Selling Pre-War Baseball Cards (1860s - World War II)

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Pre-War (WWII) Cards have the most value on a per card basis. Popular pre-war baseball card sets include cards issued by Goudey, DeLong, Play Ball, Sports Kings - to name a few.  

Although the prices quoted for these cards are typically high, much depends on the condition of the cards. Dean's Cards will purchase these cards in almost any condition. Many of the cards that have survived are not in top condition and this definitely affects the value of the cards.

It is difficult for the collecting novice to determine what years these cards were issued by just looking at the card. Another confusing problem is that most of the pre-war sets have been reissued in the form of reprint (or archives) sets. These sets have been released over the last 15 or so years.

Unfortunately, sellers will send us a Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig Card that they bought for $100 at a Flea Market a few years back, only to discover that it is a reprint card issued in the 1990's that was roughed up to look old. Most of the cards for this era show wear, so if you have a card like this in great shape; chances are that it is not an original. The value of the reprinted cards in very low when compared to the original cards.  

Please be careful when buying pre-war baseball cards at flea markets.  It is common practice for these sellers to rough up reprint cards and sell them.   Bargain hunters often buy them for a few bucks in the hope that they are going to strike it rich.  These dealers know exactly what they are doing and rest assured, if the cards were worth a bunch of money, they would not sell them at low prices.

Dean's Cards buys the T206 Honus Wagner baseball card.

The holy grail of cards:
T206 Honus Wagner.

When you hear about a particular card being worth a lot of money, it is most often from the Pre-War Era. But the card that is worth thousands of dollars is definitely the rare exception. Most of the very valuable cards are super stars that are in near perfect condition. The cards of the common players in average condition are worth far less money. Most of the newspaper articles or TV interviews that I have seen, paint an unrealistic value on these cards. For example, I once saw an "expert" on the Antiques Road Show overestimate the value of a collection by 25 times! I personally know many people in this hobby, but never heard of this "expert". It may make for good TV, but it confuses many of the people that are seriously trying to sell a collection.

It is important to remember the old "Economics 101" Lesson about Supply and Demand. The supply of the pre-war cards is low, which drives up the value. But, because of the higher price of the pre-war cards, the demand is also fairly low, when compared to the newer cards.

That said, if you have Pre-War cards to sell, they could be worth good money.  You can trust Dean's Cards to offer top dollar, thanks to Dean's expertise with these collectibles, as proven in his book: Before There Was Bubble Gum: Our Favorite Pre-World War I Baseball Cards 

Here's a T206 and T210 Baseball Card Collection recently sold to Dean

After learning that Dean had literally written the book on Pre-World War ! cards (Before There Was Bubble Gum: Our Favorite Pre-World War I Baseball Cards), one collector decided to sell his collection of T206 and T210 cards to Dean's Cards. He wanted to make sure they could be evaluated and priced correctly by a company with expertise in these early 20th Century cards. The seller was pleased with our thoughtful bid and quick response and sold us his entire collection.

If you have Pre-World War I cards to sell, please complete the form on this page and we will respond promptly.

By Dean Hanley

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