The trading card collector’s gift guide: Box breaks, shower curtains, custom cards and more – The Athletic

Buying sports cards for person is pretty crafty. You ’ five hundred think it would be the easiest thing in the world because a tease collector fair loves getting cards ! But as you start thinking about it, you wonder, “ Well, do they want this card ? And if they do, wouldn ’ t they just have already bought it themselves ? ” It ’ s like getting person a cup of water. If they were thirsty, they ’ vitamin d get some water system themselves ! ad I ’ ve received sports cards as gifts from loved ones throughout my life, and some have been big winners ( Michael Jordan Beam Team ! ), and some have just been sweet thoughts ( trash box earned run average K-mart cards ). I have besides received some gifts that might not have become super valuable, but alternatively make me remember that person for decades.

We ’ re going to share tons of ideas on buying gifts for sports cards collectors, for every price range and for tons of unlike types of gifts. There ’ south no doubt you ’ ll be able to find something your endowment recipient role will not lone like, but they ’ ll make more room in their hearts for you because you gave them something with meaning. You can look at this as a sports cards gift-buying guide for person else… or as a gift-buying template for yourself. I won ’ thymine state .

11 Tips For Buying Single Sports Cards as a Gift

Before we get into other things you can buy, hera ’ s a general list of tips for buying single sports cards as gifts .

  1. Don’t buy raw cards on eBay. There are too many potholes you might fall into, as the card could just be an expensive fake. Also, you might end up buying from a bad seller, or the card could actually be a reprint, rather than the genuine one you thought you were getting. Aim for the graded cards. Grading proves the card’s authenticity, and it takes out a lot of the subjectivity surrounding a card’s value.
  2. Buy graded cards that have been graded by well-known companies: PSA, SGC, BGS (Beckett), and CSG.
  3. Look at your giftee’s collection, if possible, to see which company’s graded cards they prefer to collect.
  4. To take it one step further, see if they mostly collect vintage cards (pre-1972), modern cards (1972-2016), ultra-modern cards (2017-present), or maybe a mix of all three, then buy accordingly.
  5. When buying graded cards, understand that most collectors would prefer a 10 grade — but that’s not often a purchase we can afford.
  6. If you’re leery of buying an ultra-modern card for someone, know that “collector grades” of cards is usually one grading number higher than the decade the card was produced. So, if you were considering a card from the ‘80s, then a PSA 9 (one number above the decade) is fantastic! (a 50s card would be great at 6, etc) With that said, if those prices were still too much for your budget, then think about getting an even older card with a lower PSA.
  7. Rookie cards are the best cards. We all can’t afford rookie cards, but maybe the second- or even a third-year card of a superstar is in your price range. Those are still cards that collectors appreciate and admire. For instance, you might not be able to afford a rookie Michael Jordan card, but maybe you can buy the PSA 7 version of his 1988 Fleer card for under $150? Or even go a little weird and try the Fournier Estrellas PSA 9 or 10 for under $100. That brings me to my next point…
  8. Buying the GOATS is never bad. Go through the different sports and consider buying a card of one of the “Greatest of All Time” for those respective sports. Michael Jordan cards are always appreciated, as are Mickey Mantle (Salfino wrote an incredible Mickey Mantle buying guide for those of us who aren’t millionaires), LeBron James, Jim Brown, Tom Brady, Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, Wayne Gretzky, etc. Don’t forget looking at the other sports’ GOATS, too, like a Tiger Woods rookie card, or Ronaldo if they’re futbol fans.
  9. Buying a vintage card for the team your friend likes might be good, too! With the recent rise in ultra-modern card buying, prices on old cards haven’t climbed as aggressively. For instance, for a Tigers fan, you can probably buy a PSA 4 1956 Topps Al Kaline card for less than $100. That Tigers fan friend of yours will now have a card that’s close to 70 years old of a Hall-of-Fame hitter that’s one of the five greatest players in Tigers history!

  1. There are certain positions or types of players who garner the higher prices in their respective sports, like home run hitters in baseball or quarterbacks in football. But that also means the other types of players/positions might have their prices lower than you’d expect. For instance, a PSA 8 card of 1984 Topps rookie Dan Marino might cost you $100, but a PSA 8 card of 1984 Topps rookie Eric Dickerson might be just $35. You can choose to buy a higher grade Dickerson (PSA 9, $100), one of the greatest running backs of the past half-century, or stick with the Marino.
  2. Check out other places to buy graded slabs, like and, as you might find even better deals.

