Christy Mathewson’s Relic Cards Have Increased 283% In Price Over The Last Four Years


Here is something you don’t see very often, especially within the hobby today.  The increase in price of a modern day card that isn’t related to some 18 year old prospect that was just bumped up to the majors.

Christy Mathewson relic cards have been on the rise over the past few years.  His first memorabilia card was issued in 2001 Upper Deck Legends of NY, and was limited to only 63 copies.  After that, Mathewson had relics appear in other products such as 2003 Upper Deck SP Legendary Cuts2005 Upper Deck SP Legendary Cuts2005 Upper Deck Trilogy, and last came in 2007 Upper Deck Sweet Spot Classic.  Since he has not had a new relic card issued in almost 5 years, the demand for his relics has drastically increased.

In 2008, I purchased a Christy Mathewson 2005 Upper Deck Trilogy game-used pants relic #’ed/75 for $58.00.  Last weekend I sold it for $222.50.  That is an 283 percent price increase in only 4 years.  During the time when he had a somewhat steady line of relic cards being issued, it wasn’t that difficult to find one up for sale.  Now you’ll be lucky to find one up for sale at all, and if you do be prepared to spend a hefty price.  Just take a look at some of these recently closed auctions:

Christy Mathewson is a perfect example of what can happen when manufacturers stop making relic cards of a popular HOFer.  Among the first five inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Mathewson has the second fewest relic cards.  Walter Johnson would be first considering he doesn’t have any.  Mathewson relics have really dried up.  It looks as if all the collectors that purchased his relics are keeping them in their personal collection.  I don’t know if I’d like to see some new Mathewson relics hit the market.  Someone would have to get their hands on some more Mathewson relics first, and those aren’t the easiest to find.  If new ones were to be issued, I have a feeling they would drive the price down on the older ones.

Mathewson’s 373 career wins still sits atop the number one spot in the National League, along with Grove Cleveland Alexander.  He attended Bucknell University which is only a few minutes away from where I live.  His body is also buried in the Lewisburg Cemetery and is right next to the college.

The Math of Wax

Some of the coolest items that you can see at card shows are sealed packs of vintage cards.  At the time many of those packs were distributed to the public, they only cost around 5¢.  If you travel over to a dealer that sells vintage packs from the 60’s you will see that they don’t cost 5¢, but more like $500.00.  Lets take this pack of 1966 Topps football cards for example. 

Back in 1966 this pack only cost 5¢.  Now lets travel forward 42 years to today.  Recently this pack sold for $500.00 on eBay.  That is an outstanding  9,999% increase in price.  After seeing this, it got me thinking about today’s products and what their potential value might be in decades to come.  For example, today a pack/box of 2007 Upper Deck Exquisite football cards sell for around $400.00. 

If you apply the same principle to the Exquisite box/pack, in theory it should be worth about $4 million within 42 years.  Now, we all know that $4 million in 42 years isn’t as much as $4 million today, but that is still a huge increase in price.   

Do I think the same thing will happen to the Exquisite box/pack as the pack of 1966 Topps, probably not.  In today’s hobby, there are a lot more packs of Exquisite than packs of 1966 Topps.  Back in the 60’s, people rarely ever bought packs to keep the sealed.  Plus you have to take into account what you can get in each pack.  With the 1966 Topps pack you could pull some vintage cards in great condition of Hall of Fame players.  Who knows what will happen to the players in the Exquisite box/pack.  They could be cut from all their teams and never play in the NFL again.  I thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if I applied the same increase in percentage to the Exquisite pack/box as the 1966 Topps pack.