Thursday, March 21, 2013

How to Sell Your Baseball Cards: Advice from Dean Hanley, Owner of Dean’s Cards

Whether you are selling your boyhood collection or liquidating the collection of a family member, selling baseball cards or other card collections can be a difficult task. Every day at Dean’s Cards we are asked to offer advice on selling baseball cards. That’s why we are publishing this article to share the options open to you in selling a vintage baseball card collection – and, most importantly, how to get the most money possible for your collection.

Although this article contains my opinions, I hope the information provided here will save you considerable time and effort and also help you get the best possible price for your collection. Since I believe that what we pay for a baseball card collection is more than you will get elsewhere, it is in both our interests for me to give you as many facts as possible to help you make the best possible decision.

While there is no shortage of dealers who will buy vintage collections, Dean's Cards can offer a higher percentage of the collection's actual value than most traditional card dealers. How is that possible? What we buy goes directly into our own online inventory of more than 1 million cards. In fact, quite a few card shop owners who buy collections will regularly send them to us – because they know they will make a nice profit on the cards.

The Dean’s Cards Buying Team strives to make selling your collection an extremely easy process. We ask you to send the cards to us so we can review them, and we are usually able to provide you with our bid within two business days. We make our top offer right away – there are no games played and we won’t low-ball you. If you accept our offer, we will mail you a check. It’s that simple.

My hope is that we will be writing you a large check. This means you have some nice cards, and we always need the inventory. If the amount we offer for your cards falls below your expectations, we will pay the postage to return the collection to you.

Selling Baseball Cards You Have Inherited
Dean's Cards offers a large Selection of Mickey Mantle cards.
Quite often people that have never collected vintage baseball cards and other sports cards inherit the responsibility of selling a card collection. It can seem like an overwhelming responsibility. The first thing that some people do is go to their local baseball card shop (if they can still find one) to ask what the collection is worth. Most are surprised to discover that they are often offered a few pennies on the dollar of a collection's stated book value.

The dealer at the card store usually offers a brief economic lesson of card collecting in order to explain the low amount that he is offering. The dealer may explain that there are numerous reasons that the cards are worth such a low amount and gives examples such as: buyers seldom pay "full book price" on cards and the shop must pay rent, labor, insurance, and other types of store overhead to cover the stores' expenses. He may also tell you that a card may sit in inventory for months or even years before it eventually sells.

All of these reasons may be true, but there is a much more important reason that the "strip mall" card dealer can only pay the collector a few pennies on the dollar for a vintage card collection. The main reason that their offer is so low is that retail card stores sell mostly the newer collectibles. Unlike Dean's Cards, vintage baseball cards are not their specialty. Most card shops keep a few vintage baseball cards in the display case for show, but it is impossible for a retail card store to do enough traffic to sell more than a few vintage baseball cards.

Largest Inventory of Vintage Baseball Cards at Dean’s Cards
Visit to see more than 1 million cards online.
At Dean's Cards, we offer a different concept than you will find with other dealers. We buy collections from dealers all the time and pay the same percentages to them as we do the individual collectors. Dean's Cards can pay more for vintage card and memorabilia collections, because what we buy goes directly into our own online inventory. This way we can both avoid the middleman.

Dean's Cards is often called the "Amazon" of vintage sports cards and is recognized within the hobby as the #1 Online Seller of vintage cards. Although some other dealers came to be #1 in online sales, no other dealer has more than a fraction of our online inventory.

Baseball Cards Rarely Sell at “Book Value”

Often when it comes time for people to sell a card collection, they are surprised to learn that no one will offer them anywhere near the Book Value Price for the cards. Here are a couple reasons why this may occur:
  • The Book Value are refers to cards that are in Near Mint condition. Cards that grade "NEAR MINT" still have sharp corners, good centering, and no gum stains or pen marks on the card. Less than 2 percent of vintage cards (less than 2%) grade as high as NEAR MINT. Since most cards were originally bought and handled by kids, a very low percentage of the cards remain in high quality condition. 
  • The "Book Value" is the Suggested or the "Pie in the Sky" Price. Few collectors are willing to pay the book value price for cards. 
  • Card Dealers need to make a profit on the cards to cover their time and expenses. Most card dealers have the expense of renting a table at a card show or, in the case of Dean's Cards, the advertising, labor, and hosting expenses of a website. Not to mention it takes months (or years) to sell the cards that we have in inventory. 
Less than 2 percent of Vintage Baseball Cards Grade as Mint Condition

Non-collectors tend to over grade the condition of cards. Card Collectors can be very picky! It is very common for a novice card seller to contact us and state, "My cards are in MINT Condition". Very seldom does this turn out to be the case. Dean's Cards will certainly buy vintage cards in almost any condition, but it is important to realize that the condition affects the value of the card.

