Culture Movies/TV

Why Graded VHS Tapes Might Be The Next Big Thing

The alternative investment realm has exploded, turning collectibles such as trading cards, comics and video games into viable investments with demand far greater than the current supply. 

There is a new category of collectible that has captured my attention: graded VHS tapes. Below, I will break down all the details about this emerging market and why I think it’s set to explode.

1. What is VHS?
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VHS stands for Video Home System. Invented in 1977, VHS tapes are plastic cassettes that allowed for movies to be watched from the comfort of your own home. The main goal was to create a system that would be compatible with any ordinary television set, while having the picture quality similar to a normal broadcast.

The home movie industry has changed over the years, but ask anybody over the age of thirty and they will tell you all about their weekly trips to Blockbuster Video and the “New Release” aisle.

2. Why VHS?

VHS movies were a big part of people’s lives. There is a nostalgic aspect that comes along with VHS tapes – similar to trading cards or video games. There were many well known movies that were first released via VHS such as The Lion King, Star Wars, Toy Story and Pokémon. These brands have longevity. Generations of people have enjoyed these movies – creating demand and collectibility.

3. Should I Grade my VHS Tapes?

The benefits that come along with grading are: 

  1. Authentication
  2. Preservation
  3. Valuation of the item

Grading VHS helps you understand the condition of the item, which is the most important factor in determining the value of a collectible. With that said, grading VHS tapes that are in good condition makes sense. The movies with iconic brands (Disney, etc.) are absolutely in play. The horror genre also has a huge market. In the end, grading any VHS tape that you enjoy could be worth it, but you should do extensive research to better understand why. 

4. Who Grades VHS Tapes?

Investment Grading Service (IGS) is at the forefront of grading VHS. IGS is to VHS what PSA is to trading cards. Currently, IGS will only grade factory sealed items. The current cost to grade a VHS tape is $65. 

Recently, IGS partnered with Goldin Auctions. This is big for the VHS market as they will have one of the most notable auction houses behind them giving the category added exposure. Goldin is known for record breaking sales, so I expect IGS to be the grading company that sets those record breaking sales. 

5. What are the Grading Standards?
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

IGS grades on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being the worst and 10 the best. IGS grades the condition of the box & the seal. When grading the box, IGS evaluates the corners, edges, and surface. A corner keeping its shape is one of the most important factors in determining the grade. When grading the seal, surface, tightness and edges are important factors. Below are the deductions IGS uses when grading.

Minimal Deductions:

  • Slight whitening of the corner but keeps a good shape.
  • Corner point is minimally rounded past its normal shape compared to its other corners. ​

Moderate Deductions:

  • Corner has been slightly smashed but none or little crease in the box. 
  • Extensive whitening
  • Moderate scratch in corner area. ​

Extensive Deductions:

  • Puncher hole in the corner area 
  • Extensive smashed corner 
  • Extensive smashed corner that caused a crease
6. What Should I Do Next?

In conclusion, there is inherent risk when investing in something new. My suggestion would be to do a minimum of 50 hours of research before spending money on VHS tapes.

With that being said, a new market brings untapped opportunities. Buying notable sealed VHS and sending them to IGS for grading could be very profitable. I hope this guide was helpful!

Culture Trading Cards

The Top 10 Fastest Growing Sports Cards This Week

This week’s top 10 fastest growing sports cards are a mix of baseball and basketball cards. For a card to be on this list, it must be graded and hold a minimum value of $250.

1. Ronald Acuna Jr. 2017 Bowman Prospects Chrome Mega #BCP127 PSA 10 | +97.33% Growth

Ronald Acuna is out of the season with an ACL tear and this pop 1,137 card hit a low price of $375 on July 13th. 

Just 3 days later, the card bounced back to $739.99: 


In April of this year, the card sold for a peak price of $919.99. 

2. Reggie Jackson 1969 Topps PSA 6 | 82.17% Growth

Reggie Jackson played 21 MLB seasons, is a Hall of Famer, and was nicknamed “Mr. October” his postseason batting performance. George Steinbrenner has also said that letting Jackson go was one of his biggest mistakes. 

The pop 1,673 card sold as high as $895 in March before hitting $400 in late June. 

On 7/16, the card sold for $411.71 before jumping to $750 on 7/17: 


3. Michael Jordan 1992 Upper Deck #AW9 | 77.83% Growth

This pop 90 Michael Jordan card has only sold 5 times since September of 2020 and has shown a fairly linear growth pattern. 

On July 13th, the card sold for $368.33 before selling for $655 on July 18th: 


4. Dominique Wilkins 1986 Fleer #121 PSA 8 | +76.83% Growth

Nicknamed “human highlight reel”, Dominique Wilkins was known for his dunking ability. He was a 9-time NBA all star, won 2 NBA dunk contests, and is ranked 14th on the all-time NBA points leaders. 

This pop 1,786 card is nearing its previous high this past February when the card sold for $470. It hit a low in May when it sold for $175, but sold for $427.49 on 7/15: 


5. Don Mattingly 1984 Donruss #248 PSA 9 | 69.57% Growth

Mattingly is a former MLB player and is now the manager for the Miami Marlins. He played 14 seasons in the MLB and is often referred to as the best New York Yankee player never to win a world series

In February this pop 2,673 peaked at $460 and sold for $177.50 on 7/14 before bouncing back to $300.99 on 7/16:


6. Alex Rodriguez 1994 Upper Deck Star Rookies Base #24 PSA 10 | +65.75% Growth

After hitting two highs of $560 and $561, respectively, this pop 373 card dropped to $127.50 on 6/13. 

On 7/13, the card sold for $154, before selling at $255.25 just a few days later:


7. Devin Booker 2015 Select Courtside Silver #203 PSA 10 | +64.10% Growth

This pop 39 Select Courtside Silver rookie card came up just $100 shy of it’s previous record sale in April of this year after selling for $4,800 on 7/17: 


Its previous sale on 7/16 was $2,925. 

For reference, Devin Booker’s Prizm Silver PSA 10 rookie has a population of 170. While Select sometimes isn’t recognized as the flagship rookie card set, this card offers a much lower count of supply. Booker’s Prizm Silver PSA 10 is currently valued at $6,400.

8. Larry Bird, Magic Johnson & Julius Erving 1980 Topps Scoring Leader PSA 7 | +62.73% Growth

The PSA 10 version of this card sold for $513,570 on 7/10, so it’s not surprising to see some upward movement from lower graded versions of the card. 

This specific card is a population 3,040 and sold for $2,247 and 7/12 before hitting $3,742.89 on 7/16: 


The card sold for $6,327 in early February of 2021. 

9. Mike Trout 2010 Bowman Platinum #PP5 PSA 10 | +60.75% Growth

Two weeks ago, the PSA 9 version of this card was #10 on our fastest growing cards list after it achieved 78.18% growth week-over-week. 

This time, the pop 487 PSA 10 sold for $860 on 7/17:


10. Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, & Julius Irving 1980 Topps Scoring Leader PSA 9 | 59.60% Growth

The second copy of this card (different grade) to make our list, sold for $32,400 on 7/18:  


On 7/14, the card sold for $20,300, which represents $12,100 in absolute value growth in just 4 days.

Culture Trading Cards

The Top 12 Marvel Rookie Cards to Scoop Up on eBay

Sports cards are on our minds a lot these days, especially rookie cards. And for good reason! There’s nothing better than landing a gem mint copy of your favorite Hall of Famer in the closing seconds on eBay—and bonus points if it’s a flagship card from that player’s rookie season.

Rookies tend to be the most coveted of all players’ cards among collectors, and from the investment side, they also tend to inflate the most when things are going well. Whether it’s Prizm or Select Silvers in basketball, 1st Bowmans in baseball or Young Guns in hockey, when it comes to rookies, those familiar with the hobby know right where to go.

