Collecting things is fun. There`s no denying it. Whether it be stamps, coins, films, rare books or vinyl records; having a collection of something is a rewarding hobby. Rather inevitably, once you start collecting things you realise that some things are rarer than others – and these things can be rather expensive. Trading cards have been around since the late 19th century, when they were placed inside cigarette packets. After the second world war, they started being placed in bubblegum packets instead. In the UK trading stickers also became a popular kid`s past-time (namely: football stickers). These days trading cards are big business, whether they be part of a larger game or just for the purposes of trading and some of the rarest cards can fetch big money.
T206 Honus Wagner Baseball Card
Highest sale price: $2.35 million
Baseball cards are a US culture staple and this particular card has since become something of an American cultural artifact. Honus Wagner was a baseball player for the Pittsbugh Pirates during the the early years of the 20th century and is considered by many to be one of the best players of all time – but it isn`t this that makes this card expensive. It is said that Wagner didn`t want children to buy cigarettes in order to get his card, but this story could be apocryphal as he chewed tobacco and had appeared on a cigar trading card a few years earlier. It is more likely that he wanted more money from the cigarette company. Whichever way it happened, only 40 cards were ever produced; the most famous of which is the Gretzky card which sold for the $2.35 million dollars. Other cards are in the hands of private collectors or in museums and, of course, simply lost. Take a good look at it, you might stumble across it one day and get extremely lucky!
Pokemon: Pikachu Illustrator
Estimated worth: $20,000
Pokemon cards were all the rage back in the late 1990s. If you were an eight year old (like I was) in 1999 and didn`t own at least a handful of Pokemon cards, well, you were no one. Indeed I don`t think I`ve met anyone who grew up around the same time as me who didn`t own any. The were stupidly popular. Kids used to get into fights over them, lose sleep over them and waste a whole month`s worth of pocket money to buy a new pack of them. Of course, the more popular something is the more sought after the rarest ones are. This card, offered as a prize in an obscure Japanese drawing contest is the mightiest of them all. Only four exist and if you want to Catch`em All as the old tagline used to say, it might be worth having a chat with your bank manager. I`m sure they`ll agree it`s a worthwhile investment.
WG Grace Cigarette Card
Sold for £3,000
WG Grace. An old name from cricket`s past that will cause any cricket fan to go all misty eyed. That beard! Back in 1896 cricketers started appearing on cigarette cards in Britain as tobacco companies looked to marketed cigarettes more and more to men. Now the £3,000 mightn`t be astronomical compared to the most expensive baseball cards that we can see over in the US, but for a slice of Victoriana this card is the business. The original sports celebrity.
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