The Market for Vintage Basketball Cards

Card collectors need to predict the future. When they are investing in vintage graded basketball cards, if they guess that there will be more collectors after those cards in the coming years they can grab some bargains right now.  Old basketball cards were a blip on the radar until the early 90s when the market picked up and it's stayed strong ever since.

As the supply of vintage basketball cards is limited, especially those graded at MINT 10, and the popularity of basketball and the number of fans around the world can certainly increase it could mean prices will go up. Throwback jerseys of the NBA's early stars are popular, and video game makers are including past stars in current games, it makes sense that the people who buy those items will begin to look at purchasing graded vintage cards.  For many in the 30s, even the rare 1990s insert cards that are so hot right now are 'vintage'.  That's the league's core demographic and those people will always be fans and most find the game's history fascinating.

If a couple of high-end collectors decided to go after the few mint condition 1948 Bowman cards and the first Topps and Fleer sets the prices could go up quickly. Baseball player Dmitri Young spent plenty of money acquiring the best baseball rookies, graded Gem Mint PSA 10 (which he later sold), and there are many other sports people and those in the entertainment industry with large bank accounts who could look to basketball cards as a hobby. Another potential new market for high-end vintage cards are international collectors, especially those in Asia.

There is a market for graded cards, for the superstars of the early NBA and even for cards that came before the NBA existed. One example is the small number of basketball cards that were part of the 1933 Sport Kings set. Nat Holman was a famous player in the ABL, and one of his cards sold for $15,880 at a Mile High Card Company auction. Holman's 1933 Sport Kings #3 card was graded PSA 8 NM-MT.  An Ed Wachter card from the same set, 1933 Sport Kings #5, and with a grade of PSA 8.5 NM-MT+ was sold in a Memory Lane Inc. auction for $5,053 .

The ESPN 30 For 30 and NFL Films documentaries have shown that sports fans want to learn about past stars. The market for vintage basketball cards could increase with more exposure of the sport's past. The recent documentary about the 1992 Dream Team increased interest in those players with a new generation of fans.

One thing going against possible growth in prices of vintage cards is that many of the teams do not exist in the same manner that they did four or five decades ago. A lot of the best players from the past have rookie cards from relocated and renamed teams, so current fans may not be as enthusiastic when it comes to collecting cards of the Rochester Royals or Syracuse Nationals.

Another possible reason for the vintage card market to stay at its current level and not grow is that the NBA is a league driven more by highlights and player popularity than it is by career numbers and achievements. Dolph Schayes may be a legend of basketball, Sam Jones won ten NBA titles and Jack Sikma won a championship early in his career and even led the NBA in free throw percentage as a center late in his career, but Nate Robinson would have a lot more fans than those players combined due to his Slam Dunk contest wins.

You can the most watched basketball cards on eBay to see which vintage cards might be very popular with collectors, a list that almost always includes some of the game's icons.