But have you ever given non-sports rookie cards a chance? Not just the first edition Pokémon cards that are out there, but the “superhero gold” from storied brands like Marvel?

In this guide, I’ll break down the top Marvel trading card “rookies” to keep your eye on. But first…

Why Marvel Cards?

I can think of many reasons. Here are three of the best:

  1. Collectibility: Like the comics themselves, superhero cards are art.
  2. Cultural Relevance: There are always new movies and shows premiering.
  3. Limited Risk: Your favorite hero will never miss an at bat.

Given the above, I see a lot of upside, especially in the long term. Don’t get me wrong, there’s short-term value here too, especially if you follow a particular character’s hype.

But forget the movie release calendar for just a moment and consider this: Superhero rookie cards aren’t like sports cards; there hasn’t been a ton of them graded to date. As kids, we didn’t really think to take care of them either, so there can’t be very many gem mint 10s.

Does it feel like I’m building a pretty solid case yet? Let’s dive into it a bit further.

1990 Impel Marvel Universe Series I

When you search eBay for “Marvel rookie PSA” cards, you might be as surprised as I was to discover that most of the popular cards that come up are all from the very same set.

I did some digging, and as it turns out, the first of four sets from Impel (and SkyBox as they later became), happens to contain the inaugural “rookie” cards of all your favorite Marvel superheroes and villains. That should make things easy, right? Let’s get into it.

The 1990 set has a 162-card checklist. The first half is dedicated to individual hero cards, while the second half includes several subsets. There are even six cards labeled “rookies” that could prove to be a play if you’re a Ghost Rider or Guardians of the Galaxy fan. 

You could flip a high-grade version of pretty much any card from this set because they’re all quite rare. And since it’s the de facto Marvel rookie release, you can bet there are a lot of collectors out there trying to piece together the whole thing.

Here are a few of the favorites, listed in the order they appear in the set:

Shop 1990 Impel Marvel Universe Series I Boxes!
1. Captain America #1

Leading off the set, as one might expect, is “the Cap” himself: Captain America. 

This card only carries a PSA 10 population count of 70, and the lowest “Buy It Now” listing on eBay as of now is for $575. One sold at auction on July 11th for $610.

Fun fact: There’s a Captain Britain rookie card in this set as well, card #40. It has a PSA 10 population count of just 2, making it extremely rare.

Shop 1990 Impel Captain America #1
2. Spider-Man #2

Spider-Man is the next hero up in the set and he’s featured throughout in several different spots (more on that in a moment). In the #2 spot, though, he’s rocking the black suit, courtesy of his Secret Wars storyline with archnemesis Venom. In fact, if you’re into this card, you might want to look into picking up the graded comic book (Secret Wars #8) too.

Spider-Man #2 is the most abundant Spidey card in the whole set, with a PSA 10 population count of 76. Lately, it seems to sell for between $500-600.

Shop 1990 Impel Spider-Man #2
3. Hulk #3

Next up is everyone’s favorite green monster, the Hulk. Hulk’s rookie card last sold at auction for a cool $1,000, probably because there are only 21 PSA 10s! The card itself is pretty badass, showing the Hulk doing what he likes to do best: SMASH.

Fun fact: There’s a Gray Hulk iteration rookie card at #17. The PSA 10 POP count is over double, however, at 58 as of this writing. Good value, though, at $100-200.

Shop 1990 Impel Hulk #3
4. Wolverine #10

Wolverine is always a safe rookie card bethe tends to be featured a lot in movies and is many people’s favorite character among all the X-Men. He has multiple cards to choose from as well in terms of this particular set.

The #10 card has a PSA 10 population of 84 and sold for $379 on July 5th. Card #23, however, only has 56 gem mint copies and goes for closer to $200 (and arguably features better artwork).

Shop 1990 Impel Wolverine #10
5. Thor #18

You may have noticed you can find a lot of key Avengers rookie cards throughout this set. Thor is no exception. This one’s tough to find and will run you between $900-$1,000 on eBay right now in the form of “Buy It Now.”

Shop 1990 Impel Thor #18
6. Black Panther #20

Let’s be honest, Black Panther was making this list regardless, but with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever set to release in July 2022, this rookie card’s a no-brainer.

Only one card in the set, 34 PSA 10 copies, this one went for as high as $2,800 in April.

Shop 1990 Impel Black Panther #20
7. Spider-Man #29

Now, this may be the second official Spidey card in the set, but it’s actually the first to feature him in his classic blue and red uniform. That alone makes this one a hidden gem.

Good luck finding one, though. Only 29 PSA 10s.

Shop 1990 Impel Spider-Man #29
8. Cosmic Spider-Man #30

With just 14 PSA 10 copies, “Cosmic” Spider-Man isn’t very easy to find either, which is why I’m featuring the third base Spider-Man rookie here as well. Personally, I like the look of this classic Spidey card better and the extra level of rarity goes a long way.

Also, this card comes in a super tough hologram variation at a rate of 1:36 packs. If you factor in that it’s just 1 of 5 chase cards in the hologram set, then your odds are more like 1:180 packs.

Shop 1990 Impel Cosmic Spider-Man #30
9. Iron Man #42

You might’ve been wondering when we were going to see Tony Stark in this set! That’s right, you know Iron Man’s rookie has to be worth a lot. With just 15 PSA 10 copies, you’re looking at paying $1,500 for this card.

Shop 1990 Impel Iron Man #42
10. Venom #73

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is set to release in theaters on September 24th, so it’s high time to stock up. There are 62 PSA 10s floating around and one just sold on July 3rd for $700, so there’s still plenty of upside left.

One thing to note: Carnage is not featured in this 1990 Impel set. The 1992 Marvel Universe set, however, does feature him. 

Shop 1990 Impel Venom #73
11. Thanos #79

In recent years, the Marvel cinematic universe helped put Thanos on everyone’s minds and on everyone’s maps. As such, the value of his rookie card has already skyrocketed. Of the 42 gem mint copies, those for sale on eBay will currently run you between $750 and $1,500.

Shop 1990 Impel Thanos #79
12. Stan Lee #161

Last but not least, Mr. Marvel himself. The next-to-last card in the entire set (minus the checklist), no Marvel rookie set would be complete without Stan. 

There are 143 PSA 10 copies of this card and they typically go for between $750 and $1,000. Rightfully sorespect to the man who started it all.

Shop 1990 Impel Stan Lee #161
Culture Trading Cards

The 10 Most Graded Sports Cards of All Time

With the hobby swelling in size and card companies wanting to expand their products and print runs, population counts have been a focal discussion in the collecting community for the past few years. A population count is the number of a particular card in a specific grade. 

This “pop count” provides the supply of a particular card and, typically, the higher that number, the more volatile the price of the card. 

We’re going to use Cardladder to look at 10 cards that rank the highest in the population count.

1. Ken Griffey Jr. 1989 Topps Traded Base PSA 9 #41T – Pop: 42,970

With a population of 42,970, this Ken Griffey Jr. 1989 Topps Traded PSA 9 leads the way as the most graded sports card of all time.

Despite the enormous number of these cards in circulation, the total population grew by 1.28% in the past month. This means that in the last 30 days, there have been 692 new copies graded a PSA 9! 

The card is currently valued at $28 and sold as high as $66 in March of 2021.

2. Ken Griffey Jr 1989 Upper Deck Star Rookie PSA 8 #1 – Pop: 33,037

In second place is another Griffey Jr. card, this time one with a population of 33,037 in a PSA 8.

The card is currently valued at $86 and once got as high as $163. There have been 700 new copies of this card graded in the past month. 

Despite this card (and others from this list) being 30 years old, there are still plenty of copies making their way to PSA. 

