1840s - 1867
Baseball became a popular sport after the Civil War. Originally baseball cards were pasted ont he back of a piece of cardboard, called cabinet cards designed to be displayed in a cabinet or display case. Some cabinet cards would feature famous teams and also local individuals that played in local basbeball leagues. Today those cards are few and far between.
1860s - 1890s
In the mid to late 1860s century a company called Peck and Snyder started printing the first commerical baseball cards. These cards typically featured famours teams on the front of the card and a large advertisement on the back. These advertisements were called Trade cards and are considered the first modern baseball cards as many people began collecting them and scrapbooked them. This quickly became one of America's biggest national hobbies.
Tobacco Cards came along when a company called Goodwin & Co in New York issues the Old Judge cards. These were a small picture card inserted into packs of Old Judge brand tobacco. These cards were originally produced as a stiffener for their cigarette pa
cks and as a promotion to boost sales. These were more than 2000 different cards in that issue and there are still new examples being discovered. More tobacco companies saw the boost in sales and started printing their own cards, this was all in the late 1800s. Then in 1933 the Goudey Company started inserting bubble gum in the cards rather than tobacco to cater to children.
1890s - early 20th Century
There were very few cards made during this time with little competition Tobacco companies did not utilize the cards as sales boosters as much as they first did.
1911 to Current
Throughout the 20th Century many baseball card companies started producing cards and quickly established themselves nationally. The Topps Chewing Gum Company had a monopoly on modern cards from about 1950 to 1980 then other comapnies started to offer their own versions of cards.