6 Steps To Get Started With Sports Cards Collecting

Sports cards have long been a popular collectible among people all around the world. The first sports cards ever were packaged with tobacco goods and were wildly popular in America. Sports card collecting has now taken root in popular culture all across the world.

This article will walk you through the requirements for establishing a collection, how to choose what to collect, and some key terms and considerations to bear in mind as you begin to be a sports card collector.

1. How to Begin a Sports Cards Collection

You may choose the sort of cards you wish to purchase by spending a little time and planning ahead before investing a significant sum of money.

Look at the listings and sold things on sports card shops like eBay to identify which cards are valued. You should also do some searches on blogs and websites that are worthwhile following.

This will provide you with a general overview of what is available so you can assess how simple (or challenging) it is to obtain the cards you are interested in.

Almost all convenience stores used to have packs of cards on the counter; they were inexpensive to purchase, making them simple to collect.

However, gold brands are incredibly hard to obtain in retail establishments. You must conduct practically all of your buying online, either through the sports card manufacturer‘s website, specialty card merchants or on secondary market websites like eBay sports cards, due to the product’s restricted retail distribution.

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2. Select the Collectible Card Type

Once upon a time, baseball cards were the only choice for collectors. Rookie basketball cards, featuring legends like Kobe Bryant, have recently surpassed all others in popularity among sports card collectors.

There are options for football, soccer, hockey, wrestling, and many more sports in addition to basketball.

Once you’ve chosen a field, you’ll need to be familiar with certain specific sports card terminology:

Rookie Cards

A player’s rookie card is typically the one that gets the most attention. Because they are the first cards that feature a player in their first year of being part of a big set, and rookie cards are so cool.

Players may have just had one rookie card back when there were fewer sets available, which made collecting players’ rookie cards rather simple.

Nowadays, there are many sets made, so when you take into account all the different inserts and parallels, a player might have well over a dozen distinct cards issued in their rookie year (more on that later).

Rookie cards from recent years often have a distinctive graphic known as an “RC logo.” With this emblem, fans know they have a rookie card of their favorite player.

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Base, Inserts, Parallels, and Subsets

Every set’s foundation is its base cards, which are also the common cards that comprise any collection.

A parallel card is a base card with a unique serial number. This implies that each card is printed in a specific quantity each year.

A subset is an additional set that is included in the standard packs. They are often numbered and have an entirely distinct appearance from the standard base cards. A card in a subset is an insert.

Sometimes a foil serial number located on the card can be used to identify these inserts and parallels. For instance, if a card is printed 50 times, yours can have the foil number “14/50” written on it to indicate that it is the 14th card manufactured.

The number won’t always be printed, but you can always use the set checklist to find out more.

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Finished Sets

Complete sets are highly sought after, and many collectors have had great success in acquiring them. These are pre-assembled, fully functional sets from the 1980s or before.

Finding entire versions of earlier sets is typically a lot simpler than finding complete versions of more recent sets, such as those that were released after the year 1981.

This is great news for older collectors, but it might get quite pricey if you collect more recent sets.

Naturally, a lot of this depends on the set’s cards. The set will undoubtedly cost more than one without if it contains a highly prized rookie card.

Purchasing entire sets might also be a cunning method to save money. It might occasionally be less expensive to purchase the full set if you’re searching for a certain card or two from a set!


There are more and more individuals collecting tickets from important matches, which is somewhat different than collecting cards but in the same ballpark.

Tickets appeal to me because they resemble miniature pieces of history.

Unlike cards and stickers, match tickets are far rarer, thus part of the fun is in the quest to eventually get your hands on one.

3. Player Card Desirability

The player depicted on a card’s front determines its value, among other things. It’s true that owning a rare card immediately increases its worth, but it goes without saying that certain players are just far more valuable than others.

It’s not surprising that a rookie Tom Brady base card would fetch a higher price than a rookie rare parallel card of a backup quarterback.

