’s “worth” — on eBay, you can check the “Sold listings” box:
And there you can see what folks are actually paying for the 1990 Fleer Jose Uribe baseball card:
Still too much for this card if you ask me, but it’s what the market bears at this point in time.
Vintage Card Prices
Vintage Card Prices takes the idea of searching eBay for graded card prices to the next level by aggregating sale prices from several online auction sites (eBay, Huggins & Scott, etc.) into a single database. The result is a sort of one-stop shop that gives an overview of recent card sales and lets you compare your buying and selling options.
Here is what the listing for our 1990 Fleer Jose Uribe dreamboat looks like:
As you might expect, this added functionality comes with a cost, and you need to subscribe in order to see historical pricing information. The free membership is still valuable, though, as you can track your want list against the thousands of cards that Vintage Card Prices tracks.
Of course, “Beckett” has been the big name in sports cards price guides for more than 40 years, stretching all the way back to those yearly tomes that my dad didn’t really trust. Not surprisingly, the pricing giant has kept up with the times and offers an online subscription to their pricing information.
However, they also offer The Beckett Marketplace, where collectors can buy and sell cards. Here, you can browse categories or perform targeted searches to find current listings of cards available for purchase. Here is what I found going on with our old friend, the 1990 Fleer Jose Uribe baseball card:
Not as extensive as the eBay listings, maybe, but the prices look more realistic to me in this case. And you can click “COMPARE SELLERS” to see what others have available.
At the very least, Beckett provides another data point (or several) in determining the value of your baseball cards.
PSA Sports Market Report Price Guide
Over the last couple of decades, PSA has grown into the premier grading and certification company in the hobby. As a result of the millions of card submissions they’ve handled over that time, they have grown a huge database of card-condition populations (see their Population Report).
In itself, the pop report is a valuable resource for trying to figure out which cards might hold some value based on relative availability, but PSA has also been tracking the sales prices of the cards they grade. Using those data, they have built a rich set of pricing information that they present through their Sports Market Report (SMR) Price Guide.
There, you can drill down into individual sets and then pick out the specific cards you’re interested in.
Note that you won’t find every set and every card in the SMR listing — only cards with a certain amount of collector interest and buying activity make the cut.
As a result, we can’t add another 1990 Fleer Jose Uribe data point to our arsenal, but we can check out some of the big cards from the proximal 1990 Topps set:
If you’re into really esoteric cards or really high-end stuff, eBay is going to be hit-or-miss at best.
The truly top-of-the-line memorabilia and cards nearly always make their way to one of the big, prestigious hobby or antiques auction houses when someone is looking to cash out. So, to find out how much your 1954 Bowman Ted Williams card is worth, you could wait for one to show up at auction and then check back on the auction house website to see how much the treasure sold for.
You could just got to PriceRealized and do some searching.
PriceRealized does the auction-combing for you, watching out for awesome cards and other goodies that come up for bid, and then recording those prices in their ever-growing database.
For instance, when I search for that Splendid Splinter card, I see that PriceRealized has recorded 15 sales:
The caveat here is that there may be a decent gap between the last sales result and the time you perform your search, so the market might be quite different.
Still, PriceRealized is an awesome resource for getting a handle on the hobby’s top end.
(As an added caveat, you may get sucked into the site for hours if you visit — it’s addictive!)
Check Out My Cards
Finally, we come to Check Out My Cards, or COMC.com.
Like the Beckett Marketplace or current eBay listings, COMC is intended to be a place to buy and sell cards rather than a pricing tool, per se.
Still, COMC draws buyers and sellers from all walks of life, and that diversity helps to normalize the market. All of that makes it a great place to go if you want to know what folks are asking for their cards.
And since COMC is an active, competitive market, you can bet that asking prices are adjusted all the time to make sure that cards are actually selling.
Here is what’s offered today on the 1990 Fleer Jose Uribe front:
Probably a lot closer to what folks will actually pay for the card than what we saw in the eBay listings, right?
And as a wise man once told me …
A baseball card is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.