If you are a baseball fan, sports card fan, or collector, you may have wondered how to sell baseball cards at some point. This question is common, and it’s often followed by the bigger one: “where to sell baseball cards?”
Every collection or set of baseball cards is unique due to its selection, condition, grading, and other factors. Irrespective of your collection’s condition and your final sale goals, you need to follow a basic blueprint for selling baseball cards.
Let’s guide you step-by-step to help you understand exactly how to sell baseball cards, even if you are a beginner or first-timer.
Step 1: Identify Your Baseball Cards
Carefully examine each baseball card in your collection and search for the manufacturer and year. If it isn’t on the front, you may find it printed on the back of the card. If the card contains statistics about the player, search for the last year mentioned in the statistics.
Typically, the card is always from the following year of the last statistic’s year. Sometimes, the manufacturer and copyright year are mentioned in fine print on the back of the card. If you still cannot find the year, search for the player’s card and its manufacturer’s name on online databases.
Your online search should likely yield results and show you exactly what year the card was manufactured. If you cannot find a manufacturer or year printed on the card, simply run an online search for the player’s mentioned name and the card number.
Include quotes or text from the card in your online search if needed. Things like advertised brands or career summaries can help you narrow down your search. If platforms like Google and YouTube bear no results, you can try to perform a reverse image search by searching with a picture of your card on Google.
Baseball cards from before 1942 are considered pre-war era cards. Cards printed between 1945 and 1979 are considered vintage. Any card printed after 1980 is considered to be from the modern era. As you would expect, most pre-war and vintage baseball cards in good condition are more valuable than most modern-era cards.
However, the star cards in your collection or set of baseball cards determine the collection’s overall value. A small collection of a dozen cards with 3 superstar cards is typically more valuable than a large collection of 5 dozen cards with only one superstar card.
As always, there are exceptions to this rule. Ultimately, the goal is to identify the baseball cards, determine their era, and look for superstar cards to determine the value of your collection.
However, if you miss identifying even a single superstar card in your collection, you will inadvertently end up selling your collection for far less than its market value. One trick is to match your cards against the list of MLB Hall of Fame-rs or the greatest players of all time. If you find players that match your cards, those are likely the most valuable in your collection.
Step 2: Assess Their Condition Through the Grading Scale
Look for flaws on your cards to assess their condition. You need to be highly critical, just like a potential buyer would be. Even the smallest flaws like a minor scuff, tear, line, stain, crease, edge wear, or a print issue like an out-of-focus image or off-center detail will reduce the card’s overall value.
Older, vintage, and pre-war cards were made with older print equipment, which means they were rarely picture-perfect, completely identical, or without flaws, even when they were fresh out of the pack. Hence, high-grade, mint condition, superstar vintage cards are unique and valuable.
Speaking of high-grade, you need to assess each card’s grade through the standardized grading system or scale. Third-party grading companies like the Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) use a 10-point grading scale for baseball cards.
You can use this scale to assess the grade of each of your baseball cards and check the value of similar cards in the market. You could also just send your cards to third-party companies like PSA for professional grading, but sometimes the shipping, insurance, and grading fees alone may cost more than the card’s value.
Step 3: Check Recent Auctions and Sales
Perhaps the best place to check the value of specific cards in your collection is eBay. It is the largest marketplace for baseball cards, and you will likely find results for all your cards. For the most accurate results, include the condition of each card when you search it.
You should then filter sold items to better understand the most recent sale prices of matching cards. Keep in mind that the values you see are not your net profit. They include costs and fees for the platform, dealer, and more. Typically, you can expect to net around half or up to 65 percent of the most recent sale prices you find.
Step 4: Consider Where You Want To Sell Baseball Cards
The most convenient and attractive place to sell your baseball cards is online platforms like eBay and Craigslist. However, if you are a novice with no prior experience in selling baseball cards, it is best to avoid these platforms.
These platforms have high fees, hidden costs, low exposure, low profit, scam potential, and new member restrictions when selling sports cards. You will have to be very vigilant and expend a lot of time and energy to make a good sale. A better option for beginners is to find a baseball card dealer.
They are few and far apart these days, but you will likely find some prominent and reputable ones somewhere in your city or state. The benefit of selling to a dealer is that they are professionals who can give you a fair deal on your collection in a fast, safe, and secure manner.
Step 5: Make the Sale
If you follow the mentioned steps correctly, you should have a good idea of the average value of your collection. Note that professional dealers will negotiate a lower price than you expect because they have to account for their profits and the sales network they bring to the table.
Typically, you can expect anywhere between a 10 and 30 percent cut on your final evaluation (if done correctly). However, as a beginner, you will likely get better value for your collection with a reputable dealer than what you will get from selling it online. It is also a much easier and safer sale.
Our Final Thoughts
If your collection has value, it shouldn’t be too difficult to sell them for a good profit. However, low-value collections or baseball cards are typically harder to sell or profit from because of their low demand and pricing.
You need to have at least one superstar card in your collection to give it the boost it needs to attract potential buyers and collectors. By following our guide carefully, you should know exactly how to sell baseball cards and have no trouble selling your collection.