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What are Collectible Cards?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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Collectible cards are cards that are related to a specific subject or topic and considered to be worthy of gathering into a collection for fun or for profit. In size, most collectible cards are the size of a normal playing card from a deck of cards. It is not unusual for one side of the card to carry an image while the opposite carries printed information related to the image found on the opposing side.

Collecting cards related to different subjects has long been a favorite pastime of many people. Card collection itself is often traced back to the 19th century, when it became fashionable for men to collect what were known at the time as French postcards. A more respectable form of card collecting involved the creation of recipe cards that could be collected by cooks employed by the wealthy as well as the housewife.

During the 20th century, collectible cards associated with sports figures and other types of celebrities became prized objects for many children and teenagers. Many boys during the 1930-1960 era would actively collect baseball cards sporting a picture of their favorite players on one side and the player’s game statistics on the opposite side. In order to add to the collectibles, many producers of the cards would release a new set of cards for each new baseball season.

Bubble gum manufacturers were among the first businesses to see the value of coupling baseball cards with their product. A set of four or five cards would be packaged along with thin flat pieces of bubble gum and sold for a few cents to eager young consumers. By rotating the cards packaged in each set, this created a marketing approach that encouraged sports enthusiasts to continue purchasing packages of bubble gum until they had a complete set of that year’s cards. Any duplicates were used to initiate trades with others in exchange for cards needed to complete the collection.

Collectible cards soon spread to other sports as well. By the middle of the 20th century, it was possible to collect cards related to professional football, soccer, and many other popular sports. Along the way, the idea of collectible cards caught on with other public celebrities. Manufacturers were soon issuing sets of cards related to television shows, musical performers, and even cartoon characters. Collectors of all ages would scramble to acquire complete sets of a series issued by a manufacturer, which usually added value to the collection.

While collectible cards related to sports figures and other celebrities continue to be popular, a contemporary twist has been added to the card collecting hobby. In recent years, collectible cards related to ongoing games of magic have attracted the attention of a young audience. As with collections in years past, the idea is to secure individual cards that are highly sought after along with eventually possessing a complete set of the cards issued.

Because of the popularity of collectible cards over the years, some of these collections have become extremely valuable. For example, a complete set of baseball cards related to a specific year and a specific team can easily sell for a considerable sum. There are investors who deal in the purchase and sale of rare collectible cards in a manner that is not unlike making an investment in a stock market. As with many collectibles, rare cards often generate a great deal of interest and command a hefty price when offered for sale.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including SmartCapitalMind, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By Viranty — On May 16, 2014

This article reminds me of an experience I had during my freshmen year of college. To be perfectly honest, I'm not all that interested in collectible cards. However, one day, my friends invited me to come with them to the store and look at some baseball cards they were interested in. I'll admit that the experience was better than I thought.

It didn't exactly peak my interest, but it was a nice experience, and it really showed how cards can be very valuable to others. It's a pastime that's been going on for years, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

By Chmander — On May 15, 2014

@Krunchyman - Yeah, I know what you mean. As an example, back when I was in grade school, Pokemon was really popular and most of the students would collect what were known as Pokemon cards. However, over time, people would become less interested in them. Not only is time always changing, but some cards have more value than others.

By Krunchyman — On May 15, 2014

Speaking of collectible cards, has anyone noticed that some of them become popular after a while, but then they soon fade away? It's like people are always moving onto the next big thing.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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