The past year has been like nothing else in the trading card hobby. What mainstream society used to think of as a fun little hobby for children has become big business, with record breaking sales publicized by top media outlets becoming almost a weekly occurrence.
People who grew up in the 80's and 90's–who collected as children–remember the last time that sports cards were this hot, but the game has changed. Back then, it was mainly Topps baseball cards that collectors were after. Nowadays, basketball is at the top of almost everybody's list, with Panini the new sheriff in town. However, it isn't just basketball that has caught fire, with baseball remaining a major player as well as other sports such as football and even soccer making major moves.
Non-sports cards have also been attracting a lot of attention, with Pokemon and Magic the Gathering creating quite a buzz amongst collectors, and even rare cards of celebrities and major media franchises such as Star Wars and Marvel Comics bringing in big money.
Gone are the days of the simple, mass produced base cards of the "junk wax era", as the new chase in the hobby includes trying to acquire rare cards with low serial numbers, autographs and patches of jerseys that players may have worn during a game.
Further, the most valuable cards come graded by an authentication service, giving a score based on the condition of the card from 1-10. The leading authentication service PSA has been so inundated with cards that they recently froze the hobby's ability to submit cards (at most levels) due to an incredible backlog of more than ten million cards that they simply could not catch up on.
This influx of money and increased interest has created fierce competition for the rarest and highest graded cards at places such as eBay, Goldin Auctions and Heritage Auctions, and the results can be seen below.
This list of 43 cards shows just how hot this market has been, as people continue to invest in alternative assets such as sports cards.
(*This list only includes the highest sale price of any particular card so that no card is on the list twice)