These past couple of years have been like nothing else for the most valuable trading cards in the 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. There are 40 cards on the below list of the 82 most expensive trading cards ever sold transacting for over a million dollars. Amazingly, there are even some baseball cards from the 1990's doing big numbers at auction houses.
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 near top of almost everybody's list, with Panini currently owning that license. However, Fanatics is set to take that license over and recently acquired Topps along with their baseball license.
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, Batman and Marvel Comics cards also 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 expensive 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 was so inundated with submissions that they were forced froze the hobby's ability to submit cards for almost an entire year due to an incredible backlog of more than ten million cards that they simply could not catch up on. They have since worked their way through that backlog and have re-opened submissions.
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 the 82 most expensive trading cards ever sold shows just how hot this market has been, as people continue to invest in alternative assets like these.
* This list only includes the highest sale price of any particular card so that no card is on the list twice.