Baseball cards: Bubblegum Card Bubbles

Jack_GlasscockBaseball cards – they’re collectible, and they can be worth something – and it’s been said (by some) that they’re “… a better investment than the stock market.” But is such a statement sound financial advice from dependable experts or misleading tittle-tattle from those with a vested interest (or neither) ?

Perhaps what’s needed is a serious academic study – and fortunately one (and maybe only one) exists. It comes from Artie Zillante, who is Associate Professor of Economics at the Belk College of Business, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, US. The professor performs an in-depth examination of the subject in his working paper, entitled : ‘Bubblegum Card Bubble’. It looks at the rise (and subsequent fall) of the collectors’ market for baseball cards (originally given away with packs of bubblegum, cigarettes etc etc.) within a given time period.

So, are they a better investment?

“The primary contribution of this paper is to document the fluctuation in prices for baseball card sets from 1952-1988 over the time period 1988-2003. When doing so, some interesting facts appear. Sets from the1950s-1960s did not crash nearly as much as later sets. Sets from the 1970s initially (up to 1998) resemble those from the 1950s-1960s, but by 2003 it is clear that the 1970s sets are no longer similar to those from the 1950s-1960s as their prices have fallen almost 50% compared to only a 2-5% decline in set prices for the 1950s-1960s sets. The sets from the 1980s fare the worst, and provide solid evidence that items which are produced as collectibles/investments rarely hold their value.”


[1] The card shows John Wesley “Jack” Glasscock (July 22, 1857 – February 24, 1947) when he was short stop for the Indianapolis Hoosiers,1888.

[2] Past performance should not be taken as an indication or guarantee of future performance. Certain investments are subject to high volatility, and may experience sudden large falls in their value. The value of stocks, shares, collections and other financial instruments can, and often do, fall as well as rise. Losses may equal or exceed your original investment. Apparently.