Collecting Vintage Baseball Postcards
To the amateur, starting the hobby of vintage baseball card collecting can seem a minefield. How on earth can you tell which ones are ‘vintage’, rare, or worth anything at all? It can be hard, but there are some general rules that if you follow should help you on your way.
As with these a lot of vintage collecting, the older is generally better. For vintage baseball postcards, anything from the 19th century into the 1900-1920 era is the time to target. For example, a 1908 black and white postcard featuring Hall Of Famer Cy Young can be worth upwords of $1,000 or more. Not bad for a little piece of cardboard! If you are lucky enough to get your hands on the 1907 set of 24 Winthrop moving picture postcards, these are worth around $1500.
You may be surprised when you start collecting that these postcards, even though they are worth that amount of money a lot of them are not signed. In fact it is not until you start getting postcards from around 1950 that signatures start appearing more frequently. This is really due to the fact that the sport of ‘autograph hunting’ did not really take off until this time, and players started to respond to the fan mail that was delivered to them, usually by returning a postcard.
You will need to spend a bit of time researching which postcards are more valuable than others. There are many sites which list many postcards and their values, which is a really good starting guide. Often, trawling few sites like EBay will often bring up thousands of postcards, and by sifting through them, you may well be able to find a rare one that the owner does not think is worth anything, and get it for a good price.
Buying cards in their full sets will also increase the value. For instance, the 1935 set of seven Pebble Beach Clothiers postcards which had autographs of the featured players are now worth around $500 or more. Somebody who owned this set may not realize that unless they did their research or until they sold it off for a pittance of that. Understandably, the big names of that era such as Christy Mathewson will always fetch a large sum, and will only ever go up in value, but also take the time to look at the smaller names too as there may be fewer of them in existence. If you happen to find a card that is only known to have 4 or 5 in existence, you might have yourself a great find!