In addition, not just the top players command a premium. Keep in mind that, in general, attacking players garner more attention than defensive ones do in sports.

All that truly matters is supply and demand. A well-known and well-liked player will probably get greater interest in their cards, which will raise the price. Additionally, in many sports, defenders don’t receive the same amount of media attention as forwards.

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4. Condition

The state of your cards can have a significant impact on the price of your collection. In the end, there are three key indicators to consider when examining a card’s condition.

  • Any problems with the card’s printing quality?

This refers to any flaws that the card may have had at the time of its initial printing. These can include the printing of print lines, anything that prints in the wrong color, or any other printing-related errors.

  • Whether the card has any flaws when it was cut?

In the manufacturing process, several cards are produced on sizable printing sheets before being cut into individual cards.

This might frequently result in errors when cutting.

These flaws, including jagged edges or edges that weren’t straight leaving the card off-center, would likely go unnoticed by most people, but to specialists, they can significantly lower the value of the card.

  • Any flaws with the card that emerged from the pack?

A card is most frequently damaged after it has been opened and taken out of the pack. Rips, tears, sharp edges, wrinkles, water damage, and discoloration are examples of this.

Each of these elements is very important in determining a card’s state. Any harm that comes about once the card has been taken from its pack, however, is preventable.

Due to this, individuals handle their cards with extreme caution, frequently utilizing plastic sleeves and top-loaders to keep them secure as soon as they are opened.

5. Professional Grading: Is It Value For Money?

A professional grading procedure is sending a card (or entire collection) to an impartial auditing firm, which will then assign it a grade or rating depending on its condition.

These experts often provide grades on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest (Poor Condition) and 10 being the highest (Gem Mint Condition).

In essence, a professional will evaluate your card and assigns it a score out of ten using a grading system after looking at it. Then, a sturdy plastic holder is placed over your card to protect it and maintain its quality.

Additionally, it has a unique label that displays the card, the grade, and a serial number that may be used to search for the card in a database maintained by the grader. When making online purchases, this adds to your piece of mind.

Additionally, the price increases as the graded sports cards’ quality do. A flawless 10 usually costs close to twice as much as a 9.

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6. How to Safely Keep and Store Cards

There are certain factors to think about while deciding how to keep your card collection safe. One issue is how to safeguard individual cards from being harmed. And second, how to safely store whole collections while minimizing storage needs.

  • Penny sleeves: Protect your cards from wear and tear with this single-card transparent plastic sleeve. Comparable to the little plastic pockets commonly used in high school. These are often somewhat fragile, yet they serve most card purposes adequately.
  • Toploaders:  Toploaders are single-deck plastic card sleeves with extra thickness. In comparison to a penny sleeve, they have a lot more rigidity. The standard method of protecting a card is to place it in a penny sleeve and then into a top loader.
  • “One Touch” cases: A one-touch case might be a good option to protect your most important cards. These are significantly more durable than top loaders and typically have a magnetic closure, allowing for quick and damage-free insertion and removal of cards.
  • Folders: Folders are an excellent choice for containing a large number of cards. Since they aren’t worth much on the secondary market, I keep my low-end base cards in folders for safekeeping.
  • Card boxes: Sports card boxes made specifically for keeping many cards are available. The standard card case is a larger box divided into at least two sections, perfect for neatly arranging your decks in rows. If you choose to utilize them, check to see that the slots are large enough to accommodate your top-loading card cases.
  • Safety Deposit Boxes: Although I have never done so before, if I ever do spend tens of thousands of dollars on a card, it will be securely stored away.
  • Display cabinets and cases: There are now several attractive bookcases and display cabinets available for showcasing sports cards in the living room.
  • A Third Party: Some companies provide customers with the option of storing their cards with them. There are several that are considered to be among the finest auction houses in the world. If you keep your cards here you won’t be able to take them out and look at them, but it will be much easier to sell them afterward.
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