There are usually hundreds of ways you can invest your money. One such investment option, vintage football cards, can be both profitable and pleasurable: allowing you to own memorabilia relating to your favorite athletes while also presenting the possibility for profit. Football cards tend to follow the pattern of luxury items in the market. When the economy is very strong, prices for football cards are usually quite high. When the economy stalls, however, prices usually fall. Within the market, rookie cards of retired stars, as opposed to those of current players, tend to be a far less risky investment, and prices usually remain stable during far less stable economic times. In addition, one general rule with vintage cards is that as that as time passes, the value of the cards generally increases, which can make them a worthwhile investment.
One such vintage card is the 1957 Topps Johnny Unitas rookie card. An icon in Baltimore, Unitas won three MVP awards, a Super Bowl, and is generally regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time. As an icon and a fan favorite, his 1957 Topps rookie card has held steady value over time.
When determining the value of vintage cards, the grade, condition of the card, is everything. Two of these cards graded at PSA 9 (mint), sold at auction in 2012 for over $15,000 and $27,000, respectively. At the time, PSA had graded only ten cards at that level.
If you own a 1957 Topps Unitas, it makes sense to have it graded regardless of condition. Prices today for the card rarely fall. Those graded PSA 5 generally sell for anywhere between $200 and $250. Cards with a grade of PSA 7 sold in August of 2012 for anywhere between $270 and $500. A PSA 8 grade continues to fetch around $1800. Higher grade examples from the Topps 1957 set are far more valuable because the cards often had issues with scuffing, centering and, of course, the corner and edge wear from having been handled by kids.
Ungraded Johnny Unitas rookie cards are the riskiest investment. These cards, therefore, represent the greatest potential risk or reward.
So you’re now probably wondering whether or not you can make money investing in a Johnny Unitas rookie card. The answer is yes. Both graded and ungraded cards present opportunities to make a profit. Purchasing graded cards is generally the safer investment: the value will appreciate in the long term and make you money if you will comparison shop. Prices can vary based on the seller’s desire to sell. Compare completed item sales on eBay or via major auction houses and then watch for cards in the same grade that are priced significantly lower.
“Johnny U” is long gone and played his last game about 40 years ago. Still, he’s remembered as one of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks of all-time. Any collector seeking a Hall of Fame rookie set in graded condition needs the ’57 Topps cards of Unitas, Bart Starr and Paul Hornung to complete it. Any Baltimore Colts collector wants one. Anyone completing a graded set from that year, knows the Johnny Unitas rookie card is the key. All of those factors combine to ensure the card will remain one of the post-War era’s holy grails of football cards.