An Expert’s Guide To Collecting Vintage Wax Packs

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An unopened box of 1948 Bowman Baseball wax packs

Collectors often dream about some of the unopened wax packs owned by Steve Sabow.  Sabow is one of the hobby’s preeminent dealers of vintage wax packs.  In fact, Sabow has sold more unopened vintage wax in the last three years than anyone else in the country.

I had the opportunity to speak with Sabow recently and found him to be an all-around great guy and a wealth of information in relation to buying and selling vintage wax packs. Sabow has been at this for a while; he started out selling cards at flea markets back in 1976 and started branching out into local card shows while also promoting several shows throughout the NY and CT area.

He’s been selling packs since the 1970’s, but it was only recently that he started getting heavily involved with vintage packs.  In fact, Sabow credits his vintage card business as allowing him to stay alive in this hobby longer than most.  He’s had a booth at the National Convention every year except for the first four.

Steve is retired now, but still quite active as a vintage card and wax pack dealer (although COVID-19 has slowed down business a bit). His list of packs for sale is one of the most impressive lists of packs I’ve ever seen.  We’ve summarized our discussion with Sabow, providing some of the most important points for any collectors interested in vintage unopened wax.

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1933 Goudey Babe Ruth Cards: Overvalued Or Good Investment?

The 1933 Babe Ruth Goudey cards (note there are four of them) have been among the hottest vintage cards in recent years.  Given the significant price increase for the cards, many collectors wonder if Ruth’s Goudey cards are still worthy of an investment?

Ruth’s 1933 Goudey cards (despite the significant price increases) remain one of the best longer-term investments for vintage collectors.  The four cards are not cheap by any means, but if you have the funding, Ruth’s Goudey cards should continue to appreciate over the next several years.

In this guide, we take a closer look at the four Goudey Ruth cards and provide collectors with more information on the current values, scarcity, and the ultimate investment potential. 

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The four Babe Ruth cards from the 1933 Goudey Gum set.

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Wayne Gretzky Rookie Cards: A Closer Look

gretzky-rookie-cardWhen collectors think about the best hockey player of all time, the thoughts immediately are focused on one player- Wayne Gretzky.

When Gretzky entered the NHL in 1979, the league hadn’t quite seen a player with Gretzky’s electrifying skills.

His dominance in the league even as a rookie was unheard of, leading to him winning the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player in his first year in the NHL.

Gretzky’s rookie card has always been in high demand, but even forty years later, collectors still view the Gretzky rookie card as one of the most prized possessions in the hobby. 

Let’s take a closer look at Gretzky’s 1979-80 Topps and OPC rookie cards two of the hobby’s most valuable hockey cards.

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Is The Bird, Magic Rookie Card Undervalued?

bird-magicThere’s obviously been a crazy amount of hysteria in regards to Michael Jordan’s rookie card in recent months due to the release of the ‘Last Dance’ documentary on ESPN.

It had us thinking – what other vintage basketball cards might be due for a rapid rise increase in price?

This led us to one card that we think might actually be undervalued — the 1980-81 Topps Larry Bird, Magic Johnson Rookie Card.

I don’t know what it’s going to take — maybe ESPN will come out with a new documentary detailing the legendary battles of Bird and Magic — but it’s clear that their rookie card looks undervalued. 

We’re going to review the Bird/Magic rookie card in more detail and compare it to the Jordan rookie card, comparing pricing and overall population reports.

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Cracker Jack Baseball Cards: A True American Classic

1914-cracker-jack-cobbIn thinking of what represents true Americana, the things that come to mind include  – Baseball, Apple Pie, and yep Cracker Jack.

In the 1896 song “Take Me Out To The Ball Game”, Cracker Jack was given its official stamp of American approval in the line “Buy Me Some Peanuts and Cracker Jack“.

While the Cracker Jack brand first got notice at the World’s Fair in 1893, it was its association with baseball which brought it to the forefront of American culture.