The good news is that - if you bought your cards as kid - you are going to make a great return on your investment. How many of your other childhood toys can you say this about?

eBay and Auction Houses May Not Be Your Best Choices

Many people also are tempted to sell cards online through eBay on their own, thinking they can get the most for their cards there. But there’s a lot more to selling on eBay or other such sites than most people think.  A large collection could easily take months or years to liquidate. Online auctions are usually not the best option, because they generally appeal to bargain hunters and rarely bring top prices for collectibles.

Auction houses also get lots of attention, but they usually don’t work out well for collections. Auction houses normally handle the rarer, high dollar items – and large fees also are charged for listings and commissions.
When you consider the time and expense involved in eBay and auction houses, you’re usually much better off selling to a dealer for the best price you can get.

Reasons to Sell Your Vintage Baseball Cards
Send an email to the DEan's Cards Buying Team to sell your baseball cards.
But you should always remember that the bottom line is that they are your cards and you certainly do not have to sell them – especially if you are emotionally attached to them. Many collectors never do sell the cards, until there is a special event which encourages them to do so for the money. Typical examples include: weddings, sending Kids to college or paying off a big bill. Many collectors keep the cards until they die and then let their heirs worry about what to do with the collection.

If you have not looked at your cards in years, it may make sense to do something useful with the proceeds that you could get for them. It is often the family member that inherits the collection that ends up selling the cards. If you come to the point where you feel that the value of the collection could be put to better use, please contact us. You have my word that you will be treated fairly and honestly and that we will pay top dollar for your collection.

Dean’s Cards Back-of-the-Baseball-Card Facts:
  • We buy more than 500 collections every year and have been doing so since 2001.
  • Dean’s Cards sells more vintage cards online than any other dealer.
  • We have 12 employees and a 5000 square foot office in Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • If we don’t buy cards, we can’t sell cards – and that’s why we strive to offer you the best, no hassle price upfront.
  • Vintage cards – before 1969 – have the greatest value. But cards from 1950s and 1960 are condition sensitive – meaning cards in best condition are worth much more than cards in poor condition.
  • Pre-World War II cards are the most valuable and often have good value regardless of their condition.
  • Semi-vintage cards – from the 1970s – have more of a modest value and need to be in excellent condition to get the best price.
  • Modern cards – 1980s and on – are beautiful cards and fun to collect, but they were made in such great quantity that the value is not high – so we generally do not buy these from collectors.
  • Vintage cards peaked in value in the 1990s, then declined a bit, and now have been holding steady ever since.
Ready to sell your baseball cards? Visit us at Dean's Cards to start the process. We promise a prompt reply -- and our best offer..

Dean Hanley, founder and owner of, is considered one of the foremost experts on the subject of vintage sports cards and has a regular column in the Sports Collectors Digest and publishes articles on his blog. Dean has also written two books on vintage sports cards: The Bubble Gum Card War: The Great Bowman & Topps Sets from 1948 to 1955 and Before There Was Bubble Gum: Our Favorite Pre-World War I Baseball Cards.

Monday, March 11, 2013

1952 Topps Mickey Mantle Now Available at Dean's Cards

The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card continues to be in more demand than any other player from the post-war vintage era -- and Dean's Cards now has a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA2 for sale. We don't get to see one of the most popular baseball cards in the hobby very often, so when we do, it's pretty exciting.
1952 Mickey Mantle PSA 2 now available at Dean's Cards.
Most people can name the most valuable post-war baseball card as the 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle, but few realize that it was "double printed", which means that the printed sheets contained two Mantle cards and twice as many were printed when compared to normal cards.  (The first three cards of the 6th series were double prints.) Can you imagine what the value of Mickey's 1952 card would be if it were not a double print?
The back of the famous 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card from Dean's Cards.
Simply put, the 1952 Topps Baseball Card Set is the most popular sports card set ever produced. The 1952 Topps set was the first mainstream set issued by the Topps Gum Company and far surpassed all earlier sets in size, quality and quantity. These “Giant Sized” cards set a new benchmark for the hobby.

The 1952 Topps Baseball Card set was the brainchild of Sy Berger - now known as “the father of modern baseball cards." The card market had been dominated by Bowman since 1948, when Bowman had the insight to sign the players to exclusive contracts to use their images. In 1950, Sy convinced the Shorin Brothers, his bosses and owners of the upstart Brooklyn-based gum company, that Topps could make an impact in the baseball card market.
Visit Dean's Cards for the best selction of 1952 Topps baseball cards.
The 1952 Topps Baseball Card set was the first mainstream set issued by the Topps Gum Company and far surpassed all earlier sets in size, quality and quantity. The giant sized cards symbolized America’s new postwar prosperity and became an instant hit with collectors and set a new benchmark for the hobby.