Rather Than Buy a Single Card, Maybe Buy Them a Pack or a Box

Buying one card for person is dainty, but buying a bunch of cards is great, excessively ! When you buy an unopened box or pack of cards for person, you ’ rhenium buying them a prospect at something great ! however, if there ’ s not a huge hit in that box or pack, then it ’ s just an arouse disappointment — like most first gear dates ! In many instances, buying a box of modern cards is something most collectors would love, but it might not have the durable memories of a individual circuit board. If that single card is besides expensive, then buying a luck at that single card is nice, excessively. You can buy old packs and boxes at websites like and, precisely to name a couple. My wife Shelby, knowing I was hoping to get a John Elway cub calling card, was sweet adequate to buy a pack of 1984 Topps Football for me ! We opened the pack together and shared a great memory – but not an Elway. however, I ’ ll constantly have that memory of opening that pack with her and sharing the prospects of a cub menu of a Hall-of-Fame quarterback ! ad I suggest buying boxes and packs from big companies like these because there ’ s a greater likelihood those packs/boxes haven ’ thyroxine already been searched and re-sealed, by some unscrupulous folks ( Ed eminence : Happened to me with a 1987 Donruss box off eBay. The packs were all very obviously re-sealed and there were no dear cards in the entire box ). As a count of fact, BBCExchange will examine the boxes/packs that come to them, then once they ’ ve confirmed they haven ’ thymine been searched, they will re-seal it themselves to guarantee its authenticity.

Rather Than Buying a Box, Maybe Buy Them A Spot In a “Break”

A “ collapse ” is when person buys boxes of cards and opens them on video, after selling shares of that breakage to other people. Say I bought 10 hobby boxes of Topps Series 2, got 30 people to each pay a specific price for the rights to one individual MLB team ( the prices for teams will likely vary depending on how good the cards will be ; Yankees are credibly more than Pirates, for exemplify ), opened the box on video, and then shipped you the cards of the players on the team you bought ! It ’ s a pretty great way to get into an expensive box without paying 100 percentage for it. What you would do as a endowment is buy a spot for your friend in that break, then they can watch it happen ( you can actually watch it together — these are all normally on YouTube ) and get the cards shipped to them. There are batch of “ breakers ” on-line, with all sorts of different breaks. Like at, you can buy into a break that has PSA graded vintage cards, or you could buy into a fructify break ( where you buy in on a set break for, say, 1965 Topps Baseball for $ 16.50 per descry, and you get a random poster from that entire set, which includes Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente and Pete Rose ! And then a bunch of commons ! ) There are some “ badly breakers ” out there, though, so it ’ sulfur significant to get in on a break with a vet web site, or ones that get great social media love, like @ OnWiscardsin on Twitter ( I ’ ve used them and trust them ). Breakers know you can break with anyone out there, so they should treat you well. The Wiscardsin Breaks team has a good community that roots for each other and cheers when you get a hit. That have makes a disappointing break still reasonably fun .

Maybe Investing in a Card Like a Stock is a Better Move?

Some people who buy cards treat them like stocks they can sell when they get blistering, and that ’ s what offers. They can buy and sell cards in the StarStock marketplace even as games are taking station, which makes it much more like a livestock exchange. You can get the cards shipped to you for a tip, or you can leave them stored in the StarStock vault .

Deposit Money Into a COMC Account

“ Check Out My Collectibles, ” or, is a great locate to buy from early collectors in a relatively safer way than on a place like eBay. Since all sellers have to send their cards to COMC, there ’ s no doubt that you ’ ll get the cards you purchased. What ’ south even better is you can buy from tons of unlike sellers on there, then have them ship all the cards to you at once, with fair one shipping fee. COMC does a quick mark to give buyers an mind if the cards they are perusing are Ex-Mt or in VG condition. You can besides buy grade cards on here .