3. Ken Griffey Jr 1989 Fleer PSA 9 #548 – Pop: 27,220

We have yet another Griffey Jr. rookie with a high population count of 27,220, this time his Fleer 1989 PSA 9 rookie.

The card is currently worth $20.50 and has sold as high as $51. 749 new copies have been graded in the past month.

4. Ken Griffey Jr 1989 Upper Deck Star Rookie PSA 9 #1 – Pop 26,069

The PSA 8 version of the card came in at number 2 on this list, so it’s not surprising to see the PSA 9 version within the top 5. There are 80,801 copies of this card across all PSA grades.

Despite the card’s high population count, it currently sells for $248.50 and once got as high as $460. 535 copies of the card in a PSA 9 have been graded in the past month. 

The PSA 10 version of this card has 3,936 copies graded and is currently valued at $2,175. Perhaps the high value of a PSA 10 is the reason so many copies of this card are still being submitted to PSA. 

5. Barry Bonds 1986 Topps Traded #11T PSA 9 – Pop 21,475

Our first non-Griffey Jr. on this list is fellow baseball star, Barry Bonds. His 1986 Topps Traded PSA 9 population has a whopping 21,475 copies.

The card is currently valued at $49.50 and got as high as $112. 390 new copies of this card have been graded a PSA 9 in the past month.

6. Ronald Acuna Jr. 2018 Topps Update #US250 PSA 10 – Pop: 18,479

Our first modern card to make this list has a population count of 18,479. It’s important to note that this is in a PSA 10 grade. It’s typically difficult for any card to get a grade of 10, which makes Acuna’s Topps Update even more interesting that its high population is in Gem Mint 10 condition.

The card is currently valued at $130 and sold for as much as $295. There have been 623 new copies graded a PSA 10 in the past month.

7. Zion Williamson 2019 Prizm #248 PSA 10 – Pop: 18,287

Zion Williamson takes 2nd on this list for modern players with PSA 10 copies in a high population count. His flagship Prizm base rookie has a population of 18,287.

The card is currently valued at $402 and sold as high as $999 on December 25th, 2020. 

1,505 new copies of the card have been graded a PSA 10 in the past month.

8. Juan Soto 2018 Topps Update #US300 PSA 10 – Pop: 17,453

Another 2018 Topps Update baseball card makes our list with young star Juan Soto and his Topps Update PSA 10 with a population count of 17,453.

The card is currently valued at $145 and sold for as much as $380. 

875 new copies of the card have been graded a PSA 10 in the past month. 

9. Luka Doncic 2018 Prizm #280 PSA 10 – Pop: 17,284

Our most expensive card on this list is currently valued at $730. Doncic burst onto the scene in 2018 and became one of the most collectable NBA players in the market.

This card sold for nearly $2,000 last August, and while it’s lost significant value, for most of 2019 this card could be had for about $70.

606 new copies have been graded as PSA 10 in the past month.

10. Ja Morant 2019 Prizm #249 PSA 10 – Pop: 16,726

Another young NBA star from the 2019 class, Ja Morant rounds out our list of the top 10 most graded sports cards. His Prizm Base 2019 is currently valued at $207.50.

The card sold as high as $831 in early 2021. 

In the past month, 1,541 new copies of this card have been graded a PSA 10.

Culture Trading Cards

A Look at the Best Way to Store Trading Cards and Properly Protect Them

Seasoned collectors know how critical it is to take the time to store, insure, and protect the cards in their collections. In many cases, the way you store your sports cards can have a significant impact on the condition of those cards, thus impacting their future value. 

Many of us who are new to sports cards, or even just a few years in, can benefit from learning about the various ways to maintain the integrity of your cards. 

We’ll review proper card maintenance for raw cards, graded cards, collections, and insurance with links to industry-standard recommended products. 

1. How to Properly Protect and Store Raw (Ungraded) Cards
Kris Connor/Getty Images)

When PSA suspended operations earlier this year, many sports card enthusiasts found themselves needing to store raw cards properly for a longer period of time. Grading cards can be a fun way for newer collectors to build value in their collections and work toward acquiring expensive cards. 

However, if they aren’t properly handled and stored, it can be easy to cause damage to a card that would bring it down from a Gem Mint PSA 10 grade to a PSA 9. 

In order to prevent damage to these cards, you need four products to keep them safe: 

  • Penny Sleeves 
  • Top Loaders 
  • Painters Tape
  • Team Bags 

Ultra Pro penny sleeves is a common brand carried by local sports card shops and easily found online. For most cards, the standard size, 2 5/8″ x 3 5/8″, is the right fit. There are premium versions of the product, but the standard plastic sleeve will protect the card’s corners and surface.

If you want to take extra care while inserting a raw card into a penny sleeve, you can cut one of the top corners and insert the card from the cut corner to avoid scratches. Sometimes a card “catches” one of the corners and can scratch the surface or cause damage to the corner of a card. Fingerprints will negatively impact the grade of a card, so it’s important to wipe the card down and then insert them by holding its edges instead of the surface. 

Any microfiber cloth will work to remove debris and fingerprints, but don’t press too hard, because you can scratch a card. 

Ultra Pro also offers toploaders in a regular 3” x 4” size that will work for most cards (you can buy thicker ones for patch and patch auto cards).

Top loaders add an extra layer of protection for your cards to prevent bending or tearing while in storage. It’s important to handle your penny-sleeved card with care when inserting it into a top loader. 

It’s recommended that you avoid pushing a sleeved card into a top loader. Instead, slightly insert the card and tap the top loader on a table. The sleeved card will “fall in” and avoid any scratches or damage. 

Once your card is sleeved and secured in a top loader, you can take additional steps to protect them by sealing the top loader with a piece of painter’s tape. 

Typically, painter’s tape is added when shipping a card to avoid it falling out of a top loader and to prevent dust from getting into the sleeve.

This isn’t a critical step in protecting your raw cards, especially if you use a team bag (covered next) but can add additional protection. It’s important not to use scotch tape, as it can be difficult to remove.

After you have a raw card sleeved, in a top loader, secured with painter’s tape, the next step is to insert the card into a team bag and seal. 

Ultra Pro also sells team bags that work well for raw cards in top loaders:

Team Bags provide protection from dust, condensation, water, dirt, etc. 

There are multiple ways to store raw cards after they’ve been protected. BCW offers Super Vault Box Storage, which is commonly found at sports card stores. Once a card is protected following the steps above, you can store them in a shoebox or a box from an old package. 

2. Proper Storage for Graded Cards

After you have properly stored your raw cards and have decided to send them in for grading, you will receive them in a plastic graded slab that offers protection for the card. 

It’s important to secure your slabs in a graded card sleeve as this can help prevent the slab itself from scratching. Ultra Pro also sells these and they can be found on eBay, Amazon, or directly from Ultra Pro:

If you have expensive cards, or are worried about damage from light, you can order a SlabGuard, which offers UV protection and another layer of plastic to protect your card.  

Pro Tip: putting autograph cards directly in sunlight for extended periods of time can fade the auto or cause them to disappear all together! 

There are also products in the market to help protect individual slabs from humidity – these are typically used for refractor cards that develop a green hue with humidity. Slab savers are affordable and can be worth it if you have an expensive or condition-sensitive card. 

Now that you’ve protected your graded cards, you’ll want a way to store them safely in one place. 

There are a few options for safe storage whether it’s at home or with a company that stores cards for you. 

For most hobby enthusiasts, a $28 Apache Watertight Protective Hardcase with a customizable foam insert is a great way to store cards at home:

The case is water and dust proof, easy to transport and is pre-drilled for two padlocks.

The pick-apart foam insert in the Apache 3000 allows you to shape the foam to your cards and provides enough room for medium-size collections. There are also larger cases that you can purchase. 

If you have a larger collection or one that is very valuable, you can also purchase a traditional safe. 

