Since one of my collecting goals is to have at least one of every type of card made, I have to sort of know how many different kinds of cards there are. Since I was going through that much trouble, I started tracking how many different cards were produced each year. This is, of course, not the total number of cards produced. By different kinds of cards I mean something like this. If the 2008 Topps base set has 15 different insert cards, then that would be 16 different kinds of cards. The total number of different cards would be the total of the number of cards in the Topps base set plus the number of cards in each of the insert sets.
This post was prompted by today's Dinged Corners post, which among other things, suggested a card production 'correction'. You can see there was such a correction in 1999. Can you guess what it was? It was Donruss going bankrupt. They came back in 2001 and the number of cards started climbing again until 2005 when MLB put the breaks on and Fleer went out of business. The MLB forced correction didn't last long. Although Topps and Upper Deck are constrained on the number of sets they can produce, they are apparently not constrained on the number of inserts and parallel sets they can produce. The 2008 numbers are not complete but I don't expect there to be too many more 2008 sets to be released.
One other point, these numbers only include cards made by the main manufacturers, for example, Topps, Donruss, Fleer, Upper Deck, Score, and Pinnacle. They don't include regional issues or things like K-Mart cards or cards included in food products and the like.