Pay For Their Cards to Get Graded!

many collectors have pulled great cards they ’ d like to send in to get graded, but possibly whenever they have the money to get something graded, they end up spending it on cards ( guilty ). indeed giving them the endowment of grading international relations and security network ’ t a bad estimate ! ad There are besides several cards in my personal collection that I ’ d like to get graded, but possibly their graded value doesn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate sanction it good so far. For exemplify, person gave me a 1968 Topps Ernie Banks poster as a endow a while back, but it ’ s pretty banged up, and the grade rate wouldn ’ thymine in truth warrant getting it graded. But I want to display some of these personal cards along with my other grade cards in my display – it just looks thus much decent. Plus, since they ’ re some of my darling cards in my personal collection, I want them protected and authenticated. SGC presently has a $ 24 price point, which is probably the easiest way for you to pay for person else ’ second cards to get graded. Their turnaround time is about 10 days right now. It might besides be worth the price to just buy the grade version of the card as a gift, rather than have their card graded. For example, I have a 1989 Pro Set Barry Sanders cub menu, but it likely won ’ t grade higher than a PSA 8. I can buy a PSA 8 adaptation for $ 30 on eBay, so that might be smarter than paying $ 24 to get mine graded .

Card Alternatives Might Be Just What They Need

If you are worry about buying your card-collecting friend a card they won ’ thyroxine like, there are batch of alternatives you can get them that they will surely enjoy just deoxyadenosine monophosphate much. Topps Custom Cards : Use a photograph of your friend or their kin, choose their darling MLB team logo ( or you can upload your own logo ) and choose some other customizations to create the perfective 20-card carry of personalize cards. To me, this seems like a reasonably great endow for a calling card collector – and the cost is pretty amazing at equitable $ 9.95 for a carry of 20 cards. Jeremy Fullerton, Brand Manager for The Topps Company, has twins, and he said he has been sending custom cards to family and friends for several years now. “ They ’ ra great to include in vacation or birthday cards for friends and family, and they ’ re a bang-up keepsake to hold onto to see how much they have changed in the end 12 months. once people find out Penny and Charlie have new cards, the requests from relatives and neighbors start rolling in. Plus, it ’ s a great way to get my wife to OK the purchase of new Mets jerseys for the pictures ! ” For the wag inning, they give you the choice of the most recent 2021 Topps flagship series, angstrom well as the calling card formats from 2018, 2017, 2016, 1992 Bowman, 1987, 1986, 1973, 1971, 1968 and 1952. then you pick which MLB team you want on the calling card ( and you can choose if the wag needs the “ RC ” designation, if it ’ s your first wag ! ). After that, on some calling card years you can pick the fielding position ( for multiple people in the photograph, I just typed in “ All-Stars ” ). ultimately, you get to type in your “ bio ” — what you want the back of the menu to say. And there ’ s a lot of room for creativity in that outer space. Magnets of Your Favorite Cards From the Past For Less Than $5 Shipped: You might not be able to afford the real cub cards, but these magnetic cards besides make for some reasonably big low-cost gifts ! Get cub batting order magnets for guys like Jim Brown, Larry Bird/Magic Johnson, Patrick Mahomes, Jerry Rice, Mickey Mantle, Aaron Rodgers, Roger Staubach, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Wayne Gretzky and dozens more. ad Baseball Card Shower Curtains : Just when you thought you couldn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate find something, we show you these masterpieces. Topps Baseball Card Wall Art : You can besides buy some reasonably great posters of recent baseball cards. Many of the posters are numbered to 99, which makes them collectibles themselves !

Pay For Their Membership To One of These Card Collecting Sites

You can help a collector out by buying them a membership for one of these apps/sites, which might help them track their collection ’ second price or scout new cards to buy. Beckett PLUS : Beckett is distillery one of the top collect names in the industry, with great blog posts, articles, new set reviews, poster checklists and tons of other things. Price $ 39.99 for a 12-month subscription Cardbase : I use this app to track my rate cards, but you can besides add dirt cards to it to truly get a wide visualize of your solicitation ’ s deserving. It tracks your costs for each poster, and the stream estimated value. It ’ mho reasonably cool to open up the app each morning to see how your portfolio is doing – I feel like a grown-up ! You can even sell through them on eBay quite easily. assorted price Market Movers from Sports Card Investors : This in truth is an app beneficial used by investors than collectors, in that it ’ south mean to help you find dump deals and help you search pricing charts to compare cards. At $ 9.99 per calendar month for the LITE version, it ’ sulfur hard to justify the price for everyday collectors. But for investors, it ’ s a must. Card Ladder : Card Ladder is a big poster price tracking creature that helps collectors analyze and compare cards for purchasing. They track card population and card sales, and they have advanced predictive price engineering, deoxyadenosine monophosphate well. Price $ 15 per month

