Rookie Card Year: 1986
Investment Rating: 7.5
Barry Bonds is one of the most polarizing figures in the history of baseball. Despite being the game's all-time home run leader, a dark cloud hangs over his head thanks to the widespread belief that his numbers were enhanced by performance-enhancing drugs. Add to that Bonds' general disdain for the media and you've got someone that's easy to vilify. But that doesn't mean that Barry Bonds cards and memorabilia aren't collectible. In particular, his autographs move at very strong prices.
Bonds spent the first part of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates and, without controversy, establishing himself as one of the game's dominant players. After signing with the San Francisco Giants following the 1992 season, Bonds continued his strong play. Amazingly, it was during the twilight of his career that the outfielder posted some of his most impressive numbers. In 2001, he broke Mark McGwire's record for most home runs in a season. In 2007, Bonds passed Hank Aaron on the all-time home run list.
The first Barry Bonds cards can be found in 1986 products. Donruss, Fleer and Topps all included him in their late-season box sets. Sportflics also has a lenticular Bonds card in their Rookies set. Because these cards come from box sets, some label these cards to be "XRC" and call his 1987 cards his rookie cards. Ultimately, it's a matter of preference but, generally, his 1986 cards garner more attention. That said, we are talking about the mid-1980s. All are readily available and at reasonable prices.
Late in his career, Bonds opted out of the MLBPA's licensing contract, opting to negotiate his own deals. This meant that he was in only a handful of 2004 sets. He later came to an exclusive deal with Topps that started late in 2004. Barry Bonds cards remained exclusive to Topps for the rest of his career. He was featured heavily in product advertising and packaging.
Outside of baseball cards, Barry Bonds became something of a reluctant signer. As a result, his signed jerseys and bats command high prices, even amidst the controversy surrounding him.
Barry Bonds Rookie Card Guide
Population reports current as of 11/15. Because there is a lot of interest in 1987 Barry Bonds cards, we have included them as well.
The green borders are a major step down from the blue used in the 1986 Donruss base set. As far as rookies from the "big three," this card is probably the least desirable.
1986 Donruss The Rookies Barry Bonds BGS Population Report:
# Submitted: 5,580
Pristine 10: 5
Gem Mint 9.5: 87
Mint 9: 1,535
1986 Donruss The Rookies Barry Bonds RC PSA Population Report:
# Submitted: 10,805
Gem Mint 10: 1,038
Mint 9: 4,850
The 1986 Fleer Update Barry Bonds rookie card uses the same design as the base set. It's popular with collectors, although the dark borders and centering issues make it a little tougher to find in top grades. All that's relative due to the massive print run.
1986 Fleer Update Barry Bonds BGS Population Report:
# Submitted: 7,989
Pristine 10: 4
Gem Mint 9.5: 625
Mint 9: 1,747
1986 Fleer Update Barry Bonds RC PSA Population Report:
# Submitted: 18,179
Gem Mint 10: 936
Mint 9: 8,138
Historically, Sportflics are viewed as something of an oddball card. Their lenticular designs aren't for everyone. The technology is crude but the cards are certainly distinct. The 1986 Sportflics Barry Bonds is largely overlooked by collectors.
1986 Sportflics Barry Bonds BGS Population Report:
# Submitted: 2,680
Pristine 10: 30
Gem Mint 9.5: 918
Mint 9: 1,198
1986 Sportflics Barry Bonds RC PSA Population Report:
# Submitted: 3,902
Gem Mint 10: 1,659
Mint 9: 2,105
The most iconic Barry Bonds rookie card, his 1986 Topps Traded features a warm portrait. The set has long been a collector favorite thanks to its deep checklist. Prices have come down significantly in recent years, though. It is not hard to find for a few dollars.
From an investment perspective, the 1986 Topps Traded Tiffany Barry Bonds is easily the best option. Limited to 5,000 copies, it's printed on glossy white card stock.
1986 Topps Traded Barry Bonds BGS Population Report:
# Submitted: 17,314
Pristine 10: 12
Gem Mint 9.5: 1,867
Mint 9: 4,067
1986 Topps Traded Barry Bonds RC PSA Population Report:
# Submitted: 43,404
Gem Mint 10: 3,344
Mint 9: 18,224
Featuring a classic late '80's Donruss design, the black borders and thin card stock make these cards very condition sensitive and prone to edge and corner wear. A young Bonds poses in a close-up wearing a Pirates old-school type cap.
1987 Donruss Barry Bonds BGS Population Report:
# Submitted: 9,762
Pristine 10: 25
Gem Mint 9.5: 785
Mint 9: 1,657
1987 Donruss Barry Bonds RC PSA Population Report:
# Submitted: 22,688
Gem Mint 10: 1,034
Mint 9: 9,570
The vibrant blue borders which adorn the top portion of the card have always presented a condition issue when it comes to grading. However, that has not detracted collectors who have long appreciated the upbeat design in comparison to the Topps release of the same year.
1987 Fleer Barry Bonds BGS Population Report:
# Submitted: 11,862
Pristine 10: 5
Gem Mint 9.5: 509
Mint 9: 1,835
1987 Fleer Barry Bonds RC PSA Population Report:
# Submitted: 24,604
Gem Mint 10: 972
Mint 9: 9,862
From an aesthetic standpoint, this is one of the more depressing Barry Bonds cards. The lack of sunshine and dull wood borders, while iconic to some collectors, is equally dismal to others. It should also be noted that an identical card, including numbering, was also printed for the O-Pee-Chee brand.
1987 Topps Barry Bonds BGS Population Report:
# Submitted: 9,146
Pristine 10: 8
Gem Mint 9.5: 597
Mint 9: 1,500
1987 Topps Barry Bonds RC PSA Population Report:
# Submitted: 11,511
Gem Mint 10: 947
Mint 9: 3,619
Barry Bonds Autographed Memorabilia Buying Guide
Below you will find examples of what an authentic Barry Bonds autograph looks like. This can be used as a first point of reference for determining the legitimacy of autograph memorabilia, but is not a substitute for having your items authenticated by a well-respected professional autograph authentication company. Some of the trusted sources within the sports memorabilia market include the following companies: PSA, JSA, Steiner, Tristar and Mounted Memories.
Barry Bonds Cut Signature Exemplar #1
Barry Bonds Cut Signature Exemplar #2
Barry Bonds Key Signature Attributes: An authentic Barry Bonds signature autograph will exhibit several distinguishing characteristics regardless of the item or time period in which the item was signed. Barry Bonds' autograph will exhibit at least some of the following signature features:
- Over-sized letter "B" 's dominate the signature, the first with a small loop at the bottom, the second is typically, but not always, less pronounced
- Signature is written on an even horizontal plane
- The remaining number of, legibility or distinguishability of other letters can vary greatly.
- The last letter in the signature often is a distinct "s" that appears to be capitalized. Other times it resembles a letter combination of "d-s"
Signed Baseball Pricing:
Signed Bat Pricing:
Signed 8x10 Pricing:
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