Culture Trading Cards

The 14 Most Expensive Yugioh Cards of All Time

Few media franchises have achieved the level of success that Yu-Gi-Oh! has. After launching, it offered a compelling trading card game and an anime series reflecting said game in an imaginative, mythology-inspired world in which cards’ monsters come to life. This one-two-punch immediately hooked young fans and began an entire mythos of Yu-Gi-Oh! series, films, video games, and merchandise, to name a few pillars of the empire. And like Pokemon and similar franchises, there are a few select trading cards that have gained prominence for their value and rarity. While some of the higher-valued ones were only distributed as and award status in tournaments, that’s not always the case.

Here are a few standouts cards and just how much they have sold for.

1. Tournament Black Luster Soldier
$2,000,000 (reportedly)
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Easily the most valuable card on this list, the Black Luster Soldier was an exclusive prize card awarded at the first-ever Yu-Gi-Oh! tournament in 1999. It is printed on stainless steel and is the only one of its kind, thus its coveted rarity makes it essentially priceless. Those who have listed it for sale (with only rumors confirming amounts trading hands) asked for amounts in the millions. Suffice it to say, anyone who lucks into this card has essentially hit the Yu-Gi-Oh! lottery.

2. 2002 Blue Eyes White Dragon 1st Edition PSA 10
$85,100 (10/28/20)

Arguably the most iconic card associated with the entire Yu-Gi-Oh! The franchise, Blue-Eyes White Dragon is popular not only for its strength in the trading card game — fusing three of them together will produce Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon — but also its powerful appearances in the original anime and manga. The first of these cards were released in Japan in 1999 and the United States soon after, and mint condition first editions are skyrocketing in value. (One father even went viral for selling a few of his to pay for his daughter’s education!)

3. 2004 Shonen Jump Championship Cyber-Stein PSA 10
$30,100 (10/28/20)

Unlike the many commonplace versions of this card inspired by the monster in Frankenstein, the one worth some significant cash is — you guessed it — another tournament award edition. Awarded at the Shonen Jump Championship, and a few thereafter, there are a little over a hundred of these cards in existence. There are only 21 PSA 10’s of this card out there, so they don’t come up for sale often!

4. 2002 Dark Duel Stories Blue-Eyes White Dragon PSA 10
$20,000 (2/21/21)

The Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Duel Stories promotional cards are a set of Prismatic Secret Rare cards bundled with the North American release of the video game Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Duel Stories.

The total PSA 10 population on this card is only 131, making this rare gem very difficult to find.

5. 2002 Morphing Jar Tournament Pack 2 PSA 10
$15,000 (2/1/21)

There is nothing remarkable about the artwork on this card, but it has become one of the most collectible in the game. When Morphing Jar is activated during a match, both players discard their cards and draw five new cards, in what can be a sneaky good play when your back is up against the wall. 

With a PSA 10 population of only 24, it’s no wonder that this tournament pack 2 promo card is so hot and in demand. There are only 92 of them that have ever been graded by PSA, so good luck finding one!

6. 2002 Tournament Pack 1 MECHANICALCHASER PSA 10
$14,999 (2/1/21)

Much like the previously mentioned Morphing Jar, the Mechanicalchaser out of the 2002 Tournament Pack 1 is extremely rare, with only 25 PSA 10’s in existence and only 71 total that have been graded.

7. 2002 Red Eyes B. Dragon 1st Edition LOB PSA 10
$13,600 (2/5/21)

Continuing on the trend of ridiculously low PSA populations, there are only 69 of these graded as a PSA 10. This card comes from the first set of the Yu-Gi-Oh trading card game released in English.

8. 2003 Magician’s Force 1st Edition Dark Paladin Alternate Art PSA 10
$12,000 (12/27/20)

The Dark Paladin is one of the most useful cards in the game. When a Spell Card is activated, you can discard 1 card; negate the activation, and if you do, destroy it. This card must be face-up on the field to activate and to resolve this effect. 

There are only 44 of these cards that have been graded, and only 12 PSA 10’s, making it one of the rarest cards on this list.

9. 2017 Dark Magician Girl Ghost World Championship Promo
$11,000 (1/6/21)

Dark Magician Girl first appears as a character in the Battle City arc when Yugi faces the ex-magician Arkana, whom she defeats by drawing power from both Duelists’ Dark Magician cards. 

This card was handed out in an envelope for the Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship 2017 attendants and participants. They were limited to roughly 1000 copies, which makes the card extremely rare. Only 24 of them have been graded by PSA, with just 10 of them receiving PSA 10’s.

10. 2002 Dark Magician Dark Duel Stories Promo PSA 10
$9,999.99 (12/2/20)

Dark Magician was created when Mahad fused his ba with “Illusion Magician“, his ka while fighting Thief King Bakura

The Dark Magician fended off the ghosts and battled Diabound. He then continued to serve the Pharaoh in the form of the Dark Magician.

We previously mentioned a Blue Eyes White Dragon from the same promo set at #4 on the list, but this Dark Magician is actually a bit more rare, with only 88 PSA 10’s in population.

11. Shrink Ultra Rare Limited Edition
$9,586.64 (12/10/20)

Shrink was first released at the 2006 Shonen Jump Yu-Gi-Oh! Championships, making first editions of the card very valuable. If you can prove that your Shrink is one of these limited-edition prize cards, you have quite a gem on your hands. I would personally get it graded, rather than sell it raw as this seller did, but the near $10,000 final sale price is quite a haul.

This card was sold raw, but to display the rarity, there are only 3 graded examples of this card on record with PSA, with no PSA 10’s and only 1 PSA 9.

12. 2009 Blue Eyes Shining Dragon Retro Pack 2 PSA 10
$9,000 (2/15/21)

Packed with all-powerful cards, the Retro Pack series was designed to help Duelists collect hard to get and out of print cards. Pokemon often creates similar sets that are wildly popular amongst collectors.

The total number of PSA graded examples of this card is only 88, with just 27 PSA 10’s in the population.

13. 2009 Stardust Overdrive 1st Majestic Star Dragon Ghost Rare PSA 10
$8,999.90 (1/14/21)

During either player’s turn, when your opponent activates a card or effect, you can tTribute this card; negate the activation, and if you do, destroy all cards your opponent controls. Once per turn, you can target 1 face-up monster your opponent controls; negate its effects until the end of this turn, and you can activate 1 of its effects as this card’s effect once this turn. 

There are only 65 total PSA graded examples of this card with just 22 of them getting a PSA 10 grade. Most of the cards that we talked about on this list were from the original 2002 sets, but this Ghost Rare card has become increasingly popular and it’s artwork is regarded as one of the most beautiful in the entire game.

14. 2020 United We Stand Blue Secret Rare Promo PSA 10
$7,000 (12/24/20)

This card was awarded as a Prize for the October 2020 Yu-Gi-Oh! Remote Duel at Home Sweepstakes.

To say that this card is rare would be an understatement, with only 5 of them on record with PSA and 3 total PSA 10’s on the planet. With a population that low, and the rising popularity of Yugioh cards amongst collectors, the sky is the limit for this card in future sales.

Culture Trading Cards

The 10 Most Powerful ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ Characters

Yu-Gi-Oh! first appeared on our television screens in the late 90s and in the nearly two and a half decades since its first iteration, it has gone through nearly a dozen different forms and remains here to this day. Based on that alone, it deserves a hell of a lot of respect that it doesn’t always get amongst its peers in anime. Today, it remains one of the most well-known card game anime of all time.

Of course, you can’t have Duel Monsters without the monsters. Maybe you’re looking to get into Yu-Gi-Oh!, maybe you’re looking to spend some money to expand your deck, or maybe you’re just a fan and love reading about it. Whatever the reason, you’ve found yourself in the right place here today.

Below is our list of the ten most powerful monsters in Yu-Gi-Oh! Of course, power is relative. We’ve gone with a variety of cards that have been overpowered in tournaments, had the biggest impact in the series, and have a high amount of attack points. Let us know what you think and who makes your list.

1. Apoqliphort Towers

This card is so powerful that it was actually banned from Yu-Gi-Oh! tournaments. For it to be played, three Qliphort monsters must be sacrificed. It cannot be special summoned. Apoqliphort Towers is essentially immune to all spell and trap cards, as well as monsters that are a lower level than itself (10). Basically, it offers almost perfect protection.

2. Chaos Emperor Dragon – Envoy Of The End

The original overpowered monster in Duel Monsters, you knew this one had to make our list. Not only does Chaos Emperor Dragon allow you to summon one DARK and one LIGHT monster from your graveyard, but if you pay 1,000 life points, you can send all cards on the field and in yours and your opponent’s hand to the graveyard, then do 300 damage for each card that was sent to the graveyard with that effect. It isn’t quite a one-turn kill, but it’s damn close, especially when used with Sangan and Yata-Garasu. Well, before it was banned anyway.

3. Dark Armed Dragon

Requiring exactly three DARK monsters in your graveyard to be summoned, Dark Armed Dragon was so powerful that officially for tournaments, you were only allowed one in a deck. Once summoned, you could essentially destroy any three monsters on your opponent’s side. This was a meta for a while and was a main factor in a tier 0 deck. Only allowing players to have one at a time balanced it out a little.

