By the 1930’s, baseball had become big business, thanks to major stars like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. It shouldn’t really be considered a coincidence that the popularity of trading cards took a real spike during this period. It also helped that the quality of the cards had increased dramatically since the early days, making them all the more collectible in the process. As you might expect, World War II put a little bit of a damper on everything, but the face of the baseball trading card world changed dramatically once the war ended, with a company called Topps leading the way.
The T206 Honus Wagner card is now the most sought after of all cards, and it is somewhat ironic that one of the biggest purchases of the card was made in recent years by hockey star Wayne Gretzky, whose rookie and signed cards are among the most collectible out there.
The next to jump on the collectible baseball cards bandwagon were the tobacco companies, with one in particular perhaps responsible for kicking off the collectability of the cards. From 1909-1911, the American Tobacco Company, through many of its affiliated subsidiaries, issued the T206 series of cards.
What’s ironic in all of this is that collectible baseball cards have a history that goes all over the place in regards of the types of people that choose to collect them. It can be argued that the very first cards were aimed at adults, as they were put together by companies looking to advertise their services. That notion was made all the more true when major tobacco companies started adding the cards to their packs of cigarettes back in the day, which is not really something that kids would have access to. Even when kids did start to pick up the cards, it was not uncommon for them to put them in the spokes of their bikes, so that they could make a very satisfying clacking sound as they pedaled up and down the street. That has all changed now, though, as baseball cards have not only become collectible, but also valuable. Let’s take a trip back in time to see how they ended up that way.
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