Your Turn: What concerns you the most about collecting vintage cards?

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

When it comes to collecting vintage cards, it’s no secret that it’s a different animal despite the simplicity of yesteryear’s cardboard.

Counterfeits, trimmed cards, awful printing and cutting jobs are among the obstacles when it comes to finding your key card — if you can find it at all. Then, of course, there are other debates — do you buy graded, do you buy high-grade cards or durable beaten-down copies that you can afford?

Of course, that’s presuming you can find the cards at all.

For the next issue of Beckett Sports Card Monthly, we’ll be looking at notable names as well as fun and interesting cards all of the vintage variety (by Beckett definition, that’s 1980 and before). As part of that issue, we’d like to know your thoughts on collecting vintage and we’ll share a sampling of your thoughts left here in the magazine.

So, all that said …

What concerns you the most about collecting vintage cards?

What do you like about vintage cards?

What makes vintage cards an attractive collecting niche in your mind?

Tell us what you think on those three points — and tell us whatever else is on your mind when it comes to these cards in the comments below.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Sports Card Monthly magazines. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.


  1. Micheal
    Posted February 13, 2014 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    For me it’s about authenticity. Back then there were a lot of fake cards made. Just look at what happened with the Jordan rookies and McGwire, Mantle, and others, there are a bunch of fakes out there. Knowing what is real is what is important to me.

  2. Ben Wilson
    Posted February 13, 2014 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    As a vintage collector at heart, I am always fascinated and eager to pick a new piece for my collection that pre-dates 1970. I believe the 70’s are included in the ‘vintage’ category, however they don’t have the same appeal to me, personally, that cards 1969 are older have.

    I am not a collector that will buy graded cards… Or for that matter get new cards graded. I like my cards in binders, with other cards from the same players/years. So for me, I love low grade cards that are both affordable and well-loved. You can tell that this card, that I now own, has had years of love as well as many caretakers throughout the years.

    Awful printing and cutting jobs would bother me immensely if I were the type of collector that needed a 7+ graded set. For me, having a card where you can’t read the card number on the back adds to part of the nostalgia of collecting. It’s as novel as acquiring a card, where the team name had been crossed out by some kid in 1964 who pulled it from a pack… And he/she fixed the card with the player’s new team name.

    Counterfeits and the trimming of cards fall into the same category for me. Both are deplorable, but a true reality of our hobby. Memorabilia gets faked. Cards, money, coins, get counterfeited. It’s just something the world must deal with. No one wants to be cheated out of any amount of money. It’s just something we all have to deal with and do our best in judging the validity of something prior to buying it.

    I’ve always told myself I would only buy a graded 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle some day when I can afford one. That way I can “ensure” it’s “real”. However there is no guarantee that ANY card is real. From Jersey Gate that called into question “game used jerseys” that had been inserted into cards or the Craigslist scam that had people popping graded cards out and replacing them with fraudulent ones. There is no guarantee what you are buying is authentic.

    I always tell people… Collect what you like. Your favorite player(s) or team(s)… Graded or Ungraded… Vintage or Current… To me, you will never beat a card that has had countless caretakers over the course of the last 50-60 years… When cards had personalities… And you’re just the next stop in the card’s endless adventure…

  3. Posted February 13, 2014 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    For me, the most important thing that concerns me is whether or not a card has been altered from its original state Trimming is a common practice amongst unscrupulous dealers that hurts the hobby. I try to buy my more expensive cards in graded form as there is too much risk when buying raw. I like to collect vintage because it connects me to my youth kind of like the way music does when you hear an oldie but goodie on the radio. I think collecting vintage cards is an attractive collecting niche in my mind because there are not as many people collecting the older stuff when compared to the newer stuff. Some say it is a dying breed because the younger generation doesn’t care about baseball players of yesteryear thus the demand of vintage is low. However, a quick look online and you can see that vintage is in great demand.

    Craig from Texas

  4. Posted February 13, 2014 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    When we’re talking vintage cards, most casual collectors don’t have equivalents to compare true vintage cards to, so my main concern is authenticity and trimming, especially when buying on-line.
    Vintage cards are nice because they are true rarities that get better with age, unlike today’s manufactured rarities.
    What makes vintage cards such a niche is the fact that it takes a whole different subset of knowledge to collect them.