4. Don Thousand / Monster C

If you follow Yu-Gi-Oh! closely, then you know the name of this card and know exactly why it’s on this list. When it comes to attack points, anything in the 4,000 to 5,000 range was considered powerful for a while, and in the anime, 5,000 was pretty much the maximum any singular card could have without a special ability. Don Thousand / Monster C, however, boasts an unimaginable 10,000 attack and defense points, respectively.

5. Exodia, The Forbidden One

One of the most famous Yu-Gi-Oh! monsters of all time, managing to draw all five pieces of Exodia, The Forbidden One ends the game instantly, so how could it not have made this list? Individually, the pieces are not worth much, but they’re certainly greater than the sum of their parts. You’ll need the heart of the cards for sure because Yugi himself only summoned Exodia once in the entire anime himself.

6. Master Peace, The True Dracoslaying King

What makes Master Peace, The True Dracoslaying King unique is that it becomes immune to the type of card it was tributed by. So if you tributed a spell card and a trap card for it, it became immune to spell cards and trap cards. If you tributed a trap card a monster card for it, it became immune to trap cards and monster cards. You get the point. This made for an incredibly overpowered card that could often only be beaten with a monster with 3,000 attack points or more if someone got lucky. This resulted in its ban.

7. Obelisk The Tormentor

Sure, in tournaments, the Egyptian God cards’ flaws start to show a little bit, and they’re hardly used. But their power and importance in the anime truly cannot be overstated. Obelisk is probably objectively the weakest of the three God cards, but it’s still more than deserving of a spot on this list. If the player tributes two other monsters on the field during their battle phase, Obelisk gains unlimited attack power. It can also attack a player directly and take away all of the opponent’s monsters.

8. Slifer The Sky Dragon

The second most powerful of the Egyptian God cards, Slifer The Sky Dragon is known well because it’s a card Yugi goes to a lot after he wins it. Slifer is powerful because it gains 1,000 attack and defense points for every card the player has in their hands. It also becomes the target of all opponents’ effects despite being immune, takes away 2,000 attack points from monsters in the attack position, and destroys them if they’re at 0 attack points.

9. The Tyrant Neptune

Don’t be fooled by the 0 attack and 0 defense on The Tyrant Neptune. For a certain amount of time in tournaments, this card was almost broken because of how overpowered it could be. When you used Instant Fusion to bring out Lyrical Luscinia – Independent Nightingale and then tributed it for this card, its special effects mean it would be unaffected by anything with 6,000 attack points and would inflict 5,000 burn damage per turn. That’s what resulted in its ban a few years ago.

10. The Winged Dragon Of Ra

Considered to be the most powerful of all of the Egyptian God cards, The Winged Dragon Of Ra being summoned makes for some epic moments in the anime. The attack and defense points for it are made up of the total of the three cards you tribute for it. You also have the option of giving up all but one of your life points (so 7,999 out of your 8,000 starting points, for example) and making those all attack points for the monster.

If that were not enough, Ra’s God Phoenix ability allows for the player to pay 1,000 life points for it to attack and destroy all of the opponent’s monsters. Just like the other God cards, this one feels like an instant win.

Culture Trading Cards

The 25 Most Expensive Pokémon Cards of All Time

When I was growing up, the kids around me traded Pokémon cards like they were candy. They cared about winning the game and not the potential financial value of the cards years later.

In the past year, the amount of media coverage around eye-popping Pokemon card sales has been off the charts, but many people still don’t understand what makes certain cards more valuable than others. Here, we will talk about factors such as eBay sales data, popularity of characters, card condition and the PSA grades and populations.

Below is a list of the 25 highest Pokémon single card sales of all time… but keep in mind, with new record breaking sales happening almost daily, you never know when a new card will show up or move up and down the chart.

25. 2007 Pokémon Pop Series 5 Gold Star Espeon #16 PSA 10
$22,100.00 (2/14/2021)

Let’s get this countdown started with Espeon. Note that at over $22k, there are 24 higher sales to learn about. Espeon boasts a population of 54 PSA 10’s and still commands over $22k at auction. Buckle up because here we go! 

24. 1996 Pokémon Japanese Basic No Rarity Symbol Holo Alakazam #65 PSA 10
$22,100.00 (11/20/2020)

The No Rarity cards are considered 1st Editions when it comes to Japanese cards. Due to this correlation and Alakazam having a PSA 10 population of 4, you can see why this card sold for $22,100.00. With demand continuing to soar, anticipate the next Alakazam PSA 10 to shatter this sale.

23. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Venusaur #15 PSA 10
$22,615.00 (12/28/2020)

The first member of the Big 3 to hit the list, Venusaur is undervalued currently. Due to timing and a market slowdown, Venusaur is the first of 7 Base 1st Edition cards on this list, yet he should be no lower than 5th. Even with 136 PSA 10 examples, this is one of the top English cards to obtain.

22. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Mewtwo #10 PSA 10
$22,655.00 (11/25/2020)

Possibly the coolest Pokémon ever, and certainly the most powerful, Mewtwo joins the club after this staggering $22,655.00 sale back in November. With a PSA 10 population of 81, finding the English grail Mewtwo will be a tough task. 

21. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Hitmonchan #7 PSA 10
$23.100.00 (11/25/2020)

The 1st Edition Base Holograms will continue to set records moving forward. That said, Hitmonchan has a PSA 10 population of 54, which is the 2nd lowest of all the 1st Edition base holograms. Demand will continue to rise for the 1st Edition holograms, especially Hitmonchan. 

20. 2010 Pokémon Japanese Promo Daisuki Club Holo Masters Scroll #055 PSA 10
$24,418.00 (12/12/2020)

The newest card on the list comes with by far the most interesting storyline. This Promo card was only obtainable for members of the Daisuki Club, who had to complete a variety of tasks to gain the points necessary to redeem the card. Of the cards redeemed, only 26 are graded PSA 10.

19. 1996 Pokémon Japanese Basic No Rarity Symbol Holo Poliwrath #62 PSA 10
$25,015.00 (12/28/2020)

The 1996 No Rarity PSA 10’s have become extremely difficult to obtain, with low populations like Poliwrath here having a Pop 3 in PSA 10, for example. Prices will continue to rise due to such a limited supply of pristine original cards. 

18. 2009 Pokémon Japanese Promo Wonder Platinum Trophy Card BGS 9.5
$25,100.00 (11/25/2020)

One of the newer cards on the list, the Promo Wonder Platinum Trophy Card is also one of the hardest to acquire. They were awarded to finalists at the Pokémon National Championships in Tokyo, with an estimation of around 20 being handed to those participants. This 9.5 BGS Trophy Card is a rare grail worthy of its spot on the list. 

17. 2004 Pokémon Gold Star EX Team Rocket Returns Holo Torchic #108 PSA 10
$25,400.00 (12/12/2020)

This might come as a surprise to some, but the Gold Star Torchic is in high demand, in part due to there only being 16 PSA 10 examples currently. How hard is Torchic to obtain? This is the only public PSA 10 sale in almost 2 years. 

16. 1996 Pokémon Japanese Bandai Carddass Vending Prism Red Charizard #6 PSA 10
$30,100.00 (1/27/2021)

This is the first Charizard to hit the list. There are 61 Carddass PSA 10 ‘Zards currently, and 303 total graded with PSA. Due to scarcity, this ‘Zard could be higher on the list in a couple months.   

15. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Raichu #14 PSA 10
$34,820.00 (1/19/2021)

The evolution of Pikachu, Raichu cracks #15 on the list of all time Pokémon Card Sales. The Raichu PSA 10 1st Edition has a population of 87 currently, and with the prices of sealed Pokémon 1st Edition packs and boxes continuing to soar, the sale price of $34,820.00 will likely be a bargain in the near future.  

14. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Chansey #3 PSA 10
$36,877.00 (11/25/2020)

Certain Pokémon cards just didn’t come out pristine when they were produced and Chansey is a perfect example. With 47 PSA 10 examples, Chansey has the lowest PSA 10 pop of the hologram’s in the 1st Edition English Base Set. Coincidentally the Shadowless version of Chansey only has 15 PSA 10’s in the registry.

13. 1999 Pokémon French 1st Edition Dracaufeu #4 PSA 10
$37,300 (1/31/2021)

Due to surging demand for all Charizards, it makes sense that even the French Charizard would soar in value as well. With a population of 28 PSA 10’s, the $37,300.00 price tag isn’t as steep as you’d expect. Moving forward, low population Charizard’s are as safe a bet as you can make when buying cardboard, regardless of the language.

12. 1995 Pokémon Topsun No Number Blue Back Wartortle PSA 10
$44,999.00 (2/4/2021)

When it comes to Population 1, prices can soar. At nearly $45,000.00, this is going to be considered a bargain for the buyer, given no more PSA 10’s enter the registry. Cards like this will cause many collectors to go nuts trying to acquire such a rare piece of Pokémon history.

11. 2005 Pokémon EX Deoxys Gold Star Holo Rayquaza #107 PSA 10
$45,100 (12/12/2020)

The 2005 Gold Star Holo Rayquaza has become quite the grail, with 46 PSA 10’s in the registry, and 156 PSA 9’s, this is going to be a tough card to acquire in mint or better for collectors.

10. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Blastoise #2 PSA 10
$45,100.00 (11/25/2020)

The drop off from Charizard to Blastoise is staggering, but make no mistake, Blastoise is entrenched as the 2nd most valuable 1st Edition card. Scarcity also plays a part with 100 total PSA 10’s in the registry, which is 21 less than Charizard.  

9. 2016 Pokemon Card Game 20th Anniversary 24K Gold Pikachu
$50,000.00 (1/7/2021)

Pikachu encrusted in 24K Gold. Sometimes going over the top is necessary for anniversaries, especially when it involves Pokémon. To originally obtain this reissued Pikachu, you had to pre-order it for $2,100.00. Quite the return in 5 years.

8. 1996 Pokémon Japanese Base No Rarity Holo Charizard #6 PSA 9
$57,877.00 (11/25/2020)

The 1996 Japanese No rarity ‘Zard has taken off, and rightfully so with a total of 28 PSA 9 grades in their registry. A PSA 10, which there are 6 of, would fetch a mega haul at auction. The price tag should be north of a PSA 10 1st Edition English ‘Zard due to scarcity and the fact that it’s the first Base Charizard Produced.

7. 1998 Kamex Mega Battle Computer Error Trophy Promo PSA 10
$58,023.00 (2/15/2021)

One of the Rarest Trophy cards, the Computer Error Trophy has a PSA 10 Pop of 6 with 39 total in their registry. The trophy cards were used as prizes at the 1998 Kamex Mega Battle.

6. 2005 Pokémon Japanese Summer Battle Road Mew Victory Orb Trophy PSA 10
$60,000.01 (12/28/2020)

In 2005, 162 finalists won this Mew Trophy Card. Of those, 19 have been graded with PSA and 17 are PSA 10’s. Trophy Cards have become one of the most sought after promos, and for good reason. Only a true Pokémon Master could originally obtain it. 

5. 1998 Pokémon Japanese Promo Holo Kangaskhan #115 PSA 9
$150,000 (10/28/2020)

With a Population of 11 PSA 10’s, the Kangaskhan Family Trophy Card has Grail written all over it. A PSA 9 Recently fetched $100,100.00 on 12/15/2021. There are a total of 45 graded and the next PSA 10 that goes for auction could shatter the Half Million mark. 

4. 2000 Pokémon Neo Genesis 1st Edition Holo Lugia #9 PSA 10
$129,000 (11/25/2020)

With a Population of 42 PSA 10’s, Lugia has become a highly sought after Grail. The drop off from PSA 10 to 9 is astounding, PSA 9’s sell around $8,000.00 

3. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Charizard #4 PSA 10
$350,000.00 (12/12/2020)

Even with a Population over 120, the PSA 10 Charizard commands heavy $. Consider this, Michael Jordan’s PSA 10 fleer Rookie is valued over $650,000.00 meanwhile Charizard has almost a third the population while fetching half the price of MJ. You could say ‘Zard is the Jordan of Pokémon.  

2. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Charizard #4 SGC 10
$369,000 (12/12/2020)

At number 2 comes this beautiful SGC 10 1st Edition Charizard. The 1st Edition Base ‘Zard is the top English card to own. 

1. 1995 Pokémon Japanese Topsun No Number Blue Back Charizard PSA 10
$480,000 (1/31/2021)

With a PSA 10 Population of one, it’s easy to see why the original Charizard fetched so much money at auction. While this is the top sale currently, it could be shattered before February ends. 

Culture Trading Cards

Pokemon Day Is Coming: What’s Next, aDrive?

February 27th, 2021 will mark the 25th Anniversary of the launch of the Pokémon franchise. With total revenue estimated at nearly $100 billion, Pokémon is the #1 ranked media franchise of all time, higher than other iconic franchises such as Hello Kitty ($86 billion), Mickey Mouse ($74 billion), Star Wars ($70 billion), Mario ($36 billion) and Batman ($28 billion).

After revealing their 25th Anniversary logo at the 2020 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, rumors and leaks about what TPC (The Pokémon Company) plans on doing to celebrate their milestone have been all over social media. 

I recently had a chance to sit down with Dan “aDrive” Clap, one of the leading creators of Pokémon content on YouTube and Twitch, to get his insight into what we can expect to see in 2021. Rather than do a typical Q&A, I figured I would just let Dan tell us in his own words why he thinks the Pokémon hysteria has only just begun.

1. Pokemon Day Retail Promos

The Pokemon franchise has been really focused on promoting their brand across a handful of different platforms ahead of “Pokemon Day.” They just announced a new Build-A-Bear, which they have done in the past. They did a Levi’s line and announced partnerships with an Original Stitch. There is a General Mills cereal promotion, and many people are going after those promo cards. Suppose you happen to stroll into a grocery store and see that. Generally speaking, the cards in there will be worth a lot more than the box of cereal. If I walked into my store and saw the cereal promotion, I’d definitely pick one up immediately because I think they are going to fly off the shelves.

They just released the McDonalds Happy Meal promo, which included a pack of Pokemon cards in each meal. It’s hard to say what the value of those cards is really going to be in the future, but the reality of it is that right now, the demand is so high for those things, and they flew off the shelves the second they hit the restaurants. 

2. Pokemon “Shining Fates”

Pokemon is hitting on all cylinders and all different angles and parts of culture from a promotional standpoint. We are actually headed towards the most anticipated set in recent memory, “Shining Fates.” In fact, I don’t even know if there has ever been a set that people are this excited about that has had this much hype overall. It will be coming out right before Pokemon Day. I believe that the official release is on February 19th. That set is going to feature a handful of shiny cards, but the main card that people are going to be looking for is the shiny Charizard V-Max card, which is going to be pretty difficult to get and will be very valuable when people are going to be able to find that card and get it graded. People are going to hunt down that set, and we already see prices going wild. 

3. Pokemon “Battle Styles”

There’s another set coming out in March to really keep this TCG hype alive called “Battle Styles,” and that’s a set that’s really more towards a competitive player, but there’s still some really cool stuff in there. At this point in where the TCG is, collectors are just looking for anything to open. Because the prices are rising so fast on some of the more recent sets, people are turning to whatever the most recent thing is just to be able to open cards. 

To give a little precedent, the set named “Vivid Voltage” was the most recent set that came out was originally selling for $100-120 per box, now 3 months later, they are $280 per box. This is a set that just came out. There are a lot of factors that are pulling this together. It’s the demand; a lot of people are into the TCG; we see a lot of celebrities and social media figures opening cards right now, and that’s driving the demand up. Also, because of the COVID pandemic, the supply has also dwindled because Pokemon isn’t printing as much as they used to print, so there is a little more scarcity when it comes to the quantities of these products. Because of that, people have to buy from resellers, and the prices just continue to climb. However, it’s interesting to note that Pokemon just announced they are increasing their print TCG products to respond to the demand:

I think that these next two months are going to be very interesting to watch from a TCG perspective. I never want to give financial advice to anyone because you just don’t know what’s going to happen with the market, but I think any time a new set comes out if you can get it at a reasonable price, you are probably going to get your return if you are holding on to it as sealed, just because the demand is so high right now. I, for one, prefer to open the product for fun and entertainment, but either way, I’ve learned quickly that getting products as soon as I can is definitely the best bet.

4. Pokemon Unite

Outside of the TCG, there are a bunch of other things that Pokemon has in store for the 25th anniversary. We know there is a mobile game coming called Pokemon Unite, which is a MOBA, kind of like League of Legends, that will be on Nintendo Switch and mobile devices. It will be free-to-play, and it seems as if their monetization strategy will be through skins, so they will have different costumes for these Pokemon that they can wear in the arenas. It is run by Tencent, which is obviously a giant Chinese conglomerate. They have all the backing to make this huge. Whether it will resonate with fans, I don’t know. The reality is that it is a free game with the Pokemon IP on it, so people will download and try it. I know from a content perspective, I am gearing up to be ready to handle “Pokemon Unite” content as soon as Pokemon Day happens either way!

5. Pokemon Snap

We have a release date for Pokemon Snap; it’s April 30th, 2021. That game looks really good, and I think it’s going to capture a lot of long time old school Pokemon fans and give them another title on the Switch to kind of tide them over to what is inevitably going to be the next main series launch this year. There have been some whispers about another Detective Pikachu game after the success in the box office. There was a previous Detective Pikachu game, and it didn’t really do that well, but I think now that the movie did well, there is a lot bigger chance of success to drop a new game on the Switch, or maybe even IOS and Android. We don’t have a ton of information on that; it’s more speculative at this point. 

6. Pokemon SINNOH?

There is a main series game release. There are a lot of people – including myself – that are on the SINNOH train right now. SINNOH is the generation 4 of Pokemon. Diamond, Pearl, and Pokemon Platinum being the first 3. Those came out 15 years ago, so the timing is perfect for them to release the remake of that game and all signs point to that. You are starting to see some of the merchandise come out for later this year. The merch launch usually gets teased and leaked months in advance and a lot of that is pointing towards some of the characters from SINNOH, and when you see all those generation 4 characters, all the signs start to point towards the SINNOH remake, and it is the most likely, logical conclusion in terms of chronological order and how they have done things in the past. They could always throw us a curveball and give us a brand new generation, but I don’t think that is going to happen. I don’t think they have had enough time from their previous generation, which was Sword and Shield, to really create a new generation of Pokemon, but they have done crazier things. 