Sentry Safe is a popular brand that comes in multiple sizes. If you have expensive wax products, this is also a great option for storage. 

If you have valuable graded sports cards, but don’t want to carry the risk of storing those cards with the products listed above, you can choose to store the cards with a company like PWCC, which offers storage and consignment services. 

PWCC offers storage, insurance, a digital portfolio of your stored cards, and consignment services when needed. An added benefit to the vault storage is that it is located in Oregon, which means that you do not pay sales tax on new purchases that are sent directly to the vault. 

3. Purchasing Insurance for Your Cards
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

There are companies that offer insurance policies for your sports card collections and are likely a worthwhile investment to protect your assets from theft, damage, mail loss, etc whether you are storing them at home or in a public storage facility. 

Collect Insure specializes in the collectable market and the process is straightforward. I have personally used their services after being recommended by multiple collectors. There are alternatives like American Collectors that offer similar services. 

You can estimate the value of your collection and get a free quote to compare services and pricing. The insurance plans are affordable and offer peace of mind if you have a budding collection that’s been growing in value. 

Consoles Gaming

The Ultimate Guide to Video Game Grading

Graded collectibles are all the rage these days. 

Whether you’re into collecting sports cards, comics, magazines, autographs, concert posters, coins, or you’re just a die-hard Pokemon fan in search of that elusive gem mint 1st edition holo, you know the benefits that grading brings—authenticity, longevity, and value, mostly.

But what about video games? Gaming’s a huge part of the culture too, and every gamer knows the hits. Don’t tell me Mario, Link, and Sonic don’t deserve a coveted spot on your shelf.

Well, video game grading is very much a thing too, and it’s quickly rising in popularity. But who does the grading? What does the process look like? What are the benefits?

In this detailed guide, we’ll give you the full rundown of everything you need to know.

1. Why Grade Your Games At All?
Sam Mellish/Getty Images

If you’re someone who appreciates video games, especially vintage ones, it probably has to do with the fact that you enjoy playing them. That’s the obvious thing you need to know going in: once games are graded, they’re effectively preserved and can no longer be played.

So, why grade games at all? That’s the question you need to ask yourself going in. 

Determining whether you’re in it for the quick flip, long-term investing, or simply build a nice collection will help you decide how to proceed. Video game collecting has evolved into a pretty lucrative business, one with significant investment value if you know what you’re doing.

Investors need to be aware of two things:

  1. The relevance of the title
  2. The condition of the box

Unlike other collectibles, scarcity and obscurity don’t automatically equate to a higher value with games. Cultural relevance matters most. Popular franchises (think Ninja Turtles) are far surpassing anything you’d consider to be “rare” in the market currently. That’s not to say that rare games don’t still sell, but their expected rarity isn’t being reflected in the prices the market is currently willing to pay.

Also, most people overestimate the condition of their games. This isn’t sports cards where opening a fresh pack can lead to a near-automatic PSA 9 or 10. You need to know what to look for, how to assess the condition of games properly. More on that below.

Collectors, on the other hand, really only need to worry about the condition, because relevance mostly comes down to their personal tastes. Take me for example: 

Growing up in Pittsburgh, I became a massive Penguins fan. To this day, Mario Lemieux is my all-time favorite athlete. In 1994, when Mario Lemieux Hockey was released for the Sega Genesis, it became my favorite game. You’ve never heard of it but to me, I’d love to own a high-grade copy someday. I don’t really care what it’s worth, that makes me a collector.

The intention you have behind grading your games is everything.

2. Who Does the Grading? WATA vs. VGA
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

When it comes to video game grading, there are two major players (pun definitely intended) in the space: WATA and VGA.

VGA (Video Game Authority) is a branch of Collectible Grading Authority, Inc. whereas WATA Games is fully dedicated to graded games. Both offer video game authentication and grading services; however, the designs and grading scales they use vary.

Here’s what you need to know about each.

Graded Case Design

When you get your graded games back from VGA or WATA, you’ll immediately notice a couple of different things. First, the size. 

WATA’s graded cases tend to be a bit bigger than VGA’s because the label placement is different on each. Also, tamper-proof clips on the tops and bottoms of WATA’s cases lend a bit more bulk to the overall design.

In terms of the labels, you’ll notice that WATA’s cases contain a bit more detailed information about the game, whereas VGA’s are quite simplistic. People seem to like WATA’s level of detail, though VGA does have a better handle on overall simplicity of design. 

Also, one thing to note: Horizontal boxes, such as those used for Super Nintendo and N64 games, tend to display better with VGA because they offer a more native horizontal design.

Grading Scales

Next comes the different grading scales each of these companies use. The three major submission types accepted are factory sealed games, opened but “Complete In Box” (C.I.B.), and loose video game cartridges without the book or box.

The important distinction here is that VGA includes both the outside shrinkwrap and overall box condition in a single grade, whereas WATA grades each of these items separately.

WATA operates on a 10-point scale with a curve, as there are different sub-grades in between. From the lowest grade (0.5) on up to 9, grades are distinguished at 0.5 increments. From 9 to 10, however, is where the curve kicks in. Grades in this range are set at 0.2 increments, so your games can score (hard to avoid these puns!) a 9.2, 9.4, 9.6, or 9.8 as well.

Secondly, with WATA, factory sealed games will also receive a separate letter grade reflecting the quality and integrity of their shrink-wrap/seal. The scale here ranges from A++ (like new condition) to a C (poor condition) with five steps in between.

VGA, on the other hand, operates on a 100-point scale, ranging from very poor (10) on up to gem mint (100). The scale is broken up in increments of 10, though once you get up to 70 you start to see sub-grades such as 75 and 75+. As mentioned, there is no seal grade.

Tips: When to Submit Games to Each

Both companies’ grading scales have their advantages depending on the condition of your game. 

With VGA, for example, if you have a really bad seal but a really nice box, you’re ultimately going to get dinged. Because WATA looks at those things separately, your game might fetch a higher overall grade. The same goes for when you have a perfect-looking box with a few minor flaws (such as tiny tears or holes) in the shrinkwrap. In that instance, WATA’s your play.

On the other hand, if you have an amazing seal but a decent enough looking box, consider sending it to VGA. The fact that they combine both into a single grading scale could very well work in your favor if you decide to make that your play. 

Overall, the market seems to favor a high-grade box over a high-grade seal, so that’s another piece of info you can use to help determine where to send your game. 

Market Perception

Speaking of the market, when it comes to each of these companies, it helps to know where you can get the most bang for your buck in terms of selling your graded games.

The good news is: in terms of overall market liquidity, both WATA and VGA games are relatively easy to sell. Video game grading is very much on the rise, but it’s not like the market is currently flooded with highly graded games. When supply is low, demand is high—that’s the name of the… okay, I can’t do that to you this time.

That said, all things being equal, the market does seem to prefer WATA-certified games. WATA’s teamed up with Heritage Auctions, who sells a lot of high-end games. If the games you’re looking to sell are high-end, WATA feels like the smart play. Otherwise, VGA’s sleek design, quicker turnaround, and less expensive pricing structure might be a little more collector-friendly.

3. Assessing the Condition of Your Games
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

I’ll try my best to keep this portion of the guide short and sweet. 

There are a lot of helpful video tutorials out there to help you visually inspect the condition of your games. But in terms of what graders tend to look for, here are some of the key things:

Factory seal – Graders want to see a perfect seal on any factory-sealed games. Look for a nice perpendicular line going up the back and/or down the sides of the game. Any holes or tears in the shrinkwrap or cellophane (no matter how small) will also have an impact on your grade.

Color breaks – This fancy term just means the edges of the box that’s housing your game. Along the edges where a box gets folded or creased, you can sometimes see cracks, white spots, or other color issues that can impact your grade.

