ACEO stands for Art Card Originals and Editions. It is a term that was coined by an eBay seller in 2004 to describe little works of art which are exactly the size of a standard baseball card, 2.5 x 3.5 inches.
The only true ACEO cards which have any value are the “one of a kind” variety, created using paint, colored pencils, or anything except a giclee (inkjet) print. A “giclee ACEO” is worthless, because it can be reproduced by anyone, and can never be a unique work of art. If such a print is artist-signed, it is worth whatever the value of the artist’s autograph is, and no more.
True ACEO cards can be worth significantly more, depending on the artist. It is worth pointing out that most ACEO cards are worth very little, for the same reasons that most full-size paintings have little value. Unless the artist is famous, their work is not going to be worth much.
You can never collect a “complete set” of ACEO cards, since each one is supposed to be unique.
Caveat Emptor: Many artists create a larger number of ACEO “sketch” cards, with only slight variations, then list each one as a “one of a kind” or “1 of 1″ creation. Technically, they are correct, but the fact that numerous versions of the same image are sold dilutes any value pretty quickly. Think about it: What would the Mona Lisa be worth if Leonardo Da Vinci had painted 200 of them, each slightly different? The value would be significantly lower! The Hank Aaron card above might be available with an “A” (Atlanta) on the cap, with shorter sleeves, various bat lengths, various colors of piping on the uniform, different colored background, etc. – there might be hundreds of “1/1″ Hammerin’ Henrys sold as one-of-a-kind original works of art. It is in fact a standard practice among many who sell these kind of cards. For that matter, painters sometimes do the same with paintings, but the practice seriously erodes the value.
When all is said and done, ACEOs are probably not for the average card collector – they are for art collectors. However, if you can own a piece of original art of a player you collect for 5-10 bucks, where is the harm?
PRICING: If you own one or more of these cards, and wish to sell it, how much should it go for? As with all art, it should be priced based on aesthetics and whatever similar items are selling for.