The history of baseball cards in Atlanta dates back to the late 19th century when the first baseball cards featuring major league players began to be widely produced and collected. While the city of Atlanta did not have a major league franchise until the Braves arrived in 1966, baseball cards have long been a part of the sports culture in the region.

Some of the earliest baseball cards produced featured players from the minor league Atlanta Crackers who played from 1904 to 1963. The Crackers were one of the most popular minor league teams in the country during the first half of the 20th century. Cards featuring Crackers players appeared in sets produced by companies like American Caramel in the early 1900s. Collecting and trading these vintage Crackers cards was a popular pastime for young baseball fans in Atlanta throughout the first few decades of the 20th century.

In the 1930s and 1940s, as major national baseball card companies like Goudey, Play Ball, and Topps began mass producing sets that featured both National and American League players, the hobby of baseball card collecting really took off across the United States, including in Atlanta. Kids could find packs of cards at local drug stores, candy shops, and hobby stores. They would eagerly collect and trade cards of the biggest stars of the era like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Joe DiMaggio. Atlanta’s sports stores did a booming business in these vintage baseball cards through the 1940s and 1950s.


When the Milwaukee Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966, it sparked new interest in baseball and collecting cards of the hometown Braves players. In the 1960s, Topps dominated the baseball card market and Atlanta kids were avidly collecting cards from the annual Topps sets hoping to get rookie cards of future Braves stars like Hank Aaron, Phil Niekro, and Dusty Baker. The 1960s also saw the rise of regional sports card shows where collectors could meet, trade, and buy cards. Some of the earliest Atlanta-area card shows date back to this era.

In the 1970s and 1980s, as the Braves flourished on the field winning an unprecedented 14 straight division titles, baseball card collecting reached new heights in Atlanta. Kids were flocking to card shops, drug stores, and sporting goods stores snapping up packs of Topps, Fleer, and Donruss cards looking to complete their Braves team sets. Expos, shows, and shops did a booming business in Braves rookie cards and stars of the era like Aaron, Niekro, Bob Horner, Dale Murphy, and Tom Glavine. The rise of the hobby press also exposed Atlanta collectors to the burgeoning business of collecting, grading, and investing in vintage cards.


In the 1990s, as the sports memorabilia market exploded, Atlanta became home to numerous large card and memorabilia shops and multi-dealer shows. Kids who grew up collecting in the 1970s and 1980s were now adults with disposable income to spend on their hobby. The boom years of the 1990s saw values skyrocket on vintage cards like Hank Aaron rookie cards from the 1950s and rookie cards of Braves stars from the 1960s and 1970s. Atlanta also became home to national and regional memorabilia conventions that drew thousands of collectors from around the country. Sports stores in malls also cashed in on the boom by opening expansive “sports collectibles” sections.


As we moved into the 21st century, Atlanta continued to be a hotbed for baseball card collecting and the sports collectibles market in general. The internet also transformed the hobby, allowing collectors locally and worldwide to easily buy, sell, and trade online. While the sports memorabilia market has cooled off its 1990s peak, baseball card collecting remains a popular pastime among Atlanta residents young and old. Cards of current Braves stars like Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuña Jr., and Ozzie Albies can be found in stores, at shows, and online as collectors look to build the sets and rosters of the present-day Braves.

Atlanta’s long baseball history dating back over 100 years and the presence of the beloved Braves franchise has helped make card collecting a cherished southern tradition for generations. From the earliest Crackers cards to today’s Braves rookies, baseball cards have been a staple of youth sports culture and remain an integral part of Atlanta’s sports memorabilia scene. The city’s collectors have seen card values and the industry boom and fluctuate over the decades but their passion has never wavered.

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