A long time ago, sports cards were invented. Since that time, they have gone from being a novelty to a booming business, back to a novelty, and now they’re a thriving business again. I will get into the history of this phenomenon, but first, let’s talk about how we got into the current boom.

During the COVID-19 shutdown, many folks stayed home and had extra time on their hands. They began rummaging through old items and found sports cards from yesteryear. It reminded them of simpler and happier times of their youth. These folks grew nostalgic and began to renew their hobby of collecting sports cards.

The Makings of a Sports Card BoomAs the months carried on, people started to realize that there was a card shortage. Yes, we had toiletry shortages, coin shortages, but also a trading card shortage. People actually started watching the news to see popular star player cards sold and auctioned for as much as a million dollars! Everyone started buying up cards, and there was a supply and demand issue. Many folks even created eBay side businesses and made some good profits. Just to think, a few short years ago, cards were plentiful on store shelves, and no one cared about them.

Sports cards started in the early 1900s as a tobacco product giveaway, and Cracker Jack began to put cards into their popcorn boxes as a prize to boost sales. By the time we reached the 1950s and 60s, kids would get these cards and put them into their bike spokes. They made a cool whirly sound as they rode their bikes. When one card was beaten up, they simply put another on and kept riding.

As we moved into the 1980s, people realized that these old cards were hard to find in good condition. As this scarcity happened, people realized the old cards were worth a good penny. Corporations started mass producing new cards to create a phenomenon. They began mass-printing them in abundance to keep up with supply demands. However, this massive injection of cards into the market essentially made these cards worthless, and people fell out of love with the cards. Companies now have corrected this problem by enacting exclusive rights to certain sports, so there’s a shortage again.

We have excellent materials at the library to help you research your hobby. And remember, it’s just that, a hobby. Let’s not forget why we started collecting cards and all the fun we can have with them. It’s great to see new generations falling in love with the hobby. Who knows what lies ahead. Virtual cards are starting to look like the next wave into the future.