In this Backstory video piece, Larry Potash of WGN News cracks open his baseball card collection and looks at the rise, fall, and rise again of the baseball cards collecting hobby. He’ll show you the evolution of the baseball card industry and the current state of the baseball card market.
In Backstory with Larry Posh, he also covers the National Sports Collectors Convention that takes place right outside Chicago, demonstrating that even in the digital age, baseball cards are still big business.
A Brief History Of Baseball Cards
While most baseball cards have been printed in color, there are some that are produced in black and white. Many collectors believe this is due to a lack of funds. The black and white cards were produced by Bowman and Topps in very small numbers, and the packs were sold for a nickel. In 1954, the two companies increased the number of cards in the nickel packs to seven, and then nine in 1955.
These early cards contained numerous errors and a few with no correction. This led to accusations of deliberate Topps error, although these largely consisted of printing flaws. Some, like the Frank Thomas card, were corrected after accusations surfaced. In 1991, however, a new Topps set was released that contained the most errors in its history, including incorrect biographical information.
In the years after the war, Topps began producing baseball cards. They initially competed with Bowman, but eventually bought them. Topps would become the dominant brand in the industry until the early 1980s. They soon surpassed Bowman in popularity. This gave them the upper hand in the game. However, their monopoly did not last for long.
Topps was the dominant company for baseball cards for many years. Then, in 1975, Fleer Corporation filed a lawsuit against Topps, claiming that the company had an unfair monopoly over the industry. Topps lost the lawsuit in 1980, but it opened the door for other companies to enter the market. That’s when the “Junk Wax Era” began.
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