Ultimately, it’s going to be wild. I think they have some bombshells. Pokemon is notorious for having some really cool secrets and some big drops. We have seen their partnerships so far and a lot of it is coming out to the light, but I won’t be surprised if they drop something big. 

Culture Trading Cards

The 20 Most Valuable Baseball Cards of All-Time

With sports cards currently all the rage in current popular culture, and basketball seemingly leading the charge, it is easy to forget that the entire hobby was basically built on the sport of baseball. Throughout the years, cards like the Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps and Honus Wagner T 206 have been mentioned in numerous movies, television shows as “holy grails” of the collectible world.

It seems that every month or so, a new article drops about a record breaking sale in the baseball card market, dating back to the summer of 2020, when the Mike Trout Superfractor broke the record for the sale of a single sports card, only to be topped a few months later when entrepreneur and actor Rob Gough shelled out $5.2 million dollars on a Mickey Mantle rookie card.

You may be asking yourself how often these types of sales take place, and what are the highest sales prices of the top baseball cards on the planet. This list below gives you the top 20, and with the way the market is headed and new cards going up for sale daily, this list will likely have to be updated in the coming weeks!

1. Mickey Mantle, 1952 Topps – PSA 9
$5,200,000 (January 2021)

Purchased by: Rob Gough

Auction House: PWCC Marketplace (eBay)

Total Population in this grade: 6

“I always dreamt of owning a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle since I was a kid collecting cards,” Gough said in a statement. “It’s the Mona Lisa of sports cards and I’ve been searching for this high-graded example talking to industry experts, dealers, auction houses, friends and I’m ecstatic that I’m now the proud owner of this iconic card.”

2. Mike Trout 2009 Bowman Chrome Superfractor – BGS 9/10
$3,930,000 (August, 2020)

Previous Owner: David “Vegas Dave” Oancea

Auction House: Goldin Auctions

Total Population in this grade: Only one of it’s kind (1/1)

This card is the current record holder for a modern-day sports card and was purchased on eBay for just $400,000 in 2018.

3. Honus Wagner, 1909-1911 ATC T206 – PSA 3
$3,250,000 (October, 2020)

Purchased by: not disclosed

Auction House: Private Sale brokered through Mile High Card Company

“We’ve seen a lot of high-profile cards leave our office to record prices this year, but to hold the record for 1909-11 T206 Wagner sales at three different grade levels as well as the highest price ever paid … that’s something we’re especially proud of,” said Brian Drent, Mile High’s President and CEO in a statement on the company’s website.

4. Mike Trout 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Red Refractor – BGS 9.5/10
$922,500 (May 2020)

Auction House: Goldin Auctions

The “Red Refractor” is the second rarest version of Trout’s top card that we previously mentioned and is serial-numbered to 5. The 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft has his first autograph in an MLB uniform.

5. Ty Cobb 1909-11 T206 Tobacco (Ty Cobb Back) – PSA 4.5
$894,250 (September, 2020)

Auction House: Mile High Card Company

Total Population in This Grade: 1

One of the five different Ty Cobb cards in the T 206 set, this one is the rarest and featured a red background behind his portrait on the front. On the back, where the tobacco brand was typically advertised, this card said “TY COBB, KING OF THE SMOKING TOBACCO WORLD” in green ink.

6. Mickey Mantle, 1951 Bowman – PSA 9
$750,000 (April, 2018)

Auction House: Heritage Auctions

Total Population in This Grade: 9

The 1952 Topps is the more well-recognized Mickey Mantle rookie card. However, the 1951 Bowman was his actual rookie card and is a very hot card in the market. There is a very good chance that there will be a $1,000,000 sale of this card in the near future, shooting it higher up this list.

7. Pete Rose, 1963 Topps – PSA 10
$717,000 (August, 2016)

Auction House: Heritage Auctions

Total Population in This Grade: 1

This is the only Pete Rose rookie card, and the total population of PSA 10’s of this card is only 1. With this sale taking place in 2016, it wouldn’t surprise me if this card sold for over $1,000,000 if it were to go up for auction today.

8. Eddie Plank 1909-11 T206 White Border – PSA 7
$700,000 (2012)

Auction House: Private Sale

Total Population in This Grade: 3

There seem to be only around 75-100 of these cards in existence, much like the Honus Wagner from the same set. The accepted reason for the scarcity of this card is that Plank was anti-tobacco and demanded that his image be removed from the cards used to promote cigarettes.

9. “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, 1909 American Caramel – PSA 8
$667,149 (August, 2016)

Auction House: SCP Auctions

Total Population in This Grade: 2

This card holds the record for the sale of a candy card. There are not many Joe Jackson cards that were released while he was playing, and this particular one is his most sought after and valuable.

10. Babe Ruth, 1916 Sporting News – PSA 7
$600,000 (October, 2017)

Auction House: Heritage Auctions

Total Population in This Grade: 1

This card was part of the “Sporting News Set’ which featured advertising on the back of the cards. This particular card had a blank back.

11. Nolan Ryan/Jerry Koosman, 1968 Topps – PSA 10
$600,000 (August, 2016)

Auction House: Heritage Auctions

Total Population in This Grade: 1

This card, like some others on this list, is a POP 1, meaning that there is only one example of a PSA 10 out there, and it went up for auction in 2016. Much like the Pete Rose rookie previously mentioned, if this card were to be put back on the auction block today, it would likely eclipse the $1,000,000 mark.

12. Babe Ruth, 1914 Baltimore News – PSA 2
$575,000 (August, 2012)

Auction House: Private Sale

Total Population in This Grade: 1

This card featured Babe in his minor league Baltimore Orioles uniform two years before his first card in a Major League uniform.

13. Willie Mays, 1952 Topps – PSA 9
$478,000 (May, 2016)

Auction House: Heritage Auctions

Total Population in This Grade: 9

The 1952 Topps set is iconic, featuring this Willie Mays 2nd year card as well as the Mickey Mantle, Jackie Robinson and Yogi Berra rookie cards. In 1953, many of the unsold cards from this set were returned by retailers to Topps and were then dumped in to the Hudson River.

14. Roberto Clemente, 1955 Topps – PSA 10
$432,690 (February, 2016)

Auction House: Heritage Auctions

Total Population in This Grade: 1

This card was once a part of the famous Dimitri Young Collection, but was sold in 2012.

15. Satchel Paige 1948 Leaf – PSA 8
$432,000 (November, 2018)

Auction House: Heritage Auctions

Total Population in This Grade: 5

Paige had a few cards during his Negro Leagues career but this 1948 Leaf was one of just a few cards that were made during his time in the Major Leagues.

16. Jackie Robinson 1948 Leaf – PSA 8
$400,980 (December, 2020)

Auction House: Goldin Auctions

Total Population in This Grade: 40

This card is considered to be Jackie Robinson’s true rookie card. Another PSA 8 in this exact same card sold for $174,000 only three months before this sale of $400,000+.

17. Mickey Mantle 1953 Topps – PSA 9
$396,000 (August, 2019)

Auction House: Heritage Auctions

Total Population in This Grade: 10

Much like the 1951 Bowman previously mentioned, this card is gaining additional popularity in the hobby since the record breaking $5.2 million dollar sale of the Mantle 1952 rookie. This sale took place in August of 2019, but the sky is the limit the next time one of these in this grade (or higher) hit some lucky auction house!

18. Babe Ruth 1933 Goudey #53 – PSA 8
$203,150 (November, 2016)

Auction House: Heritage Auctions

Total Population in This Grade: 15

There are 4 Ruth cards in this set, but the yellow one is the most valuable and rare. With such a low population in the highest grades, this card will be another one to look out for when one gets listed in an auction.

19. Joe Jackson 1915 Cracker Jack – PSA 8
$120,000 (May, 2019)

Auction House: Heritage Auctions

Total Population in This Grade: 18

Who can forget “Say it aint so, Joe…” from 8 Men Out, the classic movie about the 1919 “Black Sox”, the team that threw the World Series. Jackson didn’t seem to be in on the fix, as he batted .375 and played great defense in the series, but he is still banned from baseball to this day. Regardless, he remains wildly collectable and popular, and this card is considered his rookie.

20. Willie Mays 1951 Bowman – PSA 8
$103,317 (October, 2020)

Auction House: Memory Lane, Inc

Total Population in This Grade: 76

This is considered Mays’ rookie card, and is in the same set as Mickey Mantle’s true rookie card, even though Mantle’s 1952 Topps is considered his actual rookie. So while Mantle’s ’52 Topps is the more valuable of his two rookies, the ’51 Bowman THE Mays card in the hobby, at least in terms of value.

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‘Data Debates’: Tom Brady 2000 Bowman Chrome Vs. Patrick Mahomes 2017 Prizm

The upcoming Super Bowl LV has everything that you want in a matchup. On one side, you have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, playing host to the “Big Game” in their own stadium (the first time this has occurred in NFL history) led by 43-year-old Tom Brady, who seems to be aging like fine wine.

