The first baseball cards were produced in the late 1800’s by tobacco companies and included either on the packaging of cigarettes or inserted into packs. As the American Tobacco Company began to dominate the market, they no longer saw a need to include the cards any longer.
In the early 1900’s sports cards saw a resurgence in tobacco and candy products. This was consider by some to be the ‘’’Golden Age’’’ of baseball cards. With the onset of World War I, almost all sports cards disappeared off the market again. Although tobacco cards dominated the market clothing manufacturers, game makers, magazines and periodicals also began releasing cards as part of their marketing strategies. In the 1920’s the American Caramel, York Caramel and National Caramel were the leading card makers during the ‘’E’’ card era.
After World War I, candy and bubblegum companies began producing cards again. The Goudey sets of 1933 and 1934 remain some of the most popular from this era. But once World War II began, paper and rubber became needed for the war effort and cards were no longer produced.
After the second World War, the first sets released were by the Bowman Gum Company. Then in 1951, the Topps Chewing Gum Company started producing cards and began to dominate the market. The company would gain a monopoly on baseball cards beginning in 1956.
In the 1980’s, sports cards saw a tremendous increase in popularity as more and more companies entered the market. But at the same time, companies overproduced and saturated the market with cards that have little to no value except for some of the more limited insert and oddball sets.
In the 1990’s, the in the industry began to change. High end products started becoming the norm rather than the exception. Autographed cards began to be inserted into packs. In 1997, Upper Deck introduced the first [[Game Used Insert Card|game used memorabilia] card in their baseball product.
As the 2000’s came to a close, higher and higher priced products came onto the market. 2007 Sports Kings was a sports card set that sold for more than $400 per pack.
Current Major League Baseball Licensed Card Manufacturers
Current Other Baseball Card Manufacturers
Historical Baseball Card Manufacturers