#1 1993 Topps Finest Refractors
#2 1999 Upper Deck Game Used
#3 Value Study: 1968 Topps #177 Nolan Ryan/Jerry Koosman Rookie Card
I have a collection of baseball publications going back to the great depression era, to include Beckett Baseball Monthly Price Guides from 1987 to present. I love looking back at value changes and information from the hobby past. For the most part, very few people get book value for cards, but for these studies I use Beckett Price Guides
I wanted to go vintage on my next card to study the price trends, so I picked an iconic rookie card from one of the best pitchers of all time, Nolan Ryan.
October 1988 - $160
July 1995 - $1,500
September 1996 -$950
March 2006 - $500
December 2012 - $500
As you can see from the chart, the 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan jumped $1,350 from 1988 to it's peak value in 1995. Since 1995 it has drastically fallen to it's consent value of the past 7 years of $500. If you were to have purchased this card in 1988 for $150, it would have only gained an added value of $350 today. (unless you had a graded 9 or 10) Some of the reasons why there is such a drastic spike could have been it was shortly after Ryan retired, causing a price boom because of it. If you paid around $1,500 for the Ryan in 1995, you would be looking at a loss of near $1,000 BV over a 17 year on a key vintage rookie card. Several times you hear collectors say that the vintage cards keep their value the best, but here is an example of a card with a $1,000 BV plunge in a ten year span. Would I ever expect a NRMT 1968 Nolan Ryan to be booked for less than $500? No, but you can buy today on eBay easily mid grade slabbed cards for around $300-400.
The 1990s seen the boom of prices of vintage cards, but in age of internet buying and auction sites have made it much easier for collectors to get key vintage cards for a fraction of the price. I also believe that having card companies making reproductions of key vintage cards yearly desensitizes the hobby to the true beauty and value of the vintage cards. Some collectors could be fine buying a 2011 Topps 1968 Topps Cards Your Mom Threw Out Original Back for $1 rather than spending $500. The first modern Topps 1968 Rookie Re-print that I could find was in the 1999 Finest set.
Today you can buy this nice looking Rookie Reprint Refractor on Ebay from $5-10.
I understand if a collector is a true Nolan Ryan fan, of course the holy grail is a true 1968 Topps Ryan Rookie Card. What collector wouldn't love to have a Ryan Rookie, but I have a couple dozen rookie reprints that I am perfectly happy with.