Market Guide: Barry Bonds Rookie Cards
Posted on 4/18/2022
Barry Bonds is a former professional baseball player who played for 22 seasons in the MLB. He is hailed as one of the greatest baseball players in history and is baseball's single-season and all-time home run leader.
Bonds was the star of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1986 to 1992, followed by a stint with the San Francisco Giants from 1993 to 2007 when his career ended in a performance-enhancing drug (PED) scandal.
Bonds has a record-breaking seven NL MVP awards, 12 Silver Slugger Awards, 14 All-Star selections, and several MLB hitting records, including:
- Most career home runs (762)
- Most home runs in a season (73)
- Most career walks
He is also the only member of the so-called 500-500 club. To be a member of this "club," you must surpass 500 home runs and base steals.
He is also the only player in the league's history with 40 home runs and 40 steals in the same season.
With these stats in mind, it's no surprise that Barry Bonds rookie cards were so sought-after while he was playing and still are today.
However, Bonds' career was not without scandal. He played a central role in baseball's steroids scandal in the late 1990s-early 2000s.
In 2007, Bonds was indicted on perjury and obstruction charges for lying to a grand jury during a federal investigation of an undetectable steroid. Those perjury charges were eventually dropped. But, Bonds was convicted of obstruction of justice, a conviction that was ultimately overturned. However, the scandal's implications were long-lasting, and Bonds did not receive 75% of the vote necessary to be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
What's the Big Deal With Rookie Cards?
So, why are rookie cards such a big deal? Historically, they were harder to come by than other trading cards and were particularly hard to find in good condition since they had been in circulation for much longer than cards from later in the player's career.
A rookie card is a player's first card on his debut major league team that is nationally distributed at retail outlets.
The main reason rookie cards continue to rule as the kings of the hobby today comes down to supply and demand. Baseball card collecting started after World War II when many card companies were unsure how their cards would be received. So, they limited how many they produced. When baseball card trading exploded in popularity, this led to a scarcity mindset around the cards and an intense hunt to find the most valuable cards, which made rookie cards extremely valuable.
The Investment Potential of Barry Bonds Rookie Cards
Back in the day, a Barry Bonds rookie card seemed like a great investment, if not only for the sheer excitement surrounding the rising star and the trading card market.
But, as most things do, the trading card market peaked in the 80s and 90s, and as more people entered the market, production numbers ballooned, which eventually caused more supply than demand for trading cards and leveled the market off. Due to the exceptional player that Bonds was and the history he made in the league, his rookie cards still hold a lot of value. So, these cards can still pull solid numbers, especially in mint condition.
Let's take a look at some of the highest-value Barry Bonds rookie cards:
1986 Topps Traded Tiffany #11T
In September 2022, this Barry Bonds rookie card retails online for between $2,000 and nearly $8,000 for cards in the best condition.
Considered his most popular rookie card, this card was part of a special set that Topps sold to retailers in the 1980s and 1990s, known as the Topps Tiffany Sets. Because of this exclusivity, the Tiffany sets sold for far more than the regular Topps sets.
The higher price is also attributed to the high-quality card stock that Tiffany cards were printed on. Because of the longer process and cost of this card stock, fewer quantities of these cards were manufactured.
Tiffany cards are distinguished from standard Topps cards by the lack of an asterisk in the lower left corner on their reverse sides.
1986 Topps Traded Barry Bonds Rookie Card #11T
While this standard version of the 1986 Topps trading card is not as highly valued as the one above, it's still a worthwhile addition to any collection.
This is another card that was issued only as part of a factory set. The 1986 Topps Traded Barry Bonds Rookie Card #11T came in a set of 131 other cards and was distributed in a special red and white box.
These factory sets were extremely over-produced, and it's estimated that there are more than 46,000 of these cards in circulation, with more than 4,000 of them being in mint condition.
1987 O-Pee-Chee Barry Bonds Rookie Card #320
The 1987 Topps Barry Bonds #320 rookie card retails for a pretty penny, with a PSA 10 retailing for over $15,000 in September 2022.
This card is the Canadian version of Bonds' regular 1987 Topps card. Bonds is shown hitting a towering shot deep into the sky in his Pirates uniform on the card. The reason for this card's high price is because of how hard it is to find in mint condition. In fact, in mint condition, this card is considered the rarest and most expensive rookie card in circulation.
