The 15 Most Expensive Sports Cards in the World

The 15 Most Expensive Sports Cards in the World
(Image Credit: worldsportscollectors.com)

Sports cards have been around forever. Before Topps, Upper Deck, and countless other brands hit the market decades ago; tobacco companies were putting them in their products. The first sports cards date back to 1869; as you can imagine, most of those haven’t survived. But now and then, something scarce pops up. Here are 15 sports cards that fetched big money at auction.

1. Honus Wagner T206 Baseball Card

Honus Wagner T206 baseball card
(Image Credit: ESPN)

The Honus Wagner T206 is the most expensive sports card in the world, retailing at $1.1 million. It is one of only 57 known to exist, making it a scarce find. The card was produced in 1909 while Wagner played shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates and was sold by hobbyists in 1910 for as little as 10 cents before its value skyrocketed. In 2007, collector Rick Snyder paid nearly $2 million at auction for this piece of history; he resold it for $2 million more two years later.

2. Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps Baseball Card

Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps Baseball Card
(Image Credit: ESPN)

The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card is a must-have for any collector of baseball cards. It’s a scarce card, and there are only 50 in existence. This makes it one of the most expensive sports cards in the world. This card’s condition is mint and worth $3.5 million!

The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card was issued by Topps Chewing Gum Company and featured Mickey Mantle on the front of their 1952 baseball set. It’s number 5 out of 550 cards included in that year’s set, making it less common than other high-value cards such as Joe DiMaggio’s or Willie Mays’—each with several listed at no more than $5 million!

3. Lebron James 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Rookie Patch Auto Basketball Card

Lebron James 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Rookie Patch Auto Basketball Card
(Image Credit: Robb Report)

This card is one of a kind. It was issued in 2003 and is valued at $55,000. It’s a 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Rookie Patch Auto basketball card with Lebron James.

4. Tom Brady 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket Auto Rookie Football Card

Tom Brady 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket Auto Rookie Football Card
(Image Credit: PSA)

The Tom Brady 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket auto rookie football card has a value of $15,000. The card is a rookie card. It’s rare, as well. It’s low-numbered and limited edition, too. And here’s the kicker: this one-of-one card is being sold at auction by Lelands Auction House in New York City on March 24th through 26th—and it could go for more than double its current worth!

5. Mike Trout 2009 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Baseball Card

The card, considered one of the most valuable cards in the world, is valued at $2,500. It was printed in a limited edition of 25,000 in 2009. The card also has an image of Trout that makes it very easy to identify as authentic.

6. Patrick Mahomes 2017 Panini Prizm Rookie Football Card

Patrick Mahomes, the 2017 NFL MVP and 2nd overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, is represented on a Prizm Football card sold for $3,000.

The card is from a Panini Prizm set released in 2017 and features Mahomes’ rookie autograph as part of a limited parallel run to only ten cards total. This particular card has two colors: blue and purple.

7. Babe Ruth 1916 Sporting News M101-4 Baseball Card

It is one of the most valuable sports cards in the world.

The M101-4 was initially thought to be worth $1 million, but when it was sold for $3.12 million at a Heritage auction in 2016, it became clear that its value was much higher than anticipated. The baseball card is one of only four copies and depicts Babe Ruth as a member of the Brooklyn Robins (later renamed Dodgers). It’s also considered by many to be a T206 Honus Wagner card because he’s featured on both sides of it.

This particular copy of the M101-4 came from a junk shop in Pennsylvania, where it had been languishing for decades after being pulled from an old shoe box filled with other cards. It was purchased by Rick Snyder, founder and president of Michigan-based company Collectors Universe Inc. He then put it up for sale at auction along with several other high-profile sports memorabilia items—including Michael Jordan’s jersey from his last game as a Bull against Washington on April 17th, 1998, and Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves from when he fought Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden on March 8th, 1971 – both worth more than $100k each!

8. Michael Jordan 1986 Fleer Basketball Card

Michael Jordan 1986 Fleer Basketball Card
(Image Credit: Sotheby’s)

Michael Jordan 1986 Fleer basketball card ($9,999)

This card is one of the most sought-after by collectors. The card was released in 1986 and graded a 9.5 by Professional Sports Authenticator, making it one of the highest-graded Jordan rookie cards. The card also has a low print run (only 1,000 copies were made), making it more valuable than other cards printed more frequently. It features an image of Michael Jordan hoisting his arms up while jumping to dunk on his defender during a game against Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird.

