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Selling baseball cards is like selling anything else: how successful you are has a lot to do with how you present the merchandise that you have. When selling baseball cards, this means that you have to be organized.

Organizing your collection is the most important thing you can do before selling it. But who you are trying to sell to can dramatically impact how you should organize.

Selling to Professionals

When selling to professionals, you should organize your cards so that they know exactly what they are getting. If you have an '86 Tops complete set, you will get paid the value of an '86 Tops Set. But not if you don't demonstrate that you have the set. Card dealers need to be able to verify that you have what you say you have. The best way to enable them to do this, and to show them that you know what you are doing and they shouldn't try to cheat you, is to organize your cards by set and by number. Each card has a number on the back of it, going numerically from #1 to however many cards are in the set. The set also includes checklists that list the cards numerically. If you have an entire set of cards in order from 1 to the last number, a professional card dealer knows he is getting what he is paying for, and he knows exactly which cards are in the set you are selling him.

When you are selling to professionals, unless you have a very rare and special card, you will almost always come out ahead selling cards in sets than trying to split up sets and sell individually.

The exception to this rule is if you have unopened packs of cards, which can sometimes sell for more individually. But remember; you are almost always better off leaving packages unopened if you still have some that are that way.

Selling To Other Collectors

If you are selling to other collectors, your best bet is probably to get a table at a card show (although occasionally you can do well at a garage sale if it is advertised well). In these situations, you can still benefit by keeping and selling sets together. But these situations are best for collectors that are selling something less than an entire set.

Other collectors are interested in more than the business side of baseball cards. They don't want to see cards organized by number in boxes. They want to see cards in binders with clear pages, organized by team or by sections dedicated to popular players. But it is still a good idea for you to keep track of all the cards that you are selling, and how much they are worth. Keep a list with this information for your own reference, and share it with potential buyers at your own discretion if doing so will make or break a deal.

Finally, make sure that you have some idea of how much the cards you are selling are worth. Most card shops will give an estimate for free, and some charge a small fee. But the time and effort you will spend re-familiarizing yourself with your collection will ensure that you don't unwittingly sell a rare card for way below market value.