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Wondering what are the top and valuable sports cards from the junk wax era? Do any exist? The short answer is a definitive yes.
The junk wax era of sports cards spanned from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, where card manufacturers like Upper Deck and Topps produced millions of cards (mostly baseball cards).
As a result, the card companies saturated the market with what eventually became low-value, low-demand cards.
But while the overproduction of cards devalued many sets, there are some iconic and valuable sports cards from this infamous era in the hobby.
Here below are some of the top iconic and valuable sports cards from the junk wax era that continue to be in demand today despite the enormous print runs.
Top 5 Most Iconic and Valuable Sports Cards
1. Ken Griffey Jr. 1989 Upper Deck #1
You’ll find this Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card on many lists. But it has to be included in this one as well.
It is widely considered one of the most iconic cards in sports history. It was the baseball card #1 for Upper Deck, and it remains highly sought after by collectors to this day. A PSA 10 card still goes for thousands of dollars.
2. Derek Jeter 1993 Upper Deck SP Foil Rookie Card
This Derek Jeter rookie card was highly anticipated, with collectors eager to get their hands on it.
But this card of Derek Jeter in particular, which is part of the Upper Deck SP set, is notoriously difficult to get in a perfect PSA 10 condition printed on its very condition-sensitive foil stock.
The lower graded ones are much more affordable. It’s a clean looking rookie card that’s great to have in your personal collection.
3. Cal Ripken Jr. 1982 Topps Traded Rookie Card
Cal Ripken Jr.’s 1982 Topps Traded rookie card is also highly coveted card among collectors.
This card features a young Ripken in his Orioles uniform with PSA 10 examples of this card easily selling for thousands.
This card was also distributed only in the traded sets in 1982, making it scarce to begin with. And the traded sets themselves weren’t produced en masse, making this Ripken card even more rare.
4. Frank Thomas 1990 Topps No Name on Front (NNOF) Rookie Card
Frank Thomas’s 1990 Topps No Name on Front (NNOF) rookie card is a rare error card that was printed without his name on the front.
While the card was quickly corrected, the error cards have become highly sought after by collectors due to their rarity.
It has become one of the most valuable junk wax rookie cards.
5. Barry Bonds 1986 Topps Traded Tiffany Rookie Card
Barry Bonds’s 1986 Topps Traded Tiffany rookie card is another rare junk wax rookie card especially when you consider its condition.
This card was only available in limited quantities as part of the Topps Traded Tiffany special factory set, and it features a glossy finish that sets it apart from other cards.
PSA 10 examples of this card can sell for upwards of $8,000.
6. Chipper Jones 1991 Topps Desert Shield Rookie Card
Chipper Jones’s 1991 Topps Desert Shield rookie card is a unique junk wax rookie card in that it was printed with a special Desert Shield logo to honor troops serving in the Persian Gulf War.
Due to its scarcity, this card has become highly sought after by collectors, with PSA 10 examples selling for upwards of $14,000 and a low population count of 32.
7. 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan Rookie Card
The 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie card is one of the most iconic, most popular, and yes, most valuable junk wax cards of all time.
Michael Jordan is widely considered to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time, and as such his rookie card is highly sought after by collectors.
This card can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars in PSA 10 and BGS 9.5 condition.
8. 1984 Donruss Don Mattingly Rookie Card
This might be a little surprising but a 1984 Donruss Don Mattingly rookie card is also quite valuable.
Mattingly was a popular player in the 1980s, and this specific Don Mattingly rookie card in PSA 10 condition with a population count of 308 sold for more than $3,000.
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Mattingly’s was a huge star in 1984 – at the time 1984 Donruss Design was hailed as one of the greatest of all time.
The 1986-87 Fleer Set/Jordan is not junk wax.- I never saw a pack of these sold anywhere in 1986/87 – if they were at the retail level – I never saw them