How could a card from 1958 have less value than a card from 2009? This question was posed to me yesterday and there are many ways to look at this question.
1. What is the quality of each card? If a 1958 card of Willie Mays or Hank Aaron is not in mint condition and would get a low grade then the value of the card will go way down. For instance a Willie Mays 1958 card books for $300 but if there is any damage to it such as corners not being sharp, a scratch or a crease then the value will go way down. It could devalue to $50-100. If extremely damaged it could go even lower (i.e. bent in half). A 2001 SPX autograph rookie of Albert Pujols could go for between $500-600 with a good grading on ebay. So in this case quality will make the difference.
2. For some the history of baseball is tantamount to anything else. If history is what drives your card collecting then nothing else is important and the vintage card will always have more value. However, that is value that is driven by your values and the history of baseball.
3. Card collecting has become a what have you done for me lately hobby. Everyone seems to want what is new. You won't find kids looking to buy vintage cards if you go to a card show. You will find men in their 50's, 60's and older. You will find people younger looking for autograph cards and rookie cards of today's hottest players such as Pujols, Ichiro, Jeter, David Wright and more.
4. The quality of the products is more expensive. An 8 piece jersey/autograph card from Topps Sterling of Albert Pujols or Willie Mays is an expensive card to make and the product will cost you over $200 for just a few cards per box. This creates a higher value for the card made today than the vintage card of yesteryear.
5. Beckett is the guideline for just about everyone in the card market and the market is driven by what Beckett says the value of a card should be. That doesn't mean that if you find a product you like that you have to use the Beckett guidelines. You should buy what you like and not what Beckett tells you that you should like. Always remember that Beckett is a guide and not the answer.
These 5 points should answer the question of why one card has more value than another but always remember that only you can be the judge of what is valuable to you.