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.

Michael Jordan ERROR BGS 9 10 Auto 1994-95 Collector's Choice 23 Gold Signature
Michael Jordan ERROR BGS 9 10 Auto 1994-95 Collector's Choice 23 Gold Signature $795.00
Time Remaining: 29d 22h 39m
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2009-10 Topps #319 James Harden Rookie RC PSA 10 GEM MINT
2009-10 Topps #319 James Harden Rookie RC PSA 10 GEM MINT $149.00
Time Remaining: 28d 21h 51m
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2012-13 Panini Prizm #201 Kyrie Irving Rookie RC Green Prizm Refractor PSA 9
2012-13 Panini Prizm #201 Kyrie Irving Rookie RC Green Prizm Refractor PSA 9 $319.00
Time Remaining: 28d 21h 50m
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1987 Fleer Michael Jordan #59 PSA 7
1987 Fleer Michael Jordan #59  PSA 7 $80.00
Time Remaining: 29d 21h 15m
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2012 Panini Prestige DeMARCUS Cousins PSA 10
2012 Panini Prestige DeMARCUS Cousins PSA 10 $25.99
Time Remaining: 14d 1h 16m
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1986 Fleer #23 Walter Davis PSA 8 NM-MT
1986 Fleer #23 Walter Davis PSA 8 NM-MT $11.69
Time Remaining: 4d 22h 24m
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JIM BOEHEIM SYRACUSE 2010 UPPER DECK AUTOGRAPHED SIGNED PSA/DNA SLABBED CARD
JIM BOEHEIM SYRACUSE 2010 UPPER DECK AUTOGRAPHED SIGNED PSA/DNA SLABBED CARD $29.99
Time Remaining: 11d 2h 2m
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1986-87 Fleer #41 Dave Greenwood PSA 9 MINT
1986-87 Fleer #41 Dave Greenwood PSA 9 MINT $17.00
Time Remaining: 12d 8h 13m
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2009-10 Panini Limited Phenoms James Harden Rookie Jersey #/299 BGS 9.5 Auto 10
2009-10 Panini Limited Phenoms James Harden Rookie Jersey #/299 BGS 9.5 Auto 10 $229.00
Time Remaining: 28d 21h 51m
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2005-06 Topps First Row #GG Gerald Green Rookie BGS 9 10 Auto 41/190 *
2005-06 Topps First Row #GG Gerald Green Rookie BGS 9 10 Auto 41/190   * $29.99
Time Remaining: 15d 6h 36m
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1993 Fleer Rookie Sensations Tom Gugliotta PSA 8
1993 Fleer Rookie Sensations Tom Gugliotta PSA 8 $4.99
Time Remaining: 15d 6h 45m
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2012 Panini Contenders DeMARCUS Cousins PSA 10
2012 Panini Contenders DeMARCUS Cousins PSA 10 $29.99
Time Remaining: 2d 23h 15m
Buy It Now for only: $29.99
BRYCE HARPER 2012 Bowman Baseball Orange Prospect Card #BP10 167/250 BGS 9 MINT
BRYCE HARPER 2012 Bowman Baseball Orange Prospect Card #BP10 167/250  BGS 9 MINT $64.50
Time Remaining: 26d 1h 45m
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COREY SEAGER 2013 Bowman Draft Baseball 1st Chrome Prospect Card #BDPP108 BGS 9
COREY SEAGER 2013 Bowman Draft Baseball 1st Chrome Prospect Card #BDPP108  BGS 9 $36.50
Time Remaining: 26d 1h 41m
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JOSE FERNANDEZ 2011 Bowman Sterling Baseball Prospect Auto Autograph BGS 9.5 10
JOSE FERNANDEZ 2011 Bowman Sterling Baseball Prospect Auto Autograph BGS 9.5 10 $29.50
Time Remaining: 18d 23h 52m
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2013 Panini Titanium Anthony Davis PSA 10
2013 Panini Titanium Anthony Davis PSA 10 $29.99
Time Remaining: 8d 20h 10m
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CLEM HASKINS PHOENIX SUNS 1970-71 TOPPS ROOKIE SIGNED PSA/DNA SLABBED CARD
CLEM HASKINS PHOENIX SUNS 1970-71 TOPPS ROOKIE SIGNED PSA/DNA SLABBED CARD $29.99
Time Remaining: 11d 2h 2m
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PSA/DNA Autograph Signed 1994 Upper Deck SP Charlie Ward Rookie Knicks FSU*
PSA/DNA Autograph Signed 1994 Upper Deck SP Charlie Ward Rookie Knicks FSU* $29.99
Time Remaining: 16d 23h 10m
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1993 Hoops #MB1 Magic & Bird PSA 8 NM-MT
1993 Hoops #MB1 Magic & Bird PSA 8 NM-MT $6.99
Time Remaining: 29d 20h 7m
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GERALD GREEN 2005-06 SP GAME USED EDITION RC 349/999 #143 BGS 9.5
GERALD GREEN 2005-06 SP GAME USED EDITION RC 349/999 #143 BGS 9.5 $25.00
Time Remaining: 20d 22h 11m
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