Three good books for sports cards collectors who are looking for a good read

Collecting sports cards is fun.

But for the die hards out there, learning more about the hobby by reading up on the history of sports card collecting can be enlightening.

Here are three of our recommended books for the sports card enthusiast.

  1. The Card: Collectors, Con Men, and the True Story of History’s Most Desired Baseball Card

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Only a few dozen T206 Wagners are known to still exist, having been released in limited numbers just after the turn of the twentieth century. Most, with their creases and stains, look like they’ve been around for nearly one hundred years.

But one—The Card—appears to have defied the travails of time. Its sharp corners and still-crisp portrait make it the single-most famous—and most desired—baseball card on the planet, valued today at more than two million dollars.

It has transformed a simple hobby into a billion-dollar industry that is at times as lawless as the Wild West. Everything about The Card, which has made men wealthy as well as poisoned lifelong relationships, is fraught with controversy—from its uncertain origins to the nagging possibility that it might not be exactly as it seems.

2. Mint Condition: How Baseball Cards Became an American Obsession

BOOK DESCRIPTION: When award-winning journalist Dave Jamieson rediscovered his childhood baseball card collection he figured that now was the time to cash in on his “investments.” But when he tried the card shops, they were nearly all gone, closed forever. eBay was no help, either.

Baseball cards were selling for next to nothing. What had happened? In Mint Condition, the first comprehensive history of this American icon, Jamieson finds the answers and much more. In the years after the Civil War, tobacco companies started slipping baseball cards into cigarette packs as collector’s items, launching a massive advertising war.

Before long, the cards were wagging the cigarettes. In the 1930s, baseball cards helped gum and candy makers survive the Great Depression, and kept children in touch with the game. After World War II, Topps Chewing Gum Inc. built itself into an American icon, hooking a generation of baby boomers on bubble gum and baseball cards. In the 1960s, royalties from cards helped to transform the players’ union into one of the country’s most powerful, dramatically altering the business of the game.

And in the ’80s and ’90s, cards went through a spectacular bubble, becoming a billion-dollar-a-year industry before all but disappearing. Brimming with colorful characters, this is a rollicking, century-spanning, and extremely entertaining history.

  1. Got ‘Em, Got ‘Em, Need ’em: A Fan’s Guide to Collecting the Top 100 Sports Cards of All Time

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Offers a retrospective of the greatest and rarest sports cards ever produced, covering baseball, basketball, football, hockey, boxing, and golf, and explores the innovations and controversies of the hobby’s industry.

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