Hobbyists and professional collectors alike can agree that few cards are as unique as a set of Allen & Ginter cards. And, considering that some pieces are more than a century old. They are a certified collectible and well worth their often-high-priced values. Yet, to understand their appeal and price tag, it helps to know some of their background and to learn a few cards in particular.
Depending on their release dates. Allen & Ginter cards can sell for just a few dollars or tens of thousands of dollars. For example, a PSA 8 1887 N28 Allen & Ginter 49 John Ward card can sell for more than $50,000. Likewise, a modern PSA 10 2018 Topps Allen & Ginter Shohei Ohtani mini can sell for more than $18,000.
Of course, some of the most valuable Allen & Ginter cards are not even sports cards. So, in this review, we’ll give a brief history of these iconic cards. Introduce some of the most valuable Allen & Ginter baseball cards. And then go through some of the most interesting and high-priced non-sports Allen & Ginter trading cards on the market today.
The History of Allen & Ginter Cards – Old and Modern
In the late 1800s, the tobacco industry was booming, and card collecting was a popular hobby – even for those who didn’t smoke. The most successful tobacco card sets of the era were those produced by Allen & Ginter, a Virginia-based tobacco company.
The first Allen & Ginter cards were released in 1887, featuring 50 different images, including 10 baseball players. These cards were inserted into packs of Allen & Ginter’s Old Judge Cigarettes and were an instant hit with the public. The company followed up its success with a second set of 50 cards in 1888. Which again featured a mix of baseball players and other notable figures.
However, by the end of the decade, the company had merged with many of its competitors to create a monopoly. You may have heard of them… the American Tobacco Company. Without further competition, the company no longer had to advertise through playing cards and discontinued its brand. However, their legacy had been set into stone and card collecting grew into a worldwide pastime.
Then, more than a century later, Topps decided to revive Allen & Ginter’s iconic old-school stylings by releasing a new interpretation of the antique card sets. Now, they produce annual Allen & Ginter sets, which have become increasingly popular with collectors in recent years.
The company has also released several special edition sets, including DNA relic sets, autograph sets, and non-sports sets. This means that baseball card collectors have a lot of variety to choose from and can invest their money in antique tobacco-era cards and modern options.
The Most Valuable Tobacco-Era Allen & Ginter Baseball Cards
Before we introduce the most valuable tobacco-era Allen & Ginter baseball cards. We wanted to share a little more information about these offerings. The original tobacco era cards were printed on standard paper card stock using a chromolithographic printing technique. This rarely produced high-quality photographs. Instead, they look more like colored pen drawings and many have aged quite poorly.
Additionally, they aren’t as rare as you might think. Considering that they are almost a century-and-a-half years old, there are more than 4,000 vintage Allen & Ginter cards still in circulation today. Nevertheless, these factors have done little to affect their value. So, if you own an Allen & Ginter card from 1887 or 1888, we highly recommend getting it appraised and graded.
1. 1887 N28 Allen & Ginter 49 John Ward
To date, PSA has yet to receive or grade an 1887 N28 Allen & Ginter 49 John Ward card above a PSA 9. Within that grading range, there are only 2 cards in circulation. If we drop a level lower, we’ll find a population of seven PSA 8 cards.
This makes it one of the rarest cards in the world. And, with its age and history combined, it’s understandably also one of the most expensive cards ever sold. As with all 1887 Allen & Ginter cards, this piece features a pastel portrait of the player, the company’s name embossed below, and Richmond, Virginia at the very bottom.
There is currently one available PSA 8 of this card for sale on eBay, listed for $59,995. A PSA 9 would likely sell for double that but the odds of finding one are incredibly low. If you are hoping to complete a full set of the 1887 N28 cards, you can alternatively find a lower-quality PSA 3 for around $3,000-$4,000.
2. 1887 N28 Allen & Ginter Cap Anson
The 1887 N28 Allen & Ginter Adrian “Cap” Anson is one of the most popular cards from the second series. And is also one of the most expensive. PSA has graded more than 190 copies of this card to date. With the highest quality copy receiving a PSA 9. However, there are only two PSA 9s and nine PSA 8s in circulation.
It’s hard to say exactly how much a PSA 9 card would sell for. But there are currently several listings for PSA 3 and PSA 6 cards on eBay between $3,000 and $5,000. If we account for these valuations, we can estimate that a high-quality 1887 N28 Allen & Ginter Cap Anson card would likely sell for around as much as an 1887 N28 Allen & Ginter 49 John Ward
Of course, finding a listing for a PSA 8 or 9 card will be incredibly difficult. So, if you’re looking to complete a set, we recommend lowering your standards to include PSA 5s or below. After all, these cards are quite old and have aged due to the materials used to construct them.
