We’ve all been there. You see a news report about some trading card fetching an astronomical sum of money. While some trading cards can be worth tens of thousands of dollars (sometimes even millions), figuring out exactly how much the cards in your collection are worth may be very confusing, and you may even find conflicting reports depending on where you look.
2020 saw a huge boost in trading card and sports memorabilia collectors, and the market has been hot ever since. A T206 Honus Wagner card sold for $6.6 million in 2021 through an online auction, smashing the record for the highest trading card ever sold. And it’s not just old and vintage cards making millionaires overnight. A 2017 National Treasures NFL Shield Patrick Mahomes Rookie Auto 1/1 BGS 8.5 card sold for $4.3 million in 2022 — the largest single football card sale to date.
But, the trading card market fluctuates similarly like the stock market; cards can rise and fall with how well or how poorly a player is doing on any given day. All it takes is one great game for the value of a trading card to skyrocket. The most popular and best marketed celebrities always command a higher value than their less popular counterparts, and teams in bigger sports markets will also bring in higher pricing on the secondary market.
Honus Wagner T206 - Robert Edwards Auctions
However, the single biggest factor when it comes to the value of a trading card is condition. The condition of the card (also known as the grade of the card) makes a dramatic difference to the overall value. Any damage on the front or back of the card (including manufacturer defects) can be the difference between thousands of dollars. Professional graders look at any imperfections, including errors due to manufacturer defects and micuts, centering, staining, sharp edges, and creases.
Therefore, getting an exact value for the trading cards in your collection can be tricky if your cards are not professionally graded. If you do decide to get your cards graded, or if your cards are already slabbed and graded, looking at recent sold auctions and sales on reputable websites can give you a much better idea of how much your cards are worth. Please note though that different grading companies can affect the value of the card. Some graders are more widely accepted in the hobby than others. We recommend doing your research before submitting your collection to a grading company that may not carry the same weight on the secondary market as a better, more established company.