The first thing that you have to look at is the player that is on the card. It is very important for the value that you have a card of a player with a very successful career that may take them or which may already have them in Cooperstown. The player's reputation is also very important because a first baseman that has become suspected of using performance enhancing drugs scandals will lose a lot of value because there will be no demand (or lower demand) for it. The more demand a player's memorabilia has, the higher the value of the card.
Of course the stats are important because an athlete that is doing well will have people looking for him in their collections. Needless to say someone who is not playing as well will see little value to any collectibles associated with them. Also look at the athlete’s popularity because the more popular ones will create a higher demand for their products. When you see a jersey becoming really popular at the ballpark, chances are that the prices for their memorabilia will also be higher.
Proven Record Vs. Potential
The players who have been in the game the longest or those that already retired and who had stellar careers will have solid value in their trading cards, however there are also rookie cards that you need to keep and pay attention to. Every time that you get a rookie card make sure to keep it safe because although some players thought of at the time of the draft to be future stars, some just seem to surprise everybody once their career gets. Mike Piazza is one of the best examples as he was the number 1,390 pick back in 1988 and now he is very likely to join the hall of fame.
If you had decided that the number 1,390 pick of the draft was not worth keeping in your collection, then you would have lost a lot of money. Piazza’s career was the exception to the rule, but you never know when another athlete will have a career like he did. While not every rookie card will get the value that a Piazza one would you should always remember that the rare rookie cards are the ones that end up with the most value.
Piece Of The Game
Another thing that can make your collection more valuable is if you have rare cards from the stars that include a piece of history. Some companies have included bits of glove used by athletes or small pieces of their uniform and in some cases even bits of a baseball bat. These cards are very valuable especially when the player is a lock to make it to the hall of fame, but even those that are not can gain some value. If you have one of those cards and you get it graded, then its value can skyrocket with demand. The moment that you get one of those cards make sure to save it or grade it right away so that you can keep it in a protective case in the future.
Grading And Shape Of The Card
In order for a trading card to get any real value it needs to be in really good shape. You need to look at every aspect of the card including any scratches, worn out corners and regular wear and tear. That is why it is important to grade cards that are in excellent shape and hope for a 9 to 10 grade. It is not that lower graded cards cannot gain any value, but collectors obviously prefer the collectibles that are in the best shape so those are the ones that they will pay more for.
If for some reason you cannot have your cards graded right away then make sure to keep them somewhere they will be protected. A collector’s book is sometimes enough but I prefer to keep mine in a locked box where they will not see the effects of humidity, heat, or anything that may cause any possible damage. You should however really consider having them graded once you have the real value of a card. Price guides are available at book stores and some will tell you the price of your card before and after sending them for evaluation. The most reliable grading service is Beckett and their services are usually fast.
An autographed baseball card becomes an instant collectible so those should receive special care from the moment that you get them. There are two types of autographed cards and those are the ones that you get from a pack when you buy it at the store and the ones that you get signed by a player when you meet them in real-life. If you are going to get the cards signed by the athlete then it is a good idea to have proof that you did in fact get it signed by them. Taking a picture of the event makes a lot of sense, but it is not enough to prove that the autograph is real; for those cases there are companies that will verify that the signature is real.
For verifying signatures of pro athletes you can use companies like James Spence Authentication. Taking your cards to a store that sells collectibles is not really enough because some will have their own certificates of authenticity, buy a card and just include the certificate whether the signature is real or not. It is better if you do as much as possible on your part to prove that an autograph on your collectible card is authentic.