3. 1888 N29 Allen & Ginter Buck Ewing
The last card we’ll introduce from the original tobacco era is the 1888 N29 Allen & Ginter Buck Ewing card. The N29 set was released in the same year as the 1888 N28 set but was designed to be a more premium option on larger card stock. Understandably, there are fewer of these cards than the more widely circulated 1887 and 1888 N28 sets.
The 1888 N29 Allen & Ginter Buck Ewing is now one of the rarest cards, with fewer than 80 pieces still in circulation. Of these, the majority fall below a PSA 4 but there are ten PSA 7s, eight PSA 8s, and two PSA 9 cards still floating around. However, it’s so rare to find a listing that Christie’s auction house has even taken up the collection.
While it’s hard to put a price on such a limited baseball card, PSA currently values PSA 9 cards at around $14,000. If one were to go to auction, though, the competition would likely raise the price well above PSA’s appraisal.
The Most Valuable Modern Allen & Ginter Baseball Cards
The following cards were all manufactured and released after Topps revived the Allen and Ginter trademark in 2006. Nevertheless, some of these cards are still worth thousands of dollars and are considered rare collectors’ pieces. The values shown for these cards are all based on PSA 10 ratings so, if you own a copy, yours may not be as valuable as the prices represented here.
1. 2018 Topps Allen and Ginter Shohei Ohtani Black Frame Mini – Glow
For such a modern card, the 2018 Topps Allen & Ginter Shohei Ohtani Black Frame Mini is one of the rarest cards in existence in mint condition with only one PSA 10 piece on record. There are only 2 of these cards listed on PSA with the second being graded as PSA 8.
It features a simple portrait of Ohtani produced using fugitive ink technology that replicates the iconic chromolithographic image of the original Allen and Ginter cards. The cards have a felt like back which add further to their quality.
The card is framed with a thin black line that glows in the dark. Compared to regular Topps cards, the minis are roughly half the size and more rectangular in shape. The first and only PSA 10 listing is currently available on eBay for $18,500. While this may seem like a lot for a relatively new card. Its rarity and unique design may well make it worth the price.
2. 2020 Topps Allen & Ginter Chrome Red Refractor Luis Robert
The 2020 Topps Allen and Ginter Chrome Red Refractor Luis Robert is another modern card that has already become quite valuable. This card is a red parallel of the regular Luis Robert Topps Chrome card, which is itself a valuable piece.
The red refractor is signed and limited to just 1 copy, graded at PSA 10 GEM-MT. The only identified copy in existence is currently for sale on eBay for $25,000.
It is difficult to know if that price is justified but, considering that Luis Robert is one of the most promising young players in the MLB. It’s likely that the value of this card could continue to rise in the coming years.
3. 2016 Topps Allen and Ginter Mike Trout Wood Mini
Last but not least, we have the 2016 Topps Allen and Ginter Mike Trout Wood Mini #194. This incredibly unique card features a portrait of Mike Trout set into a solid square of wood with the iconic Allen ; Ginter logo printed below. The portrait is a little blurry compared to a card printed on paper but the sheer uniqueness of this piece makes it a prized collectible.
PSA has only graded a single copy of this card, which you can purchase from eBay for $9,995. It is a one-of-a-kind offering made as a commemorative piece but, for its rarity, it’s incredibly valuable.
Non-Sports Card Worth Just as Much as Sports Cards
To round out this review, we wanted to briefly introduce a handful of non-sports trading cards worth their weight in gold. Keeping with tradition, Topps also produces Allen & Ginter cards featuring celebrities and famous figures from history. And these cards often fetch tens of thousands of dollars at auction. Some of the most valuable include:
- 2012 Topps Allen and Ginter’s Framed Mini Relics Kate Upton, valued up to $25,000
- 2018 Allen and Ginter Camarasaurus Dinosaur Tooth DNA Relic Card 2/4, valued up to $5,000
- AXL Rose 2013 Topps Allen and Ginter Mini Red Ink Auto 4/10, valued up to $10,000
Additionally, Topps has made a series of relics cards containing hairs from several famous historical figures but these have fallen out of circulation and are difficult to locate today.
Final Thoughts on Valuable Allen and Ginter Cards
Allen & Ginter cards are some of the most iconic and well-loved trading cards in the world. They are highly collectible, often rare, and can be worth a lot of money – even if they aren’t sports cards.
If you’re interested in collecting Allen & Ginter cards, we recommend starting with the modern sets. These are easier to find, more affordable, and still offer a lot of value. However, if you’re feeling lucky, you can always take a chance on finding an antique tobacco card at a garage sale or online auction.