“So, how’s the market?”

“Hey Matt, the vintage sports card market seems a bit soft. Do you agree?”

I get asked this question often. As an active collector, group admin, and Cardhound web site guy, I guess I’m relatively “in touch” with the market. And like any other know-it-all collector, I have opinions! But I’m no dealer, and any one collector’s perspective is pretty insignificant.

So, how’s the market, and how can we know? I do think anecdotes are valuable–especially when grounded in lots of activity, and of course, some actual data. So I rounded up a bit of each and here’s what I came up with.

Key Takeaways

  • The April 2024 market is a bit softer than April 2023.
  • Most vintage sports cards have followed almost the exact same overall trajectory from pre-COVID until now.
  • If you bought heavily during the pandemic bubble, the market of course feels “down”.
  • If you have been in vintage since 2018 and prior, today’s prices are about 300% of pre-COVID values.
  • We are probably returning to “slow and steady,” like Vintage has been forever, although with a much higher “floor” for values than pre-COVID.

Let’s see how I arrived at these conclusions.


I asked several vintage dealers for their perspectives on the vintage sports card market headed into summer, and I will share those themes below. I chatted with Brian Roth (Card Soup), Justin Farber (T206 Cards, and a supporter of Cardhound), Ashsh Jai (Legacy Cardz, also a supporter of Cardhound). All are active, professional dealers who sell online and at shows. I do think the “vibe” at Spring shows gives a good sense of the overall feeling of the market. And sales data are sales data.

I also spoke with auction house owner Al Crisafulli (Love of the Game). Insights from the auction side are crucial to understanding the market at large, since many higher-end sales aren’t at shows at all–price records are broken, or giant losses taken, at auction.

Lastly, I invented my own quick little model of something I’ll call the VPI (Vintage Price Index). Yes, there are good data trackers out there–but being a data guy myself, I wanted to form my own Index around my own methodology. I like the concept and might expand and maintain it.

Dealer Feedback

A selection from Ashsh Jai’s booth at a recent show.

My dealer friends seemed mixed on whether the current vintage sports card market is “down” in terms of prices, but all have a very optimistic view of the current market overall heading into the National and summer.

Roth says that “shows are hot right now, money is flowing leading into the summer months with the National upcoming. I’m very optimistic about the vintage market these days.” When I asked him directly whether he sees a softening in Vintage, his frank reply was “personally, I don’t.”

Justin Farber is also generally bullish on the market, and with sales data to support his view. His opinion: “From where I stand the vintage market is as strong as ever, with my monthly sale volume of individual graded cards at an all-time high. Activity in the modern side of the hobby definitely helps grow the number of collectors of vintage cards. I expect Fanatics’ marketing efforts to continue to be beneficial for growing the vintage side of the hobby.”

It will be interesting to see if modern can rebound with new energy (and new dollars) entering the market and either way, how that translates for vintage.

Ashsh says “some prices have come down a little, but also eye appeal has driven some up. Overall, buyers are more educated.” In terms of gauging the summer market in particular, he says “If you’re into vintage cards, now is the time to buy if the price is right. You’ll be able to find some good deals out there. If you’re waiting for the National to find your cards that is understandable as there will be a large selection but at the same time there will be lots of competition to buy. If you see the card you’ve been hunting for I would suggest you make a purchase now.”

Auction Feedback

A healthy price achieved at the recent Love of the Game spring auction.

Matt’s VPI (Vintage Price Index)


I wanted to choose 5 cards (for now) that are iconic yet relatively affordable representations of the vintage sports card market. Of course, it’s impossible to capture an entire market in 5 cards, or 50 cards. But these are calculated selections, and any trends made visible in comparing them are at least fodder for further analysis or fun discussion.

For this index I excluded ’52 Topps Mantle, for example–a card that most collectors will just never obtain. A broader index could and should of course include prewar and higher-end Vintage, but that was not my focus here. I was aiming for iconic yet achievable–the “activity” that is most prevalent in the market. This kind of “activity” trickles both up and down, I think–a hot mid-range market creates hype that helps drive prices for both higher-end and lower-end cards. Ultimately, I decided on the following cards in the following grades:

1. 1948 Leaf Jackie, 2 grade

2. 1953 Topps Satchel Paige, 3 grade

3. 1956 Topps Mantle, 4 grade

4. 1968 Topps Ryan, 5 grade

5. 1971 Topps Clemente, 6 grade

Price points compared were as follows:

1. April, 2018 (pre-COVID)

2. April, 2023 (for year-over-year)

3. April, 2024 (current)

VPI Findings

I gathered sales data mainly from PSA’s web site (I’m an SGC guy but PSA has a much more robust site):

1948 Leaf Jackie 1953 Topps Satch 1956 Topps Mantle 1968 Topps Ryan 1971 Topps Clemente
Grade 2 3 4 5 6
April 2018 $2,000 $200 $550 $375 $125
April 2023 $10,000 $1000 $1700 $1100 $390
April 2024 $6,600 $725 $1700 $1000 $350


As you can see, prices are a bit softer 2024 vs. 2023 overall. I chose the 48 Jackie because it spiked significantly during COVID, and seems to be as volatile as any card in the hobby. Mantle holds steady as usual. But yes, prices are down a tad in general.

But it’s important to take a longer view with vintage. Notably, almost every iconic card follows a very similar path historically, and they mostly look like this. Try it with cards of your choice! It’s remarkable how many cards follow this same arc. (images from PSA):

1956 Topps Mantle:

1968 Topps Ryan:

The key features here are:

  • A long span of stability for the previous decade
  • A dramatic spike during COVID
  • A gradual “decline” to a new higher floor of value

And my overall prediction going forward is a new, permanent higher floor. Stability as usual for vintage. Record sales for desirable and truly rare cards.