Color fading – This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Vibrancy of color is another aspect that can alter a grade. Even a mint-looking box or cartridge can sometimes be faded. Compare your game to a highly graded version online to help determine proper coloring.

Crushing, puffing, cracks – If any corner or side of the box shows instances of crushing, denting, or puffing (basically squeezed in or out), you can expect a lower grade. Puffy corners seem to be less of an issue than crushed in ones, but neither look all that great inside of a display. Also, for disc-based games like PS1, look out for cracks even under the seal.

Impressions, stickers, marks – Sometimes a box will have an impression line on it as if someone used it as a surface to write on. That’s not good. Also, price tags can do damage if you try removing them yourself. If you’re submitting a cartridge only and it’s previously been tested or played, there could be some scratches on it from the game console as well.

What Goes Into a C.I.B. Grade?

Up to this point, we’ve talked a lot about factory sealed games but the older the game is, the tougher that’s going to be to find. “Complete In Box” games are your next best bet.

The general breakdown for how C.I.B. games are graded is as follows: the box is weighted 50% of your grade, the cartridge is 30%, and the manual is the remaining 20%. 

Knowing this, if you have a box and cartridge that are both in amazing condition but a manual that’s not, it’s worth going out and finding a new manual to help your overall grade. And if you happen to get a graded game back from WATA and find out that the manual did drag down your grade, you could, in theory, look for a C.I.B. game that scored a 9.6 or higher on the manual and send both back in to combine. From what I understand, WATA will take the best from each.

4. The Submission and Grading Process

Last but not least, there’s the actual process of submitting your games for grading. 

As of this writing, VGA currently has a brand new website under construction and has disabled the ability to create new submissions online. For the time being, they’re asking customers to fill out a printed PDF submission form to include in every package shipped.

So, for the purposes of this section (and because VGA’s new setup will likely be similar), let’s focus on the online submission process for WATA. Again, we can keep this short and sweet.

WATA’s Submission Process:

  1. Select your game – First, you get to choose your platform, of which there are many. Then, you can search for your specific game. A thumbnail of the game will display on the page so you can confirm it’s the right one and proceed.
  1. Add some details – Next, you’ll just want to add in a little bit of info like the state of the game (sealed, loose cartridge, or C.I.B.), the declared value of said game (based on your research or educated guess), and any notes you might have for the grader.
  1. Choose your services – Lastly, you’ll select the display type, service level, and any add-on services you might be interested in, such as light or heavy cleaning. The cost of cleaning is 1% of the declared value and is determined on a case-by-case basis.

And that’s it! Just follow the above process for each and every game you hope to submit and you should receive your graded games back within the timeframe mentioned in your desired service level. Then the real fun begins: selling or putting your new gem on display!

I hope you found this guide helpful. Good luck in all your graded video game endeavors.

Culture Trading Cards

The 31 Most Valuable Football Cards Ever Sold

The sports card market for football has traditionally been viewed as less popular in the hobby compared to sports like baseball and basketball. Until recently, there wasn’t a single football card on the top 10 most expensive sports cards ever sold as the list was split by baseball, basketball, and a Wayne Gretzky rookie card. 

There are many reasons for this perception – football lacks global popularity, player longevity is typically shorter, injury risk is higher, and players are less recognizable due to wearing helmets. 

While it’s important to consider these factors when purchasing football cards, it’s hard to ignore the record sales for cards in the sport throughout 2021. 

We’ll break down the 31 most valuable football cards ever sold from vintage to modern cards. 

1. Tom Brady 2000 Playoff Contenders #144 Championship Ticket Autograph /100 – BGS 9, 10 Auto – $3,107,132
Sports Collectors Daily

On June 5th, 2021, the 2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Championship Auto Ticket in a BGS 9 (highest grade for that card) of just a pop 7, sold for a world-record $3.1 million. 

It’s not a surprise that we see the 7-time Super Bowl Champion at the top of this list (and it won’t be the last card of his on the list). No other player in NFL history has accomplished what Brady has. He’s been to 10 Super Bowls in 21 seasons, winning 7 of them. 

The fun part is that this card sold for just $4,450.01 back in February of 2008:


At that point, he had won 3 Super Bowls! 

The card was sold via Goldin Auctions and crushed its previous sale of $400,100 in February of 2019. 

2. Tom Brady 2000 Playoff Contenders #144 Championship Ticket Autograph /100 – BGS 8.5, 9 Auto – $2,252,854.80
Lelands Auctions

The previous world record football card sale was the same Championship Ticket Autograph, but in a slightly lower grade. 

At a pop 28, the card is slightly less rare than its BGS 9 counterpart, but still took in a record amount at the time. 

The card was auctioned by Leland Auctions on April 2nd, 2021, but like Brady’s higher graded card, it could have been had in 2016 for $4,901.51: 


Football has always been viewed as less popular than major sports like MLB and the NBA (the top 5 most expensive sports cards of all time are split between baseball and basketball) but Brady’s cards have officially put football cards on the map. 

3. Tom Brady 2000 Playoff Contenders #144 Championship Ticket Autograph /100 – BGS 8.5, 10 Auto – $1,680,000
Goldin Auctions

On April 24th, Goldin Auctions sold yet another Tom Brady rookie card for a record price, this time, a BGS 8.5 with a 10 auto for $1.68 million. This is a decline from the previous sale of about $2.2 million that happened a few weeks before. 

While that represents a 23% drop in value, it’s hard to point to that dip as weak demand for Brady’s rarest card. 

4. Tom Brady 2000 Playoff Contenders #144 Championship Ticket Autograph /100 – BGS 8, 10 Auto – $1,320,000

It’s worth noting that Brady’s Contenders Championship Tickets sold one after another, with each new sale from a slightly higher grade. With a card of this caliber, there aren’t enough comparable sales to truly estimate its value. Once this sale hit, it likely triggered those holding higher graded Brady Championship Tickets to consider selling. How could they not with million dollar price tags?

This particular sale was privately done, brokered by PWCC to FitBit CEO James Park in early March. 

PWCC, posted on Instagram, celebrating the sale and quoted Park after the purchase:

“I lived in Boston for 10 years and so am a huge fan of Brady . . . I’m incredibly excited to now own 1 of only 100 of Brady’s best rookie card.”

It’s pretty cool to see the CEO of a company get involved in the hobby at this level of investment! 

5. Tom Brady 2000 Playoff Contenders #144 Championship Ticket Autograph /100 – BGS 8, 10 Auto – $1,080,000
Goldin Auctions

The collective value of these five Brady sales tallies past $9,000,000. It’s incredible that not just one of these cards sold for record numbers, but all five passed the million dollar mark. 

It’s one thing to have a single record sale, and another to have a string of consecutive records with price consistency. 

6. Patrick Mahomes II 2018 National Treasures Rookie Patch Auto Black /5 – BGS 9, 10 Auto – $840,000
Goldin Auctions

If I had written a list of the most expensive football cards ever sold on January 1st, it would look a lot different than it does today with the recent string of record sales. 

On January 31st, Goldin Auctions sold this Patrick Mahomes Rookie Patch Auto numbered to 5 for $840,000. At the time, it was the record for any football card sold ever and still remains the highest sale of a Patrick Mahomes football card. 

Mahomes appears numerous times on this list, and for good reason. He’s already won an MVP award, a Super Bowl MVP award and has appeared in 2 out of 3 Super Bowls in his first 3 seasons as a starter. He’s also been recognized as the NFL’s most exciting player

Can he give chase to Brady’s record number of Super Bowl wins? It seems that many are betting he will and going big on his key rookie cards like this one. 

7. Patrick Mahomes II 2017 Panini National Treasures “Stars & Stripes” Rookie Patch Auto /13 – BGS 9.5 Auto 10 – $584,250
Goldin Auctions

On March 7th, Goldin Auctions sold another Patrick Mahomes rookie patch auto and this time for $584,250. While this card is in a higher grade and has nearly an identical patch to the last record sale, there were more copies issued (13) and it is an image variation to the traditional rookie patch auto card. 

8. Tom Brady 2000 Playoff Contenders #144 Rookie Ticket Autograph – PSA 10 – $555,988

On January 26th, 2021, PWCC auctioned off a PSA 10 copy of Brady’s Rookie ticket (not the championship variation) for $555,988. 

On December 22nd, 2019, the card sold for $135,101.99. In PSA 10 condition, the card has a population of 13, likely making it attractive for a collector. 

9. Tom Brady 2000 Playoff Contenders #144 Championship Ticket Autograph /100 – BGS 7.5, 10 Auto – $510,000
Goldin Auctions

On May 23rd, Goldin Auctions sold another copy of the Brady Championship contenders in a BGS 7.5 grade for $510,000.

Grades do matter, even with bigger cards like this one, but it’s relatively close in sale to the PSA 10 copy of the Contenders Rookie ticket (not numbered and no foil / shine effect on the card). 

10. Patrick Mahomes II 2017 Panini National Treasures Rookie Patch Auto /99 – PSA 10 – $390,000
Goldin Auctions

On January 31st, Goldin Auctions sold a PSA 10 graded copy of Mahomes’ rookie patch autographed card numbered to 99 copies for $390,000. While it is higher serial numbered card than some of the other rookie patch autos we’ve seen on this list, it’s PSA 10 condition is unique amongst the record sales so far.

Brady and Mahomes dominated the top-10 list and Mahomes’ record sales match Brady’s in the sense that there are consistent sales for a high value. 

11. Jim Brown 1958 Topps – PSA 9 – $358,500
Heritage Auctions

This is the first sale on our list that hasn’t occurred in the past 12 months. On November 19th, 2016, the pop 5 Jim Brown 1958 Topps in a PSA 9 grade sold for $358,500. There haven’t been any recent sales of the PSA 9 copy of this card, which might leave some wondering what it would sell for in today’s market. 

Brown was ranked the best college football player of all time and is often discussed as one of the best NFL players of all time.  

There are 197 copies of this card in a PSA 8, and 483 in a PSA 7, making the PSA 9 copy extremely rare with just 5 copies available.

12. Patrick Mahomes 2017 Flawless NFL Shield Auto 1/1 – BGS 7.5 10 auto – $312,000
Goldin Auctions

Goldin Auctions sold this one-of-one Patrick Mahomes Flawless Shield autograph card for $312,000 on April 6th, 2021.

It’s the first appearance of the Flawless set on our list. While many collectors recognize the National Treasures Rookie Autograph as the “true” RPA (Rookie Patch Autograph) the shield patch and print run of just 1 make this card attractive. 

13. Tom Brady 2000 SP Authentic /1250 Tom Brady BGS 10 – $312,000
Goldin Auctions

This is the first non-autograph Brady rookie that makes our list. Goldin Auctions sold the card on April 6th for $312,000. Its pristine grade sets it apart from other copies of the card as there are just 13 total copies of the card in a BGS 10 grade.

14. Patrick Mahomes II National Treasures Rookie Patch Autograph /99 – BGS 9.5, 10 Auto – $290,400
Goldin Auctions

On March 7th, Goldin Auctions sold this BGS 9.5 Patrick Mahomes rookie patch auto /99. 

Although the card is numbered to 99, it features a beautiful four color patch that likely boosted its value on the market. Two cards can share the same limited print run, but a better, more colorful patch can add value to the card. 

15. Patrick Mahomes II National Treasures Rookie Patch Autograph /25 – BGS 9.5, 10 auto – $289,200
Goldin Auctions

On February 11th, Goldin Auctions sold this Patrick Mahomes rookie patch autograph card numbered to 25 copies for just over $289,000. 

This copy sold for less than the /99 version that ended on Goldin Auctions January 31st. While the card is numbered to 25, it’s patch wasn’t much different than the /99 copy, and it’s in a slightly worse grade (BGS 9.5 versus PSA 10). 

16. Bart Starr 1957 Topps PSA 9 – $288,000
Heritage Auctions

In February of 2017, Heritage Auctions sold a pop 3 Bart Starr PSA 9 for $288,000. Starr was a member of the legendary Green Bay Packers and was the first-ever Quarterback to win a Super Bowl. Not only was Starr the first Quarterback to win a Super Bowl, he was also the first to be named Super Bowl MVP, and did so twice.

17. Joe Namath 1965 Topps PSA 9 – $264,000
Heritage Auctions

In February of 2018, Heritage Auctions sold a pop 5 Joe Namath 1965 Topps PSA 9 for $264,000. As we’ve seen with the other vintage cards that top our most expensive football cards list, there are no PSA 10 copies of this card. Namath and the New York Jets defeated the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III and Namath was elected into the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.

18. Patrick Mahomes II 2017 National Treasures Rookie Patch Autograph Black /5 – BGS 9, Auto 10 – $236,160
Goldin Auctions

This version of the Patrick Mahomes 2017 National Treasures Rookie Patch Auto Black /5 in BGS 9 grade sold for $236,160 in October of 2020. Just three months later, another /5 with a slightly different patch (but same grade) sold for over $500,000 more than this copy (see card #6 on this list if you need a refresher). 

Despite its rapid growth a few months after this sale, this Mahomes rookie still lands at spot #18 on the most expensive football cards ever sold.

19. Tom Brady 2000 Bowman Chrome Refractors – BGS 9.5 – $233,700
Goldin Auctions

Goldin Auctions sold a pop 31 BGS 9.5 Bowman Chrome Refractor on April 6th for $233,700. It’s worth noting that there are 7 PSA 10 copies of the card, but the last sale of the card was in September of 2017 for $45,000. If the PSA 10 copy sold today, it would likely be for much more.

20. Aaron Rodgers 2005 SP Authentic 1/1 NFL Shield Patch – BGS 9.5 Auto 10 – $229,200
Goldin Auctions

Quite possibly one of the best Aaron Rodgers rookie cards in existence, this patch auto card features a game-worn NFL shield patch in a high-grade with a perfect 10 auto. 

Rodgers won the NFL MVP award last season (he’s won it 3 times) and has 1 Super Bowl victory under his belt. 

This card sold in October 2020.

21. Tom Brady 2000 Contenders Championship Rookie Ticket Auto (Donruss File Copy) PSA/DNA 10 Auto – $204,000
Goldin Auctions

This Brady Championship ticket makes 21 NFL sports cards that have sold for more than $200,000. This particular copy of the card is unique in that it is a manufacturer copy. Card companies will sometimes create extra copies of a card in case a replacement is needed, but in this case, it made it to a consumer (according to Goldin Auctions, a gift to the consignor from a Donruss executive). 

22. Patrick Mahomes II 2017 National Treasures Rookie Patch Autograph Gold /10 – PSA 10 – $184,500
Goldin Auctions

This copy of a Mahomes’ rookie patch auto numbered to just 10 copies sold via Goldin Auctions on April 6th. This marks the 8th Mahomes rookie patch autograph on our list of most expensive football cards sold so far. 

If you are wondering why there aren’t any Tom Brady rookie patch auto cards on this list, it’s because they didn’t exist when he was a rookie. If those types of cards did exist back then, you might imagine how many of those would make it to our top 31! 

23. Patrick Mahomes II 2017 Flawless Rookie Patch Autograph Emerald /5 – BGS 9.5 Auto 10 – $182,500

This is the first card on our list sold by a fractional sports card trading, Collectable. The card was originally IPO’d with a value of $135,000, allowing investors to purchase shares for $15 a piece. 

Collectable then received and voted on a buy-out offer that was approved and returned a 35.13% premium for its shareholders. 

24. Tom Brady 2000 SP Authentic /1250 PSA 10 – $181,200
Goldin Auctions

The BGS 10 copy of this card sold for $100,000 more, which is evidence that grade matters to those willing to spend large sums of money on sports cards. Goldin Auctions sold this pop 98 PSA 10 copy on March 7th for $181,200. The card has since retreated in value, with its last sale on June 24th at $86,140. 

The market and Brady’s career looks a lot different today than it did in 2004, but this card sold for just $650 that same year! 

25. Johnny Unitas 1957 Topps PSA 9 – $167,300
Heritage Auctions

Heritage Auctions sold this Johnny Unitas card in November of 2016 for $167,300. There are 8 copies of the card in a PSA 9 grade with no copies graded a 10. Like all of the other vintage cards on this list, a PSA 9 is the highest grade of the card you can find. It’s likely that manufacturing processes weren’t as advanced as they are today and even if you found one “pack-fresh” it may have come off-center or with other issues. 

In February 2021, there were offers for this card as high as $190,000 according to Heritage Auctions

26. Tom Brady 2000 Contenders Championship Rookie Ticket Auto (Missing Serial Number) – BGS 9 – $145,200
Goldin Auctions

This card sold at Goldin Auctions on April 6th and is unique in that it is missing Brady’s autograph and a serial number. The missing autograph detracts value from the card, but that and the missing serial number makes it more rare. Sometimes, more rare doesn’t always translate to value, but it’s likely that this was an extra copy produced by the card manufacturer in case a replacement needed to be issued. 

27. Jim Thorpe 1933 Sports Kings PSA 9 – $138,000
Heritage Auctions

In August of 2020, Heritage Auctions sold a pop 4 Jim Thorpe 1933 Sports Kings PSA 9 for $138,000. There had only been one other recorded sale of the card in that grade in 2016 when it sold for $119,500. 

Thorpe won Gold medals in the olympics, played baseball and football professionally and was co-founder and first President of the National Football League

If it’s not enough that Thorpe won two Gold Medals in the Olympics, he did it with mismatching shoes he found in the trash after his were stolen. He is also considered to be one of the greatest athletes of all-time

28. Patrick Mahomes 2017 Rookie Patch Auto Stars and Stripes /13 – BGS 8.5 Auto 10 – $132,000
Goldin Auctions

Goldin Auctions sold this Mahomes Rookie Patch Auto “Stars and Stripes” numbered to just 13 copies on April 6th. A BGS 9.5 copy of this card sold for $584,250 just a month prior to this sale. 

The card sold for 77% less than its higher grade counterpart, which could be partly due to the lower grade or the market pulling black slightly. Regardless, this is yet another six-figure sale of a Mahomes rookie.

29. Jerry Rice 1986 Topps – PSA 10 – $125,655

Our most expensive football cards list wouldn’t be complete without the greatest wide receiver of all-time, Jerry Rice. The only wide receiver to make this list, his pop 59 PSA 10 Topps rookie sold for $125,655 on eBay via PWCC Auctions on February 7th, 2021. 

Rice was selected into 13 Pro Bowls, won 3 Super Bowls and holds records in almost every receiving category. In his 20th season, at age 41, he still managed to capture over 400 receiving yards and scored 3 touchdowns

30. Walter Payton 1976 Topps – PSA 10 – $124,230
Goldin Auctions

On March 7th 2021, Goldin Auctions sold a PSA 10 copy of Walter Payton’s 1976 Topps rookie card. It is the first vintage card on this list graded a PSA 10. There are 51 total copies of this card in a PSA 10 grade, so it’s not quite as rare as some of the vintage PSA 9s we’ve seen on this list, but the card is still hard to come by. 

After the record sale in March, the card has lost some value and its last sale was for $72,980. 

In June of 2020, this card sold for $20,000 and even though it declined since its record sale, the card has still increased in value by 264%. 

Payton was selected to 9 Pro Bowls, was selected as NFL MVP twice and won the NFC rushing title five years straight

31. Tom Brady 2000 SPx Spectrum /25 – PSA 10 – $121,200
Goldin Auctions

The December 13th sale of this Brady rookie via Goldin Auctions makes it the fourth Brady rookie card set to catch a six-figure sale. The card is just a population of 3 in a PSA 10 grade. 

Given Brady’s accomplishments, we may sometimes forget that he was a 6th-round pick. This means a lot in the card world – it’s very likely most people opening card products in 2000 didn’t know much about Brady. 

For example, how many of you have Brad Kaaya rookie cards laying around? He was drafted in 2017 (the same year as Mahomes) as a 6th round pick. If Kaaya was even included in some set checklists, it’s likely many people just threw his cards away or stored them without protection. 

For Brady, this lack of recognition early on helped his cards, as his rookie cards in high grade are rare than players with more anticipated success coming out of the draft.

Culture Trading Cards

Goldin Auctions Acquired by Collectors Holdings

Collectors Holdings, the group owned by billionaires Steve Cohen, Dan Sundheim and venture capital investor Nat Turner, announced today that they have acquired Goldin Auctions for an undisclosed sum.

“We are incredibly excited to join Ken, Ross and the other amazing team members at Goldin Auctions,” said Nat Turner, Executive Chairman of Collectors Holdings via release. “While Goldin Auctions will continue to operate independently, we all share the same vision of using innovative technology to enhance and grow the industry for the benefit of all. ”

Earlier this year, Collectors Holdings purchased Collectors Universe, owners of the top card grading company PSA, and took the company private.

Industry legend Ken Goldin signed a long-term contract to remain with the company that he founded in 2012.

“This is my 40th year collecting and selling cards and I still absolutely love coming to work every day,” said Goldin. “Everyone in the hobby knows about the explosive growth we’re seeing as new collectors have flocked in, including a younger generation and international buyers. There’s no slowing down and we have a lot planned that we know every collector is going to love. Stay tuned!”  

The owners of Collectors Holdings have had quite a year.

Steve Cohen finalized a deal in September of 2020 to purchase the New York Mets, and the team currently sitting atop the National League’s Eastern Division. Besides the purchase of PSA and Goldin Auctions, Nat Turner also owns a stake in collectibles vault company, ALT.

Goldin Auctions has sold well over $200,000,000 in cards and collectibles so far in 2021, already topping their 2020 sales in what was a year of explosive growth in the hobby. It seems as if every new auction that closes boasts some sort of record sale, with this Mia Hamm rookie becoming the most expensive women’s card ever sold earlier this week as an example.

It will be interesting to see how the relationship between PSA and Goldin Auctions develops over time, with the same ownership group in charge of both grading and auctioning off some of the world’s most valuable collectibles. However, Turner is adamant that there will be no conflicts of interest between the two companies.

“We’re very mindful of the integrity of PSA and would never do anything to harm it,” Turner said.

Culture Trading Cards

StarStock Has “Breaking” News

If you enjoy sports cards mixed in with a bit of gambling, you may have joined a few “card breaks” hoping to cash in on the hottest trend in the hobby.

For those who are unfamiliar with what a “break” is, think of it as a combination of the excitement of a blackjack table, mixed with the odds of roulette, with the potential to hit a slot machine jackpot-style payout.

Simply put, somebody takes a full box of trading cards and instead of selling the entire box to one person, multiple people split the cost. The person who opens the box (think of them as the dealer) streams it live, and the contents are divided up amongst the people who paid to enter the break. There are many ways of figuring out who gets what card, but the most common method is done by a random drawing before the box is opened in which each person is assigned teams, receiving the cards for each player that is pulled from that team.

For more detailed information on card breaks, check out this article.

What’s the “breaking” news?

