5 Ways to Combat Inflation: Safe Investments

Collecting anything as an investment is always going to be risky to some degree. It’s possible that the market for Cabbage Patch Dolls, for example, dries up when the generation that started the craze passes on (or grows up). Coin collecting, on the other hand, retains value because the value of the metal in the coin always has value. That gives the hobby a foundation on which to build.

Baseball card collecting, on the other hand, straddles both of the above examples. The cards themselves, being made primarily of paper, have no inherent value. Unlike Cabbage Patch Doll collectors, though, the sport these cards represent — baseball — isn’t likely to die out. As a result, the sport creates new generations of fans every decade. And fans buy baseball cards.

Baseball Card Investing

Baseball cards have been around for more than 100 years. The most valuable baseball card ever, the T206 Honus Wagner card, was first printed in 1909. That card continues to appreciate in value — one owner bought one in 2013 for $2.1 million and sold it three years later for $3.12 million. That’s a pretty solid return for any investment.

It’s also a bit out of reach for most card collectors. Fortunately, you can buy baseball cards for a lot less money than that. Collecting baseball cards is a hobby that takes some talent, making it a challenge even for established collectors and a learning curve for new collectors. That’s just part of the fun of the hobby. If everyone could jump in and be successful, collecting baseball cards as an investment wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable and fulfilling.

Safe Bets

If you can’t afford to buy a T206 Honus Wagner, you need a strategy. You can take some risks, as long as you balance that risk with safe investments when you buy baseball cards. You also can hedge your bets by making sound investments you know you can count on. Follow these five tips for making safe investments:

  1. Old stars keep rising. Pre-WWII stars — like Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Joe Dimaggio and Ty Cobb — are always in demand because of the scarcity. Of course, these cards have been through six-plus decades of growth, so they aren’t inexpensive. But they’re still cheaper than the T206.
  2. Buy good quality cards. This doesn’t mean you should only buy baseball cards that have been professionally graded. Grading doesn’t always matter unless the card is very old or very valuable. But don’t buy a beat-up Nolan Ryan rookie card and expect to get top dollar for it.
  3. Look for post-war deals. They’re still out there, and some of the most valuable cards ever made are from the post-war era. Ever heard of Mickey Mantle? Roberto Clemente? Hank Aaron? The 1950s and 60s were an era ripe with stars and the cards are still rare enough to hold their value.
  4. Don’t forget modern cards. But do forget about modern rookies. Instead, go for inserts, signed cards and patch cards. By far, the most expensive cards made today are those signed and authenticated or have uniform patches embedded in the cards. If you pull a rising star, you could hit it big. While these are a little riskier, if you find a good deal, take it.
  5. Store your cards properly. To save your investments when you buy baseball cards, keep them safe. Store your cards in plastic in a cool, dry place, like a closet in the main part of your house. Don’t’ put them in your attic, garage or basement, where humidity or temperature changes can damage them.

Also see our article about protecting your investments:

3 Tips for Protecting Your Sports Card Investment



The Most Valuable Baseball Cards of 2016

When you collect as an investment or even as a hobby, you may dream of one day being able to sell baseball cards at a profit. While the conventional wisdom tells you to buy vintage baseball cards, conventional wisdom isn’t always up on the latest industry developments. Yes, a Mickey Mantle rookie card in mint condition will always be a valuable commodity, but believe it or not, 2016 produced some winners, too.

If you don’t think it’s worth it to buy baseball cards made after about 1980, you’re thinking of the run-of-the-mill cards you can buy for a couple bucks a pack. As special inserts have become more desirable and as production rates of these inserts has shrunk, they’ve become increasingly valuable. Therefore, you can sell baseball cards from 2016 at a handsome profit.

The Most Valuable Card Series

Certain series contain more high-value cards than others, even in 2016. That means when you buy wax packs that may contain one, you’re more likely to pull a card that could be worth hundreds of dollars. When you’re ready to sell baseball cards, these will be at the top of your deck.

Obviously, some series cost more, making them more of a commitment, but in other cases, those higher prices may be worth the investment, given the odds of finding one of these special cards. When you sell baseball cards from these series, you’re more likely to make a nice profit. These are the 2016 series that contain a few high-priced individual cards:

Common Threads

The most valuable cards in 2016 may be younger players or older players. They may be bound for the Hall of Fame or they may not have appeared in a single MLB game. They may have game uniform patches embedded in the card. They may have a shiny reflector surface. They may be one of one or one of a dozen. But they do have some commonalities:

  • All of the most valuable baseball cards in 2016 are signed. Signature cards have always been worth more than other cards. This year is no different, and these cards have been authenticated. They’re not like the cards you had signed at the ballpark.
  • Rookies or draft picks. One of the reasons rookies have been more valuable than other cards, even in vintage sets, is the risk involved. If you pull a rookie card out of a pack, what are the odds that the player will go on to have a memorable career? Pretty low, but collectors love the chances and typically pay more for a new rookie, making them more in demand.

The Valuable Cards

The top 15 most valuable 2016 baseball cards are all worth more than $300, according to Becket and other sources. To sell baseball cards, you’ve got to find the right buyer or the right dealer, so there’s no guarantee you’ll get this amount. These are the posted, public prices:

  1. Panini Immaculate Collection Autograph Dual Materials Black #7 Buster Posey ($899.95)
  2. Bowman Chrome Prospect Autographs Blue Refractors #CPAYM Yoan Moncada ($799.95)
  3. Bowman Chrome Draft Top of the Class Box Topper Autographs #TOCMM Mickey Moniak ($799.50)
  4. Topps Gold Label Framed Autographs Black Frame #GLFAI Ichiro Suzuki ($770.00)
  5. Bowman Chrome Draft Superfractors #BDC188 Jon Harris ($699.99)
  6. Topps Pro Debut Pro Production Autographs Red #PPAAB Alex Bregman ($699.99)
  7. Elite Extra Edition Autographs Status Tie Dye Die Cut #99 Tim Tebow ($699.95)
  8. Bowman Chrome Prospect Autographs Blue Twitter Refractors #CPAAA Anthony Alford ($649.33)
  9. Bowman Chrome Red Refractors #40 Corey Seager ($600.00)
  10. Topps Heritage Clubhouse Collection Relic Autographs #CCARMT Mike Trout ($600.00)
  11. Topps Allen and Ginter Framed Mini Autographs Black #AGAMT Mike Trout ($600.00)
  12. Immaculate Collection Immaculate Trio Players Memorabilia #5 Lou Gehrig/Joe Jackson/Ty Cobb ($599.50)
  13. Topps Allen and Ginter Framed Mini Autographs #AGARKI Kevin Costner/Ray Kinsella ($499.99)
  14. Bowman Chrome Rookie Blue Refractor Autographs #YM Yoan Moncada ($450.00)
  15. Topps Allen and Ginter Box Topper Autographs #BLANG Nomar Garciaparra ($449.99)

Most Valuable Baseball Cards of 2016