On the other side of the ball, you have the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs, led by the “Baby GOAT” and Super Bowl LIV MVP Patrick Mahomes.

There are so many storylines attached to this game, including whether Mahomes can win his second Lombardi Trophy in a row, and if so, will this will be an official passing of the torch? Or will Brady dip back into the fountain of youth and win his 7th (!!!!) Super Bowl, cementing his legacy as the untouchable GOAT?

This is certainly an intriguing matchup in the sports card hobby, with tons of questions to be answered. What would a win do to the value of Tom Brady’s 2000 Bowman Chrome rookie card? Is there any downside to that card if the Bucs lose, and if so, how much? How much upside does Patrick Mahomes 2017 Panini Prizm rookie have if he pulls off the win? Can Mahomes ever catch Brady and be considered the GOAT, no matter what he does, if he loses this game?

You may be asking yourself which card is the better long term play. In the most recent installment of my “Data Debates” series, in which I aim to help newcomers understand the process of evaluating supply and demand and identify which cards are overvalued vs. undervalued, I will attempt to break down that very question. 

The Case For Tom Brady
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Is there any argument that can be made at this point against Tom Brady being the “GOAT,” as he is so often called? His list of accomplishments in the sport is almost too extensive to be believed. 

• 6x Super Bowl Champion

• 10 Super Bowl Appearances

• 4x Super Bowl MVP

• 3x NFL MVP

• 2x NFL Offensive Player of the Year

• 3x First Team All-Pro

• 14x Pro Bowler

• NFL’s Winningest QB – 230 Regular Season / 33 Postseason 

• Most Career TD passes (581) 

• Best TD/Int ratio (28:2)

• Most Combined Passing Yards (91,452)

• Most Game Winning Drives (61)

• Most 4th Quarter Comebacks (48)

Off the field, Brady has been extremely relevant, hosting Saturday Night Live, and making appearances on shows like The Simpsons, Family Guy & Entourage, while also starring in Hollywood blockbusters such as Ted 2 and the Entourage movie. Keeping with the Hollywood theme, Brady formerly dated actress Bridget Moynahan, with whom he has a kid, and is currently married to supermodel Giselle Bundchen.

His list of current and former endorsements includes brands such as Stetson cologne, UGGS, Movado, Aston Martin, Glaceau Smartwater, and Simmons Bedding, while also launching and promoting his TB12 brand, which included the best selling book The TB12 Method.    

The Case For Patrick Mahomes
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From a sheer talent perspective, Patrick Mahomes might be the most impressive quarterback I have seen in my 40+ years watching the sport. In just his 4th season, his list of accomplishments may not equal Tom Brady’s, but at just 25 years old, he is certainly starting to enter the “can he surpass Brady as the GOAT?” conversation. Mahomes is 18 years younger than Brady, and while it seems unlikely that he will play until he is 43, I don’t think it’s a stretch to think he should still be able to play at a high level for at least another decade.  

• Super Bowl Champion (LIV)

• Super Bowl MVP (LIV)

• NFL MVP (2018)

• NFL Offensive Player of the Year (2018)

• First Team All Pro (2018)

• Second Team All Pro (2020)

• 3x Pro Bowler

• Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year (2020)

• Only 2nd player to throw for 50 touchdowns & 5000 yards in 1 season. (Peyton Manning)

In 2020, Mahomes received a huge 10-year contract extension worth $477 million including $26 million in potential bonuses, that will likely keep him in Kansas City for the remainder of his career at a whopping $500 million+, the largest contract in professional sports history at the time before being topped recently by soccer star, Lionel Messi. 

Off the field, Mahomes has a litany of endorsements from brands such as Hunts Ketchup, Oakley, Essentia Water, Hy-Vee, State Farm, DirecTV, Adidas, and Head & Shoulders. He is also on the cover of Madden NFL 2020

In 2019, Mahomes started his “15 and the Mahomies Foundation” a non-profit organization “dedicated to improving the lives of children.”

On July 18th, 2020, Mahomes, whose father is a former Major League Baseball pitcher, became a part owner of the Kansas City Royals, saying at the time, “I’m honored to become a part-owner of the Kansas City Royals. I love this city and the people of this great town. This opportunity allows me to deepen my roots in this community, which is something I’m excited to do.”

Examining the Data

Tom Brady Bowman Chrome PSA 10

Pop: 1,060

Last Sold: $19,050

Market Cap: $20,193,000

Tom Brady Bowman Chrome PSA 9

Pop: 1,474

Last Sold: $6800

Market Cap: $10,023,200

Patrick Mahomes 2017 Prizm PSA 10

Pop: 852

Last Sold: $15,000

Market Cap: $12,780,000

Patrick Mahomes 2017 Prizm PSA 9

Pop: 1,784

Last Sold: $3,299

Market Cap: $5,885,416

Who is the Better Investment?
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Here’s what I find interesting about this topic. Tom Brady is the GOAT. Patrick Mahomes hopes to one day be what Tom Brady already is. However, before I dive into which one of the two is the better investment, I want to show some numbers on the rookie card of basketball’s GOAT, Michael Jordan, just for reference.

Michael Jordan 1986 Fleer PSA 10

Last sold: $720,000

Pop: 316

Market Cap: $227,520,000

Tom Brady’s market cap is $20,193,000. Patrick Mahomes’ market cap is $12,780,000. I understand that basketball is king in the hobby and Michael Jordan’s popularity and relevance are untouchable. An argument can be made that Jordan’s rookie is STILL undervalued, even at that $720,000 price.

However, does it make sense that Michael Jordan’s market cap is 10x that of Tom Brady’s? Years from now, when we discuss sports’ most dominant all-time athletes, will Tom Brady be mentioned in the same breath as Michael Jordan? I believe he already is. If he wins the Super Bowl on Sunday, giving him 7 championships, that would be one more than Jordan ever won. 

With that said, is Tom Brady’s rookie the most undervalued card in the hobby? The population is relatively low at 1,060. If the Michael Jordan PSA 10 rookie is eventually a million-dollar card, as it seems to be trending towards, $19,050 for a Tom Brady PSA 10 rookie seems to me like an absolute bargain. It’s as safe of a card as there is in the market, in my opinion. 

As far as Patrick Mahomes goes, he is obviously a much riskier play. All of the tools seem to be in place for Mahomes to continue to thrive. However, there are many potential factors that need to break right for Mahomes to overtake Brady as the GOAT. Most importantly, will he stay healthy, and how long will he play? Football is a brutal game, and players are always just 1 hit away from something catastrophic. For instance, just a few weeks ago, Mahomes got injured during his playoff game against the Browns, a scary head/neck injury that thankfully wasn’t any worse. But what if it was?  

What this comes down to for me is how is my money better spent. If I am dropping $15,000 on a Patrick Mahomes Prizm PSA 10, with a similar population as the Brady Bowman Chrome PSA 10 only selling for $4,000 more, there are a lot of risks involved, and what’s the upside? At best, in 10 years, Mahomes will still be chasing Brady’s records. 

Here’s the kicker…. I actually like the Mahomes card at its current prices. The greatness of Mahomes is not hype. It’s very real. I feel that both cards will be worth significantly more in 10 years than they are today. I simply find the Brady card to be the safer, better investment at this time. Brady’s legacy is cemented. He has nothing left to prove. Mahomes still has a long way to go, but his prices already have multiple Super Bowls, MVPs, etc., baked in. The floor is just much lower than it is with the Brady card.

Chalk up yet another “W” for the “GOAT”. Tom Brady takes the “data debates” title in possibly my favorite card of the entire series. 

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Talking Cards With NFL Rookies Jacob Eason and AJ Dillon

One of the most fun aspects of collecting sports cards is prospecting and taking a gamble on young players that you feel are undervalued. This can lead to huge returns if you hit on the right player. This year’s Super Bowl is a prime example of what can happen if you get in early on the right guy. 

Imagine if you were a New England Patriots fan who believed in Tom Brady, the unheralded 6th round pick out of Michigan, right after he was drafted and loaded up on his rookie cards. One quick glance at the current $19,050 value of his 2000 Bowman Chrome PSA 10 rookie card, when you could have likely been buying them for $1 his rookie season, is all the evidence you need. 

To hammer the point home, on a season 1 episode of Card Talk Pod (51:00 in), Kansas City Chiefs Quarterbacks Coach Mike Kafka talked about being at a card show in the Kansas City area before the 2018 season where he saw Patrick Mahomes PSA 10 Prizm rookie cards selling for between $40-60. Those same cards are selling for around $15,000 today. 

ONE37pm recently had a chance to sit down with two rookies whose cards have been heating up recently, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacob Eason and Green Bay Packers running back AJ Dillon, to speak with them about the hobby. 

Jacob Eason – QB Indianapolis Colts
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Jacob Eason, the 2020 4th round draft pick out of the University of Washington, has been generating some buzz in the hobby after spending his entire rookie season on the sidelines behind future Hall of Famer Philip Rivers. For example, one of his ungraded Panini Prizm gold rookie auto-numbered/10 recently sold on eBay for $1600

How does it feel knowing that people are starting to invest in him, thinking he might be the next Patrick Mahomes or Tom Brady?

