Mint Condition: How Baseball Cards Became an American Obsession

Front Cover
Grove/Atlantic, Inc., Apr 1, 2010 - Sports & Recreation - 320 pages
3 Reviews
When award-winning journalist Dave Jamieson’s parents sold his childhood home a few years ago, he rediscovered a prized boyhood possession: his baseball card collection. Now was the time to cash in on the “investments” of his youth. But all the card shops had closed, and cards were selling for next to nothing online. What had happened? In Mint Condition, his fascinating, eye-opening, endlessly entertaining book, Jamieson finds the answer by tracing the complete story of this beloved piece of American childhood. Picture cards had long been used for advertising, but after the Civil War, tobacco companies started slipping them into cigarette packs as collector’s items. Before long, the cards were wagging the cigarettes. In the 1930s, cards helped gum and candy makers survive the Great Depression. In the 1960s, royalties from cards helped transform the baseball players association into one of the country’s most powerful unions, dramatically altering the game. In the ’80s and ’90s, cards went through a spectacular bubble, becoming a billion-dollar-a-year industry before all but disappearing, surviving today as the rarified preserve of adult collectors. Mint Condition is charming, original history brimming with colorful characters, sure to delight baseball fans and collectors.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - capewood - LibraryThing

I never collected baseball cards as a kid (I spent my allowance money in the 1960s on comic books). i did start collecting as an adult, getting into the hobby just before the 'baseball card as an ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - lukespapa - LibraryThing

Anyone who has ever collected baseball cards or has a general interest in the history of our national pastime will find Mint Condition fascinating. The author begins with a short history lesson in how ... Read full review

Selected pages


Please Mister Give Me the Picture
Anyone Can Get the Cards
People Chew Harder When They Are Sad
The Great Changemaker
Down in the Subsubbasements
Nostalgia Futures
Cardboard Gold
Gem Mint Ten
The Ringmaster
A Visit to the Doctor
Its Just a Piece of Cardboard

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About the author (2010)

Dave Jamieson has written for Slate, The New Republic, and Washington City Paper, among others, and has won the prestigious Sidney Award and the Livingston Award for Young Journalists. He lives in Washington, D.C., with a closetful of worthless baseball cards, all of them in excellent condition.

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