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The prices of baseball cards can vary greatly depending on many factors like the player, the year the card was issued, the quality or condition of the card, and of course, supply and demand. Let’s take a look at the prices of 15 specific baseball cards to see how these various factors influence their current market value.

We’ll start with arguably the most famous baseball card of all time – the 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner card. Features the legendary Hall of Fame shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, this is widely considered the rarest and most valuable baseball card ever printed. In pristine mint condition, examples have sold for over $2 million at auction. Even well-worn low-grade copies still demand six-figure prices, with one in Poor 1 condition selling for $106,000 back in 2016. The rarity and history behind this card is what drives values so high, as it’s estimated fewer than 60 examples still survive today out of the original run over 100 years ago.

The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card is another icon of the hobby sought after by collectors. Much like the Honus Wagner, it captures “The Mick” at the very beginning of his Hall of Fame career. High-grade copies in near-mint to mint condition have topped $1 million at auction in recent years. There are still plenty available even in played condition that can fetch $5,000-$10,000 depending on overall appearance. Mantle’s rookie remains one of the most important post-war cards on the market.

Switching eras, let’s examine the prices for superstar cards from the late 1980s and 1990s. A PSA 10 GEM MT graded 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie in its distinctive reverse negative design recently sold for $61,063. High-grade Griffey rookies from his early Mariners days are hugely popular 25+ years later. Another PSA 10 example of Griffey’s prestigious rookie exchanged hands for $57,750 back in May 2019. Likewise, pristine PSA 10 copies of the 1992 Upper Deck Derek Jeter rookie have reached over $40,000. Even well-centred PSA 9 Jeter rookies can still pull in $5,000-$10,000.

Moving into the 2000s, perhaps no single player better captures the hoops frenzy of that era quite like Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant. A 2000-01 Topps Chrome Refractor rookie Parallel #144 PSA 10 of Kobe’s rookie year recently went for a staggering $108,750. The flashy refractor parallel is highly sought with such a legendary player. Even Bryant’s standard Topps rookies still demand $1,000-$3,000 in top grade. And his iconic 1999-00 Topps Traded rookie Parallel #7 PSA 10 changed hands for $56,250 this past April.

But it’s not all about rookies. Hall of Famers who enjoyed long, decorated careers also have collectible cards that hold value. A PSA 8 copy of Nolan Ryan’s iconic 1973 Topps traded card showing him throwing a 100 MPH fastball was purchased last year for $22,800. This marks one of “The Ryan Express'” most identifiable and aesthetically appealing baseball cards ever produced. Likewise, a PSA 9 1968 Topps Roberto Clemente sold the previous summer for $12,012, demonstrating the enduring appeal of “The Great One” decades after his tragic death.

Moving into the modern game, superstars still in their primes naturally have rookie cards and early career gems that appreciate in the secondary market. A 2014 Topps Update Clayton Kershaw Blue Refractor Parallel PSA 10 went for $9,237 last October. Kershaw is a surefire future Hall of Famer with three Cy Young awards already, keeping collectors hungry for his best early issues. Similarly, a 2011 Topps Update Mike Trout Blue Refractor PSA 10 changed hands privately in March 2020 for a massive $91,875, highlighting the astronomical rise of “The Millville Meteor’s” card values after blossoming into a true generational talent.

Of course, not every player holds iconic status. Role players and middle relievers tend to have cards with much more modest values. As an example, a 2012 Topps Update Greg Holland rookie PSA 10 recently traded at $135, far more attainable for most collectors compared to the seven-figure Honus Wagner. Even so, cards of less heralded players can spike in certain cases. Take a 1990 Fleer Tim Norris rookie PSA 8 – despite Norris being a career journeyman, bidding reached $2,450 in January due to his fleer set being short-printed that year, creating artificial scarcity.

And condition is always key – for a true star, even well-worn lower grade copies retain residual value thanks to name recognition. It’s usually not enough to break $100. Consider a PSA 3 1984 Topps Dwight Gooden rookie sold this past winter for $62.50. Or a tattered PSA 1 1986 Fleer Update Roger Clemens rookie that went for $77 back in December. Both are certified examples of their pioneering early issues, but grading knocks prices down exponentially from pristine examples fetching thousands.

In the end, numerous economic factors impact the price points of vintage baseball cards in the current collecting climate. Players, teams, sets, parallels, conditions, and the powerful intersection of supply and demand all determine where individual issues are valued within the ever-evolving marketplace. With a mix of Hall of Famers, current stars, and journeymen featured here across various eras, hopefully this provides a sense of how it all comes together to establish the fluctuating prices seen for these nostalgic cardboard collectibles.