If you can find one, this card is an excellent investment due to its limited production and high value
1987 Leaf Barry Bonds Rookie Card #219
Services like Sports Cards Pro estimate that 1987 Leaf Barry Bonds Rookie Card #219 retails for as high as $2,664 in the best condition and as low as $5.50 for ungraded cards in September 2022.
The card is also part of a Canadian set and is virtually identical to its American counterpart, except for a Leaf logo that replaces the Donruss logo on the Canadian-issued set. The back displays Bonds' career highlights in French and English.
1987 Topps Tiffany Barry Bonds Rookie Card #320
This Barry Bonds rookie card can retail for as much as $1,615 for cards in mint condition.
The card features the same design as the O-Pee-Chee version, but the Tiffany version was only distributed for a limited time and in a limited quantity, which is why the rarity of these versions makes them worth much more.
Check the card stock to tell the Tiffany version apart from the base version. The Tiffany version is much whiter and brighter on the back.
1987 Fleer Glossy Barry Bonds Rookie Card #604
On the high end, the 1987 Fleer Glossy Barry Bonds rookie card retails for $285 in the best condition.
It is estimated that about 100,000 of these glossy Barry Bonds rookie cards were created, about three times as many as the Tiffany version.
These cards feature blue and white gradient borders that make them stand out.
1987 Fleer Barry Bonds Rookie Card #604
The traditional version of Fleer's glossy card #604 is listed for around $255 for the best condition in September 2022. As the condition drops, so does the price, and an ungraded card can go for as low as $4.01, according to estimates by SportsCard Pro.
This card was mass-produced, and the average price for a mint version of this card is about $100. While that may not seem like a lot now, these cards can be good investments because of their high quality. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on a 1987 Fleer Barry Bonds Rookie Card #604 in mint condition, hold on to it. There are only about 1,200 of these cards in existence, meaning collectors believe it's quite likely its value will keep rising.
1986 Fleer Update Barry Bonds Rookie Card #320
The top condition of this card was listed for as high as$205 in September of 2022. Cards that are not in mint condition are available for far cheaper, with ungraded versions selling for as low as $1.82.
The 1986 Fleer update sets were only available through card dealers, and they were sold as factory sets only, adding to their rarity and value.
1987 Fleer Hottest Stars Rookie Card #5
In mint condition, the Barry Bonds 1987 Fleer Hottest Stars Rookie Card #5 can retail for as much as $410, which is a pretty good deal and a very wise investment considering there are only 107 mint versions of this lesser-known Barry Bonds rookie card in existence.
This card was part of the 1987 Fleer Baseball's Hottest Stars boxed set, which contained 44 cards that were sold exclusively at Revco drug stores. Revco was eventually purchased by CVS in 1997.
The set featured:
- 44 cards
- 6 baseball logo stickers
- A sealed box
1987 Classic Travel (Green Back) Barry Bonds Rookie Card #113
The 1987 Classic Travel set was produced in two versions; a more common version with a yellow back and a less common version with a green back.
The green back version of the card does not grade as well as the yellow back version, meaning a gem-mint ten copy of the 1987 Classic Travel (Green Back) Barry Bonds Rookie Card #113 is more valuable and collectible.
1986 Donruss Barry Bonds Rookie Card #11
A gem mint version of the 1986 Donruss The Rookies Barry Bonds RC #11 can be purchased for $322.49 in September of 2022.
On this card, Bonds is wearing the famous three-striped Pirates cap. The following year, 1987, marked the final season the Pirates donned these beloved caps.
Barry Bonds 1991 Topps Desert Shield #570
A 1991 Topps Desert Shield #570 can retail for $2,400 in mint condition and as low as $50 for an ungraded version.
Although the 1991 Topps Desert Shield #570 is not a rookie card, we figured it was worth an honorable mention because it has a really cool purpose behind it. This card was shipped out to troops overseas who were deployed during Desert Storm. 1991 was also the only year that Topps printed a Desert Storm card set. For these reasons, the 1991 Topps Desert Shield #570 is considered a "must-have" card on the lists of many collectors, especially in mint condition
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