“It’s cool!” Eason said. “Being out there like that is pretty special and humbling that so many people and fans believe in me. It makes me feel very special. Panini is doing a great job of putting out some great content for these people to enjoy and own. I’m just very blessed and humbled to be in this position and be a part of this all.”

Growing up in Lake Stevens, Washington, Eason even dabbled in the hobby a bit. 

“I wasn’t a huge collector as a kid, but I had a couple of binders full,” Eason remembered. “Mainly quarterbacks and guys I looked up to like Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, guys like that. Being in a situation now where I’m actually on the card is pretty unique and special. I don’t own any of my own cards yet. Maybe if I go to Target or Walmart and pick some up, I’ll get lucky. But I don’t own any of my own at the moment.”

With all of the different products that Panini puts out, the number of autographs that every rookie signs seem staggering. However, Eason actually enjoyed the process. 

“It’s definitely a lot! You finish one box, and you have another box coming in,” Eason said. “But it’s all worth it because I was one of those kids who were all excited to get those cards when I was little, and now, I know I’m signing all those cards, and it’s a lot of work upfront but just thinking about that one kid who is opening up that pack of cards and gets my card, and he’s a fan, now he wants to be the next person on that card. It’s pretty cool to be in that situation and give back to these card collectors. It’s pretty special for me. 

AJ Dillon – RB Green Bay Packers
Getty Images

AJ Dillon, the Green Bay Packers’ 2020 second-round draft pick out of Boston College, certainly turned some heads in his rookie campaign. Sitting in a loaded backfield behind Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams resulted in limited opportunities his rookie year. Still, he made the most of them, with a stellar 5.3 yards per carry and 2 touchdowns on only 46 attempts.  

That success, combined with the fact that Aaron Jones is currently a free agent, has led many collectors to believe that the starting running back job in Green Bay’s high-powered offense is in play for Dillon in year two. Parlay those two factors with the relatively low cost of entry on his cards,  and he could very well be a sneaky low-key play during the offseason. 

To give you the range, on the high end, his Immaculate 2020 Rookie Patch Auto Platinum 1/1 recently sold on eBay for $808, but you can still purchase one of his Prizm Silver Autos for $91 or an unsigned Prizm Silver for just $26

“To see people investing money in me, and what they see in me in the future, is an amazing thing,” said Dillon. “I love having that support. The Packers fans have been nothing but welcoming and encouraging, so I am looking forward to next season, and I kind of feel the same way as the people who are investing in my cards. I think it’s definitely worth it. I think next season, I am gonna do everything in my power to do the best I can.”

Unlike Jacob Eason, Dillon actually has started collecting some of his cards. He is still learning about the different sets and inserts, but he does have a favorite one.

“I don’t know all the actual names and details, but I do have this one metal card that I thought was the coolest thing ever when I got it,” said Dillon. “Some of the cards that are see-through, I think those are sick. Mostly I collect the ones that have a good story or something like that on the back; I collect those for my own personal enjoyment.” 

It will be fun to see how things play out for Dillon and Eason in year two both on the field and in the card market. If you have any big cards of theirs or decide to purchase one, please post a photo on social media and tag @cardtalkpod so we can check them out!

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9 of the Most Popular (and Valuable) Modern Sports Cards

Sports cards are no longer a thing of the past. With an increase in overall sports viewership and with the instant ability to access an ever-growing base of popular athletes, it only makes sense that sports cards would find their rightful place back in the United States. 

Being a shop owner over these past years has given me an interesting and unique look at what collectors, investors and flippers are making popular. Grading companies, eBay, the increase in the use of mobile payment services and, of course, the rapid growth in social media has only fueled the rise. In all of the recent attention, a few cards have definitely emerged to the top. Popularity and value seem to intertwine in the hobby community and the following list of modern sports cards should help you navigate the modern scene.

Now, before I get to this list, let’s qualify a few things:

  • Modern cards are considered to be cards that are not “vintage” cards, and depending on what circles you vibe in, vintage cards typically mark their way backward from sometime in the ’70s. In contrast, modern cards would be considered everything else until now.
  • There are different tiers of value: low, mid, high, really high and then crazy high end. For purposes of this article, we will focus on the low to the mid/high end, you know, what most people can afford. No 2000 Tom Brady Contenders autographs or 2003-04 Lebron Exquisite RPAs showing up on this list. (RPA = rookie patch autograph… I told you this would be a “modern” list!)
  • This list takes on football, baseball and basketball only. Sorry, you hockey and soccer nuts!
1. 2003-04 Topps Chrome LeBron James #111
Current Value (PSA 10) $31,132
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

PSA 10 Population: 2,068

LeBron’s Topps Chrome rookie is a staple in the card collecting community. I can’t tell you how many “baseball-only” or “football-only” folks have one of these LeBron’s stashed away. Is it the staple step-back jump shot on the front that makes it so popular? Maybe the classic, youthful 19-year-old image on the back? Or is it just that this is THE Topps Chrome brand rookie card of this current generation’s Michael Jordan? Probably the latter, but it’s an interesting card value-wise. Since LeBron’s move to LA, the PSA 10 copies of this card have nearly doubled in value. The card is known to be typically well off-center, so it’s not an easy grade for the PSA/BGS savvy types. This specific card has versions as a standard refractor, black refractor (#/500), xfractor (#/220) and the highly sought after gold refractor (#/50).

Click here for up to date value!
2. 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. #1
Current Value (PSA 10) $2,829
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

PSA 10 Population: 3,903

Ask any ‘80s to ‘90s card collector about this card, and I’m sure they all can identify it as the most popular card of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s junk era. The funny thing is this card is far from junk. With a PSA 10 POP report of 3,903, this card’s value on the secondary market continues to remain solid, and Griffey continues to be wildly popular with baseball collectors. With his recent Hall of Fame induction (2016) and popularity that crosses multiple generational lines, the Griffey Star Rookie has cemented its place as one of the most collectible and popular cards. It’s quite easily the most recognizable baseball card of the current generation.

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3. 2018-19 Panini Prizm Luka Doncic #280
Current Value (PSA 10) $1,556.50
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

PSA 10 Population: 15,639

What we have seen from LeBron James in the Topps Chrome Brand, we also see in Panini’s version of Prizm. Prizm, a brand released in 2012 by Panini, has taken the reins as the marquee chrome-like brand that collectors love. Now add in the enormous domestic and international buzz from Doncic to an already crazed basketball-collecting community, and you have a worldwide phenomenon modern rookie card. I would venture to say that this card has single-handedly brought tens of thousands of new eyes to the world of cards.

The PSA POP report at the time of this article was 15.639 for graded Gem Mint 10s. The craze is real, and Luka has become the new prince of the NBA (move over King?). Looking for a PSA 10 Gem mint copy? You’ll have to fork over a cool $1500+, but who knows how high the ceiling for this card could be. You can also find this card in a variety of parallels, including the ever-favorite Silver Prizm.

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4. 2000 Bowman Chrome Tom Brady #236
Current Value (PSA 10) $23,100
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

PSA 10 Population: 1,058

Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. Well, that name doesn’t exactly appear on this 2000 card, but the standard eight-letter “Tom Brady” sequence does. While I will leave the four-letter GOAT conversation alone, there is no argument that Brady’s rookies have become legendary in the hobby. The 14-time Pro Bowler and winner of six Super Bowls rings (or “chips,” if I’m going for cool points) sure does bring a lot of attention to his rookie cards. The Bowman brand, a brand that is now more synonymous with baseball prospects than anything, would be seen as one of the staples for Brady in 2000. There are many sought-after rookie cards from his rookie year (Upper Deck SP Authentic #118, Playoff Contenders Autograph, etc.). Still, the Bowman Chrome is by far the most preferred for anyone trying to own a small piece of the sixth-rounder out of Michigan. Similar to the 2003 Topps Chrome, centering can be an issue on these cards, and PSA 9s and BGS 9s seem to carry a little bit more of an uptick in value as compared to a raw Mint copy. There is no 2000 Topps Chrome rookie card, hence why the Bowman Chrome has become so collectible.

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5. 2011 Topps Update Mike Trout #US175
Current Value (PSA 10) $4,101
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

PSA 10 Population: 5,178

One of the most influential Topps rookie cards of the past decade has been the #US175 Update Mike Trout. The modern-day Griffey Star Rookie, this Trout rookie has seen a healthy rise in value and grading submissions in the past five years. Known by many in hobby circles as simply the “Trout Update,” the card may not woo you at first glance. It’s quite basic and made relatively cheap—thin card stock, simple design, paper base, minimal foil—no bells and whistles. But don’t let that fool you into thinking this card isn’t a powerhouse. PSA 10 Gem Mint copies of this card are selling at an all-time high. Quite impressive from a card in which the print runs of the 2011 Topps Update set were never released. That’s something to be said for how beloved Trout’s game is and how he carries himself on and off the field. From a strictly subjective perspective, customers always talk Trout. They talk about his play demeanor and cards. Trout has fans young and old. Many see him as the modern-day Mickey Mantle. How do you see him? Or better yet, how do you see his rookie card?