  5. Posted February 13, 2014 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    I like vintage cards because they are a safer bet to hold long-term value. I own the #2 PSA Koufax Master Set and the #1 PSA Kershaw Master Set (sorry I know this is and Kershaw makes me nervous in a long-term value sense. I do not know if he will get hurt and lose value at any moment. If Koufax gets hurt from this point forward it won’t matter–and he won’t be un-inducted from the HOF. Koufax and vintage in general is much safer in my opinion and that is why I prefer vintage. Love the comment above from Ben Wilson above about how markings on cards and other modifications add character to vintage cards–that is a great point. But, to avoid risks of buying trimmed or altered cards I still have to go with graded cards overall. Great topic and discussion!

  6. CoffeyFan1
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    The one thing that concerns me about vintage cards is the price, not the counterfeits or the shape, but the price. I would love to lay my hands on a Mickey Mantle or a Aaron Rookie, but being 15 years old i’m stuck with the fact that the dollar marks are beyond my reach.

    What I like most about vintage cards is not the pristine, rare BGS tens that most collectors want but the cards that were not stuck in a shoe box, put away and forgotten, but the cards that were creased, written on, glued, and carried in a wallet because those cards were loved by their owner.

    to me the most attractive thing about about vintage cards is the designs. they are more thought of than most of the trashy designs nowadays.

  7. CoffeyFan1
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    The one thing that concerns me about vintage cards is the price, not the counterfeits or the shape, but the price. I would love to lay my hands on a Mickey Mantle or a Aaron Rookie, but being 15 years old I am stuck with the fact that the dollar marks are beyond my reach.

    What I like most about vintage cards is not the pristine, rare BGS tens that most collectors want but the cards that were not stuck in a shoe box, put away and forgotten, but the cards that were creased, written on, glued, and carried in a wallet because those cards were loved by their owner.

    to me the most attractive thing about about vintage cards is the designs. they are more thought of than most of the trashy designs nowadays.

  8. Dano Laurel
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    There’s something to be said about a player that has put in his time, and for his likeness to be placed on cardboard and have it last the test of time. Vintage cards will always provide a time capsule, or timeline for the sports we love. I buy graded vintage mostly, but have one ungraded card from a reputable dealer- I love the mild sense of security of knowing it’s an authentic card. An no, I buy the card not the grade, but low grades are what I can afford. I just love the look of them!

  9. CoffeyFan1
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Another thing That concerns me about vintage cards is the fact that people will sell things like this on ebay: “Reggie Jackson, mickey mantle, babe ruth, rare vintage $$$$$$” and, after you scroll through many many many pictures of the sellers fabulous collection, in the fine print it says “you get at least one random card from my collection that may or may not be the card(s) pictured.” Also I came close to getting burned on a 1933 babe ruth. I bid before I read the discription and when I did read it I said in small print and was found nowhere in the title “I am listing this card as a reprint.” After a few days I was out bid and the card sold for $201.52 plus shipping and handling. now that’s a lot of cash for a reprint.

  10. Matt
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    Affordability and availability. I don’t have a ton of money to spend on cards, and even though the only vintage I collect are for my Twins sets (although I would love to start working on some vintage North Stars in hockey as well), and that makes it difficult to add much of them to my collection. I can usually trade for my Twins sets from around ’75 and more recent, but any farther back and it starts to get a lot tougher. The farther back you go, the harder it is to trade for them. At the same time, prices go up a lot as well. My ultimate vintage goal is landing a Killebrew rookie in decent condition, but will be a long ways down the road. Hopefully I can get one at some point!

  11. Bkatto
    Posted February 16, 2014 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    I have recently, for numerous reasons, scaled down to exclusively vintage cards. 1) My biggest concern is that usually these cards are found on line (at least the ones I’m on the hunt for) thus you are not looking at the card in person but usually a scan. So naturally that opens a ton of questions/ subjectivity; is it the actual card your buying? Is it a doctored scan? so on and so on… 2) What makes them so attractive to me is a couple of things. First they remind me of my childhood collecting years (started at age 7 in 1970) when collecting was a little simpler. It was more about the cads and not so much about inserts/ autographs and such. 3) What makes it an attractive niche in my mind is that the print run is much smaller and these were cards that pretty much predate plastic pages and top loaders so finding them in mid-high grade means you actually have a rare find. I have had a Namath Rookie on lay away for 4 months now and have 2 more payments. I am hopeful it works out well given the numerous challenges I just presented. Great article Chris and I hope this is the feedback you were looking for.

