Trading Warfare: Why Trading Cards Have Disappeared From Retail Shelves

With values soaring to the moon, card collectors are starting to get violent

Dylan Hughes
Marker
Published in
5 min readJun 2, 2021

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In December 2020, a rare Charizard Pokémon card sold for $360,000. Early in 2021, a Michael Jordan rookie card sold for $215,000. Weeks later, the same card sold for $738,000.

During the pandemic last year, with people locked inside and looking for something to flip the mood, quarantiners turned to nostalgia and began collecting trading cards. Pokémon cards, basketball cards, baseball cards, and more.

Now the market is flaming hot.

Rare cards selling for a high price is not a phenomenon unique to 2020. In 2018, a rare Mike Trout baseball card sold for $400,000. Two years later, its market value was almost 10 times that. The increased demand for cards during the pandemic has driven values to extraordinary heights.

“There’s never been a time like this in the history of the business. I would bet that for every person who wanted a Michael Jordan rookie card in 2019, there’s 100 [now],” said Ken Goldin, founder and executive chairman of Goldin Auctions, which has participated in these high-dollar sales.

The increased interest in the trading card market has opened the eyes of millionaires and billionaires alike. Josh Luber, a co-founder of sneaker resale app StockX, left the company in 2020 to help form Six Forks Kids Club, an asset management company with a focus on trading cards.

A group of billionaires that includes New York Mets owner Steve Cohen purchased Collectors Universe last year for $853 million — a company that authenticates and grades collectibles such as trading cards, which is essential to determining their market value.

A trading card’s value can be made or broken based on one thing: age. The older the card, the rarer and more valuable it is. It is an investment, so an expectation of a higher future value is baked into the price, too.

In August 2020, a one-of-one rookie Mike Trout baseball card sold for a record $3.94 million. In January, just five months later, a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card shattered the record with a sale of $5.2 million. The Mantle card received…

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Dylan Hughes
Marker
Writer for

Two-time self-development author writing on whatever interests me. Follow me on Instagram: chyaboidylan