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Vintage Basketball Cards 

Vintage basketball cards are some of the most interesting and lasting pieces of basketball history. These 50+ year old pieces of cardboard can immortalize some of the great names and faces that shaped the game into what it has become. When comparing vintage cards to their modern counterparts, there are two glaring differences:

  1. Vintage Basketball Cards Are Considerably More Rare Than Modern Cards

  2. Vintage Basketball Cards Were Not Mass-Produced For Nationwide Consumption Like Other Sports

Vintage basketball cards are rare by nature. Even when comparing the overall quantity of rookie cards for basketball legends from this era ( Russell, Chamberlain, Alcindor ) to legends of other sports ( Jim Brown, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle) the numbers are still small. For example, a 1954 Topps Hank Aaron rookie has a population of 4,675, while rookie cards for players like Russell and Chamberlain have respective PSA populations of 744 and 1,299 for his base. These numbers are astronomically low in  comparison to a modern player, such as Luka Doncic. In the Panini Prizm card set alone, Luka has around 40,000 cards graded by PSA as of July 2021. Overall, one of the main attributes these vintage cards hold (especially pre-1972) is scarcity. Below I have included a picture comparing all of their rookie card PSA populations as of August 13, 2021( for Luka, I used his base Prizm only)








The other main difference between vintage and modern cards is the number of sets produced each year.  Early vintage basketball had only one set of basketball per year, and many times, less often. In the 1950's and 1960's, long gaps went between production of these sets of basketball which helped create three marquee sets from this era( 1957 Topps, 1961 Fleer, 1969 Topps). In comparison, there were over 30 sets produced just for the 2019 season and draft(In addition to the Prizm set already mentioned ).

Vintage Card Overview (1948 - 1986): Text
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