History of Trading Cards

What exactly is a trading card? It is a card typically created from thick paper, which is meant to be collected and traded. The cards usually include: a picture of a person/thing/ place, either real or fictitious, a name or description of the picture, and some type of relevant information. Trading cards actually evolved from cards known as “trade cards.” During the late 1700’s tradesmen used cards to advertise their specific services. These cards led to the development in the early 1800’s of trade cards which were used to advertise products or services. The very first baseball cards were considered trade cards. A sporting goods company began printing baseball cards in the early 1860’s. The most expensive and valuable baseball card in history is the Honus Wagner T-206 from 1909. Only four of these cards were ever created and one was sold at an auction (to Wayne Gretzky who is a famous hockey player) for $451,500. A company called “Allen & Ginter” in 1886 began printing advertisements on trade cards which were placed in packages of cigarettes. The trade cards helped to protect the cigarettes because they were stiff and kept the packages from bending. Examples of other products and services which were advertised on trade cards include clothing, medicine and food.

In 1950, Topps Chewing Gum, Inc. began to place trading cards in packs of bubble gum and featured a variety of things such as a fictional character named “Hopalong Cassidy”, a cowboy hero who was featured on TV and in movies, as well as All-American football cards. In 1951, Topps created baseball trading cards which looked like playing cards. The following year, the company created the first baseball card set, which resembles current baseball cards. The cards include the particular player’s statistics and playing record on the card. Mickey Mantle, who was a very famous baseball player during this time period, is featured on a card in some of these sets. Today, a specific 1952 Topps card of Mickey mantle is said to be worth $35,000.

Combining parts of traditional card games with actual trading cards, also called collectible cards, you discover the current world of trading card games, such as Pokémon and Yu-Gi-OH!. These games revolve around the trading cards. Topps also produced popular cards which were considered non-sports cards such as “Star Wars” and “Wacky Packages.” These types of non-sports cards led to the trading cards and games of today, such as Webkinz and Magic: The Gathering. You can even find online trading cards which only exist online or which correspond to a physical card. Each card includes information specific to the game being played; for example, in the Pokémon trading card game, each card contains the following information which includes: the name and picture of a specific Pokémon, their special “attacks” and directions on what happens with certain attacks. This is very similar in style to early baseball cards, which featured the name and picture of a particular baseball player on one side and the player’s statistics on the other side.

There are many different types of cards and it is fun to try to find the one or two that you really want or need to make your collection “complete” and to either purchase it or trade for it. As you can also tell by the price of the Honus Wagner card, if you decide to collect older cards like baseball cards you might get one that is worth quite a bit of money. Trading cards can be profitable if you find the right ones. The rarer a card is the more exciting it is to obtain one and maybe even use it. For example, certain rare Pokémon cards, such as Zekrom with attacks like “Outrage” and “Bolt Strike” would be really thrilling to use during a game. Imagine the face of your opponent when they see you use a card like that!

The following links will provide you with more information on the exciting world of trading cards and trading card games.