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9. Derek Jeter 1993 SP Foil Baseball Card

The 1993 SP Foil Derek Jeter card is one of the most valuable sports cards in the world. This card was issued in a limited edition print run of just 4,000 copies, and it’s known for being one of the rarest baseball cards ever made. While collectors value all cards based on their condition, this particular card has become so expensive because its condition would be considered flawless by even the most discerning collector: it’s graded PSA 10 Mint.

It’s impossible to pinpoint precisely how much this card is worth because many factors affect its value: its rarity, popularity, scarcity, and whether or not someone is willing to pay top dollar for one. However, experts estimate that if you could sell a mint condition 1993 SP Foil Derek Jeter baseball card at auction, you could expect bids starting at $500k, with some going as high as $1 million!

10. Joe Montana 1984 Star Football Card

Joe Montana’s rookie card is one of the most valuable sports cards in the world. The 1984 Star Football card pictured above was his first appearance on a trading card, which changed the face of sports cards forever. Until this point, players had been represented by their uniform number or some sort of team logo, but this was the first time a player’s face appeared on an actual baseball card.

Since then, many more athletes have followed suit—and their faces have become synonymous with their brand. We’re not sure how many people still keep these cards for their sentimental value (or even recognize them), but if you were lucky enough to get your hands on one before they became such popular and valuable, congratulations!

11. Cristiano Ronaldo 2003-04 Man Utd Jersey Patch Auto Soccer Card

The 2003-04 Man Utd jersey patch auto soccer card is valued at $3,000. Cristiano Ronaldo signed this card. It is a rare jersey patch auto. The card was issued in 2003-04.

12. Aaron Judge 2013 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Baseball Card

If you’re a baseball card collector, then this is the one for you. The 2013 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Aaron Judge card is worth $5,000 and comes with a few other perks. Not only can it be yours (if you’ve got the money) but it’s from the New York Yankees team, so fans have already established his popularity worldwide. Plus, it’s from the MLB All-Star Game and MLB Rookie of the Year sets. The most expensive cards out there have become such because they were printed in limited quantities or were part of a limited edition set, making them so much more valuable than others on our list!

13. LeBron James/Shaquille O’Neal 2003-04 Topps Chrome Dual Auto Basketball Cards

The LeBron James/Shaquille O’Neal 2003-04 Topps Chrome Dual auto basketball cards are easily the most expensive sports card in the world. Their price tag is $100,000, making them a hard sell for even the most serious collectors. But if you’re looking for an investment that will only increase in value (or at least not decrease), this might be the card for you.

The cards are serial-numbered to 1 and authenticated by PSA/DNA. They’re both in mint condition and feature a picture of O’Neal as he poses during his rookie season with Miami Heat against former Los Angeles Lakers player Shaquille O’Neal (who played for Orlando Magic at the time).

14. Wayne Gretzky 1979 O-Pee-Chee Hockey Card

The Wayne Gretzky 1979 O-Pee-Chee hockey card is the most valuable hockey card in the world. This mint condition card sold for a record-breaking $1.25 million at auction earlier this year, making it one of the most expensive sports cards ever sold by a wide margin.

Gretzky was only 9 years old when he posed for this photo, but he was already well on his way to becoming an elite NHL player and future Hall of Famer. The 1979 O-Pee-Chee set features several players who would achieve legendary statuses, such as Bobby Orr and Guy Lafleur. Still, none of them are valued nearly as highly as Gretzky’s rookie card which features him skating alone with his head down while holding his stick behind his back at waist height (he looks like someone who just got caught doing something bad).

15. Tiger Woods 1996 SP Authentic Golf Trading Cards

The 1996 SP Authentic golf trading card set is the most expensive sports card in the world.

The card is worth $15,000, but if you were to sell it today, it would be worth even more—a lot more. That’s because Tiger Woods’ value has increased since 1996.

Tiger Woods had an impressive card from this set when he was 22 years old and in his first season as a professional golfer. The card was one of five in the entire collection that featured him throwing a club into a lake during his practice session for the Masters’ Tournament.

Pretty crazy, huh? Who knew that sports cards could be worth so much? It’s safe to say that these rare pieces of cardboard are a serious investment—you might just want to start stashing them away in your attic!

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