  12. Patrick
    Posted February 17, 2014 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    I think that vintage cards are an outstanding investment compared to modern, given the fact that there is an entire generation that will be progressing through their peak earnings years and into retirement over the next couple of decades. That generation grew up collecting in the 70’s and 80’s, but often pined over those seemingly unobtainable 1950’s Topps and Bowman. Now that they have the disposable income to purchase those items, you can expect a similar effect as what has happened with silver age comic books. Even sets from the 1970’s have a lot of upside in high grade.

    The biggest problem that I see with vintage is that as printing technology gets better, and vintage prices continue to rise, forgeries of money cards will get increasingly prolific and difficult to detect. While grading companies may still be able to detect these forgeries under close examination, the average collector at a show or bidding on raw cards in an auction will be left in a complete bind as to authenticity; and often already is.

    Personally, I’ve had to limit my vintage collecting primarily to complete sets and unopened boxes/graded packs. While there are (comparatively) quite a few unopened 1952 Topps packs floating around, many of the unopened packs from the late 1950 and early 1960’s are among the rarest collectibles in the hobby; even the empty boxes and wrappers command a high premium. Pre-1987 wax/cello/vending prices have been soaring over the past couple of years, and I don’t expect that to change any time soon.

  13. rick
    Posted February 18, 2014 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Trimming, Doctoring, ECT!


    They are REAL CARDS. History, INNOCENCE!!!

  14. rick
    Posted February 18, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    I do believe pre 1980 is vintage, that is the way beckett has always been…. But lately I’m starting to lean toward pre 1960.?.?.? Weird I know. I have stuck to graded vintage because one it is set in stone per say. But also 99 times out of a 100 the card is legit! No more debating a scummy dealer at a show or shop on how the card is ex-mt or it is really vg at best and he wants top dollar. No more of that. I’m rambling I know and these are not the best sentence but I hope a makes some points. Any feedback would be great.

  15. rick
    Posted February 18, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    PRE 1969 I MEANT. NOT 60

  16. Jason K
    Posted February 18, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    I love vintage. The problem I have is the cost. One way I deal with that issue is I will buy vintage common lots (especially if I can land a lot that is mostly from one or two years). Then, I’ll purchase the stars one or two at a time until I complete the set. That way, I get the full set but don’t fork out a ton of cash all at once. I’ve done that with a couple of 70’s sets, and have had alot of fun doing it. After all, isn’t FUN what collecting is all about?

  17. Lambeau-Legend4
    Posted February 20, 2014 at 2:36 am | Permalink

    My #1 concern when buying vintage (ungraded) is, IS IT REAL?? No one wants to buy a fake card. You want the real thing. Secondly, is there any damage or altercations done to the card? Trimming, erasing, pen/pencil marks, etc.

    What I love about vintage cards is the simplicity of most of the design’s. And of course , all of the legends & HOFers that dawn those cards. Finding a vintage card off you want list, is like going back in time & getting a Christmas present when you were a kid. I love that exciting feeling!

    There are many attractive options that come to mind when collecting vintage. 1. Depending on condition (graded or ungraded) you can find a favorite card or set need fairly cheap sometimes. I also like the simple design of most sets & the simple photo’s used on them. Todays cards are one of two things. Either they’re a product with no thought process & a fading & limited value or they’re a high priced product with a little thought process but mainly just trying to out bedazzle the other competitors.

    With all the new products that come out that are rookie-laden that are full of over-produced game used, auto’s & parallel cards, it makes me yearn for the days of yesteryear when companies produced cards with “collectors” in mind, instead of how much crap they can produce to pad their bank accounts. With that said, my collecting focus is shifting more & more towards vintage with each new thoughtless product that’s produced.

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