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6. 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan #57
Current Value (PSA 10) $222,630
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

PSA 10 Population: 316

If I were ranking this list, it would be shocking not to have this card at the top. What is not to love about the iconic MJ Fleer rookie card? [delete two extra spaces] The card captures his iconic flight en route to a one-handed dunk, all while the tongue is flapping in the wind. How about the red/blue/white and yellow inner border that screams ‘80s warm-up suit? It doesn’t get any more classic than this. Another critical component to this card’s popularity is that the run is so simple: #57 is the only base set version of the card, and there is only one subset card—the sticker rookie card. That’s it. Less is more. It’s easily the most recognizable basketball card of all time, and unfortunately it’s also one of the most faked/reprinted cards. The MJ fleer rookie can be seen as a significant “key date” for you coin collectors. MJ, across the board, has only seen an overall increase in value in almost all of his cards, highlighted even more so with this 1986 sample. (To briefly touch on the authentic element and looking at our shop records for 2019—the count is up to eight—as in eight is the number of people who have brought in a “valuable MJ rookie” to sell to us, resulting in the unfortunate fake news. Additionally, a search on eBay will allow you to buy a “reprinted” version of this card for a few bucks.)

Please be careful when looking into purchasing this card, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? Buying an already graded version of the MJ Fleer rookie will save you a lot of headaches. Just like his game, the MJ rookie IS the GOAT. Don’t @ me!

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7. 1993 Upper Deck SP Derek Jeter Foil #279
Current Value (PSA 10) $140,400
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

PSA 10 Population: 21

0.14 percent—this is the magic number. This 0.14 refers to the percent of the 1993 Upper Deck SP FOIL that have received the unicorn-level grade of PSA 10. It puts things into perspective when the registry has the Jeter Foil at a whopping 15,683 total cards graded. To give some perspective in terms of value, in May 2018, a PSA 10 off eBay sold for $99,100. Fast-forward to December a year later to find a purchase of $138,000 (including the buyer premium). As one of the most popular ‘90s baseball cards (and one with significant value), the 1993 SP FOIL Jeter has only seen an uptick in recent months and years. What’s unique about this card is that foil element makes the surface of the card extremely delicate to scratching, and the dark corners highlight any imperfections to almost a higher degree than other cards of this era. It is widely known that this card could be damaged simply by friction in the wax packs—a very tough grade. In terms of mass production popularity, the Jeter Foil and Griffey Star Rookie sit in their thrones atop the ‘80s/’90s junk era.

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8. 2018 Topps Update Ronald Acuna #US250
Current Value (PSA 10) $188.83
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

PSA 10 Population: 16,749

Probably one of the most under-the-radar cards in the last two years, the Acuna Update (At-Bat in Blue Jersey) has seen a tremendous rise in value for one of MLB’s most promising young talents in just the past year. This specific card has multiple variations, including the “Bat Down” pose and the highly coveted “White Jersey” SSP, all of which carry the #US250 numbering. The Topps Update version has become synonymous with many players as the player’s “true” rookie card, and Acuna is no exception. In the shop, the card never really peaked over $8 to $10 for a non-graded mint copy during the 2018 season, but the 2019 season brought the rain. PSA 10 copies of the base “At-Bat in Blue Jersey” card began selling $125 to $150 consistently on eBay, and the loyal Atlanta fan base seemed to be gobbling these cards faster than we could keep in stock.

On top of that, when you can find multiple parallels, including (but not limited to) the Gold (#/2018), Mother’s Day Pink (#/50), Father’s Day Blue (#/50), Camo (#/25), Clear (#/10) and coveted Platinum #1/1, it only adds to the craze. These parallels and short prints, for the most part, seemed to almost fuel the fandom for this card in a way that I haven’t seen from a base Topps Baseball Card in a long time. Values have cooled down a bit, but the Acuna Update is a rookie card that has revitalized those standard Topps wax packs!

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9. 2017 Panini Prizm Patrick Mahomes #269
Current Value (PSA 10) $11,450
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

PSA 10 Population: 852

Football cards can be a tricky bunch. When comparing the three major U.S. sports, it’s a common theme to see basketball and baseball carry more predictably than football. Maybe it’s because the NFL season is only 17 weeks/16 games, and players are quick to injure? Things can change so quickly with the pigskin. Lately, that rule seems to also apply to hot quarterback rookie cards as well. (See Lamar Jackson 2018 Prizm #212 for some homework.) Many savvy investors would have said the Patrick Mahomes base Panini Prizm rookie (which is silver) had already reached its peak at the beginning of the 2019 season. PSA 10 Gem Mint copies at that time could be had for roughly $200 to $300 and non-graded versions for around $60 to $90 depending on condition and eye appeal. Who knew that PSA 10 versions of this simple shiny base rookie card would skyrocket to $11,450? Never have we seen such a quick spike for such a basic football rookie card. I believe, one, this further solidifies the Panini Prizm brand as the new Topps Chrome and standard collectible rookie card, and two, that the element of branding, combined with hype, is fueling a new age of collecting. Let’s give credit where credit is due though—Mahomes, in his way, is reinventing the game as well with a massive arm, no-look passes, school-boy flip tosses, Madden covers and ketchup infatuations—all while appearing to have fun playing football. Keep an eye on this card for years to come as Mahomes is leading the changing of the guard with staples like Brady, Brees, Rodgers, Roethlisberger, Rivers and more coming to the end of their careers.

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Culture Trading Cards

‘Data Debates’: Tim Duncan 1997 Topps Chrome vs. Zion Williamson 2019 Prizm

In the latest installment of our ‘Data Debates’ series, in which we aim to help newcomers understand the process of evaluating supply and demand and identify which cards are overvalued vs undervalued, I put the rookie cards of the legend, Tim Duncan, against those of the young emerging phenom, Zion Williamson.

The Case For Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan played 19 seasons for the San Antonio Spurs and was one of the famed “Twin Towers,” alongside teammate and fellow Hall of Famer, David Robinson. He is considered by most to be the best power forward in the history of the NBA and a top 20 player of all-time. 

His accomplishments in basketball are eye-popping:

  • 1997 NBA Draft 1st Overall Pick
  • NBA Hall of Fame Class of 2020
  • 1998 Rookie of the Year
  • 5x NBA Champion (1999, 2003,2005, 2007, 2014)
  • 3x NBA Finals MVP (1999, 2003, 2005)
  • 2x NBA MVP (2002, 2003)
  • 15x NBA All-Star (1998, 2000-2011, 2013, 2015) 
  • 10x All-NBA 1st Team (1998-2005, 2007, 2013)
  • 8x NBA All-Defensive 1st Team (1999-2003, 2005, 2007, 2008)
  • USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year (2003)
  • Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year (2003)
  • #21 retired by the San Antonio Spurs and Wake Forest Demon Deacons
  • 2× Consensus first-team All-American (1996, 1997)
  • Consensus National College Player of the Year
  • 2× ACC Player of the Year (1996, 1997)
  • 3× First-team All-ACC (1995-1997)

Nicknamed “The Big Fundamental,” his unique skill set for a big man was as understated as it was flawless. After winning their third NBA Championship together in 2005, Coach Greg Popovich said, “Duncan’s complete game is so sound, so fundamental, so unnoticed at times, because if he didn’t score, people think, ‘Well, he didn’t do anything.’ But he was incredible, and he was the force that got it done for us.”

Duncan is one of only four players in NBA history to win three NBA Finals MVP’s, along with Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, and Magic Johnson. He is a member of the iconic NBA Hall of Fame Class of 2020 and will be inducted this May (after being rescheduled because of the pandemic) alongside two legends, Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant. 

The Case For Zion Williamson:

Zion Williamson was the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft after playing only one year at Duke University. However, since his days at Spartanburg Day School, he has been in the public eye, where highlights of his dunks seemed to pop up daily on ESPN and throughout all social media platforms. While in high school, Williamson won three straight South Carolina state championships and was named South Carolina Mr. Basketball after his senior year. 

After his one season at Duke, Zion was named ACC Player of the Year, ACC Athlete of the Year, ACC Rookie of the Year, AP Player of the Year, and Sporting News College Player of the Year before declaring for the NBA Draft.   

Williamson’s rookie year in the NBA was cut short after he tore a meniscus in the preseason, which held him out for the first three months of the season. He wound up playing in only 24 games, averaging 22.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. 

Off the court, Williamson signed a five-year, $75 million sneaker deal with Jordan brand, which is the second-largest ever of its kind, next to LeBron James’s $90 million rookie sneaker deal he signed back in 2003.

Examining the Data

Tim Duncan 1997 Topps Chrome PSA 10

Pop: 2,330

Last Sold: $2,229.00

Market Cap: $5,356,670.00

Tim Duncan 1997 Topps Chrome PSA 9

Pop: 4,186

Last Sold: $360.00

Market Cap: $1,506,600.00

Zion Williamson 2019 Prizm PSA 10

Pop: 14,860

Last Sold: $664.25

Market Cap: $9,870,755.00

Zion Williamson 2019 Prizm PSA 9

Pop: 11,477

Last Sold: $210.33

Market Cap: $2,407,685.67

Who is the Better Investment?
Getty Images

You might be asking yourself exactly what I am doing here. Obviously, there is no comparing the two players in terms of on-court accomplishments. Duncan is arguably a top 10 all-time player. Zion has only played in parts of two seasons. It’s almost disrespectful to Duncan’s legacy to compare the two… Right? 

