Trading Cards Continue To Trounce The S&P 500 As Alternative Investments


If a decade ago you had put your money in vintage and modern trading cards instead of the stock market, your payoff would be more than twice as big.

As of December 31, 2018, the PWCC Top 500 Index yielded a 10-year return on investment (ROI) of 165% compared to 71% for the S&P 500 (adjusted for stock splits and other corporate actions) since December 31, 2007.

The survey was just released by PWCC, the largest seller of investment-grade trading cards ($60 million in annual revenue). Results are generated using an index the company created in early 2018 based primarily on the sale prices of the 500 and 100 most valuable trading cards.


The index excludes the $3.12 million ca. 1910 “Jumbo” Honus Wagner and the mint $2.88 million 1952 Topps Mantle because their extreme scarcity makes them outliers.

Brent Huigens, PWCC’s CEO, views a 1953 Topps Mickey Mantle or a 2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady rookie as hybrid alternative investments, fusing the aesthetics of fine art with the data and analytics of the stock or real estate market.

“Trading cards are easily the most liquid of all tangible asset markets and this factor is continuing to drive attention towards them, especially among new wealth,” Huigens told me.

Meanwhile, cards have held their own during recent market volatility and economic anxiety. As the chart shows, the same held true during the Great Recession. (The noticeable dip two years ago resulted from a market correction following a perceived bubble.)

People have a deeper emotional connection to a Derek Jeter than they do to Amazon shares, Huigens adds.