Pre-War (WWII) Baseball Cards have the most value on a per card basis. Although the prices quoted for these cards are typically high, much depends on the condition of the cards. Dean's Cards will purchase these cards in almost any condition. Many of the cards that have survived are not in top condition and this definitely affects the value of the cards. Please feel free to contact me.
It is difficult for the collecting novice to determine what years these cards were issued by just looking at the card. Another confusing problem is that most of the pre-war sets have been reissued in the form of reprint (or archives) sets. These sets have been released over the last 20 or so years.
Unfortunately, sellers will send us a Ruth or Gehrig Card that they bought for $100 at a Flee Market a few years back, only to discover that it is a reprint card issued in the 1990's that was roughed up to look old. Please be careful when buying these cards. Most of the cards for this era show wear, so if you have a card like this in great shape, chances are that it is not an original. The value of the reprinted cards in very low when compared to the original cards.
When you hear about a particular card being worth a lot of money, it is most often from the Pre-War Era. But the card that is worth thousands of dollars is definitely the rare exception. Most of the very valuable cards are super stars that are in near perfect condition. The cards of the common players in average condition are worth far less money.
Most of the newspaper articles or TV interviews that I have seen, paint an unrealistic value on these cards. For example, I once saw an “expert” on the Antiques Road Show overestimate the value of a collection by 25 times! I personally know many people in this hobby, but never heard of this “expert”. It may make for good TV, but it confuses many of the people that are seriously trying to sell a collection.
It is important to remember the old “Economics 101” Lesson about Supply and Demand. The supply of the pre-war cards is low, which drives up the value. But, because of the higher price of the pre-war cards, the demand is also fairly low, when compared to the newer cards.
When one thinks about this, it makes sense. Suppose that you were starting a card collection, and had a limited amount of money that you could spend. Would you spend it on a few expensive pre-war cards that contained pictures of players that are long sense dead? The answer for most collectors is “No”.
If you are looking to sell your cards, please contact Dean