In this environment, it can be challenging for collectors to quickly flip cards for profit. In response, many are defaulting to buying cards that they are satisfied with owning over the long-term. There is nothing wrong with this, and the specifics of this path will vary from collector to collector. Ultimately, owning sports cards should be fun. My personal version of this mindset has caused me to focus less on purchasing stars of the modern era and return to the junk wax years of my youth. Included in this post are some of the junk wax cards I am considering for purchase.
As most of you are aware, trading cards were wildly overproduced between 1984 and 1994. This period is often referred to as the “junk wax” era and makes most base cards printed during this time readily available and affordable.
All the players listed below have rookie cards that were printed between 1984 and 1994. In addition, each is in their sport’s hall of fame, and in most cases, PSA 9 versions of these cards can be obtained for approximately the fee to grade. Due to the supply of these cards on the market, it is unlikely buying them will lead to extraordinary profitability or wealth. However, I do think we have to be close to a “price-floor” for most of these. Either way, these are the cards, sets and players I fondly remember trading, collecting and watching with my friends during our elementary school days. This means that even if they become worthless, owning any of the cards below will bring me joy.
In reading my list, you will see only Topps flagship rookie cards included. Certainly, some of the players like Derek Jeter, have more valuable rookie cards from other companies or sets. However, with Fanatics likely to hammer collectors with Topps history and nostalgia in the coming years, I think Topps flagship is the best value option from the junk wax years. For fun, I also included population numbers for PSA 9 versions of these cards. This will give you a sense of how many are available. These numbers will seem high, but keep in mind that there are now almost 16,000 copies of PSA 9 Ja Morant 2019 Panini Prizm rookies in the world. That is not exactly a scarce card either.
1993 Topps #98 Derek Jeter
PSA 9 eBay Buy It Now Cost: $50
PSA 9 Population: 18,244
One of the most decorated players of his generation, Jeter played shortstop for two decades with the New York Yankees. During this time, he was a 14-time All-Star and won 5 Gold Gloves. He ranks sixth in Major League history with 3,465 hits and won five World Series rings with the Yankees. Jeter was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2020, receiving the most votes ever for a position player. His number 2 has been retired by the Yankees.
Like many Topps sets of the 1990s, there is a gold variation of the 1993 Jeter card. Expect to pay 3 to 4 times more for a gold copy.