Trading cards: The biggest “stock market” in sports!

2024-04-08T16:54:35+00:00 2024-04-08T20:28:43+00:00.

Aris Barkas

08/Apr/24 16:54

Collecting Trading Cards, so called #thehobby, is the new favorite “sports stock market” for fans all over the planet and in Greece it all starts with Trace ‘n Chase!

Βy Trace ‘n Chase/

The world of trading cards has been a cherished hobby for millions of people for decades now and is simply not a modern-day firecracker.

In recent years, and especially during the Covid years, collectibles in general and cards specifically have entered a new and different era, which has nothing to do with the… stickers and cards that many of us used to collect when we were young.

It is therefore useful to understand what were the elements, conditions, and situations that created this incredible sports stock market that we are experiencing today.

Let’s start from the beginning…

We are Trace ‘n Chase, an official Eurohoops Sponsor, created during the quarantine, out of our thirst and desire to give the countless fans of basketball and sports in general in Greece and Europe the opportunity to experience the hobby of card collecting, as well as to acquire unique collectibles that will decorate their office, home, or company!

In the upcoming months, we will try to introduce you to this wonderful world, which is universally called #thehobby and we will show you how you, too, can become a collector and earn so much from this fun amusement activity, both financially and personally!

Trading cards offer a great opportunity to spend quality time with your loved ones, build a collection together with your friends and your kids, enrich your knowledge, and connect with people from all over the world to talk about your favorite players, teams, sports moments, and beyond!

But before we get started, do not miss the opportunity to win a sealed box of collectible trading cards by visiting Instagram and taking part in an exciting giveaway!

What is a trading card?

Trading card is a generic term used for a card made of cardboard or thick paper with a theme related to a sport (basketball, American football, soccer, baseball, boxing, ice hockey, golf, WWE, UFC) or other topics, mainly entertainment, such as cartoons, comic characters, TV series, movie clips, historical relics, pop culture and many more.

Sports trading cards were among the earliest forms of collectibles and usually consisted of a picture of a player on one side, with statistics or other information on the back. Today, of course, there is a wide variety of numbered and unnumbered card types that include a piece of the athlete’s clothing (jersey, shoe, baseball bat, hat, gloves, laces), as well as autographs of the athletes.

Pre-war era

Trading cards were mainly used in the late 19th century as product accompaniments to advertise every item imaginable, from breath fresheners to cigarettes, but also soft drinks like – what else? – Coca-Cola. As a cheap and effective way to reach consumers, they had their heyday between 1876 and 1900.

As baseball skyrocketed in popularity and became a professional sport in the late 1860s, baseball player trading cards appeared. These were used by various companies to promote their business, and in many cases, the products (for example, chewing gum) that were advertised had nothing to do with the sport.

Post-war era

As America entered World War II in 1941, the production of baseball cards slowly ceased as raw materials became scarce and citizens could not afford to invest in baseball cards for their children.

The Bowman Gum Company produced the first NBA cards, beginning in 1948 with a 72-piece set that included George Mikan’s rookie card, while Topps began manufacturing cards during 1958, returning to production in 1969-70.

This New York-based company grew from a chewing gum manufacturer in the late 1930s to a world leader in trading cards, creating many iconic brands and sets along the way. Fleer flourished around 1961-62, returning in 1986-87 to resurrect the basketball card industry, releasing the set that included the first card of Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley. Topps acquired its main competitor, Bowman Gum in 1956 and was the leader in the trading card industry from 1956 to 1980, not only in sports cards but also in entertainment cards.

The 1980s and 1990s

In the 1980s, another company, Upper Deck, appeared, and trading cards began to be produced on a large scale while collectors started to keep their cards in better condition as they became more aware of their potential investment value. This trend continued into the 1990s as the practice of overproduction caused many of the cards produced during this era to remain at low levels of value due to their sheer numbers.

In short, if you are around 40 and when you were young you collected “cards”, the truth of the matter is that most of them have only sentimental value! And when talking collectibles, it’s all about emotion…

The proliferation of cards inevitably led to a saturation of the market and by the late 1990s card companies began producing rarer editions of cards to keep the interest of many collectors. The latest trends in the hobby are cards that feature a piece of a player’s jersey worn in a professional game. Other trading cards include pieces of shoes, balls, baseball bats, hats, helmets, and pieces of a team’s floor. Certified autographs are also popular, as are “serial numbered” cards, which are produced in much smaller quantities than regular “basic set” cards.

The 2000s

Competition among companies to produce quality sports trading cards was intense. In 2005, longtime sports card producer Fleer went bankrupt and was acquired by Upper Deck. Shortly thereafter, Donruss lost its MLB license, and in 2009 the NBA licensed the rights to manufacture basketball cards to Italian subsidiary Panini America, which became the sole licensor for the league and players.

The current state of the market

Today, the hobby is experiencing a phenomenal rise, reaching new levels of interest as collectors use the internet more than ever in their hunt to acquire limited or valuable cards. The last five years have seen some astronomical auction sales and investing in sports cards has become a favorite hobby for collectors and non-collectors alike!

Panini America dominates, currently holding exclusive partnerships with the NBA, WNBA, NFL, EuroLeague, NASCAR, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as well as for international competitions such as the FIFA World Cup, and Copa América and domestic sports competitions such as the Premier League, Spanish La Liga and Italian Serie A among others.

Upper Deck, on the other hand, has exclusive memorabilia deals (“Upper Deck Authenticated”) with sports icons such as Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Ben Simmons, Wayne Gretzky, Connor McDavid and Serena Williams, is the exclusive partner of the NHL, while offering a full line of games with collectible cards and toys from well-known characters from the Marvel series, World of Warcraft, James Bond 007, etc.

Finally, Topps had until recently the exclusive agreement with Major League Baseball while also producing cards for Star Wars, Pokémon, Doctor Who, High School Musical, SpongeBob, as well as other pop culture categories.

Things of course change at a rapid pace and the next day is here as well-known sports goods company Fanatics in a “checkmate” move recently acquired Topps after first securing the exclusive license to issue sports trading cards in the NBA, NFL and MLB from 2026 onwards while it has already obtained the authorization to produce WWE and UFC cards as well!

Thank you for reading this introductory post and please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok,  Linkedin,  as well as on our YouTube Channel and learn everything about #thehobby!