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Using eBay to Buy and Sell Sports Cards

Updated on September 19, 2015

Many a young boy and a large number of young girls have grown up collecting a variety of sports cards that depict their favorite sports stars. In recent years, non-sports cards have increased in popularity. These cards frequently get stored in the basements or attics of parents after these youngsters move out on their own. Some take their hobby with them into adulthood. The buying and selling of sports cards used to require the use of a yard sale, a local card dealer, or massive conventions. Today, the advent of eBay has allowed for the easy facilitation of sports card transactions that can connect buyers and sellers that live on opposite ends of the country.

A 1912 T-205 Ed Konetchy I bought in an eBay auction for about $15.
A 1912 T-205 Ed Konetchy I bought in an eBay auction for about $15. | Source

Types of Sports Cards for Sale on eBay

Those who have an interest in sports cards can literally find just about anything they want on eBay. There are single cards and unopened cards from just about any time period in sports card history. The earliest baseball cards date to the nineteenth century. Old Judge, a tobacco company, was the first to produce baseball cards around 1887. These black and white cards are in relatively short supply, but a recent search (November 23, 2012) showed that there were over 1,500 matches for a search on Old Judge baseball cards.

  • Individual cards

There are literally thousands of individual cards from the pre-World War II era up for sale or bid on eBay on a daily basis. The number of cards available from the modern era is exponentially higher. Users can search based upon their favorite teams, players, or upon a certain year or card producer. Chances are, there will be something to meet the desire of just about any card connoisseur.

  • Unopened Packs

Sellers on eBay will also frequently post unopened sports card packs online. Many of these are up for auction, and many are up for straight purchase. The decision is up to the purchaser what they want to do. Most of the unopened packs come from the recent past, and packs from the 1960s and 1970s can run well over $100 depending upon which players are visible (in the case of cello-wrapped packs). Newer packs, especially from the 1980s and 1990s when cards were over-produced will go for much less.

While most packs come from the modern (post-1980) era of card collecting, some unopened packs come from much earlier. There was recently an unopened pack of cigarettes that possibly held a classic T-206 card up for bid on eBay. There was no guarantee that there was a card inside, and the card may have been relatively common, but the slim chance of getting a T-206 Honus Wagner in near mint condition and retiring early was definitely there.

Sellers will frequently post complete boxes for sale on the website. These have anywhere from 24 to 36 unopened packs and collectors can round out their partial sets or cash in on star cards.

  • Complete Sets

Sellers frequently post complete sets on eBay. These, like individual cards and unopened packs are more common from recent years. It is best to purchase sets that are factory sealed if they are available. This ensures that all of the cards are present and that they are generally in mint condition (with the possible exception of cards that are not cut correctly). Some old sets, such as the T-3 Turkey Red or the T-206, are extremely hard to collate, and they are not likely to be posted on eBay.

Have you used eBay to buy or sell old sports cards?

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Buying and Selling Cards on eBay

Buying and selling cards on eBay is not much different than buying or selling anything else on the online auction giant. The first thing that prospective buyers or sellers need is an eBay account. After signing up, users can then post their items for sale or bid or purchase cards.

When selling on eBay, users have the choice of selling the cards for a set price or for setting up an auction. The online auctions should have a reserve price, so that valuable cards do not go for a dollar or two. Older cards are more likely to get multiple bids and earn more money for sellers.

Purchasers have the option of bidding or paying for a card outright in many of the auctions. Many auctions start out quite low and can go quite high. The cost is usually tied to the condition, age, and scarcity of the card for sale. The player on the card is also important to consider when looking at price. A quick search can list literally thousands of cards for even the most discerning of collectors.


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