Gorgeous Sports Card Paintings

From, artist Laine Virtue Harper uses water tinge paints to create some reasonably amazing paintings of iconic sports cards. Some of my favorites include the cub cards of superstars like Michael Jordan, Mickey Mantle, Julius Erving, Walter Payton, Derek Jeter, Jim Brown, Kobe Bryant, and a bunch more. ad I found the “ When It was a Game ” Facebook foliate over a year ago, and you can see a fortune of her work there, as well. I asked Harper about price and she said, “ The price ranges are based on the size and complexity. ” For example, she said the Jordan cub is $ 400 to $ 500 depending on the size. I rightfully believe any sports wag collector would love to have one of these paintings hanging near their solicitation .

Card Surprise? Buy Them Card Supplies!

Something a card collector hates doing, but is forced to, so they can protect their collection, is buy the right supplies for their cards. Why do they hate it ? Because that ’ s money they could spend on buying more cards ! Penny Sleeves : These formative sleeves are the first shape of protection for your cards. once cards are slipped into these compromising sleeves, they are then fix to go into a top-loader or a card saver. Costs about $ 11 for 500 Top Loaders : These are less flexible menu protectors, which is estimable, and they ’ re probably what most collectors ’ non-graded cards are stored in. Costs about $ 10 for 25 Card Savers : These protectors are normally used when people are submitting cards to be graded. They ’ re more flexible than top-loaders, so they aren ’ t necessarily great for long-run protection, but they ’ re good right for shipping. These aren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate great for displaying your cards, though. Costs about $ 12 for 50 One-Touch Magnetic Holders : These serve two purposes in my mind – first, they protect your card better than a top-loader because they don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate deflect or have an open top where the card could fall out. second, they ’ re worth using to display cards you don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate plan to get graded barely yet – or ever. For exemplify, possibly you had a fifth-year wag of Brett Favre that you once got signed by him in person. You can send that in for the card/autograph to get graded, but it might cost you more than its value, so you can put it in a charismatic one-touch and display it nicely ! Costs about $ 20 for five Card-Grading Submission Kit from CSG : This is a pretty aplomb kit, if you ’ re not conversant with it. It comes with penny sleeves, card savers, foam inserts, bubble wrap and a box with separated rows to send cards in for grade. You evening get a sweetness CSG penitentiary and a dagger ! For person who has never sent in cards to be graded, this is a pretty dainty frame-up. It besides comes with bit-by-bit instructions on how to submit cards for grading with CSG. I ’ m surprised early companies don ’ t sell these. The kit out costs $ 20, but if you become a CSG member ( $ 25 annually ), you get a $ 15 coupon for the kit. Magnifying Glass with LED Ligh triiodothyronine : Costs about $ 15 Desk Magnifying Glass with Lamp : Costs about $ 40 Card Breaking Mat : These are nice for anyone doing videos, but it ’ s besides just nice to do a personal rupture of a box or packs of cards. The cards don ’ thymine skid around like on a mesa, they ’ re on a come on you can tell is clean and dry, and it just makes opening packs a little more like an event. Costs about $ 12 Zion Case for People Who Bring Graded Cards with Them to Card Shows : I don ’ t own one of these, but that ’ s merely because I haven ’ thymine gone to any card shows in the past 18 months or so. These are legitimate asset protectors, with locks and foam separators. Imagine a lawsuit you ’ vitamin d carry around for your diamonds and gems – but for your extremist valuable cards rather ! I actually like the Slab Case Mini Backpack/Shoulder Pack ( $ 80 ), which holds 15-20 grade cards. Display Cases : Seeing these display cases hanging on the wall filled with rate and dirt cards has helped turn my hobby into artwork. Honestly, looking at one of these 36-card displays filled with amazing grade cards is an experience. I have two of these ( about to buy a third once I get bet on a big club from PSA ) hanging on my agency wall ( one is pictured below ). I quite much will just stare at them and drift off thinking about when I got that particular card, its relative to the cards around it, etc. Spouses like these displays, excessively, because it keeps everything fairly, and equitable makes a in truth nice count, as opposed to just having a bunch of cards on stands sitting around your shelves/desk. Costs about $ 80 per 36-card display Graded Card Frames : I like these 3D-printed colored frames for grade cards, as they ’ rhenium singular and simple, with a little kick-stand in the rear, if you prefer to set these on your desk. I like that you can color match the frame to the actor ’ s team colors if you like ( loss for the Bulls, blue for the Magic, etc. ), and you can get frames for most of the card-grading companies out there. Costs about $ 30 for five Card Centering Tool : This is pretty cool, since it ’ s a plastic overlie where you can see if your poster is centered, and if it isn ’ metric ton, how much is it off by ? About $ 10 each Card Boxes for Raw Cards : For people that don ’ triiodothyronine fair buy singular cards, they end up with a distribute of commons that they store aside to see if any of them become valuable in the future. This box stores 3,200 natural cards securely. About $ 18 each Card Boxes for Cards in Top-Loaders : As we buy boxes of cards, and fill up top-loaders with our favorites that we ’ re not fix to get rate, we end up with a long ton of protect cards lying around. This box fits cards in top-loaders, with three rows. Costs about $ 32 for a two-pack of boxes

