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Junk Era? Not Anymore

Baseball cards produced between the late-80s and early 1990s have long been referred to as the “Junk Wax Era” due to the overproduction of cards which many attribute the industry crash to. 

Demand for sports cards had steadily increased through the preceding decades, and as a result, companies like Topps, Fleer, and Donruss continued to produce more and more cards. Eventually, the growing demand couldn’t even keep up with the rapid increase in production. 

Trading card companies learned their lesson from the Junk Era and started producing serial numbered cards to make them more coveted and valuable. As a result, we’ve seen cards like Mike Trout’s 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Superfractor sell for $3.96 million and cards of prospects who have yet to play a game in the Majors routinely running into the thousands. 

As the grading of cards by services like PSA and Beckett has become more popular, collectors have searched for PSA 10’s of their favorite players from the Junk Era. It is more common to find a card off-center from the 80s or 90s than perfectly centered, which has created a rarity in an area that lacked it. 

PSA 10’s of Derek Jeter’s 1993 Topps rookie and Barry Bonds’ 1986 Topps Traded rookie have both skyrocketed in recent months, with many others from the same time frame following suit. 

The 1986 Topps Traded Barry Bonds and 1993 Topps Derek Jeter both have more valuable versions, with the Topps “Tiffany” Bonds fetching upwards of $10,000 as a PSA 10 and the 1993 Topps Gold Rookie Jeter not far behind. 

The massive jump in the base cards is encouraging for the hobby as a whole and has resulted in even more collectors sending in their 80’s and 90’s cards to PSA to see if they may have a gem in what they once thought was a worthless part of their collection. 

Even raw Bonds rookie cards that could be had for $5 or less in previous years are selling for $30-$50 depending on the apparent condition as collectors hope to snatch up a PSA 10.

If this sports card boom has taught collectors anything, it’s that we never know what may boom next. Even the “Junk Era” can be valuable.