In the early to mid 1980s, you could buy a pack of baseball cards for 30 cents and pull out a $3-5 rookie card of a Wade Boggs or Don Mattingly. It was around this time from 1983 to 1985, the actual value of baseball cards was worth more to the collector than the actual cost of buying them.
At that time you could spend 30-35 cents on a pack of cards and after you open the pack, the cards you had were actually were worth more than what you just spent. It was an unbelievable time. There were a couple of factors for this, In 1983-85, the economy was growing again, the demand for card was equal or exceeds the supply, and the beginning proliferation of price guides.
After card manufacturers realized that the cards they were selling were increasing in value after they sold them they began to find ways to try to cash in on that value. The first thing that they did was overproduce the cards. This over production actually over time made cards from 1986 to 1992 or so virtually worthless. It also began to drive down the prices for cards from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. As people spent more on todays cards they had less money to spend on older cards.
The second thing that the card manufacturers did was create the premuim card. In 1989 Upper Deck changed (ruined?) the hobby forever, by producing a card that cost more. This began the unfortunate trend of the actual value of the card becoming much less than the cost. The collector paid a $1.00 for a pack of cards that usually yielded a value of cards much less. This was alot different than the early to mid 80s.
This trend has continued for the last 20 years where you now have card companies selling $100 dollar packs that yield a $3 jersey card. The actual value of the card is mostly absorbed by the card company with the collector getting something relatively worthless to what was paid for.
However, to a certain degee Harper and Strasberg changed that with Bowman. It probably is not like it was in the early 1980s but it is as close as anything since then. 2010 Bowman was flying off the shelf and Collectors who pulled a Strasberg chrome or regular card say from a $19.99 blaster were holding cards that were actually worth more than what they just paid for. (Obviously not every Blaster contained a Strasberg) This shot up the demand for all Bowman cards in general and with the help of ebay and the media it put a light on the hobby that the hobby has not seen in years(since the early to mid 1980s). It appears this is happening again with 2011 Bowman Bryce Harper cards. The demand for his card has shot up, making Bowman hot again, also giving collectors more value for what they paid for the cards. In turn, ebay listing have shot up for his cards which could eventually attract media attention, which then could create more demand for the cards.
Topps has done its best to try to ruin Bowman by creating more sets to put Harper rookie cards in (Topps Marquee - Why on earth does this set exist other than Topps attempt to dilute and flood the market with Harper cards i.e over production or high cost premium).