One of the most valuable baseball cards today is the 1910 Old Mill Tobacco card featuring the image of a pensive young outfielder. As a matter of fact, at auction in 2011, a nicer quality example of this exceptionally rare minor league card sold for $199,750. You don't need that much capital to purchase original Shoeless Joe Jackson baseball cards, however.
At 22, Jackson was already one of the hottest young prospects in baseball. 1910 saw him with the New Orleans Pelicans before he debuted with Cleveland Naps. The Old Mill set is rare, having been issued in only a small part of the U.S. Hence, the big prices.
Jackson, banned from baseball after the controversial 1919 Black Sox scandal, still holds the third highest career batting average in the history of Major League Baseball. It’s no wonder his cards have become such collectors items.
Original Shoeless Joe Jackson Baseball Cards
High quality or rare vintage baseball cards are often a sound alternative. Pre-World War II items are highly sought after and original Joe Jackson cards definitely belong on that list. During his early years, as he cemented his reputation, Jackson appeared on a mere handful of issues. His visage on a baseball card is extremely popular among hobbyists and fans who understand his place in the game. Many feel Jackson shouldn't have gotten the lifetime ban and of course the movie "Field of Dreams" did nothing but help his popularity.
Jackson's first big league rookie card was issued by American Caramel (E-90-1 in the American Card Catalog). It’s rare but easier to find than the Old Mill. Prices on the E90-1 Jackson card have been moving upward. Lower grade examples run a little under $10,000 but slightly higher examples have been known to bring nearly $25,000 at auction.
A Joe Jackson card is considered a premium investment. Better grade version of his cards can be difficult to locate and have done well over the years thanks to new collectors seeking true pieces of the game's history for their investment portfolio. However, that doesn't mean collectors without giant bankrolls are left out of the fun.
1913 National Game Jackson or Tom Barker cards are a hobbyist’s best chance of getting a decent collectible at a lower price. The same holds true for the 1914 Polo Grounds issue. Used in a simple tabletop card game issued a century ago, the National Game Jackson cards can be found for under $2,000 in near mint condition if you're patient but might be worthy of buying in at a higher level for a higher grade. We believe it's a card that could be poised for future growth even with a higher number of upper level graded cards available. Expect to pay more for the Barker or Polo Grounds issues.
Jackson also appears on "W", or strip cards that were issued with candy including one card we really like a lot. The W514 strip card was issued in 1919, the year of the Black Sox scandal and while it's a rather crude, hand-drawn image of Shoeless Joe, you can't escape the history behind it. The cards are often hand cut from a larger strip (as was the expectation at the time of issue) and as such, often graded simply 'Authentic' but that doesn't mean they're in 'bad shape'. To the contrary, it can drive the price downward and offer the opportunity to add a really cool Jackson card to your collection for under $1,500. You can often see several examples being offered on eBay.
Jackson also appears in the 1916 M101-4 and M101-5 sets which are also popular with collectors and have shown steady growth over time. These, too, are great photos and fairly hard to come by.
Of course, he's in some of the 'all time greats' series issued throughout the 20th century and beyond but it's the cards produced during his playing days that are better for serious collectors and investors.
Jackson has left behind a legacy that many believe has been unfortunately taken for granted. In that regard, they continue to acknowledge and respect what he’s done for the sport through his memorabilia. The value of Shoeless Joe Jackson baseball cards will likely always remain high. If you’re looking to buy Shoeless Joe as an investment or simply wanting a great piece to show off, you can find his cards through major catalog auctions and on there are always some on eBay. As always, it's best to buy what you like and can afford.