A contributor to the UK Cards email group recently asked “Does anyone know any good books concerned with cards and card collecting?”. I thought it was an interesting question and one that merited an article here on TWF.
So, without further ado, here are a few books that I’ve read or acquired over the years –
The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book
This is a terrific little book – first published in 1973 – that gives the reader an overview of the history of baseball cards and card collecting up to the 1960. In addition to the factual stuff, it also presents an irreverent overview of over 200 cards from the early 1950s to 1969, featuring anecdotes about the players and the era. An incredibly fun book!
Mint Condition: How Baseball Cards Became An American Obsession
Author Dave Jamieson presents an excellent history about the card companies and collecting, explaining the rise of the card industry from kid’s hobby to an “investment” business in the 1980s and the subsequent spectacular bubble in the 1990s. Good factual stuff.
Topps Baseball Cards: The Complete Picture Collection (A 35-year history 1951-1985)
A true coffee table book. Large format, full colour images of every card produced by Topps up to 1985. An updated version of the book was published in 1991 featuring cards up to 1990. Hard to find cheap and in good condition!
Cardboard Gods: An All-American Tale Told Through Baseball Cards
I like this one. Author Josh Wilker recounts his childhood and adolescent years, using cards he collected along the way as milestones and reminders of key events. It demonstrates how much baseball cards were ingrained into the lives of American kids growing up in the 1950/60/70s eras.
The Sports Collector’s Digest Standard Catalogs
Never mind Beckett. This is the book to get if you want to know what’s out there and what its worth. At the annual National Sports Collectors Convention in the States, almost as many dealers use this as their pricing bible as do Beckett – especially when it comes to vintage. Within this annual tome, you could find full checklists and prices over over 16,000 of sets and 1,000,000 cards. In 2011, the Standard Catalog had grown so big that it is now concentrating primarily on vintage cards (pre 1981). Because of that, its a bit smaller than it used to be, but still extremely comprehensive. Every serious collector should have an edition of this publication on their bookshelf. And if you’re into football, basketball, or ice hockey card collecting, there are equivalent catalogs for those sports too! If you buy old stuff, this meaty price guide gives you a real feel for relative value and shows you cards and sets you might never have realised existed!!