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How to Turn Cards Into Investment

For those who want to see their baseball card collections rise in the financial standings, here are nine starting tips compiled from interviews with area dealers and collectors:

Buy or put together complete sets. This will make your collection more marketable. It also means you’ve cornered every card from that year that could later skyrocket in value.

If your budget is modest, take your chances with the current 15-card packs for 40 cents. You may find a single card worth several times the purchase price right off the bat.

Rookie cards are most valuable. The rookie cards of younger stars are generally a wise investment.

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With a big-league treasury, the pre-1981 cards are most likely to increase in value because there are fewer of them. Buy cards from the 1960s and earlier if possible.

The cards of everyday players, especially headline-grabbing power hitters, are better investments than pitchers’ cards. Pitchers are more dependent on their team for support and therefore have less control over their record. Also, they are more injury-prone.

Card condition is key. Look for frayed or folded corners and creases and check sharpness of color and gloss. Secondarily, see if the card is perfectly centered within the white borders. Cards are generally rated mint or near-mint, excellent, very good, good and poor.

Develop rapport with a dealer. In addition to the danger of counterfeiting, an unscrupulous seller may remove the best players and then reseal the wax in a pack of cards.

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Put your treasured cards in protective plastic covers. A bent corner, crease or mark will decrease the resale value substantially. Some dealers, taking a page from coin connoisseurs, inspect cards with a pinpoint light and magnifying glass.

Finally, enjoy the cards and the process of collecting them. It is, at heart, a child’s hobby built around a boy’s game--even if speculators have hit it hard.


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