The upstart Brooklyn based Topps company carefully planned their attack on Bowman’s dominant position in the baseball card market. The 1952 Topps Baseball Cards were the first to be issued in six series.  Each series was carefully proportioned with a fairly equal number of stars and players from each team.  The 1952 Topps cards were 52% bigger in size than the 1952 Bowman cards and had 61% more cards in the set.

The 1952 Topps 6th series was distributed in such low numbers that it is the toughest and most expensive high number series in the history of collecting and the hardest set to complete. For the next decade, Topps tried to give away these cards at various promotions, until they finally gave up and dumped the remaining 1952 Topps cards into New York Harbor!  Just think, in 1960 someone could have purchased these cards from Topps for pennies on the dollar.

Dean’s Cards continues to offer the best selection of 1952 Topps baseball cards available online, and the cards continue to grow in popularity for collectors.

But for the budget collector, the very nice 1952 Topps Reprint set also is available at Dean’s Cards. The 1952 Topps Reprint Baseball Cards are an affordable way to buy a Complete Set or build a Team Set at an affordable price.
The 1951 Mickey Mantle Bowman is really his first rookie card-- and it is available here at Dean's Cards.
Although the 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle is his official rookie card, the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card remains the most famous. And if you're interested in any Mickey Mantle cards or any other hard-to-find vintage cards, let Dean's Cards do the card hunting for you.

For serious Mickey Mantle collectors, please see our growing collection of Mickey Mantle baseball cards and magazines. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sports Collectors Digest Features Dean and 1953 Bowman Baseball Cards

Sports Collectors Digest featured Dean’s article about the unique 1953 Bowman baseball card set in its March 8, 2013 issue. The article, also available online, is titled, “Bowman bounces back,”and features Bowman’s “counter attack” to the groundbreaking 1952 Topps set.

The 1953 Bowman set that featured great photography, multi-player cards and “pure color” is still considered one of the most beautiful vintage baseball card sets -- yet it was not a money-maker for Bowman, which had to return to a black and white card set later in 1953.

Dean also produced a video on the 1953 Bowman baseball card set which shows off the beauty of the set and serves as a timeless reminder to a bygone vintage baseball card era.

The story behind the 1953 Bowman baseball card set makes the set even more important for sports card collectors. Bowman had been slowly evolving its bubble gum cards, but that came to a sudden end in the spring of 1952, when the Topps Company aggressively seized its opening and issued a competitive set of baseball cards. Bowman seemed caught off guard, as the company was shocked at how quickly the superior giant-sized 1952 Topps baseball cards snatched the majority of the baseball card market share in just a year’s time.

Bowman was now forced to create a better card. The 1953 set was Bowman’s direct response to the 1952 Topps surprise attack and Bowman spared no expense. The 1953 Bowman cards were much larger than their 1952 cards and roughly matched the size of the Topps cards.
1953 Bowman Mickey Mantle available at Dean's Cards.
When you review the 1953 Bowman cards, you quickly get overwhelmed with the wonderful, bold color photos of the players. And there is no writing on the front of the cards which makes the photography stand out even more.

Without names on the card fronts, it’s sometimes tough to determine who the player is in the photo. The 1953 Bowman set forces you to concentrate on the player’s faces more so than any other set. As you go through the set, you find yourself turning over most of the cards to verify the identity of the player.

The photos were taken during the 1952 season, when color photography was extremely rare due to the high expense of the process. The Philadelphia-based Bowman Gum Company had to act quickly to get all of the photos taken before the 1952 season ended, so the company chose a New York based photographer for the job. That's why almost all of the 1953 Bowman baseball cards were shot in the two classic stadiums that sat across the Harlem River from each other: Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds.
Yogi Berra, Hank Bauer and Mickey Mantle on this 1953 Bowman baseball card from Dean's Cards.
It is fun to look at the cards of the National League players and piece together a panoramic view of the uniquely shaped Polo Grounds. And cards for American League players feature views of Yankee Stadium that most are too young to remember.
1953 Bowman Warren Spahn with Polo Grounds in the background
You can learn more about the 1953 Bowman baseball card set, as well as other vintage card sets from 1948-1955, by purchasing Dean's book at The Bubble Gum Card War: The Great Bowman & Topps Sets from 1948 to 1955.
Dean's vintage baseball card books available at
If you are interested in purchasing the 1953 Bowman baseball card set or individual cards from the set, you can see the cards on the Dean's Cards website. You'll also find vintage baseball cards from every other era, as well, including the important baseball card collecting period of 1948-1959

And if you have vintage cards from 1869-1969 that you'd like to sell, please visit our "sell your baseball cards" page at Deans Cards for more information.