Trading cards are small cards, with dimensions of 2.5 by 3.5 inches (6.35-8.89), or roughly similar in size to traditional playing cards. These cards may feature names and pictures of sports stars or they can be non-sports oriented and have pictures of things like movie or cartoon characters. Collecting, saving, and sometimes playing with trading cards has been a popular pastime for many years.
The first actual trading cards were produced in the early 20th century. In the late 19th century though, some people had small cloths that featured the names of baseball players. Conversion to making the cards out of paper gradually took over, and the cards were usually giveaways that could be had by purchasing different kinds of products like gum, cereal or tobacco.
Trading cards from the early 20th century usually were oriented toward listing the names and statistics about baseball players, and baseball cards still remain very popular. Those who seriously collect trading cards may pay a lot for some of the earliest cards produced, especially because many of them contain mistakes. Mistakes are not thought a problem in trading cards but rather a virtue because it makes cards rare or unique.
Gradually, cards became the focus of sales instead of being giveaway products. Some were still sold with thin sheets of bubblegum. The expansion of the number of baseball teams expanded available cards and they might list valuable statistical information too. Other sports also produced trading cards and there are football, basketball and hockey cards, to name just a few.
As the name implies people may trade cards with others in order to obtain cards they don’t have. Sometimes trades also exchange money, and cards that are classed in mint condition, especially if they are rare, can be worth a great deal of money. There are numerous trading communities that exist online, which gives people greater access to the cards of others that they may lack.
One interesting variation on the trading card has been cards produced with the popular children’s show Yu-Gi-Oh!. Kids may collect trading cards and trade them, but they also use the cards to play a game featured in the show. Winners may be able to keep one or more cards of losers after a game, though not all games are played for “keepsies.”
Collecting cards can certainly be fun, and the tradition has been featured in a tongue and cheek manner in the work of J.K. Rowling. In the Harry Potter series, children get famous wizard cards by purchasing Chocolate Frogs. These can then be traded to obtain other wizards.