Indulging in a hobby is a wonderful way to put both time and resources to good use. People who adore sports cards are willing to shell out hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for nothing more than a collection of photographs of sportsmen printed on paper.
When you’re just starting out in the card game, it might be tough to figure out which sports card brands offer the best bang for your buck. Every time a new set is introduced, it seems like there are a million more to choose from.
This article will discuss the best sports card brands to collect and sell. Both the return on investment and the pricing are exceptionally high, especially for newbies.
Top 3 Sports Card Brands
Topps sports cards
Topps has been one of the leaders in the sports trading card market for decades. While their products include all four of the most popular sports in the United States, baseball cards are where they really made their name.
Their first baseball card was released in 1951, and their 1952 Mickey Mantle card is still highly sought after. Topps cards are generally seen as the standard in terms of card size and the inclusion of player statistics on the reverse of the card.
In the 1930s, when it first opened, the company’s main product was chewing gum. Baseball cards were not initially a focus for Topps, but that changed.
Their success propelled them to the forefront of the trading card industry for sports, including football, basketball, and hockey. Topps’ exclusive partnership and license contract with the MLB since 2010 is a testament to the company’s excellence.
Panini is one of the few rivals to persist to this day and challenge Topps in sales and popularity, despite being a relative newbie to the baseball card business, having just begun making cards in 2009. The Donruss Playoff cards rights were obtained by the company in 2009, and since then, the cards from that series have been highly sought after by collectors.
Panini was already an established brand by 1961 when the firm was launched; it had previously had tremendous popularity in Italy’s sports and sticker markets. Panini’s lack of a license arrangement with the MLB is a major differentiating factor, as it means the company is unable to utilize MLB team names or emblems on their trading cards.
Upper Deck sports cards
Upper Deck was established in 1989 and has since become a dominant player in the baseball card market. Upper Deck’s 1992 Upper Authentication (UDA) program, is a five-step procedure to confirm the authenticity of memorabilia and signatures used in their cards.
It is illustrative of the company’s commitment to quality that has made it the gold standard in the trading card market. With the help of this procedure, the company’s already stellar reputation for reliability was bolstered by having a witness present at every athlete signing event.
Upper Deck was the first trading card business to expand into other sports, notably hockey, basketball, and football, in 1991, thanks to the firm’s huge success and excellent reviews.
Upper Deck stands out from the rest of the pack thanks to its innovative concepts and wide selection of items. Upper Deck differentiated itself from the competition by integrating game-used jersey elements and autograph inserts in their 1996 “Upper Deck Football Set” and 1990 “Baseball Heroes” sets, respectively. This method has developed into a standard in the card collecting community.
Other Valuable Sports Cards Brands
Bowman sports cards
In 1948, Bowman published its first set of baseball cards, a total of 48 cards. The company had previously exclusively sold non-sports cards in their ‘Horrors of War’ collection and found success in the bubblegum market.
Their “Play Ball” collection, which consists of this and the two sets that followed it, is widely considered to be among the most coveted and recognizable collections of baseball cards ever produced. After enjoying a brief period of prominence in the 1940s, the company found it difficult to compete with Topps, the other major gum and trading card manufacturer.
The two would immediately become rivals, with one firm seeking to outdo the other in terms of output and quality. When Topps bought the company in 1989, it shifted the brand’s emphasis on veterans to rookies, and the brand has since been a mainstay of the collecting community.
Their focus on newcomers and extensive expertise in the field reflect the wealth of knowledge and widespread confidence in the organization as a whole.
Donruss sports cards
When it was established in 1981, Donruss, or, as its original name implied, the Donruss Leaf Playoff, had a difficult past in terms of ownership.
Donruss had a rocky start after resuming production in 2001 following a brief hiatus caused by financial issues and the lack of an official MLB IP license between 1998 and 2001. Nonetheless, the tenacity and perseverance of collectors and fans demonstrate that the cards are as popular as ever.
Donruss found success in a new way by focusing on prospects and draft picks with an NCAA license rather than utilizing team logos or player images in its now-iconic 2007 Elite Extra Edition set.
Despite the triumph, the company was subsequently purchased by Panini in 2011, and under Panini’s leadership, the brand has since seen renewed popularity. Even though the company has changed hands several times, the cards remain a valued addition to the collections of many baseball card enthusiasts.
Fleer sports card brands
Similar to Topps, Fleer has deep origins in the baseball card market. Despite being owned by the Topps company now, Fleer, which was established in 1929, continues to produce trading cards.
Among baseball card collectors, the brand is as recognizable as ever thanks to its 1959 80-card set and the “Baseball Greats” series from 1960 and 1961.
Fleer was successful in the sports card business generally, not just in baseball. The company saw a huge uptick in revenue due to the popularity of basketball cards, and those cards still have significant value today.
One of the most coveted pieces of memorabilia in the hobby is Michael Jordan’s Fleer rookie card. Modern success for Fleer may be attributed in large part to the company’s commitment to innovation and the wide variety of products it offers.
What Is The Most Valuable Sports Card?
If you know what you’re doing in the sports card buying and selling world, you can make a tidy profit. In rare cases, extremely rare sports cards might fetch six figures or more.
Sports cards, like any other market, are subject to the laws of supply and demand. The stronger the demand and the lower the supply, the higher the price of the card.