Many kids are most certainly familiar with the small toys included in boxes of Cracker Jack, yet it was two years (1914 to 1915) that Cracker Jack showed its true allegiance to baseball by including cards with its caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts.

The Cracker Jack baseball cards are today one of the most revered sets in the history of the hobby.  In this piece, we take a look at the history of Cracker Jack and examine the details of the two card sets.

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Willie Mays Cards: The Definitive Guide

52-topps-maysWillie Mays was one of the best five-tool players to ever play the game.  A rare combination of blistering speed and defensive prowess complemented his blend of power and accuracy at the plate.  

Willie Mays defined the way that the game should be played and his early childlike love for the game earned him the moniker – ‘The Say Hey Kid’.

Despite all of the success on the field, Mays had to endure racial pressures and a bit of an odd relationship with the media and fans alike.

Still to this day, Mays remains well respected as a ballplayer and to this day is considered to be on the all-time greats. 

In this piece, we examine the most important and valuable baseball cards for Willie Mays, most of which are still highly sought after among vintage collectors.  This covers Mays’ cards dating from 1951 through 1960. 

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Is Michael Jordan’s Rookie Card Still A Good Investment?

Sometimes hype and excitement gets in the way of reality.  And in the case of Michael Jordan's 1986 Fleer rookie card, I'm worried that this might be the case.

Never have I seen a 30+ year old card garner so much attention--and fueled by what?  A documentary?  Are people so stir crazy that they somehow forgot that Michael Jordan was one of the best to ever play the game?

I bring all of this up due to the fact that Jordan's rookie card has begun to reach levels of hysteria that normally crop up in the way of a new rookie phenom.  But here we are talking about the 50-something year old Michael Jordan.

As a case in point, I put together a spreadsheet back in April of 2019, tracking the prices of Jordan's rookie (see below).  In a little more than a year, Jordan's rookie card has increased across the board by the tune of nearly 200% in most grades.  

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REA Spring Auction Results Show Vintage Market Still Booming

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Cobb W600 – Image courtesy REA

We speculated recently that the coronavirus pandemic that’s sweeping our nation might lead to a weakness in the vintage card market.  

With many service-based businesses completely shut down and unemployment filings rising by the day, it was of my opinion that the economic stress could lead to a dip in card prices.

However, for now, if we only look at the recent results at the REA Spring 2020 Auction, the vintage card market is showing minimal signs of weakness. 

Past recessions have shown that collectors do tend to hold onto their beloved cards until things have really come off the wheels.  So far, it looks like that could be the case again, although not much is certain in regards to this coronavirus.

In this piece, we examine some of the auction results and provide a look into the health of the vintage card market. 

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Ty Cobb Cards: The Definitive Guide

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Tyrus Raymond Cobb was one of the most fierce, determined and successful baseball players of all time.  

His intensity often got the best of him and despite his immense talents he was known to be hated by many of his peers.

Yet as for his baseball abilities, none will argue that Cobb was among one of the best all around baseball players to ever play the game.

Ty Cobb’s baseball cards remain among the most desired among vintage collectors, ranging from his ever popular T206 Portrait cards to his T3 Turkey Red card

In this piece, we take a look a Ty Cobb’s career as a baseball player, while providing collectors with a list of his most popular and valuable baseball cards.  

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Will The Coronavirus Lead To A Freefall in Vintage Card Prices?

coronavirusIt has been an ugly few months. A pandemic is sweeping our nation. The S&P 500 Index has plummeted by 40%. Every so often we get a black swan that catches everyone by surprise.

This surprise is invisible and unstoppable – a powerful and contagious virus called the coronavirus or COVID-19. We weren’t prepared for it despite warnings.

As I’m writing this, the United States is still in the early innings of what will likely be a devastating and heartbreaking outcome for our country. And while the number of deaths are still fairly small in quantity, the economic impact is already being felt far and wide.

Airlines are shut down, restaurants are closed, hotels and casinos are closed up. Employees are getting laid off in the hopes they can quickly collect unemployment. Schools are closed and people are forced to work from home.

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