Collecting Vintage Baseball Cards
An offshoot of the vintage baseball card collecting hobby is collecting unopened packs of cards. Here's a guide for those who prefer their bubble gum cards with wrappers still attached!
Baseball card packages were meant to be opened. But for those who love a sense of mystery with their history, unopened packs can be great fun for collectors.
Obviously, it's easy to find unopened packs of cards from the last couple of years. Hobby stores and discount shops carry them all the time.
Finding older packs isn't so easy.
Bubble gum and baseball cards have been together since the 1930s. Some kids bought the gum to get the cards while others did the opposite. Not many saved the packs as is. But throughout the 1970s and 80s as old warehouses began to change hands and old drug stores began shutting down, some of those unsold boxes crawled out of a time machine. Here and there packs from the 1950s and 60s emerged, usually only a box or two at a time. Today, packs of cards from the 1950s are worth hundreds of dollars. Even those from the early 1970s can top the $100 mark based on what might be inside.
Sure the gum is rancid, but the possibility of a Mickey Mantle or Hank Aaron card make for an interesting dilemma. To open or not? Most hard-core pack collectors won't touch their pack. Why? Scarcity. Just as some cards are scarce, finding the original packs those cards came in are even tougher to locate. Only a few really old packs survived the test of time.
Be careful when buying unopened products, however. Some tampered packs are out there where unscrupulous people have opened the packs carefully, checked to see what's inside and then sealed the pack back up. It's not easy to do it and veteran hobbyists will be able to tell those packs that are "clean" by the tightness of the wrapping. A good idea is to invest in a copy of a magazine like "Sports Collector's Digest" and ask questions from those dealers who specialize in older, unopened material or to go to a large card show where knowledgeable collectors can help.