1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle Yankees RC Rookie HOF HIGH# SGC 50 Baseball Card
1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle Yankees RC Rookie HOF HIGH# SGC 50 Baseball Card $37,499.00
Time Remaining: 28d 12h 19m
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Michael Jordan 1996-97 Z-Force Slam Cam #SC5 BGS 9.5 GEM MINT *SUPER Rare*
Michael Jordan 1996-97 Z-Force Slam Cam #SC5 BGS 9.5 GEM MINT *SUPER Rare* $1,500.00
Time Remaining: 29d 17h 26m
Buy It Now for only: $1,500.00
Vince Carter 1998-99 SP Authentic Sign of the Times RC BGS 9.5 GEM MINT AUTO 10
Vince Carter 1998-99 SP Authentic Sign of the Times RC BGS 9.5 GEM MINT AUTO 10 $350.00
Time Remaining: 29d 17h 7m
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Michael Jordan 1997-98 Finest Embossed Refractors /263 #287 BGS 9.5 GEM MINT
Michael Jordan 1997-98 Finest Embossed Refractors /263 #287 BGS 9.5 GEM MINT $5,000.00
Time Remaining: 29d 17h 35m
Buy It Now for only: $5,000.00
Tim Duncan 1998-99 Stadium Club Co-Signers AUTO BGS 9 MINT .5 from GEM
Tim Duncan 1998-99 Stadium Club Co-Signers AUTO BGS 9 MINT .5 from GEM $200.00
Time Remaining: 29d 16h 53m
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Michael Jordan 1997-98 Bowman Best Atomic Refractors #96 BGS 9.5 GEM MINT
Michael Jordan 1997-98 Bowman Best Atomic Refractors #96 BGS 9.5 GEM MINT $400.00
Time Remaining: 29d 21h 43m
Buy It Now for only: $400.00
2003 UD Exquisite Michael Jordan Patch /25 PSA 10 POP 1
2003 UD Exquisite Michael Jordan Patch /25 PSA 10 POP 1 $9,999.00
Time Remaining: 28d 11h 58m
Buy It Now for only: $9,999.00
1992-93 Hoops Draft Redemption Lottery Exchange card Unredeemed BGS 9.5 w/ 10
1992-93 Hoops Draft Redemption Lottery Exchange card Unredeemed BGS 9.5 w/ 10 $999.99
Time Remaining: 14d 12h 16m
Buy It Now for only: $999.99
1998 Skybox Thunder Michael Jordan Noyz Boyz PSA 10 Rare
1998 Skybox Thunder Michael Jordan Noyz Boyz PSA 10 Rare $2,600.00
Time Remaining: 27d 20h 12m
Buy It Now for only: $2,600.00
2003/04 UD LEGENDS BILL RUSSELL LEGENDARY SIGNATURE AUTO AUTOGRAPH SP BGS 9/10
2003/04 UD LEGENDS BILL RUSSELL LEGENDARY SIGNATURE AUTO AUTOGRAPH SP BGS 9/10 $399.99
Time Remaining: 27d 18h 25m
Buy It Now for only: $399.99
1998 Upper Deck #321 Paul Pierce RC Rookie Watch Graded PSA 8 NM-MT
1998 Upper Deck #321 Paul Pierce RC Rookie Watch Graded PSA 8 NM-MT $0.99 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 13h 14m
1957-58 Topps Basketball Near Set All PSA GRADED 53/80. Rookies and Stars
1957-58 Topps Basketball Near Set All PSA GRADED 53/80. Rookies and Stars $999.99
Time Remaining: 13d 20h 44m
Buy It Now for only: $999.99
1986 Fleer Basketball WAX PACK ERVING - Top BIRD Sticker - Back PSA 7
1986 Fleer Basketball WAX PACK ERVING - Top BIRD Sticker - Back PSA 7 $1,199.99
Time Remaining: 28d 12h 52m
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Michael Jordan 1994-95 Finest Refractors #331 BGS 9 MINT
Michael Jordan 1994-95 Finest Refractors #331 BGS 9 MINT $400.00
Time Remaining: 29d 18h 35m
Buy It Now for only: $400.00
Kobe Bryant 1996-97 Topps Chrome BGS 9.5 Gem Mint Rookie Card 3x 9.5 1x 10 Subs
Kobe Bryant 1996-97 Topps Chrome BGS 9.5 Gem Mint Rookie Card 3x 9.5 1x 10 Subs $1,000.00
Time Remaining: 26d 18h 5m
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Michael Jordan 1994-95 Finest Refractors #331 BGS 8.5 MINT
Michael Jordan 1994-95 Finest Refractors #331 BGS 8.5 MINT $215.00
Time Remaining: 29d 17h 32m
Buy It Now for only: $215.00
1992-93 Ultra Shaquille O'Neal All ROOKIE 1 of 5 Graded BGS 9.5 GEM MINT!
1992-93 Ultra Shaquille O'Neal All ROOKIE 1 of 5 Graded BGS 9.5 GEM MINT! $15.50 (2 Bids)
Time Remaining: 4h 44m
1997-98 Michael Jordan Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems PMG Red /100 BGS 8
1997-98 Michael Jordan Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems PMG Red /100 BGS 8 $19,999.99
Time Remaining: 29d 12h 13m
Buy It Now for only: $19,999.99
1961-62 Fleer #2 Paul Arizin Rookie SGC 8 NM-MT Philadelphia Warriors
1961-62 Fleer #2 Paul Arizin Rookie SGC 8 NM-MT Philadelphia Warriors $629.00
Time Remaining: 27d 20h 58m
Buy It Now for only: $629.00
1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan Rookie Card PSA 5 Nice Card For The Grade
1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan Rookie Card PSA 5 Nice Card For The Grade $879.00
Time Remaining: 5d 15h 50m
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