Interesting Sports Card Books For Collectors

Some of these are hardbacked books and some are Kindle books ( some tied have audio book versions ), but all are fun reads for any collector. The Complete Picture Collection: Topps Baseball Cards 35-Year History (published in 1986) : My parents bought me this 35 years ago and I spent hours planning out which cards I planned to own someday. It has a nice movie of every single wag from the Topps flagship product dating back from 1952 to 1986. There was a 40-year book, a well, published in 1990, but I merely owned this script. It ’ second for sale on Amazon for about $ 93 used and shipped, or you can buy on eBay at diverse prices and ship costs. Prepare to buy it practice, as this is tough to find post new. ( Be careful on eBay because some books on sale are equitable update books for singular specific years, like 1987 or 1988. ) The Card: Collectors, Con Men, and the True Story of History’s Most Desired Baseball Card : Such a aplomb ledger that tracks the history of the celebrated T206 Honus Wagner poster. It ’ s actually more of a history of how bad men have ruined parts of the hobby because of forge and avarice, but it ’ s a good, history read, however. I read this when it came out in 2008, but obviously, a distribute has happened in this marketplace – and with this card specifically – since then. Mint Condition: How Baseball Cards Became an American Obsession : Most poster collectors love history, and this is a bang-up diachronic review of where trade cards came from and why they even came approximately. From the Civil War to the Great Depression to the ‘ 60s and beyond, this entertaining read helps us understand the why behind the what. Card Sharks: How Upper Deck Turned a Child’s Hobby Into a High-Stakes, Billion-Dollar Business : No company changed the industry more than Upper Deck in the late ‘ 80s/early ‘ 90s, when they used better circuit board stock and invent inserts – the first chase cards ! ( full moon disclosure – I own this book, but have not read it yet because I ’ m still reading “ Mint Condition. ” ) This book was published in 1995, so a lot has happened at Upper Deck since. I do feel like we ’ re going to see some great books in the coming years detailing the 2020 pandemic menu boom, the 2021 card-grading company war, Fanatics ’ entrance into the industry, etc. man, it has been quite a couple years !

Card Collector T-Shirts

These t-shirts are from diverse vendors, including Amazon. Topps All-Star Rookie : There few symbols that have created as much exhilaration in a baseball poster collector as when they see the celebrated Topps cub gold cup. This jersey is pretty dope by any standard – perfect for weddings. Topps Baseball: The Real One : These honest-to-god Topps images remind us of opening 50-cent baseball card packs in the mid- ‘ 80s. It even has some gum stuck to the back ! Rated Rookie : similar to the Topps gold cup, seeing the Rated Rookie logo raises the heartbeats of basketball and football ( and 80s Donruss ! ) card collectors alike. “Just One More Baseball Card, I Promise” : Has your supporter said this prison term once or 300 times ? “I Have Too Many Baseball Cards” – Said No One Ever: indeed true. so true. “GEM MT 10” : This jersey looks like a scanning code on a grade menu. Who doesn ’ metric ton love getting a 10 ! ? !

“I Might Be an SGC 4 But My Wife is a PSA 10” : Pretty apt ! Although, will anyone else get this joke if you wear this outside of a card appearance ? ( My wife got a good chortle out of this jersey, though ! ) I hope you were able to find something from our sports wag collecting gift-buying guide for your collecting friend. The target is that you can either be direct with your endowment, and give him/her sports cards, or you can be creative and give them a reasonably dessert tease alternative ! note : This column primitively ran in 2021 ; we refreshed it for the 2022 vacation season

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