Now, let’s go back and look at the numbers of just how many Zion Williamson base rookie Prizms there are in PSA’s population report. With 14,860 of them out there, a number that is sure to rise to around 20-25,000 once PSA gets through their backlog, and who knows how many left inside of packs that have yet to be opened, I would like to reverse that previous question with a question of my own:

“What exactly is the hobby doing here?!”

Zion’s market cap on his PSA 10 ($9.87 million) is already almost double Tim Duncan’s ($5.35 million), and I can’t figure out why. Is there anybody who believes that by the end of Zion’s career, he will have come close to matching Duncan’s accomplishments? Two MVPs? Three NBA Finals MVPs? Five Championships? He would have to, in order to justify the numbers people are currently paying for his cards. 

With that said, is Tim Duncan the most underpriced superstar of all-time? 

In May of 2020, ESPN did a “Top 74 NBA Players of All Time” list, and they placed Tim Duncan at #8, one spot AHEAD of Kobe Bryant and one spot below Larry Bird. 

Larry Bird’s rookie card, the 1980 Topps “Scoring Leader,” is one of the most iconic in the hobby. Since there are so few PSA 10’s (total population: 24) and PSA 9’s (611), let’s use the PSA 8 for comparison since the population is similar to the Duncan PSA 10. 

Pop: 2,714

Last Sold: $7,750

Market Cap: $21,033,500

Here are the numbers on Kobe Bryant’s 1996 Topps Chrome PSA 10 rookie card:

Pop: 830

Last Sold: $25,000

Market Cap: $20,750,000

It’s time we put some respect on Duncan’s name. He is about to be inducted into the Hall of Fame with Kobe. He is ranked one spot ahead of Kobe on ESPN’s all-time list, and yet, the market cap on his PSA 10 rookie cards ($5,35 million) is 25% that of Kobe’s? I can definitely see a big bump coming at Duncan’s prices around May, around the time of his induction ceremony.

Was Duncan “boring to watch,” as some fans say? Sure. He didn’t have the highlight reel dunks like Zion, which obviously matters in the current market. Zion is way more marketable and relevant to the modern-day collector. But that only matters until it doesn’t.

As a cautionary tale, let’s compare Zion’s early popularity to that of Derrick Rose, who was also drafted first overall in 2008, was the 2009 NBA Rookie of the Year, and was the youngest player to ever win an NBA MVP in 2011, at just 22 years old. The sky seemed to be the limit for Rose, but injuries took their toll, and his career never was able to take that next step.

I can’t even imagine the prices Derrick Rose’s rookie cards would have been selling for in this current market after his MVP season, but a quick glance at the current market cap for his 2008 Topps Chrome PSA is currently at $39,790. That should scare the hell out of Zion investors, especially with his size, body type, and already have dealt with injuries of his own.

If you think that the stars will align and that Zion Williamson will someday be mentioned in the same breath as Kobe, Magic, Larry, Wilt Chamberlain, and Shaq, maybe you can begin to justify his current prices. However, that is a longshot at best. When this Zion bubble likely bursts at some point, many people will be left holding the bag. 

Zion vs. Duncan = Gambling vs. Investing… and we all know how that Friday night trip to the casino typically ends. I’m playing this one safe, and my money’s on “The Big Fundamental.”

Culture Trading Cards

The Story Behind The $5.2 Million Mickey Mantle Rookie Card

On Thursday, January 14th, another record was shattered in the sports card hobby, as PWCC Marketplace announced the private sale of one of the six 1952 Mickey Mantle Topps rookie cards that are graded a PSA 9 on this planet, for a mind-blowing $5.2 million.

The card was previously sold in 2018 at Heritage Auctions for $2.88 million, which was owned by former NFL player Evan Mathis.

“Based on our research, this is the nicest looking 1952 Topps Mantle PSA 9 in existence,” said Jesse Craig, Director of Business Development at PWCC Marketplace, via media release.

The buyer, Rob Gough, an entrepreneur who is most well known for his Dope clothing and CBD line and his acting in high profile movies such as Billionaire Boys Club and The Forgiven, could not be more proud to own this iconic card.

“I’ve dreamt of owning a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle since I was a kid collecting cards,” said Rob Gough. “It’s the Mona Lisa of sports cards, and I’ve been searching for this high graded example talking to industry experts, dealers, auction houses, and friends.”

How Did This Purchase Go Down?
Alex Pitocchelli

Gough credits fellow entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk and Dan Fleyshman, c0-owner of Hollywood card shop “Cards and Coffee,” for rekindling his interest in the hobby he loved so much as a child.

“I caught the bug. I’m addicted to the hobby. Initially, when Gary and Dan got me in a Zoom [call] and said, ‘Hey, we are collecting cards. This is fun’ I remember thinking, ‘This is crazy!’ and I got off and was kinda curious, but thought, ‘Have these guys lost their minds?’ Once you get in, it’s so fun. That’s what I have to remember. This is a hobby. Yes, it’s a great diversified asset, but initially, I got in seeing these prices skyrocket daily. I just pushed hard, but I have slowed down and gotten more into the iconic assets.”

Amongst the “iconic assets” Gough currently owns is a 1916 Sporting News Babe Ruth rookie, a 1917 Collins-McCarthy Joe Jackson, and several PSA 10 Michael Jordan rookie cards. In addition to his PSA 9 Mickey Mantle, he also owns a PSA 5 and PSA 8. He used to own a PSA 6 but recently sold it to DJ Steve Aoki.

However, his goal is to complete what he calls the “PSA rainbow” of 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie cards, which is owning one of them in every grade from 1-10. However, getting his hands on a PSA 10, currently valued at over $10 million, won’t be so easy. There are only three of them on record, and none of them are currently for sale.

“They are so rare that they never become available.” Said Gough. “Let’s say you have a billion dollars. Somebody offers $20 million. You can’t buy another one. It’s very tough to get them out of hand.”

$5.2 Million for a piece of Cardboard… Is Gough Crazy?
Getty Images

Many people look at the amount of money being spent on these high-end sports cards with extreme skepticism with so many things out there to invest in.

“I could have just bought Bitcoin, but this Mantle card has limited downside risk,” said Gough. “Bitcoin is more like buying a Luka Doncic or Zion Williamson rookie card because of the volatility. Most people diversify. Young guys are an injury away from a bad price. They are very high risk. I’m more of a conservative player, more vintage focused. Maybe this Mantle won’t rise as much (percentage-wise) as a Zion Williamson card, but it has a smaller downside. If I bought the $3.9 million Mike Trout card, I’d be scared every night that something bad could happen. With Mickey, his legacy isn’t going away. That safety measure, especially infusing this kind of cash, is important. This transaction boosts this card, especially since I own a few lower graded versions. “

After researching other iconic cards that have boomed in value over the last calendar year, Gough couldn’t understand why the hobby’s most iconic card had not seen a similar increase.

“The Jackie Robinson rookie was $50,000 a year ago, and now it’s over $200,000. The Michael Jordan 1986 Fleer PSA 10 went from the high teens to over $200,000. Gretzky and Lebron. All these iconic cards have gone up 10x. Mickey didn’t. Why hasn’t this card gone crazy? It should be more valuable.”

Baseball Card? Or Modern Art?
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

As previously mentioned, Gough’s goal is to eventually own one of the three PSA 10s in existence.

“I do want a PSA 10. The total population of that card is 3. The population on my PSA 9 is a 6. This 9 is arguably the best 9. PSA has mentioned that. PWCC has been publicly saying that. A lot of people have argued that this is maybe better than the PSA 10. In my eyes, it’s the 4th best. Hopefully, I can get 1, 2, or 3.”

You might be asking yourself how a $5.2 million card gets delivered or what you do with it once you have it in hand. According to Gough, the card was delivered via an armored vehicle and is currently being stored in a vault. However, he has big plans for it in the future, hoping to display it for all to see. He is trying to figure out, with his insurance company’s help, the best way to do that.

“This is art. I collect art,” said Gough. “This is definitely an art. Let’s say you take the same $5 million and put it into a house. There are a lot of houses you can buy for that money. To me, this is amazing because there are only six of them. That’s why I do consider this art. It’s got a great history of increasing in demand and value. How many paintings did Warhol do? There are only a certain amount. If you look at art, you spend the money on a piece of art, and it could be fake. This is safer because it’s graded. Ideally, I’d like to share it with the world. A lot of these assets just get locked away in wealthy people’s safes, and nobody sees it. I think it would be cool for other people to touch it or look at it.” 

When you look at this card in relation to a painting, maybe the value isn’t so crazy. After all, 35 paintings are on the record of being sold for over $100 million each. However, to Rob, that isn’t what it’s all about.

“When I first got in, I was probably thinking, let’s just make a quick buck and get out, but you do it and catch the bug and realize how much fun it is,” said Gough. “What a great hobby of people. I’m in a text chat with so many incredible people. It’s become addicting. We talk cards and the guys you are negotiating with along the way, initially, you enter the hobby for one reason, and it’s pivoted. I really just enjoy the hobby.”