Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Sports Cards

Youngsters with Baseball Cards

Photograph of boys with baseball cards

Two Philadelphian boys, Anthony and Terrence Holman, show off their collection of sports cards in 1980. (Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries)

Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries

The sale of sports cards has fluctuated over the years, showing increases and decreases in popularity over time. In the mid-1950s, collecting of sports cards dwindled, with the Topps Company remaining unopposed as the chief producer of sports trading cards. The collecting of baseball cards became increasingly popular in the 1980s for young children as well as adults. Author Jonathan Fraser Light wrote in the Cultural Encyclopedia of Baseball that “the 1988 card companies were selling five billion cards annually.” Sports-card popularity increased, with the baseball card industry alone generating $1.2 billion, according to The Nation’s Business. This popularity eventually declined and by 1999 sales fell by sixty-six percent to $400 million.

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