What Were The Early Days of Ebay Like?

I’ve been collecting baseball cards since the late 1980’s, when my first packs of cards were 1988 Donruss as a six-year old. Ten years later I was buying and selling on a new thing called the Internet on an online auction site called eBay. The early days of Ebay were far different than what we experience now.

This was before I even had a personal computer. Anyone remember having a Gateway? Before my first Gateway computer arrived in 1999 I was using webTV.


There is still a closet in my old bedroom at my parents house filled with mostly crap I can’t get rid of. Old magazines, a hundred or so bent up junk era trading cards, and random worthless memorabilia. I think I keep it around because it gives me something to look through once or twice a year when I’m home, bored, and feel nostalgiac.

During a recent trip home I recalled seeing a folder with old eBay transactions. Not long ago I recalled that find and thought it would make for a good blog.


After rifling through a number of boxes I came across the folder I was looking for, aptly titled, “B-Ball Card Stuff.”

Many of my transactions were tossed when I moved to Madison, Wisconsin four years ago. I had printed each transaction and then filed it away by month. But…I kept a few of the early transactions, and glad I did save this paperwork from the early days of Ebay.


First, I discovered my first eBay name (Cubman11). This has been extinct for more than 15 years. On April 17, 2000 I purchased a 1977 Topps Rick Reuschel autographed card for $0.55 plus $1.00 shipping. Note: the seller charged $1.00 for a padded envelope. If my memory is accurate, a bubble mailer was around $0.80. Today… $3.50 at the post office.

I sold a 20-card lot of Mark McGwire cards for $10.50. Today, a 175-card McGwire lot sold for $8.99 shipped ($0.99 plus $8 shipping).

How about the set that brought me back to collecting? It was 1998 Bowman. Also, the first hobby box I opened since 1991 Upper Deck football.


Fortunately, I dumped some rookie cards while they were hot. A five-card lot of Ruben Mateo, Eddie Yarnall, Jeremy Giambi, and Odalis Perez sold for $5.50 plus $1.00 shipping in the early days of Ebay.

Early days of Ebay

Some of the rookies that weren’t as hot sold for less. I dumped a 25-card lot for $5.80.

Early days of Ebay

And finally, how about this deal for some Sammy Sosa cards. Strike while the iron is hot and I sure did as a seller. How about $16.05 for nine (yes…NINE) Sosa cards.


If only I could get that much for Sosa today…I could flip for a pretty sweet Cubs collection!

The early days of Ebay

It’s certainly interesting going back in time. Aside from the card prices and shipping charges the most surprising aspect of early eBay that I forgot was the communication and payment.


As you can see from the above correspondence, a seller would email (outside of eBay) to request payment. That payment was then sent via check or money order (no PayPal back then). My how things have changed.

As you can see, a lot has changed selling baseball cards since the early days of Ebay.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: