Popular Culture

The SlabStox Monthly Trading Card Market Report

Welcome to the SlabStox Monthly Trading Card Market Report!

A lot has changed since SlabStox began tracking the sports card market in 2018. And for a lot of you, we’re sure the market has evolved since you started collecting. Whether you’re new to the hobby or a long-time collector, you know things are moving fast. SlabStox Trading Card Market Report is the first of its kind—we’re going to break down key factors in the card market each month so you get a sense of what’s next. It’s for anyone who wants to understand the forces impacting card-buying and selling decisions.

Each month we’ll:

  • Present data and our takeaways that illustrate the current state of the card industry
  • Co-host a live podcast with @CardTalkPod breaking down the report and debating its findings
  • Encourage you to learn, comment on, debate and share it out with your card community

The SlabStox/Card Talk “State of the Card Market” podcast premieres soon! Stay tuned to our social media for updates.

If you want to get notified when the SlabStox Monthly Card Market Report gets published, subscribe to SlabStox’s Daily Slab newsletter, delivered to your inbox every morning at 7 a.m. ET. Besides the monthly report, you’ll get daily card market news, card-sales data on trending players, and a whole lot of SlabStox curated top-auction targets. 

Enjoy, learn and share. Give us feedback–it matters and will make each trading card market report even better.

June 2022: 5 Hot Takes On Today’s Card Market

How is the card market performing in a down economy? Which card categories are hot, and which are not? Whose recent performances are driving their card values up or down? What should card collectors be thinking about next? 

Here’s our takes on the current state of the card market, based on data provided by Card Ladder.

Two time periods are used in this first report to get a sense for the overall: 

  • Monthly (6/1/22 – 6/30/22)
  • Year to Date (1/1/22 – 6/30/22)

DISCLOSURES: All market data in this report is from Card Ladder. Card Ladder is a partner of SlabStox, but operates independently, providing card collectors and investors insights to make informed, up-to-date data-driven decisions. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research before making a decision. 

Takeaway 1: Sports card index down, but outperforming the “bear market” and “crypto winter”

There has been a lot written and reported on the current state of the U.S. economy:

  • Record gas and energy prices
  • Inflationary growth that hasn’t been seen for multiple decades
  • A shift from a “bull” to a “real bear” stock market
  • Rumblings of an oncoming recession 
  • Run-up of cryptocurrency and NFTs, and a prick of the bubble

So where does that leave the sports card market? 

Card Market Year-to-Date

According to Chris McGill, founder of Card Ladder, a data platform that tracks verified card transactions from 14 marketplaces (eBay, PWCC, etc.), sports cards have been fairly flat over the last year — but down 8% in June and it has dipped 13.76% year-to-date.

Card Ladder built the CL50 Index, an index of 50 highly transacted cards, to represent the overall market. Some of the cards included are the Wayne Gretzky 1979 O-Pee-Chee RC PSA 8, LeBron James 2003 Topps Chrome Base RC PSA 10, Patrick Mahomes 2017 Prizm Silver RC PSA 10 and the Hank Aaron 1954 Topps RC PSA 5. Here’s a look at how it changed over the last two years.


From January 2021 until March 2021, the CL50 Index doubled in value — from 16,120 (1/3/21) to 33,200 (3/7/21) in just two months. It didn’t take long to correct in value. From March to June 2021, the CL50 dropped back to 16,800 (6/27/21).

“The CL50 Index hasn’t moved much over the last year,” McGill says. “The card market had a mania in 2021–a bull run unlike ever seen before. All those gains were wiped away.

“The bear market we’re seeing in other sectors, whether it is Bitcoin or the S&P taking a hit, the card market had about 14 months ago,” he explains. “What I see happening in other markets I remember watching it real-time in the card market a while ago.”

Here’s how the CL50 Index performed to other standard market indicators:

Markets Year-to-Date (1/1/22 – 6/30/22)

Andy Albert, owner of Indy Card Exchange, says boots-on-the-ground metrics prove there is still energy in the card market. 

“The optimism is still there and holding something tangible to collect or invest in will never go away,” Albert says, who recently organized the “Midwest Monster” card show that attracted nearly 4,000 card collectors to its first show in Indianapolis, June 17-18. 

“At our shop, there hasn’t been any dip or downturn in the number of people walking in and out,” he adds. “Obviously, people are spending money more wisely. The market is still strong but people are more selective in what they are buying.”

June 2022: 30-Day Performance

When comparing the June CL50 trend to the other months so far in 2022, it comes as the second worst performing month (-8.07%), right behind May (-8.71%).

The cards in the CL50 that have gotten hit the hardest this month are the Mike Trout 2011 Topps RC PSA 10 (-20%), Charizard 1999 Pokémon 1st Edition Holo PSA 9 (-20%) and the Oscar Robertson 1961 Fleer RC PSA 6 (-20%).


Buying the “surefire thing” with Patrick Mahomes and Luka Doncic was praised for years, but rubber hit the road for two of their high-end cards in June, as both of them experienced a card that lost ~$500,000 since the last time it sold. Mahomes’ 2017 National Treasures Gold RC Patch Auto /10 BGS 9.5 sold for $1,080,000 on 9/18/21, but recently sold for $480,000 on 6/16/22. Luka’s 2018 National Treasures Emerald RC Patch Auto /5 BGS 9 sold for $1,000,000 on 8/2/21, but recently sold for $504,000 on 6/16/22.

SlabStox Bottom Line
  • Playoff misses. While -8% for the CL50 and -20% for the Mike Trout PSA 10 is a substantial monthly slide, it does understate how bad June has been for some of the cards in the market. Buying cards of players that rose in price due to playing at their peak performance proved to be an incredibly bad investment, as Jayson Tatum’s 2017 Prizm Blue RC /199 BGS 9.5 decreased 45% and Jordan Poole’s 2019 Prizm Fast Break Blue /175 RC PSA 10 decreased 52%.
  • The stalled flip. Buying cards to flip within a 30-day period was next to impossible in June, as your only luck would have come with capitalizing on a hot playoff flip.
  • What we’re feeling. People are selling if they: 
  1. Need money for living expenses/savings
  2. Are substantially in the green over the past three years or more
  3. Want cash flow to make stronger plays at the The National
  4. Don’t believe in a certain card long-term (generally base cards)
  5. Want to re-invest into a different “down” card.
Takeaway 2: Baseball’s upswing + F1 surge lead card market

While overall the card market is down this year, there are some standout bright spots—hockey up 2% in June with a Stanley Cup bounce, while baseball and racing have increased since the start of the year.

Card Market Comparisons

Baseball, while down 3% in June, has increased 3.5% for the year, outpacing other major sports—football (-8.28 / -13.40%) and basketball (-6.15% / -15.13%). 

Racing, fueled by the exponential growth of the F1 card market coming off the success of the first 2020 Topps Chrome F1 release last year, has grown the most this year (+19.22%). For June, F1 sales have leveled off, trending down a hair (-2.63%) as the season is well underway, with one team dominating (Red Bull).

“2022 feels like baseball’s turn in the spotlight,” McGill says. “2020 was the year of basketball, 2021 football exploded on the heels of Brady and the Bucs Championship. A lot of people seem to now be interested in baseball.”

Albert’s perspective is that the market, whether up or down, is largely driven by the strength of rookie classes in product sets. 

“Baseball is up because of how strong the rookie class is,” he says. “People are looking into baseball because they can buy affordable products and can get good rookie cards. Bobby Witt Jr. and Julio Rodriguez—those guys are studs and with huge upside.

“Quarterbacks dominate the (football) marketplace,” Albert adds. “People who held and invested in the QB class of 2020 are very happy.”

Some specific category highlights from June: 

Racing: All-Time High Sales for MULTIPLE drivers in June

Each of these drivers converted an all-time high sale for a card.

  1. Max Verstappen
    • 2020 Topps Chrome Red Auto /5 PSA 9/10 – $90,000 on 6/25/22 via Goldin
  2. Mick Schumacher
    • 2021 Topps Chrome Superfractor RC Auto 1/1 PSA 10/10 – $39,600 on 6/25/22 via Goldin
  3. Guanyu Zhou
    • 2021 Topps Chrome Superfractor Future Stars 1/1 PSA 8 – $18,000 on 6/4/22 via Goldin
  4. Team Logo: Mercedes
    • 2020 Topps Chrome Mercedes Superfractor 1/1 PSA 7 – $13,200 on 6/25/22 via Goldin
Baseball: High-End Bowman Chrome Rolls On

Some of the most important modern Bowman Chrome cards sold in June. Here are the 5 top selling players.

  1. Shohei Ohtani
    • 2018 Bowman Chrome Red Auto /5 PSA 9 – $240,000 on 6/16/22 via PWCC Premier Auction
  2. Mike Trout
    • 2009 Bowman Chrome Orange Auto /25 BGS 9.5 – $228,000 on 6/25/22 via Goldin
  3. Juan Soto
    1. 2016 Bowman Chrome Red Auto /5 PSA 7 – $144,000 on 6/16/22 via PWCC Premier Auction
  4. Christian Hernandez
    • 2021 Bowman Chrome Red Auto /5 PSA 10 – $58,200 on 6/25/22 via Goldin
  5. Marcelo Mayer
    • 2021 Bowman Chrome Red Auto /5 PSA 10/10 – $54,000 on 6/25/22 via Goldin
  • F1 benchmarks. Not only was the Topps Chrome Red Auto /5 the most expensive Max card ever, but it also was the most expensive Topps Chrome F1 Auto to ever sell. While Mick Schumacher’s sale was his “rookie,” he actually had a 2020 Topps Chrome Superfractor Auto 1/1 which was an F2 Future Stars card. The 2021 Guanyu Zhou is in the same boat as the Mick, except Zhou’s card isn’t a rookie, it’s his 2nd F2 Future Stars card. That fact combined with the sale price ($18,000) makes for a head scratcher. The Mercedes Superfractor was the first F1 Team Logo card to cross 5-figures, with the next closest sale being the Mercedes Sapphire Red /5 PSA 10 ($9,000 on 5/21/22).
  • Baseball slides. Bowman Chrome took a big hit from the peak prices, but not everything can go up forever, right? Ohtani’s Red decreased $72,000 (-23%) since the previous sale on 12/18/21. It was the exact same card (#3/5). Soto’s Red decreased $129,060 (-47%) since the previous sale 10/25/21. It was also the exact same card, and funny enough, matches the serial number on the Ohtani (#3/5).
  • Prospect prospectus. Bowman Chrome Red autos of Christian Hernandez ($58,200) and Marcelo Mayer ($54,000) sold for huge price tags. Both have only played in A-ball or below, and neither have put up impressive numbers. There were multiple bidders willing to pay $50K-plus for their red autos. Remember, just because a player is young and has tools doesn’t mean he is destined to be a star. This is a risky investment, but one that could pay off big. 
Takeaway 3: Like gold, vintage cards strong in a down market

New to Card Ladder are Pre-war Vintage, Vintage, Modern and Ultra-Modern card indexes. What do these new categories tell us about the market? 

  • Vintage cards are holding up in a down market
  • Vintage and Pre-War Vintage cards are significantly outperforming the CL50 Index
  • Modern cards overall have slipped dramatically in 2022 (-18.76%) 
  • Ultra Modern cards have dropped double-digits in June due to a correction (-10.17%)

Vintage runs hot 

Why are Vintage and Pre-War Vintage cards holding strong? One hypothesis is the icons of this era are historically proven out and their cards are a limited resource. This makes vintage cards less risky in collectors’ eyes. Does this equate to gold, which typically runs hot during market downturns?  

“The way I look at it, the card market consists of three types of buyers—collectors, investors and gamblers,” Albert explains. “Vintage appeals to two of those three buckets—collectors and investors—because it creates stability. Twenty-five years ago the vintage market was based on emotions, but now with grading it is quantifiable and vintage is constant and stable over time.”

He also thinks it goes deeper. Vintage cards connect on an emotional level with collectors. 

“The younger generation can see the impact these players had,” Albert adds. “Jackie Robinson–you can watch on YouTube and see the impact he made. He’s an exception in every way because of the fact he broke the color barrier and is so well loved across every generation. I never see that going away.”

Some trending vintage cards in June include:

  • 1955 Bowman Mickey Mantle PSA 4.5
  • 1981 O-Pee-Chee Paul Coffey PSA 8
  • 1957 Topps Bill Russell PSA 5

*Note: Vintage cards of the same grade can often vary in final sale price. Eye appeal is extremely important, and just because one grade sells for a certain amount does not mean the next sale of the same grade will match. That variance could contribute to certain cards rising in price quickly within one month.

A Deeper Look at Price Levels

Surface numbers don’t always tell the full story of what is happening in the current market. While Modern and Ultra-Modern cards are taking a hit overall, it isn’t indicative of the entire market in these categories. 

For example, the Base card market has been wiped out from its peaks. Players like Luka Doncic (-25%), Ronald Acuña Jr (-47%) and Kylian Mbappé (-47%) have all gotten crushed since the start of the year on their extremely high population Base RC PSA 10s. Keep in mind, cards like the Luka Doncic 2018 Prizm Base RC PSA 10 are still nearly triple the price they were three years ago.


Albert says these numbers reflect a market correction that was long overdue.

“There was nowhere to go from a year ago but down,” he says. “It comes back to the local card shops educating people and steering them away from Luka Doncic PSA base rookies and Zion Williamson base cards that were way overpriced. 

“​​People are spending money on the right things now, buying National Treasures, Flawless and low-number Prizm color,” he says. “They’re still spending money—what is dragging those categories down is the standard, everyday flagship stuff. It’s finding its level because it dropped so hard and so fast.”

SlabStox Bottom Line 

Where’s the floor? The Base PSA 10 market still has room to drop. While the Luka Doncic 2018 Prizm Base RC PSA 10 is $333, which could look like a deal from the peak price of $2,000, that same card used to be $40. When they were $40, there weren’t 20,000 PSA 10s flooding the market like there are now. The market is extremely smart compared to two years ago, and the trend will continue on the low supply, sought after brand cards taking all of the market money.

Takeaway 4: Big players, big performances, big rewards (and some misses)

If you follow the Ultra-Modern card market, there’s one rule worth remembering: Performance plays out. 

Here are some key players and cards we tracked and reported on in June that are outperforming the market and their competition. Likewise, we’re including some cards that have sputtered—often for the same reason: Underperformance.

Let us know in the comments what cards are your winners and losers in June.

Andrew Wiggins

Nine seasons after being picked No. 1 in the 2014 NBA Draft, Andrew Wiggins has made the most of his shot at redemption. He earned a starting spot on the Western Conference All-Star team (to the dismay of some fans), and in the Finals, he played a key role for the Golden State Warriors, including a team leading 26-point Game 5 on the way to the Warriors fourth title in 8 years.  For a player labeled as “lazy” and “lackadaisical” for most of his NBA career, Wiggins put on a playoff show on both ends of the court against some of the best players in the league. Now, he has a ring.

Paul Goldschmidt

Paul Goldschmidt ended May with a Cardinals record that eclipsed some of the best hitters in the game. He finished the month with 23 extra base hits, topping Stan Musial (1954) and Albert Pujols (2003), who each previously held the record with 20. In June, Goldy has continued his hot hitting with a team-leading and career-best slash line of .342/.424/.630 with a 1.054 OPS. Holders of Goldschmidt’s 2011 Topps Update Rookie PSA 10 have been rewarded with his strong performance. It’s increased 12.91% over the last 30 days, with the most recent sale at $175. (6/28/22).

Cale Makar

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar has been nothing short of amazing during the Avalanche playoff run. Back when they clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals, he was praised by Wayne Gretzky. “The Great One” compared the 23-year-old Makar to Bobby Orr, considered the greatest defenseman of all-time. Makar has led the Avs throughout the playoffs with 29 points on 8 goals and 21 assists. Makar’s 2019 Upper Deck Young Guns Rookie PSA 10 has skyrocketed in the last year, growing 150.64%. Makar is already a Calder Trophy winner, as he was the top NHL rookie in 2019-20. He also won the Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup at age 23.

Juan Soto

Deebo Samuel

Jayson Tatum

SlabStox Bottom Line
  • Free falling. If you hold cards of players that are DOMINATING in the playoffs, you better be ready to sell if you’re looking to take profit. Once a playoff run ends (win or lose), oftentimes the cards come back to earth (or fall to the core in Tatum’s case).
  • Offseason moves. If you are extremely impressed by a player whose cards rise in the playoffs, take the offseason as the perfect opportunity to invest for the long-term. If you bought Giannis in the offseason after they blew a 2-0 series lead on the Raptors in 2019, you’d be a very happy buyer right now.
Takeaway 5: What’s Coming & What to Watch

We want to end our market report with a look ahead. Here is what’s on our mind for the coming months. Let us know what you’re thinking about—we just may cover it in our next SlabStox Monthly Card Market Report.

The Fanatics Effect

Where does Fanatics Collectibles, now holding the lion’s share of the card market including the Topps brand and most of the major sport licenses, lead the market during the second half 2022? It’s an unanswered question. 

The market has gotten a peek at some things Fanatics is rolling out—direct to consumer selling, blind dutch auctions for zerocool cards products, more transparent reporting on product runs (zerocool)—but there are many unanswered questions. 

  • When will new sports products be released? 
  • Will they be flagship brands (Topps, Bowman) or Fanatics? 
  • What is the timing of releases? 
  • What is the distribution model for local card shops? 

There are so many unknowns, but we’ll be watching.

Panini Quality

We’ve reported a number of quality issues coming out of Panini last month. Here are a few that we covered in June:

Imagine you buy a box of 2021 @paniniamerica Optic Contenders FOTL at the floor price of $675, you get your box in the mail, open it, and there’s NOTHING inside. Well, that just happened to @mikeybcards. The damaged cards are one thing, but no cards at all? Has anything like this ever happened to you? (NOTE: To Panini’s credit, they quickly replaced the empty box.)

A MONSTER Reece James Obsidian Dual Patch Auto 1/1 was hit on Obsidian Soccer release day by @tanpulls for @joeyc_cards… but @paniniamerica put the wrong autograph on it. Instead of it being an auto of the Chelsea superstar, it was Heung-Min Son’s autograph (forward for Tottenham Hotspur). Son was one of the best Premier League players this season (23 open play goals), but on such a huge card, it’s less than ideal. Would you request a replacement if you pulled this?

We’ve seen the back damage, we’ve seen the poor centering…but how about a missing corner?! @mjbreaks pulled this monster Ja’Marr Chase Prizm Gold RC /10 except the bottom right corner is chopped off. The QC on 2021 Prizm has lacked quality. What do you think this would grade?

With Fanatics Collectibles likely having more impact on the second half of the year, what does Panini need to do to step-up its game? More importantly, will they secure various sport license deals that are now running out?

The National and other shows

Some plan all year for The National. This year it returns to the East Coast—Atlantic City, N.J., July 27-July 31.

It’s SlabStox’s first time in AC (2020 was canceled due to COVID-19), so we really don’t know what to expect. Be sure to visit SlabStox at Booth 1461; @CardCollector2, Booth 1560; and @CardTalkPod Booth 1060, 961.

This is what we do know:

  • The market dynamics will be different than last year. Vendors will be picky with what they buy and attendees will be more budget conscious.
  • Shameless plug—SlabStox’s Camp Kesem Charity Night will be held through multiple online events leading up to The National and will culminate at the popular Trade Night hosted by @CardCollector2 and @RoadShowCards. To participate and contribute to Camp Kesem Charity, check out this video and watch here to see last year’s results
Card Shows Worth Checking Out
  • July 1-2
    • A-Z Cards and Collectibles, Clovis, CA
    • Fort Lauderdale Card Show, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • July 7-10
    • (July 7-9) S&B Sports Promotions Sports Card & Memorabilia Show, North Wales, PA
    •  (July 9-10)  GG2 Sportscard Show, Springdale, AR 
    • Garden State Trading Card Show, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
    • (July 9-10) Bay Area Sports Card Show, Clearwater, FL 
  • July 14-17
    • Dallas Card Show, Allen, TX
  • July 22-24
    • (July 22-23) Tampa Bay Sports Card Show, Tampa, FL
    • Battlefield Mall Sports Card Show, Springfield, MO
  • July 27-31
    • The National Sports Collectors Convention, Atlantic City, NJ
July Product Releases

Many product releases have been delayed by manufacturers due to supply chain issues. The release dates below are subject to change by the manufacturer. Dates provided by Cardboard Connection.

July 1: 2022 Select UFC 

July 6: 2021 Topps Chrome Bundesliga 

July 8: 2021 Prizm NBA; 2021 Finest Bundesliga 

July 13: 2021 Topps Finest UEFA 

July 15: 2022 Prizm WNBA 

July 20: 2021 National Treasures Basketball; 2021 Optic Football; 2022 Bowman Chrome Road to UEFA U21 Euros Soccer 

July 27: 2021 Select Football 

July 29: 2021 Impeccable Premier League Soccer

August Barometer for the Card Market

This time of year is funky for the card market. We’re in the middle of the baseball season, football camp begins at the end of the month and with the 2022 basketball draft complete, all eyes are on the NBA offseason and where players move.

McGill from Card Ladder perhaps summarized it best, and it is worth sharing: 

Chris McGill

It’s a very interesting time of the year in the hobby.  There isn’t a lot of sports news and sports headlines from the Big 3 sports that will fire people up to go out there and buy cards. It’s always interesting to watch and see how it unfolds. When we start ramping up to football season and basketball season coming back, and that overlaps with the playoffs in baseball, the lead up to that will be a good test of our market. Will we see prices climb up again or not? That’s going to be the real test—August will be a good indicator of where we’re at.

SlabStox Last Word
  • Reasons to sell. Just like other markets (stocks, crypto, NFTs), people are selling for a multitude of reasons. Maybe people need living expenses, maybe people are saving for The National to buy that grail when they find it on the dip, or maybe people just don’t believe in a certain card as a long-term investment anymore.
  • Buy on the dip. While selloffs create short-term price drops, it could also create opportunities that might not have presented themselves. If you have the disposable funds, it might be time to focus on a few cards you want to stash away long-term. If you believe in the hobby and collecting for the long haul, view this as a time to secure cards you may not otherwise see for sale.
  • The X-factor. The real barometer for hobby health is not the day-to-day fluctuations in price. It’s the excitement that collectors have for not only the cards themselves, but to be involved in a great hobby with others like themselves. We experienced a tremendous amount of excitement at the Midwest Monster in Indianapolis in June, and we cannot wait to see the amount of collectors that show up to Atlantic City in July!
Popular Culture

The Top Jackie Robinson Baseball Cards

Before we talk about the top Jackie Robinson baseball cards, let’s talk about the man. In all of sports, few individuals remain as iconic and revered as Jackie Robinson. He’s the only player in any professional sport to have his number retired by every franchise.  A paramount advocate of civil rights, Robinson endured unrelenting prejudice and scrutiny in his military and baseball career.  Nevertheless, he persevered through all of this and ended his playing days as an MVP and World Series champion.  

Born in 1919, Jackie was a standout star at UCLA before playing for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro leagues.  After stints for minor league ball clubs, he made his Major League debut on April 15, 1947, becoming the first baseball player to break the color barrier.  He would go on to play for nine more years before retiring in 1956.  

The Top Jackie Robinson baseball cards, much like the cards of his former teammate and rivals, remain as staples from the golden era of trading card collecting.  The vibrant hues and designs from early Topps and Bowman designs hold up exceptionally well.  And, in an increasingly digitized world, Jackie’s cards stand out as powerful remnants of postmodern Americana.

Today, we are going to do a deep dive into the top Jackie Robinson baseball cards.  We will also talk about the market for these vintage gems and their rarity. So, without further ado, let’s get right into it:

1. 1952 Topps Jackie Robinson #312: $5,000-$950,000

The importance of the 1952 Topps Baseball set has been well documented over the years. Containing some of the most valuable pieces of cardboard in existence, this set features unrivaled artwork and detail that we just don’t see in modern products.  And the Jackie Robinson #312 is no exception.  This is Jackie’s most expensive card to date, reaching a price of $960,000 in 2021.  

The cards from ‘52 Topps are a slightly bigger size than the 2.5” x 3.5” dimensions we see in most products today.  These cards were also found in the bike spokes and baskets of many young collectors in the 50s. Finding one in the PSA 9 condition shown above is quite a daunting task.  There are currently no PSA 10s registered, and with 70 years gone by, it’s unlikely that an ungraded copy has remained in perfect condition all this time.

Lower graded versions of the #312 can be found online for a lot less than $960,000.  This is a card that stands at the top of many holy grail lists, and it’s undoubtedly one of the best baseball cards in history.

2. 1948 Leaf Jackie Robinson #79: $5,000 – $470,000
Heritage Auctions

The 1948 Leaf #79 is considered by most to be his true rookie card. The sharp contrast between the blue Dodger cap and yellow background makes this card pop nearly 75 years later.  This PSA 9 sold for $336,000 in 2018. With no existing PSA 10s, it would probably bring an exponentially higher auction price in today’s market.

A PSA 8 copy sold in February for over $470,000, marking the highest price for any Leaf trading card.  This is one of the most sought-after post-war cards, and it deserves a spot on pretty much any vintage baseball card list out there.

3. 1949 Bowman Jackie Robinson #50: $2,000 – $500,000

Here is the first showcased card from Bowman, who produced cards independently until being acquired by Topps in 1956.  Much like the 1948 Leaf, it doesn’t resemble the traditional trading card size that we see today. And, much like the 1952 Topps, it features a crisp red background that beautifully contrasts the famous Dodger blue on Robinson’s jersey and cap.

Like most on this list, this card has yet to produce a PSA 10 grade.  However, there are ten PSA 9s in the registry at this time, with one reaching a sale price of $510,000 in April 2021.  You can find lower-grade PSA, Beckett, and SGC copies for sale on eBay, and the color still pops on those seven decades later.

4. 1953 Topps Jackie Robinson #1: $500 – $295,000

The ‘53 Topps is unique for this list because it’s the only card where Jackie is #1 in the set.  It is also an extremely tough grade due to the black edges and corners on the bottom right.  Remarkably, there is still a single PSA 10 in the registry, but it has yet to surface for an auction.

Jackie hit for a phenomenal .329 batting average in 1953 and helped to continue Brooklyn’s string of success.  This Topps design is almost as iconic as its predecessor., The PSA 9 copy above sold for nearly $300,000 last year, the second-highest sale for a 1953 Topps card, with Mickey Mantle’s PSA 9 being the only card to sell for more.

5. 1950 Bowman Jackie Robinson #22: $1,000 – $120,000

This beauty from 1950 Bowman is the first on the list to feature an “action” shot.  The card pictured shows Jackie’s follow-through after he takes a swing.  The background also showcases historic Ebbets Field, the former home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. 

There are twelve of these PSA 9s, which is very impressive considering the card’s small 2-1/16″ by 2-1/2” dimensions.  This is Jackie’s second and last appearance in a Bowman set, which also speaks to the rarity of the item.  You can find this mini piece of artwork here, as lower grades tend to sell for only a fraction of the $120,000 PSA 9 price.

6. 1954 Topps Jackie Robinson #10: #300 – $55,000

The next three entries highlight the unparalleled excellence of 1950s Topps designs.  The 1954 Topps set includes rookies of Hank Aaron, Al Kaline, and Ernie Banks. It also boasts exceptional coloring and neat in-action shots of players. The ‘54 Jackie showcases bright yellows, reds, and blues that still illuminate a collection today.

This card is the most affordable on the list so far, as ungraded singles can be picked up in the $200-300 range. A PSA 9, the highest grade for this card, sold for over $55,000 last year, marking another impressive price for a mint condition Jackie Robinson card.

7. 1955 Topps Jackie Robinson #50: $200 – $75,000

The first horizontal card on the list, 1955 Topps features Roberto Clemente and Sandy Koufax’s rookie cards. It’s some of the most visually striking printed cardboard you will ever see.  Also of significance, it’s the year of Jackie’s one and only World Series win, triumphantly defeating the Yankees in seven games.

This card is also the only one on the list to have a known PSA 10 sale.  In 2007, Memory Lane Auctions sold the sole Gem Mint copy for $44,000, and it would likely be 10x that price if it hit the market today. Conversely, a PSA 1 can be picked up for around $325, and it’s a necessary addition to any vintage baseball collection.

8. 1956 Topps Jackie Robinson #30: $200 – $75,000

Number 8 on the list is Mr. Robinson’s last Topps card, and it is just as aesthetically pleasing as previous Topps copies.  In 1956, a 37-year-old Jackie hit for .275 and led the Dodgers to another World Series appearance, narrowly losing to the rival Yankees.

‘56 Topps also famously contains gray back and white back versions of its cards.  Cards #1-100 are typically sought after as a gray back, but the difference in rarity for series 1 cards is slim.  So, in the case of Jackie Robinson, you can typically find both for sale pretty easily. This includes a $75,000 sale of a PSA 9 copy last year, one of 17 in existence.

9. 1952 Berk Ross Jackie Robinson: $1,000 – $100,000

Here is the first “alternative” card on our list, which is a card produced by a smaller company that still remains relevant.  New York photographer Berk Ross released two sets in 1951 and 1952 that have achieved quite a fandom as time has passed.  Robinson does not have a card in the ‘51 set, but the slab above shows the Dodgers legend leaping in the air for his ‘52 photo.  

Rare items like the Berk Ross set remind us of the importance of cards and the story they tell.  Almost every collector will know about Jackie’s 1952 Topps card, but cards like these just never appear.  There are only three PSA 9s out there and zero Gem Mint 10s.  The PSA 9 copy shown sold for over $100,000 last year, a true collector’s piece.  Lower-graded iterations for sale can be found here.

10. 1947 Bond Bread Jackie Robinson: $1,000 – $50,000

To round off our list, how about a card from … a bread company? In 1947, Bond Bread released a photo set that included 13 different cards of Major League Baseball’s first African American player. The copy shown above, which is the only one from the set to contain a facsimile autograph, sold for over $50,000 in May.  This is a big sale for alternative vintage cards, so it will be interesting to see if this set gains more traction in the hobby.

This is also the only card on the list from Robinson’s rookie campaign, a remarkable year where Jackie won ROTY and silenced many critics in the press.  This stunner from Bond Bread serves as a great reminder of that legendary rookie season.

Did we miss one of the top Jackie Robinson baseball cards? Let us know @CardTalkPod on Instagram and Twitter!

Popular Culture

The All-New eBay Vault: Answering Your Questions 

At a time when high-end sales continue to reach new heights in the hobby, many are using secured vaults to store their sometimes multi-million dollar assets.  Platforms such as Alt, PWCC, and Goldin all offer a vaulting program to keep the best cards in the world safe.  And now, the biggest online trading card marketplace is introducing the all-new eBay Vault, a 31,000-square-foot facility to alleviate the worries of protecting high-end cardboard.

eBay’s vault, which was released in early June, is one of many new services that the site has debuted this year.  Authenticity Guarantee, a partnership with several grading companies, is another resource that shoppers can use to verify their trading card purchases.  This free inspection has become a great way to combat the rise of reprinted cards and potential scams. But it is the new vault service that has caught hobbyists’ attention over the last few days. It will hopefully grow the digitalization of high-end trading, as users will be able to send their cards to other vaults as well. eBay continues to grow its foothold in the collectibles industry, and it hopes to expand programs like the vault into different collectible categories by next year.

I was fortunate enough to connect with some great individuals on eBay’s team and ask them a few questions about the vault and its future.  They are taking the growth of the vault very seriously, so I am excited to see how it develops into a multi-faceted tool for the collector. The first four questions I had were answered by Bob Means, the Director of Trading Cards at eBay.  The rest is information that eBay has released for collectors that are eager to learn more and find a spot in the vault.  

So, without further ado, here are some answers to questions you may have about the brand new eBay vault:

1. Briefly describe the all-new eBay vault and its amenities. What makes the eBay vault different from other platforms?

BM: The eBay vault is a secure, temperature-controlled facility that delivers an unparalleled collecting experience for our community. It offers benefits like instant transfer, authentication, insurance, fractional ownership, affordable shipping and a tax-free storage location. eBay vault eligibility requires assets to have been bought for $750+ in the U.S., purchased directly on eBay, and graded by top graders in the category. Cards in the vault go through eBay’s Authenticity Guarantee so collectors can buy and sell with total confidence. 

The eBay vault is truly the future of collecting and this is a natural evolution as we see enthusiasts investing differently. They are turning passions such as trading cards, collectibles, and NFTs into their own asset class. The vault provides customers control and peace of mind – the ability to manage collections digitally and knowing that their valuables are secure. 

Our experience in collectibles is unparalleled. eBay is the only marketplace with over 26 years of expertise. This gives us the credibility to deliver our full suite of physical and digital capabilities at scale. 

2. Can we expect to see on-site submissions to the vault? Perhaps at the National or other large trading card conventions?

BM: We’re currently working on our plans for submissions and hope to announce direct submissions in the near future. For the latest updates on service expansion, stay tuned to and @ebaycollectibles on social.

3. Briefly run through the process of shipping a card out of the vault.

BM: Once you’ve decided to retrieve your card out of the eBay vault, our dedicated team meticulously packages the cards in custom protective packaging. We provide tracking information, accordingly. Buyers and sellers can track shipping as they normally do for other purchases on eBay. They will get a notification when the item has shipped from the seller. Then, a second notification when it has arrived at the eBay vault. In between, they will see when it has arrived at our Authenticity Guarantee partner’s facility and passed inspection. 

4. What are the fees for using eBay’s vault?

BM: Currently the only fee connected with the vault is when you withdraw a card you own that you’ve stored in the vault.  For now there is no fee to store a card in the eBay vault. When ownership changes for a card in the eBay vault, there is no cost to the buyer or seller. We don’t have a set date and it won’t happen in 2022, but there will ultimately be a processing fee for this transaction. As we continue to invest in the platform and scale the service, we’ll evaluate the need for any additional changes.

The rest of the questions/answers are derived from the eBay FAQ page for the vault, which can be found here

5. What are the requirements for a card submitted to the vault?

The item must be a graded trading card that has sold for at least $750 on, not including taxes and fees.  

6. Are NFTs eligible for the eBay vault?

No, NFTs are not eligible for the eBay vault.

7. Can I send my at-home collection to the eBay vault?

At this time, only cards purchased directly on eBay are eligible for the eBay vault at checkout. Check back for updates.

8. How does sales tax work when I buy and sell in the eBay vault?

When you ship or store a card to the eBay vault, you will not be charged sales taxes. Owners or purchasers may have a use tax responsibility upon withdrawal of a card from the eBay vault. Please consult with your tax advisor to understand your individual responsibility. When you sell or purchase a card that is shipped from the eBay vault, eBay will collect sales taxes as required.

9. And finally, how do I enroll in the eBay vault?

Enroll in the eBay vault with your eBay account. If you haven’t already, you’ll need to sign up for two-step verification. We want to make sure that the eBay vault and everything in it is secure. That starts with securing your account. Set up two-step verification in the Sign in and security section of your Account settings.

Only eBay account holders who are registered in the United States are eligible. Certain users will also be required to provide a name, address, date of birth, and last four digits of their social security number.

Staying Updated

There is more information available on their website regarding the all-new eBay vault, but those questions in particular have been asked repeatedly within the card community.  Text VAULT to 20633 to be alerted as new features are announced or added. It’s an exciting time in the hobby, and we are all excited to see if services like this emerge to protect our favorite cardboard assets. 

Let us know what you think of the all-new eBay vault @cardtalkpod on Instagram and Twitter! Will you be using it in the future to keep your slabs safe?

Popular Culture

The Best Hits From 2021 Prizm Football

Last week, Panini released one of its flagship products and we have already seen some of the best hits from 2021 Prizm Football. Often heralded as one of the best rookie cards for a modern football player, Prizm constantly grabs the attention of collectors and brings in record sales at auctions.

When this much attention is put on a singular product, there are bound to be some high-dollar cards to surface. Box openings have reached similar energy that they had during the Flawless LeBron James Logoman chase from earlier this year. While no one card is likely to reach the same 7-figure amount as the logoman, there have been some massive hits that deserve the spotlight.

This year’s Prizm is especially noteworthy for two key reasons.  For starters, it features a rookie class with some of the best talents of any draft in the last 20 years.  Players like Ja’Marr Chase, Mac Jones, and Micah Parsons all posted stellar rookie numbers, while others such as Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and Zach Wilson showed great promise.  Put simply, this class is loaded.

Additionally, Panini added a barrage of case hits and super short-printed (SSP) cards into the mix.  The Manga, Colorblast, and Stained Glass inserts all have generated buzz online in the last week.  And, of course, Prizm is not complete without its Gold, Gold Vinyl, and Black Finite 1/1 parallels, which continue to sell for new highs.

Thousands of boxes have already been opened, so it is nearly impossible to showcase every awe-striking hit out there.  For today, we have curated 8 cards that best epitomize the allure of Prizm, but there are sure to be new cards that will deserve a spot on this list in the future.

So let’s get right into it! Here are the best hits from 2021 Prizm Football so far:

1. Mac Jones 2021 Prizm Black Finite 1/1 Rookie

Here it is, the mac-daddy of them all.  The list of the best hits from 2021 Prizm Football has to start here. One thing that constantly unites the hobby is the stories behind these mythical cards we see online.  This one is no exception.

This gem was pulled by a 13-year-old named Johnny Stone (@stones_sports_cardz) and immediately sold for $100,000 the next day.  And if you haven’t seen his reaction, we highly recommend it.  A remarkable card with life-changing consequences, Johnny’s pull has already been covered by local and national media alike.  Not a bad start to the summer for an 8th grader if you ask us.

The question remains: will this card hold its value?  During his rookie campaign, Mac Jones has received unrelenting comparisons to former Pats QB Tom Brady.  But the circumstances are entirely different, and Mac has some tremendous cleats to fill to be put in the same conversation as Brady.  Nevertheless, hobbyists have pinned Jones as THE player to hit in 2021 football breaks, so his market has had some big sales since he was drafted last year.

2. Tom Brady 2021 Prizm Manga Case Hit PSA 9

Paying homage to the Japanese art form of the same name, the Manga insert quickly caught the attention of football collectors.  And some early prices of this Tom Brady case hit may make it the chase card to have in the 10-card set.  The picture above features the first PSA graded copy, which was posted to PSA’s official Instagram earlier this week.  Although it didn’t reach that perfect 10 grade, it will be interesting to see where this beauty ends up selling.

Considering Tom Brady has played that villain role for most of his career, this insert is an extremely fitting depiction of the GOAT.  We can see Brady’s seven Super Bowl rings, which almost look like Thanos’s infinity stones from the Avengers franchise.  And with Brady set to return this fall, Panini may end up having to add another ring for next year’s design.

3. Trevor Lawrence 2021 Prizm Black Finite 1/1 Rookie Patch Autograph

Here is the first appearance on the list from 2021’s top draft pick, and it does not disappoint.  This Trevor Lawrence Black Finite Rookie Patch Autograph is both a case hit and a 1/1, and it is a stunner.  It was pulled this week by PullWax, and it contains a laundry tag patch and a crisp auto.  Lawrence’s NFL Shield 1/1 RPA from Immaculate sold for $91,000 a few weeks back, so we will see if a card of this caliber can reach a price in that range.

Plagued by off-field drama and inadequate coaching, TLaw’s rookie season was certainly not the one he was hoping for.  Fortunately, the Jags were able to reload and add new pieces to their offensive arsenal.  And with the return of his former Clemson teammate Travis Etienne, #16 is looking to make waves in the AFC South this fall.

4. Trey Lance 2021 Prizm Black Finite 1/1 Rookie Autograph
Layton Sports Cards

Another top rookie QB, this 1/1 autograph of Trey Lance was hit just a few days ago by Layton Sports Cards.  Considering that Lance has yet to play, we could be looking at a six-figure card if he’s the goods.

The gold vinyl auto /5 had an early sale of $24,000 online, so only time will tell where this one will end up. Lance’s dual-threat abilities in the backfield make this card even more exciting. It makes us wish that football season was here already.  If the Niners are able to keep superstar receiver Deebo Samuel on the roster, then we could be looking at a great duo in the NFC for years to come.

5. Zach Wilson 2021 Prizm Black Finite 1/1 Rookie Autograph
Snap Packs

And here we have a beautiful 1/1 auto from New York’s top draft pick in 2021, Zach Wilson.  Snap Packz, a Facebook breaking group, pulled this monster card just a few nights back, marking yet another Black Finite Prizm of a rookie quarterback.  And just like Lance, this is a guy with tremendous upside and a passionate fanbase.  

Seeing it is a 1/1, there is no real way to put a definite value on this one.  Regardless, it is sure to bring a nice payday for the new owner if they choose to sell it.  We even know a few of CardTalk’s finest that wish they had hit this massive pull.

The Jets open up their season against the Ravens, and Wilson will get another shot to prove he’s the future.

6. Mac Jones 2021 Prizm Gold /10 Rookie Autograph

This list needs a little more mac-tion.  Not only have we seen the 1/1 pulled, but this gold autograph appeared on eBay just days ago.  Its selling price is $18,000 according to CardLadder, which is around a fifth of the 1/1 we mentioned earlier.  

Looking at this card makes us wonder: is this the next Brady Contenders or the next Matt Cassel rookie auto?  The hype is building for Mac, and a competitive AFC East will make Jones’ path to glory anything but easy.  Only time will tell if this guy has what it takes to be one of the greatest to lace them up in Foxborough.  

7. Trevor Lawrence 2021 Prizm Gold Vinyl /5 Rookie Autograph

Going in to the 2021 NFL Draft, Trevor Lawrence was thought of as by far the top prospect available… and this card would likely be #1 on the list of best hits from 2021 Prizm Football if the product release was not delayed.

This stunner, pulled by BTC Breaks, will probably sell around the same price as a new Tesla. But with only five of these in existence, it starts to make sense. 

With Flawless and other high-end products still slated to release later this summer, it will be interesting to see how many Trevor Lawrence cards that are better than this one.  Because truthfully, there aren’t that many, and you could probably count them on a handful.  Congratulations to the new owner on what appears to be a monster hit!

8. Justin Fields 2021 Prizm Gold Vinyl /5 Rookie

Here is our first appearance from Chi-Town’s newest star quarterback. Fields has remained a redemption in many 2021 football products. This means his autographs get mailed to the customer at a later date.  So to see such a massive card feature a signature of the Bears rookie makes it even more desirable.

After a head coaching change, the former Buckeye is surely looking to make improvements from year one.  Fortunately for him, he has all the gifts and abilities to make that happen.

9. Zach Wilson 2021 Prizm Gold /10 Rookie
Steel City Collectibles

Last but not least, we have a Gold Prizm of Zach Wilson.  The former BYU Cougar showed promise under center last year, but the Jets only managed a 4-13 record.  Nevertheless, many collectors saw Wilson as a great prospect at the quarterback position, and some of his card prices reflect that.  

This card, which is numbered to 10, was pulled recently by Steel City Collectibles.  A different Gold Prizm had a sale of over $13,000 on eBay, so a high-graded copy is sure to bring a good premium.  With many off-season additions and an improved defense, we will see shortly if believers in Wilson are geniuses for buying his rare cards now.

Show Us Your Big Prizm Hits!

If you feel you pulled one of the best hits from 2021 Prizm football, be sure to share them with us on Twitter or Instagram @cardtalkpod

Popular Culture

Prepare for the National – Your Ultimate Guide

We are quickly approaching the best time of the year for trading card collectors: the National Sports Collectors Convention. Since 1980, the NSCC has consistently been the premier event for hobby enthusiasts.  And this year is no exception, as the show will make its way to Atlantic City, NJ on July 27-31.  While it has become a hotspot to meet new people and add grails to your collection, it’s also a place to see unreal pieces of memorabilia.  Just last year, Goldin Auctions featured displays of game-worn Air Jordans and an authentic boxing robe of Muhammad Ali.  Needless to say, this show is like a trip to the Smithsonian at times, but how do you prepare for the National?

When you are attending the biggest card show on this planet, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the buzz and excitement circulating in the building.  If this is your first time navigating through the National, it may be wise to channel your best Phil Jackson and make a game plan.  Luckily, we know just the right person to explain the atmosphere of America’s greatest card show.

Card Talk’s own Ryan Johnson (aka CardCollector2) has an excellent YouTube series on how to prepare for the National.  As a prominent figure in the hobby, Ryan has been documenting his experiences at shows for years now, all while sharing important tools of the trade with newer collectors.  And chances are that if you are reading this article, you have seen a few of his videos.  

Today we are going to highlight a few of Ryan’s key tips from his series and hopefully add a couple more quick pointers that will make your trip to the NSCC a success.  So, let’s just get right into it. Without further ado, here is a quick guide to the biggest card show in the world:

When to Go?
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm
A view from last year’s National of the Main Stage schedule

As we mentioned previously, the National is a 5-day show, and some may not have the availability to be there for every minute of it.  One of the best points that Ryan brings up is fitting the show to your schedule and needs.  If you are looking to browse through hundreds of boxes/showcases to find some deals, then getting there on day one should be a priority.  Grading with PSA and Beckett is also an important endeavor to take care of early- the lines can really build up later on in the week.  However, if you are just looking for a few pieces, or you just want to meet your favorite player, it may be best to plan around the autograph schedule.  This can be found on the NSCC website, and it shows the list of all the athletes you can expect to see. 

This isn’t to say that being there every day is not worth your time. It is.  You will see jaw-dropping, magazine-cover stuff.  But prepare for the National in advance, so that when you’re pressed for time you can maximize your experience.

VIP Packages/Perks

It is also important to note the VIP options of the show, which are currently listed on the NSCC site as well.  Choosing the right package for you is one of the most important ways to prepare for the National. Ryan outlines a few of the benefits of purchasing a VIP or Super VIP bundle, including a private lounge area, 30-minute early access, and free parking passes.

The VIP package features a gift bag, tickets to a VIP party that’s typically on Wednesday before the show opens and features some autograph opportunities, and a badge to keep on when you’re entering the show.  This badge becomes really important when you are running in and out of the convention center, as you can just show it to security without any hassle or wait times. You also get an extra half hour to peruse the aisles before they become insanely crowded, which can be a real advantage if you have your eye on a particular card.

Another benefit is the promotional items that Panini, Topps, and Upper Deck put out for the National every year.  VIP members will typically receive a standard promotional set from each company,.  VIPs are entitled to one from each company. Super VIPs are entitled to two of each giveaway.

As of early June, the Super VIP package has already sold out, but general admission tickets and regular VIP are still available.  

The Essentials

Another facet of the show that many forget to prepare for the National is packing correctly and bringing the essentials that every hobbyist may need.  

If you’re bringing cards to trade or sell at the show, you may want to consider a backpack or a carrying case.  Zion Cases are a fresh way to keep your cards both handy and safe, all while having the suave briefcase look.  If you would like to save 10% on these cases use code “CardCollector2” at checkout.

One thing that Ryan and many others will emphasize is the importance of comfortable shoes.  This show has an entire convention center at its disposal, so there will be a lot of walking and a lot of standing in lines.  Thankfully, there are typically areas on the side where you can find a seat and rest for a minute if need be.

Also, if you’re new to a card show, it is always a good idea to have some cash on hand.  Most dealers will accept PayPal or some sort of digital transaction, but having a couple of crisp bills will always make a transaction quick and simple, especially if there is an inconsistent cell signal.  Having some cash on hand when you get there will definitely save you some time, as going to the bank could be tricky and you won’t have to deal with ATM transaction fees and limits.

Dealer Etiquette/Relationships
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

This may be the single most important aspect of the National.  You may just be attending to grab a quick autograph or to see a few seven-figure cards, which is perfectly okay.  But if you are starting to focus more on branding yourself in the hobby, then it is paramount that you work to build new relationships. 

This starts with some key rules of “dealer etiquette” that Ryan outlines in the series.  For starters, it is generally impolite to buy a card from somebody when two parties have already started a deal.  It’s also vital to remain respectful of the dealer’s setups as well. Try not to record their tables without asking, and you probably don’t want to put your cases/backpacks on their glass displays without asking.  Mindful rules like the ones mentioned will make you more likely to get to know the sellers and establish that relationship. Those handshakes and conversations can go a long way in the hobby, and finding those familiar faces will help when you’re in such an overwhelming space.

On-Site Grading/Show Exclusives
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Another benefit of the NSCC is the exclusive opportunities that companies offer.  We touched on the on-site grading that PSA and Beckett typically provide, which will range in price depending on the service you select.  However, there are options to receive the card on the same day you submit it, but those prices increase as the show progresses.  It’s best to take care of your grading endeavors early so you can avoid the lines and extra fees that may be added on.

Panini also provides an enticing service for collectors with expired redemption cards, known as their White Boxes.  A Panini White Box Redemption will include an encased 1/1 card that has been taken out of circulation from the product it came from.  And, just like the exclusive promotional packs, these White Boxes can bring in a pretty penny as well.

Trade Nights

The final video from Ryan’s series talks about the Trade Night at the National, which is by far the best way to connect with everyday collectors in-person.  According to Ryan, this event started back in 2015 and only had around 30-40 attendees in the beginning.  The picture above, taken at last year’s Trade Night, shows just how far it has grown in less than a decade.

At the Trade Night, you can expect many people set up with their cards on a table, all while chatting with friends or watching a game.  It’s a much more relaxed vibe than the buzzing and whirring of the show, and it provides an excellent opportunity to build relationships within the card community.  Additionally, it’s a great way to trade more liquid cards into a higher-end piece and vice versa.  This is a free and safe environment that was put together by two of the hobby’s best and most trusted figures. It will be held on Thursday this year, so make sure to stay tuned to @cardcollector2 on all social media channels for news and updates.

I was fortunate enough to attend this Trade Night and many other smaller ones while at the National last year.  Ryan and Jimmy from Kentucky Roadshow did an incredible job with the venue, and it enabled me to meet many new faces that I still communicate with on a regular basis.  If you have the time, I highly recommend stopping by the Trade Night for an hour or two.

See You in July!

The days are waning down until the 42nd National Sports Collectors Convention.  If you have any more questions regarding the show, be sure to watch Ryan’s vlogs from last year’s National.  They help to give a first-hand account of what it was like on the show floor.  

You don’t want to miss it in Atlantic City this year. As we’ve seen the hobby grow to new heights, so have the card shows across the nation.  Who knows what’s in store for the National this year? We hope to see you there!

Do you have any tips on how to prepare for the National? Share them with us on Twitter or Instagram @cardtalkpod

Popular Culture

Athletes Who Served in the Military and Their Rookie Cards

As another Memorial Day weekend quickly approaches, it becomes very apparent that summer is here.  Pool parties, barbecues, and many rounds of golf can be expected in the next few days. Before I talk about some athletes who served in the military, it is important to recognize the real purpose of this weekend: to honor those who have sacrificed their lives for the safety of this country.

To show appreciation for these athletes, we decided to put a new twist on our discussions about the trading card industry.  So, today we will be showcasing the rookie cards of ten athletes who served in the United States Armed Forces.  We will also provide some information on each player’s athletic and military career, as many of the names on this list are all-time greats in their respective sports.

Let’s jump right into it! Here is my list of ten athletes who served in the military and a look at their best rookie cards:

1. Pat Tillman (Army) – 2001 Fleer Tradition Rookie #325 PSA 10

A seventh-round pick, Tillman’s fierce playstyle and ball-hawking abilities quickly made him one of the most promising young safeties in the NFL.  After the 2000 season with the Cards, Tillman had racked up 155 tackles and an abundance of disruptive hits.  

When you think of athletes who served in the military, Tillman is likely the first who comes to mind. Following the September 11 attacks, the Arizona State alum decided to leave behind the bright lights of pro football and made the brave decision to enlist in the Army.  He was involved with several battalions as an Army Ranger here in the U.S. before being deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Unfortunately,  Tillman died from a friendly fire incident in April 2004.  His heroic efforts during his time with the military earned him a posthumous Silver Star and Purple Heart.

Considering he was such an underdog story coming out of college, Tillman didn’t actually have any rookie cards until the 2001 season.  He has a card in both the Upper Deck MVP and Fleer Tradition sets, but we chose to go with the latter due to its immense rarity when graded (POP 10).  These won’t break the bank if you’re an avid Tillman collector, as they only run about $200-300 on eBay.


Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Panini’s Downtown set, which features an extremely patriotic portrayal of Tillman as an Arizona Cardinal.  The gold vinyl 1/1 from this product actually reached a price of over $5,000 at auction, making it the most expensive Pat Tillman card of all time.

Tillman’s heroism and bravery will be remembered this Monday, and the sacrifice he made will not be forgotten any time soon.  

2. Ted Williams (Navy/Marines) – 1939 Play Ball Rookie #92 PSA 9
Heritage Auctions

One of the finest to ever play at Fenway,  Ted Williams had an illustrious career so long that he played a game in four different decades.  Arguably the greatest hitter to grace the diamond, Williams posted a career .344 batting average, which is unheard of by modern metrics.  He also amassed over 500 home runs, and his legendary run as both a player and manager yielded a first-ballot Hall of Fame induction.

What many fail to realize about Teddy Ballgame is just how much he cut out of his prime.  The Red Sox legend enlisted in the Navy in 1942, serving until the end of World War II in 1945.  He was then called back into active duty for the Marines in 1952 as the U.S. heightened its involvement in the Korean War.  That’s nearly five seasons that Ted sacrificed for his country,  and he was still able to accumulate one of the greatest careers in MLB history.

Williams’ officially-recognized rookie is from the 1939 Play Ball set, his first year in Boston.  Centering is tough on this card, and there are only 12 PSA 9s and 1 known PSA 10.  The 9 sold for $480,000 back in 2021, making it the most expensive and sought-after Teddy Ballgame card that has ever surfaced. 

3. Jackie Robinson (Army) – 1948 Leaf Rookie #79 PSA 9
Heritage Auctions

We are stacking legends on this list.  Jackie may be best known for breaking the baseball color barrier in 1947, but he was also a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army during WWII.  Robinson was actually court-martialed and dismissed from his battalion after refusing to sit in the back of an Army bus.  

A paramount advocate of civil rights, Jackie Robinson endured unrelenting prejudice and scrutiny in his military and baseball career.  Nevertheless, he persevered through all of this and ended his playing days as an MVP and World Series champion.  His number, 42, is the only number in baseball history to be permanently retired by all 30 franchises, which will hopefully preserve the iconic status of one of Brooklyn’s finest.

1948 Leaf #79 is considered by most to be his true rookie card. The sharp contrast between the blue Dodger cap and yellow background makes this card pop nearly 75 years later.  It sold for $336,000 in 2018, and seeing as there are no PSA 10s, it would probably bring an exponentially higher auction price in today’s market.

4. Willie Mays (Army) – 1952 Topps Rookie #261 PSA 9
Heritage Auctions

An icon on and off the diamond, Mays is one of the few players in baseball history who could really do it all.  He has been a world champion, Golden Glove winner, MVP, All-Star, home run leader, stolen base leader, and batting champion.  Oh, and he also spent two years of his young career stationed at Fort Eustis, Virginia.  Is there anything Willie Mays can’t do?

Mays’s rookie card debate, much like Mickey Mantle’s, comes down to the 1951 Bowman set and the now-immortalized 1952 Topps set.  While the Bowman may be his first appearance on cardboard, the ‘52 is much more sought after.  This is reflected in a 2016 sale of the Topps PSA 9, which fetched $478,000 at a Heritage auction. Much like the Jackie Robinson we mentioned earlier, one can only speculate what one of these coveted copies would bring in value today.

5. David Robinson (Navy) – 1989 NBA Hoops Rookie #138 BGS 10

David Robinson was pivotal to the success of those 1990s-2000s San Antonio Spurs team,  and he is undoubtedly one of the best big men in NBA history.  Even still, Robinson served over 2 years of active duty in the Navy before even playing his first professional basketball game.  An alum of the Navy Midshipmen, he garnered the rank of Lieutenant by the end of his service, followed by 14 years of bullying defenders in the paint.  

Robinson’s rookie year was at a time of immense overproduction in the hobby, which is both a blessing and a curse for collectors.  Thankfully, his RCs can be acquired fairly inexpensively, but they lack the rarity of every other card on this list. Nevertheless, the San Antonio legend has one rookie that sold for over $3,500 in 2021, which can be attributed to the Beckett 10 Pristine grade that it received.

There’s absolutely no chance with a nickname like “The Admiral”, Robinson wasn’t making our list of athletes who served in the military!

6. Roger Staubach (Navy) – 1972 Topps Rookie #200 PSA 9

Much like David Robinson in the NBA, Roger Staubach served 2 years in the Navy before ever taking a snap for America’s team.  He was actually stationed in South Vietnam during the war from 1965-1967. This comes after a legendary career for the Navy Midshipmen, where his jersey has since been retired.

Staubach joined the Cowboys in 1969, nearly 5 years after he had been initially drafted.  His rookie card did not come until Topps produced their 1972 set, a design that features vivid colors that hold up well 50 years later.  The card pictured, a PSA 9 copy, is one of fifty existing PSA 9s.  Only two PSA 10s have been verified, but neither have sold at auction in recent years.  However, this copy of the iconic Dallas quarterback sold as high as $15,500  in 2016, and it remains yet another staple of vintage football collectibles.

7. Joe DiMaggio (Army Air Force) – 1938 Goudey Rookie #274 PSA 9
Heritage Auctions

Joe DiMaggio’s name is synonymous with classic Americana.  He is one of the greatest to put in those navy blue pinstripes, married Marilyn Monroe and had a mythical 56-game hit streak that will probably never be touched.  But besides all that, he was also one of the most famous athletes who served in the military, doing so as a sergeant for the AAF during World War II.  During his tenure, he played in many military-organized ballgames and garnered celebrity status, and he never saw active combat.  

DiMaggio’s most revered card has to be the 1938 Goudey #274, featuring an almost-cartoonish Joe holding a bat while many different graphics illustrate the background.  It once sold for $288,000 in 2017, and remains a rookie card on most Yankee collectors’ bucket lists.

8. Rocky Marciano (Army) – 1951 Topps Ringside Rookie #32 PSA 9

Here is another superstar of the post-war era.  Rocky Marciano is widely regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time. His 49-0 professional record speaks volumes about his presence in the ring.  But before blossoming into heavyweight champion of the world, “The Brockton Blockbuster” served nearly 3 years in the Army and spent most of his time providing aid to Allied troops in Wales.  

Upon returning in 1946, Marciano embarked on a decade-long career that captivated audiences and stirred fear into dozens of opponents.  This crisp 1951 Topps Ringside copy holds up as Rocky’s true RC, and it remains an essential item for hobby enthusiasts of classic boxing.

9. Joe Louis (Army) – 1935 JA Pattreiouex Sporting Events & Stars Rookie #56 PSA 9

It’s only fitting to have another boxer right behind Marciano – the perfect 1-2 punch.  Joe Louis is another name that will make most fans’ top boxers list.  His 66-3 professional record speaks for itself, but the legendary fighter was also a veteran of World War II.  Unfortunately, he was subjected to racist and bigoted scutiny by many of his supervisors, but he still fought in many charity events for the Navy.

Louis’ fierce spirit and passion for fighting make him so respected and idolized even decades later.  He has another card from the 1948 Leaf Boxing set, but this oddball card from 1935 JA Pattreiouex Sporting Events & Stars takes the cake as the boxer’s true rookie.  Last year, it fetched nearly $9,100 online, making it the most expensive card for one of the most skilled boxers and exemplary men to step into the ring.

10. Alejandro Villanueva (Army) – 2019 Panini Limited “Limited Ink” 1/1

The final feature on this list is not a rookie card, but it showcases a person who has accumulated immense respect across the NFL: Alejandro Villanueva.  Originally a tight end, Villanueva quickly shifted into one of the best left tackles in the AFC.  He has made two Pro Bowls and currently is a starter for the Baltimore Ravens.  And much like others we’ve seen on this list, he spent 5 years as an Army Ranger before making it to the big league.  He was stationed in Afghanistan at one point and earned a Bronze Medal for Valor during that time, making him a role model for fans and a leader in the locker room.

The former Steeler doesn’t have a “true” rookie card, but he has signed autographs in many high-end Panini sets.  The card pictured is a 1/1 from 2019 Panini Limited that sold for $133, and there are many other signatures available of Villanueva on eBay currently.

What do you think about our list of athletes who served in the military? Who would you have liked to see mentioned?

Shoot us your thoughts on Instagram and Twitter to @cardtalkpod.

Popular Culture

Top Obi-Wan Kenobi LEGO Star Wars Sets

“Hello there!” With his new Disney+ series debut upon us, let’s revisit some of the top Obi-Wan Kenobi LEGO Star Wars sets from over the years. Our criteria for eligible entries will be that the set must have contained an Obi-Wan Kenobi minifigure – simple as that! 

12. 75169: Duel on Naboo

This 2017 set was a great representation of taking a classic Star Wars scene and condensing it into a small, affordable set that appealed to adult builders and kid builders alike. It’s always great when a set with a relatively low price point can check so many boxes, so it’s a worthy inclusion on this top Obi-Wan Kenobi LEGO set list! 

11. 75269: Duel on Mustafar

Similar to the previous set, the Duel on Mustafar retailed for $19.99 and depicted one of the most epic lightsaber battles of all time. Considering this set’s great display ability and attractive price point, it ranks slightly higher than the Duel on Naboo. 

10. 75012: BARC Speeder with Sidecar

This set offered some awesome playability with the BARC Speeder and rotatable sidecar, straight out of The Clone Wars. Good luck finding a low price on this set, folks, because the exclusive Captain Rex minifigure that came in this set now sells for the upwards of $130 on his own!

9. 75092: Naboo Starfighter

The Naboo Starfighter is my all-time favorite Star Wars ship. This set ranks pretty high for me, too. I love the inclusion of several battle droids, Droidekas, and of course Anakin and Obi-Wan from The Phantom Menace. This set also included a cool docking build so you could display the set just as it’s seen in the Naboo hangar in the film. 

8. 7257: Ultimate Lightsaber Duel

Ask any LEGO-obsessed kid who was alive in 2005, and they’ll tell you this set was an instant classic. Not only did this set depict the lightsaber battle that everyone talked about all summer, but it also included two exclusive Anakin and Obi-Wan minifigures whose lightsabers would light up when you pressed their head down! While this wasn’t the most detailed set ever, the play value for young builders was unmatched for its time and has earned a place on my top Obi-Wan Kenobi LEGO set list. 

7. 7133: Bounty Hunter Pursuit

This set depicted the high speed chase from Attack of the Clones. It features two vehicles that were ahead of their time in terms of screen accuracy when compared to other sets of the era. This set also included the exclusive Zam Wessel minifigure, which hasn’t appeared in another LEGO Star Wars set since. 

6. 75058: MTT

It’s fascinating that LEGO has only made the MTT in play scale three times: once in 2000, again in 2007, and most recently in 2014. It’s debatable whether the 2007 or 2014 model reigns supreme, but since Obi-Wan was only included in the most recent version, it has earned a spot on this list. 

5. 7676: Republic Attack Gunship

Similar to the Ultimate Lightsaber Battle, any LEGO Star Wars enthusiast who was in the hobby at the time of this set’s release will tell you how great this set was at the time. Not only did it have an immaculate Republic Gunship build, but it also included the first ever Asajj Ventress minifigure. Also featured were the elusive Commander Cody, and the debut of Clone Wars Obi-Wan Kenobi.

4. 75021: Republic Gunship

The most recent Republic Gunship was released in 2013, which many LEGO Star Wars fans consider to be among the best years ever for the theme. This set is honestly one of my favorite Star Wars sets ever due to its amazing build and its wide selection of minifigures. It’s not every day that a single set will give you all of the main characters. This set’s inclusion of Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Padme made it an instant classic that to this day commands a pretty penny. 

3. 75290: Master Builder Series Mos Eisley Cantina

This set took the LEGO Star Wars world by storm upon its release. It was out of stock consistently for months after its release due to demand outweighing supply. Luckily LEGO’s production has caught up and it’s accessible regularly at the LEGO Store and LEGO’s website. This set’s size, display value, play features, and offering of many minifigures makes this an instant classic. 

2. 10179: Ultimate Collectors Series Millennium Falcon (2007 Version)

While most LEGO Star Wars fans will say that the 2017 UCS Millennium Falcon is the better of the two, there’s no doubt that the original has a certain nostalgic charm about it. In fact, at the time of its release, the original was the largest LEGO set ever offered in terms of piece count! Since then it’s been bumped down the list several times by sets like the Colosseum, the Titanic, and others. Still, like a sports star from yesteryear, just because there are new players on the field doesn’t mean we can’t respect those that came before, and the 2007 Millennium Falcon is no exception. 

1. 75159: Ultimate Collectors Series Death Star

Great sets are often made twice. That’s true for the UCS Millennium Falcon, and it’s true again for the UCS Death Star. In fact, both Death Star sets are nearly identical in their build, the biggest change was updating the box and the minifigures included. I own the original Death Star myself, but there’s no doubt that the updated minifigures give the new set an edge, hence its inclusion here. The set is among the largest LEGO Star Wars sets ever offered and includes play scenes from every iconic setting within the Empires formidable space station. From the Emperor’s throne room to the trash compactor, builders of all ages have loved this set for years, and it’s hard to imagine a better set that caters to all fans of Star Wars. 

What do you think of this Obi-Wan Kenobi LEGO set list? As always, hit me up on IG with your thoughts, and stay inspired!

Popular Culture

Top WWE Trading Cards to Look Out For

Before I jump in to the list of the top WWE trading cards to look out for, let’s get you up to date on the state of the wrestling card market. The 2022 release of WWE Prizm has put a spotlight back on wrestling trading cards.  The iconic stars of the 90s and 2000s have been rebranded into the ever-sought-after Prizm set. This has ushered in both a layer of nostalgia and a desire to hunt the jaw-dropping Gold and Black Prizms, which consistently bring in a pretty penny across all sports.

However, Prizm isn’t the wrestling world’s first grand entrance into the hobby.  Legends like Ric Flair, Andre the Giant, and Hulk Hogan all have rookie cards stemming back to the early 1980s.  The following list highlights a few of the most revered sets for WWE collectors:

There are other noteworthy sets to acknowledge as well, but the aforementioned list offers rookie cards for the game’s most heralded superstars.  Diehard fans of the WWE/WWF have been accumulating these cards for decades now, and now the average cardboard collector is catching on.  CardLadder has reported a 34.7% increase in its wrestling index over the past 90 days.  This comes at a time when many other major sports have been on a downhill slope, so it is exciting to see big sales across the WWE market.

Today, we intend to feature 10 cards in the WWE world that are worthy of a second (or third) glance.  Some may have fetched a high price at auction, while others may be up for grabs as you are reading this article.

Without further ado, here are the top WWE trading cards to look out for:

1. 1982 Wrestling All Stars Series A Ric Flair #27: $900-9,500

If you’re a Rolex-wearing, diamond ring-wearing, wheeling-dealing, limousine-riding, jet-flying son of a gun, then this card is for you.  

One of wrestling’s biggest personalities, the Nature Boy rose to prominence in the late 70s fighting in the National Wrestling Alliance and later in the WCW.  Flair has since maintained relevance by appearing in many WWE events over the last 2 decades. His trademark slogan, “WOO!”, has become synonymous with American pop culture, and his flashy attire is certainly hard to forget.

The card pictured above brought nearly $9,500 at auction in April, but lower grades can be picked up for far less. This is also Ric Flair’s first appearance on cardboard, which cements it as his true rookie card. Other copies of the 1982 Wrestling All Stars Flair can be purchased here or at major auction houses.

2. 1998 WWF Wrestling Superstarz Autographs Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson: $1,500-4,000

Arguably the most popular man on Earth, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has reached a celebrity status that surpasses any other wrestler on this list.  Therefore, it is only fitting that we showcase one of his more electric appearances on a card.

The 1998 Superstarz Autographs feature phenomenal photography work that transports the viewer back to the late 90s, a time when wrestling reached peak ratings.  This is also the first autograph set for The People’s Champ, and it has proven to be a tough set to grade.  There are currently only 33 PSA-graded copies and only 1 PSA 10 to date.

3. 1982 Wrestling All-Stars Series A #2 Hulk Hogan: $1,000 – $48,000

Another rookie card for a legend, this 1982 Wrestling All-Stars copy features a yellow border and a young Hogan with a sad demeanor. While he has had his fair share of controversy, Hogan has remained one of the most prominent names in the sport for 5 decades.  

The Beckett 9.5 shown above fetched an auction price of nearly $48,000 in 2021.  There are no PSA 10s, so this may just be the best Hulk Hogan card to ever exist (Oh Brother!).  Nevertheless, lower grades can be picked up at a more affordable rate on eBay and other trading platforms.

4. 2022 Panini Prizm WWE John Cena Color Blast #7: $1,800-$7,500

We aren’t sure how a card without anybody on it sold for so much, but here we are.  Jokes aside, Cena has transformed himself from WWE Champion to A-list celebrity in a few short years, even playing the titular character in HBO Max’s Peacemaker.

This card featuring the wrestler/actor/rapper/mogul is our first item from the 2022 Prizm set, which has been one of the hobby’s hottest releases of the year.  The Color Blast is a short-print card that only appears once in every case (12 boxes).  It sold ungraded for $7,500 when the product debuted, but it has since cooled down to the $1,500-$2,000 range.

There are only 3 Color Blasts currently available on eBay, including a BGS 10 copy.  This card accentuates everything remarkable about Prizm, so it will be interesting to see where it goes in the future.

5. 1991 Classic WWF Undertaker #64: $100-$3,000

Another early WWF card of a GOAT,  this card is a diamond in the rough of the junk wax era.  Undertaker has reached almost mythical status in the WWE, all while accumulating a fandom across generations.  

Copies are available at a favorable price, but higher-graded copies have reached new heights in the past year.  An SGC 10 recently closed at $3,000, marking the most expensive card to come out of the 1991 Classic set.

6. 1997 Cardinal WWF Trivia Series Steve Austin: $50-1,000

There may be more impressive “Stone Cold” cards out in the wild, but sometimes simplicity is key. The beer-drinking brawler is sure to be found on most fans’ Top 10 list, and he reached an unprecedented level of fame in the late 90s.  

Austin has cards dating back to 1991, but many still consider this his most recognizable rookie card.  The Cardinal series’ crisp yellow border almost looks like a Polaroid from the golden age of the WWF.  And who better to show on this Polaroid than Stone Cold?

Different graded copies can be found here, and most of the PSA 8s and 9s have remained relatively inexpensive despite the resurgence from the Prizm release.

7. 2014 Topps Chrome Roman Reigns Superfractor 1/1 Auto – $15,000

This is undoubtedly the best card of the dual champ.  The 36-year-old has accumulated a following comparable to the other legendary stars on this list.  He also rose to such an esteemed status at a time when Topps had sole control of the WWE market, so we saw a new influx of the popular Superfractor 1/1s.  

This card sold for $15k in February, and there aren’t other copies you can pick up.  Regardless, other superfractors and low-numbered parallels can be found online, and we will be watching to see if this 2014 rookie 1/1 auto resurfaces in the future.  

8. 2022 Panini Prizm WWE Charlotte Flair Color Blast #2: $600-$2,000

It’s a family business for Charlotte Flair, and her skillset as a fighter mirror that of her father, the Nature Boy.  This card is another case hit from 2022 Prizm, and it has proven to be Flair’s most expensive card in existence.  However, other great female fighters like Sasha Banks have rallied 4-digit prices on eBay, so Charlotte is not the only Color Blast to have on your radar.

Look for Flair’s short print inserts and serial numbered cards here.  New auctions and prices are being realized daily, which is the case for most cards in the 2022 set.

9. 1985 Topps WWF Hulk Hogan #1: $100-$35,000

This isn’t Hogan’s true rookie card, but it certainly has more eye appeal.  1985 marked the first year Topps manufactured WWF cards. The first card in the set is none other than Mr. Hogan, smiling and holding the championship belt. This has historically been one of the top WWE trading cards to look out for. 

CardLadder has verified a PSA 10 sale of $35,000, which is certainly eye-opening.  But a population of only 14 PSA 10s and an iconic photo manufactured by the most storied card company is the perfect mixture for big-money auctions.  You can shop for various grades here, although there probably won’t be any Gem Mint 10s available anytime soon.

10. 2022 Panini Prizm WWE Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Gold Prizm /10 – ????

Our final spot includes one of the more stunning cards you will see today.  We mentioned earlier the power that Prizm Golds have in the hobby and their immense desirability.  This card is no different.

Currently the highest-listed Prizm WWE card on eBay at $74,999, we could definitely see this card cook up a high sale price.  Stars like Ultimate Warrior, Undertaker, John Cena,  and Roman Reigns have all had low-numbered Prizm auctions, but there still hasn’t been a verified public sale of the People’s Champ.  Add a Beckett 9.5 grade into the mix and you have a truly spectacular card.  

The only card that will exceed the gold’s value is the mythical Black Prizm 1/1, which has not surfaced as of early May. However, when it does, it will most certainly become the one of top WWE trading cards to look out for.

If you are more of an AEW fan, make sure to check out my recent article on the Top AEW Cards to Look Out For!

Popular Culture

How to Ship Trading Cards

We have seen the trading card industry grow exponentially over the last three years, ushering in an era of new collectors.  This comes at a time in the hobby where social media and e-commerce sites are used for a large percentage of sellers’ business. Sites like eBay and MySlabs provide a virtual card show anytime you open your phone, allowing you to seamlessly browse cards of your favorite players. If you don’t know how to ship trading cards, you could be costing yourself a ton of money.  

However, as Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben once put it, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  The physical act of mailing cards is not to be taken lightly, especially at a time when fans are paying millions of dollars for cards to be shipped to their door.

Selling online requires logistical prowess. The process of finding a buyer, negotiating a deal on your terms, and finalizing payment can be long and strenuous.  But securing a package after a transaction is just as important for the seller’s reputation.  Later on, we will be outlining a step-by-step guide on shipping a card.

But for now, let’s go over some essential do’s and don’ts to mailing out your trading cards.

The Do’s of Shipping
1. Sleeve and Topload Your Card
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

The #1 rule of how to ship trading cards is to ALWAYS sleeve and top load the card. Toploaders and penny sleeves can be found online and at pretty much any local card shop.  The process is pretty simple: sleeve the card first, and then carefully slide it into the toploader.  Be cautious and avoid dinging corners, especially on thin 35 pt. paper cards. A protected card is a common courtesy that goes a long way in the shipping process.

2. Provide Tracking on Packages

When you are trying to legitimize your online business, there is no greater step that you can take than to obtain tracking information on shipments.  eBay and many big e-commerce websites have built-in methods for tracking.  However, if you work out a private deal, it is imperative that you purchase the service that issues tracking for your card.  Relaying that tracking number back to the buyer can save a lot of stress and tension if the item gets lost in transit, and it builds a sense of security around your online presence.

3. Buy Shipping Materials in Bulk
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

The costs of moving large quantities of cards can add up.  Large stores and post offices will carry the mailers and boxes you may need, but paying for each individual item will really put a dent in your profit margin.  A quick search on Amazon will bring up ample deals for the shipping goods you will need on your quest to become a logistics expert.  And as you build your online storefront and sell more slabs, you’re going to be saving hundreds by having a large selection of materials at your disposal.

4. Recycle Everything

Now that you are already saving money on bulk orders, why not double up? That cardboard box you got from Amazon containing your bubble mailers? Reuse it.  The box that your new hoodie came in? Reuse it.  Any box that will appropriately fit your cards can be reused, saving both the environment and your wallet.

Older toploaders can also be reused on shipments.  Over time, the plastic may become yellow or scratch, but it can still serve the purpose of protecting the card.  With manufacturing delays that have ensued over the pandemic, we have seen the prices of toploader cases skyrocket. Therefore, it is in your best interest to keep those cases around.  They will come in handy on a rainy day.

5. Ship Graded Cards in Boxes

The hard plastic of a PSA or Beckett graded card is oftentimes strong enough to slice through a thin bubble mailer. This can chip the slab and damage the card, which will anger the person on the receiving end.  Adding a cardboard box as an extra layer of protection can alleviate headaches and, yet again, adds a sense of professionalism.

You can even have some USPS supplies shipped right to your door for free, including small boxes and envelopes.  These boxes work great for packaging a slab and sending it securely.

The Don’ts
1. Leaving Cards Unprotected
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Once again, this goes without saying.  But getting a card without a sleeve and toploader is the biggest red flag for a seller, and it will strongly fracture your chances of working out future deals if you ship trading cards in this manner.

2. Using Scotch Tape on Cards

While it may seem the same as any other tape, the regular Scotch tape will leave unwanted residue on the toploader, which can damage the surface of the card.  Instead, elect to use painter’s tape, which we will talk about later when we showcase some of the best products to ship trading cards.

3. Shipping Expensive Cards in Plain White Envelopes
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Plain white envelopes (PWE) are an inexpensive and accessible option for shipping.  Nevertheless, they offer little safety for cards and really shouldn’t be used to ship trading cards worth more than $5-10.  As a result, the card could show up at the buyer’s house bent 90 degrees or ripped altogether.  For all intents and purposes, it’s best to leave PWEs for bills and letters.

4. Getting Unorganized/Lack of Branding
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

This is pretty applicable for all facets of the hobby, but losing track of cards or shipping supplies adds unnecessary anxiety to your online endeavors.  

We recommend taking some time and designating a space for a shipping station.  This could be an area to keep all mailers, toploaders, and eBay-listed cards in one place, which will avoid fiascos and negative reviews in your eBay account.

Additionally, a quick note or business card can go a long way in building your brand.  Large collectors will have dozens of shipments rolling in every week, so a stamp of your brand can distinguish you from the rest.

5. Shipping Late

Last is yet another necessary step to building a healthy reputation online.  If you ship a package 4-5 days after a deal is finalized it’s a huge detriment to attracting business.  This hobby sees the values of cards change daily, so getting those pieces in the hands of the buyers quickly should be a huge priority.  

Next, let’s break down the correct steps in how to ship trading cards.

How to Ship a Trading Card (Step-by-Step)
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Step 1: Sleeve and ToploadThis may sound like a broken record at this point, but this is the first and most important step in the shipping process.  

Step 2: Tape the Slit of the Toploader- Cut a piece of painter’s tape and create a seal over the top of the toploaded card.  This prevents the card from falling out in transit.

Step 3: Team Bag- A team bag is another handy piece of plastic that covers up your card.  Place the card inside the team bag and seal the team bag using its adhesive.

Step 4: Place in Small Bubble Mailer- Now that your card has multiple layers of protection, go ahead and drop it into your small bubble mailer.  Secure the adhesive and seal up the mailer.

(Optional) Step 5: Put Small Mailer in Bigger Mailer- To go above and beyond, you can place your small mailer into a bigger one for extra padding.  This can also distinguish your shipping methods from others, which can become an important component of your branding.  If you are shipping a graded card, make sure to add this big mailer into a cardboard box before proceeding to the next step.

Step 6: Add Layer of Tape Over Mailer- Whichever mailer you decide on, make sure you use some Scotch tape to secure the outer seal of your mailer.  In this case, the old adage applies: better safe than sorry.

Step 7: Write/Print Out Label- Most e-commerce sites have readily-available methods to print out your shipping label, but you can always manually write it on the outside of your mailer/box.  

Step 8: Tracking- Finally, make sure you always communicate the tracking number to the seller after shipping.  After you complete this step, the rest is out of your hands, but you have done all the right things that a shipping expert does.

Shipping Products You Need:
Penny Sleeves/Toploaders

This duo is the Shaq and Penny of sports cards.  Classic, iconic, and necessary if you are ever going to ship a card.  Check at this site or your local card shop, for they may carry the 100-pack of toploaders.

Team Bags
Ultra Pro

If we are continuing on this Orlando Magic theme, team bags are like Dennis Scott or Nick Anderson: still vital for the shipping process.  Check here to purchase some, but they are usually in stock at hobby shops as well.

Bubble Mailers

As we discussed earlier, you need to buy these in bulk.  You’ll save hundreds on the back end over time.  Smaller mailers can be found here, while bigger mailers can be purchased here.

Tape Gun

Say hello to my little friend! This can be used to secure and fasten openings on the exterior of the package, and they can be picked up online relatively cheaply.

Painter’s Tape

We picked the frog tape because it looks cool, but any brand of painter’s tape will suffice.  One roll can make it through hundreds of cards, so you shouldn’t have to worry about restocking too often.  Although if you are having to buy more, it is a sign that business is booming.  Painter’s tape can be found for sale here.

Thermal Printer

This last entry is not necessarily a requirement, but it makes a huge difference when you start shipping high volumes of cards.  The printer attached here is one of many you can find online. Some even connect to Bluetooth and will ship in correspondence to your eBay app.  If you’re looking for a more clean, crisp look in your shipments, we highly recommend picking one of these bad boys up.

Popular Culture

How to Buy LEGO on a $100 Budget

There’s no doubt that collecting LEGO can be an expensive hobby. In fact, I’ve found that LEGO sets are a lot like tattoos: people rarely only have one! As a lifelong collector, navigating the waters of budgeting for this hobby is one of the most common questions I get asked. Let’s explore some creative ways to buy LEGO on a $100 budget:

1. Choose a focus

By choosing a focus, this will help you fend off temptation to spend your budget on multiple themes. By choosing a focus, you can narrow your scope and buy a few sets to build a clone army, get most of The Avengers, or obtain most of the main characters from Harry Potter. Whatever focus you choose, this can help you from feeling overwhelmed with all of the options available for sets to buy when you walk down the LEGO aisle.

2. Six of One, Half-Dozen of Another

One of the unique aspects of collecting LEGO is army building, particularly in the LEGO Star Wars theme.

For example, getting a clone trooper from the Star Wars Black Series of 6 inch figures would cost $22.99, but the LEGO Star Wars 501st Clone Trooper set costs $29.99 and comes with five clones, a walker, a speeder, and some battle droids to fight against. While neither line of toys is better than the other (though I may have a slight bias,) it’s evident that LEGO offers an easier route to army build than perhaps any other toy line available today.

3. Go Big, or Go Small

In our hypothetical scenario of using a $100 budget, it can be easy to feel stuck with what you buy. $100 can get you some amazing Avengers or Harry Potter sets. It can also get you a bunch of great smaller City sets, or even a few medium-priced Star Wars sets. The options are endless, but one approach I always like to suggest is to think about your home’s display space. Do you have space to display a large build, or is displaying several smaller builds more feasible for you?

Either way, thinking about where your LEGO set(s) will live before making your trip to the store is a great way to help determine what the best option for you will be.

4. It’s Okay to NOT Be a Completist!

In today’s social media-driven world, it’s easy to feel the pressure of keeping up with the Joneses. As a content creator, I feel pressure to buy the biggest and best of everything LEGO puts out. While LEGO can be satisfying (and addicting!) we as collectors have to realize that at the end of the day, we can’t have it all. It’s okay to not have certain pieces in your collection.

If you choose a focus, it can really help alleviate the manufactured pressure of the need to own everything. Buying the sets, minifigures, and pieces that make you happy should always be the goal. As long as you’re enjoying your hobby, you are unstoppable!

Do you have your own approach on how to buy LEGO on a $100 budget? DM me on IG any time with your tips, and as always, stay inspired and happy building!