It appears that there is a new player in the space, as the popular website StarStock is now going to be doing live breaks, with a twist:

“StarStock is going to start getting into live breaks on July 1st.” said Business Development Manager, Eric Bruder. “We are aiming to solve the main pain point being the wait time to get the cards back in hand. All StarStock eligible cards from the breaks will be given a StarStock A, B, or C and in the user’s account in 24 hours or less. Users will also have the availability to ship the rookies home along with the non-rookie hits if desired.”

If you were previously unfamiliar with the company, StarStock enables sellers to ship them their cards to be listed on the platform. The cards are stored inside of StarStock’s secure vault. When a buyer purchases a card, they have the option to keep the card stored in the vault, or to have it sent to them.

This makes it possible for buyers to day-trade cards, as it eliminates the shipping time, risk and expense. For instance, if you were to purchase a card of a player before a particular game tips off, and that player hits a huge game winning shot, the value of that card could rise well before you would ever receive it in hand with other selling platforms. On StarStock, you can sell that card the same day you bought it and take your profits.

Now that they are offering live breaks as part of their platform, sellers can enjoy the same perks, while getting StarStock A, B & C grades on their raw cards within just 24 hours of “winning” them in the break.

StarStock A cards are considered “higher grade raw cards” that graded as either a PSA 9 or 10 on 93% of cards from a recently returned PSA submission, according to co-Founder Scott Greenberg.

Because of these statistics, StarStock A raw cards command a premium over raw cards on other platforms. To be able to purchase a spot in a break on the platform, get a grade on the cards that you pull, and have it in your account available to be sold within one day is quite a selling point.

For more information on StarStock, check out this recent article.

Culture Trading Cards

NBA Playoffs: The Impact on Card Prices

A commonly held belief in the hobby is that playoff appearances can boost the value of a player’s card, especially if that player performs in the national spotlight. This assumption has been up for debate lately as certain pockets of the card market have lost a bit of momentum. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at players from the four remaining NBA teams in contention for a championship to evaluate if their spotlight is affecting card prices. 

1. Atlanta Hawks
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks have become a fan-favorite underdog team after beating the #1 seeded Philadelphia 76ers in game 7 of their series. 

The 22-year-old emerging star Kevin Huerter is first up for our analysis, because he broke out in Game 7 and scored 27 points to help the Hawks eliminate the 76ers. 

Huerter’s Prizm Silver PSA 10 is a pop 268, which, relatively speaking, is significantly less than his counterpart Trae Young (pop 2,070). 

This is an indication that Huerter was less known and less collectable than Young. Not as many people thought it was worth submitting this card for grading. 

On May 30th, 2021, this card sold for just $37, and on June 20th, it sold for $183.99: 


This is 397% growth in under a month. 

In a similar time period, his base Prizm PSA 10 increased by 134% with the last sale at $58.67. These aren’t earth-shattering prices we were accustomed to seeing earlier this year, but after a strong performance, Huerter’s cards have increased significantly. 

In just a week’s time, his National Treasures Rookie Patch Auto /99 increased by 145%: 


Huerter is a great example of a player whose prices became extremely affordable with him relatively unknown and out of the spotlight, but how does it compare to a more established player like Trae Young? 

Young’s pop 2,070 Prizm Silver PSA 10 is currently valued at $1,313.86:


The card gained 17% in value, increasing by $233 since the latest sale. In terms of absolute value, the return on Young’s Prizm Silver was $86 more than Huerter’s, but required a much higher initial investment. 

A lesson here is that a player like Trae Young may have a “built-in” value, meaning that buyers were purchasing at prices that assumed a playoff appearance and future championships. In this case, players like Huerter can be an attractive opportunity at low prices, but in the long run, sustained success is likely needed to maintain prices. 

2. Los Angeles Clippers
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Terance Mann had a break-out game 7 to help the Clippers advance to the Western Conference finals, and his card prices followed suit:


Mann’s Prizm Silver PSA 10 was the fastest growing card this past week, as it went from a $64.50 card to $450 in just 4 days. 

Despite Kawhi Leonard’s injury and absence from the series, other players have seen increases as well.

Paul George, an established veteran who scored 34 points in the series opening loss against the Suns, saw an increase in his 2010 Donruss PSA 10:


On 6/13, the card sold for $295.80 and climbed to $369.36 on 6/20, a 25% increase. However, the card sold for $500 on 5/30. 

On the other hand, an injured Kawhi Leonard hasn’t seen much movement for his 2012 Prizm Silver PSA 10. It last sold on 6/10 for $12,400, a $470 decrease from the previous sale. 

3. Phoenix Suns
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Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns have a promising chance to reach the NBA Finals, and while Booker’s card prices haven’t reached their previous highs, they are trending upward. 

His base Prizm PSA 10 recently sold for $1,115.83:


The card sold as high as $1,478 in August of 2020, but the card has still increased in value by 74% since May 31st. 

Booker’s Prizm Silver PSA 10 recently sold for $6,100, a 39% increase since it’s last sale on 6/13: 


The Prizm Silver PSA 10 hit a peak price in December when it sold for $7,901 and has been down 22% since, but is gaining momentum with the playoff exposure. 

Booker scored 40 points in Game 1, followed by 20 points by former first round pick and center Deandre Ayton. 

Ayton’s Prizm Silver PSA 10 has actually gone down slightly in value and is currently worth $253.50: 


This same card sold for $660 in August of 2020, losing 61% of its value. 

Booker is clearly the face of the Suns, and despite Ayton being the #2 scorer, there’s not as much movement across his cards. To explain this slight dip is only speculation at this point, but we can interpret this a few ways: 

  1. Ayton is a Center, and this may not bode well for future card prices (top selling players are typically Guards and Forwards – think Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Steph Curry, Lebron James, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird)
  2. Ayton’s prices peaked around the same time many other players peaked, meaning that he wasn’t in consideration as an underrated player

This isn’t to say Kevin Huerter and Terance Mann are better buys than Ayton, but it shows us that a player’s cards may grow at different rates despite similar performances based on other factors like historical price, position, and population. 

4. Milwaukee Bucks
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The Bucks will face the Hawks in the Eastern Conference finals, and despite back-to-back MVP awards, Giannis Antetenkoumpo has yet to reach an NBA championship. 

His pop 75 Prizm Silver PSA 10, which once sold for $42,930, is now valued at $22,100: 


The card increased by $4,000 from its last sale, an increase of 22%. 

Antetokounmpo’s Base Prizm PSA 10 is currently valued at $1,681.38. The card has lost 76.9% of it’s value since it peaked in August of 2020 and even though the Bucks have reached the Eastern Conference finals, the card hasn’t adjusted much in value. 

Despite the falling values of the Base Prizm, the increase of his Silver Prizm is in stark contrast to Kevin Durant’s Topps Chrome Refractor PSA 10. 

The  Brooklyn Nets fell to the Bucks in overtime in Game 7. Even though Durant played a full 53 minutes and scored 49 points, his rookie refractor continues to decline in value: 


The card is currently valued at $17,600, a 68.8% decline in value since its peak. It was gradually declining in price since the record sale, but lost 23.5% of its value after the Game 7 loss. 

Ben Simmons’ Silver Prizm PSA 10 also declined by 23% after the 76ers Game 7 loss to the Hawks. 

Tying it All Together
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It’s pretty clear that the NBA Playoffs and performances have impacted the prices of cards. It’s highly unlikely that Kevin Huerter’s cards would have increased in value had the Hawks not made a run in the playoffs, nor would players like Terance Mann see their Prizm Silver suddenly increase by a few hundred dollars. 

It’s important to remember that prices can go both ways, as we’ve seen examples of cards that have both increased and decreased. 

Playoffs may also influence shorter-term price fluctuations rather than long-term trends for certain players. For others, it may help create and cement their legacy, affecting prices in the longer term.