Did you know that baseball cards in the 1880s came in cigarette packs? The card helped to protect the cigarettes from breaking. And you had something to study while you were puffing away on some fine tobacco. But states back even then were trying to enact laws to keep kids from buying tobacco products. Add the fact that collecting baseball cards wasn’t really an adult thing. So smart marketing teams leaned toward things kids would like. The big winner was gum.
Topps baseball cards in 1951 started first by putting taffy in the packs. Not a good idea. Apparently they absorbed the cards varnish, making the flavor suck! Within a year they switched over to gum. For the next forty years the idea stuck (pun intended). But as collectors became more serious about the hobby, including gum they said, stained the cards. Grading companies would notice the damage easily.
Getting your cards graded not only provides accuracy in determing value, but it also makes it much easier for a rookie collector to buy with confidence. Collection pricing and liquidation is made so much simpler. The 3 big companies that collectors trust for proving authenticity and grading are, PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator), BVG (Beckett Vintage Grading), and SGC (Sports Card Guarantee). Having cards in your collection that are graded offers investment security as well as a good look for displaying your cards. Now you can put a collection together with confidence by knowing exactly what you are buying. And by referring to current pricee guides you will also know what price range is fair to buy or sell.
Now that you have some of the basics out of the way, you can concentrate on what to collect. My first collection had to be my heroes from when I was a kid, the 1968 World Series Champions Detroit Tigers. And just like most fans, many years later I can still rattle off the entire team by name and field position. Amazing, considering I still have a hard time remembering family member birthdays.