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How to Sell Vintage Football Cards in Five Steps

Selling your vintage football cards is relatively easy - but does require a little bit of work on your part. Below, we’ll look at what steps you’ll need to take to sell, and also talk a bit about the most desirable football cards and sets. For football, we consider vintage material to be cards and memorabilia produced between 1879-1979.

Ready to sell right away? Contact us using the form below and we'll make you a cash offer within 48 hours.

Appraisal Form

A look at some of the most highly-coveted vintage football rookie cards in the hobby. If you've got some of these you might have something really special.

1. Create your inventory list

First, you’ll need to compile a brief but detailed list of what's in your collection. Determine (approximately) how many total cards you have, and what years they’re from. Work up a Spreadsheet or Word document so you can easily access and share your list via email.

2. Scan or photograph your key cards

Now you’ll need to take a few scans or photos of the best cards in your collection. To do this you'll have to identify key players in your collection. If you're not sure how to do this try, cross-referencing your collection with this list of Pro Football Hall-of-Famers.

For example, if you have a 1957 Topps Football set, scan or photograph the front and backs of the Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Paul Hornung, Dick Lane, and Raymond Berry cards. Also make sure to take a few scans or photos of a random sampling of cards from the set. This will help your potential buyer better determine the condition of the rest of the cards in your collection.

Don't worry if you don't have a scanner. You can always just use a smart phone or camera to take your pictures and text or email them if that's easier for you.

3. Count (or approximate) how many cards you have from each year 1979 and earlier

Even if your collection features few or no major stars, it still could be quite valuable. If you have a large volume of vintage cards, you might still have a big-ticket bunch. So for example, you might write "I have: (10) 1933 Sport Kings, (30) 1950 Bowmans, (40) 1951 Bowmans, and (45) 1955 Topps All-Americans."

4. Research potential buyers

Reach out to reputable dealers and set up an appointment to value your collection, also known as the appraisal. You can also visit your local baseball card shop (if you still have one). But keep in mind, due to high overhead, lower capital, and limited access to national markets, local stores probably won’t offer you top-dollar for your cards. There are, however, two minor exceptions to this rule. If you have a local region-specific collection (like a huge group of Cincinnati Bengals cards in Ohio, for example), or if it's going to be cost prohibitive to ship your large and lower value group.

5. Schedule an appraisal/valuation appointment

Depending on where you live, you may have to send your cards or memorabilia through the mail during this step. We understand that this can be a daunting proposition, so we’ve created a resource on how to ship sports cards safely and securely. Make sure you also set reasonable expectations for the price you may receive. If you have very lofty hopes for prices, you might end up disappointed.

Now that you know a little bit about how to go about selling your football cards, let’s look at which particular singles and sets are especially valuable.

Most Valuable Vintage Football Rookie Cards

When talking about vintage sports cards, the most valuable pieces will be rookie cards, specifically those of Hall of Famers. Football cards have been around for over 120 years, and some great cards have been produced over that time. Some are extremely rare, while others are highly sought after, both of which create a tremendous demand.

The Top 21 Pre-1980 Rookie Cards

We couldn't pick just 20. So here's three touchdowns (and the PATs) worth of the best vintage rookie cards in the hobby which are pictured at the top of this page:

  • 1888 N162 Goodwin Henry W. Beecher
  • 1894 N302 Mayo's Cut Plug "Anonymous" John Dunlop
  • 1933 Goudey Sport Kings #4 Red Grange
  • 1933 Goudey Sport Kings #6 Jim Thorpe
  • 1935 National Chicle #34 Bronko Nagurski
  • 1935 National Chicle #9 Knute Rockne
  • 1948 Leaf #1 Sid Luckman
  • 1948 Leaf #34 Sammy Baugh
  • 1948 Leaf #54 Chuck Bednarik
  • 1950 Bowman #45 Otto Graham
  • 1951 Bowman #4 Norm Van Brocklin
  • 1951 Bowman #20 Tom Landry
  • 1955 Topps All American #68 "The Four Horsemen"
  • 1957 Topps #119 Bart Starr
  • 1957 Topps #138 Johnny Unitas
  • 1958 Topps #62 Jim Brown
  • 1962 Topps #17 Mike Ditka
  • 1965 Topps #122 Joe Namath
  • 1966 Philadelphia #38 Gale Sayers
  • 1972 Topps #200 Roger Staubach
  • 1976 Topps #148 Walter Payton

All of these rookie cards have value in any condition and quantity. Obviously, the more cards you have and the better the condition, the more valuable your collection will be. Not sure how to determine the condition of your cards? No problem. Read our post on sports card grading and determining condition. Don't see your rookie card on the list? Again, don't worry. This is just a list of 21 top rookies, but there are plenty of others.

Modern Rookie Cards We Love

There are also a few rookie cards produced around or after the 1979 "vintage cut-off” that have considerable value, including but not limited to:

  • 1981 Topps Joe Montana
  • 1984 Topps John Elway
  • 1984 Topps Dan Marino
  • 1986 Topps Jerry Rice
  • 1986 Topps Steve Young
  • 1998 SP Authentic Peyton Manning
  • 2000 Contenders Tom Brady

Top Vintage Sets

Just like with the single rookie cards, the older the set is, the more valuable. The first set of football cards ever produced was the 1894 Mayo's Cut Plug, which featured the game's brightest collegiate stars. Although none of the players turned out to be Hall of Famers, the cards are still extremely rare. The best card in that set is the John Dunlop "Anonymous" card, as there are believed to be less than 15 examples in existence.

Since the likelihood of you having an 1894 Mayo’s Cut Plug set (or any cards within it) is infinitesimal, let's take a look at the some of the more common Top 10 vintage football sets:

Football Memorabilia

The most sought-after pieces of football memorabilia are game-worn jerseys, game-used balls and equipment, autographed rookie cards, original wire photos, signed photos, ticket stubs, yearbooks, and programs.

Modern Relic Cards

While the market tends to focus on vintage football cards, there are still some modern cards of value. These include autographed relic cards, as well as short-printed rookie cards of recent mega-stars, such as: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Adrian Peterson, Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham Jr, Ezekiel Elliott, and Dak Prescott.

Collectors also love modern auto & relic cards of the '90s stars, such as Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, and Brett Favre.

Autographed Football Cards

Many football collectors loved getting their cards signed. Whether at games, at collector conventions, or sending them through the mail, football players were some of the most obliging signers. Some think that signing cards destroys them from a condition standpoint, but there is still plenty of value to these cards. This is especially true of vintage signatures on vintage cards.

Selling Football Cards to Just Collect

If you're looking to sell your collection for cash, contact us today. Just Collect is the nation's top buyer of vintage football cards. We've bought and sold over $20 million worth of vintage cards & memorabilia over the last decade.

We're looking to buy entire collections, complete sets, partial sets, unopened cases and boxes, uncut sheets, rookie cards, star cards, high-grade commons, and more. If you're ready to sell your collection, you've found the right place. We pay a higher percentage than any other dealer or auction house, and take great pride in providing the best customer service in the hobby. We also provide free appraisals on vintage card and memorabilia collections.

We'll go through your collection piece-by-piece and assess the condition of each card. Once the condition is determined, we'll look up the current market value for each card. Once your entire collection is appraised, we'll make you a cash offer on the spot. The appraisal process is absolutely free and usually completed within 24 hours.

So what are you waiting for? Break out that scanner, or just take pics of your cards with your cell phone and text us the photos. Give us a call or shoot us an email and we'd be happy to help.

A recent purchase: The Trash-To-Cash Realtor Collection