Hobby Musings: The art of uncovering hidden wax treasure – The sports card world is often consumed with the newest and hottest products on the market. Companies will tout the great hits that can be found and breakers and collectors will shred it in hopes of finding those treasures. The hype period for any given product seems to last about a few days to a week. On occasion, a product will take the hobby by storm though and its hype period will last well beyond that.
The crazy thing about all the new wax coming out is how quickly its predecessors can be forgotten by the hobby community. This is especially true if a product is considered to be lacking in quality and star and rookie power. As such, the products tend to sit on shelves until they are discounted enough to generate interest as a low-risk buy. Another possibility is that a rookie from that product gets hot enough or comes out nowhere to generate renewed interest in the older product.
One product that has perhaps seen this effect the most in recent memory is 2011 Topps Update Baseball. Known primarily as the product that includes Mike Trout’s rookie card, the product has also received heightened interest in the past few years as it includes other notable rookie cards, including Jose Altuve. A relatively low-impact product when it first released, sealed packs and boxes have become very hard to find. My local card shop had a few packs not too long ago with an asking price of close to $100. I was stunned by the price tag but a quick comparison search on eBay showed me that is wasn’t too far-fetched. Steel City Collectibles announced on social media the other day that it had acquired a sealed case of 2011 Topps Value box product that included Bowman Chrome and Update. One of the things touted in the post was the potential rarity of their find.
Blowout Cards also recently announced on Twitter that it was offering $40,000 to anyone who was willing to sell a 12-box sealed case of 2009 Bowman Draft Baseball Hobby. My first thought when seeing that and Steel City’s thread was that I wish I had stashed some of that product for a while for an occasion like this.
Speculation has existed in the hobby for quite some time now, especially where rookies are concerned. It just seems as if the furor over sealed boxes and cases for newer products and cases has picked up in the past few years. After all, it’s one thing to get incredibly excited over a box or case of 1952 Topps being discovered. It’s another entirely when big money is being offered for cases of product that aren’t even 10 years old. While I grant you the prices for the two markets are significantly different, both are still pulling in big numbers nevertheless.
As the pull of the spectacular 1955 Bowman Mickey Mantle at this year’s National showed us, all it takes is one big card to spike an entire market. Ever since then, I’ve seen considerably more advertisements and interest in breaks for older packs. While the risk/reward potential is higher with them than most other breaks, it’s still amazing to see the prices people are willing to pay for those vintage breaks. Given the value of that Mantle card that was pulled though, it’s a little easier to understand why people are willing to roll the high-priced dice.
In my travels, I’ve been fortunate enough to see some of the bigger trading card warehouses in the country. Seeing all of that sealed wax has always left me with one thought. Just how many awesome cards are sitting in there waiting to be discovered? A friend of mine at one point had multiple cases of Signature Rookies on a shelf and I couldn’t but wonder and be tempted by the thought of just how many Derek Jeter autographs were inside. The same has held true on the occasions where I’ve seen sealed boxes of 2001 Upper Deck SP Legendary Cuts or any football box that might contain a Tom Brady rookie card. The risk of redemption cards aside, I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been tempted to buy a box of a product like this because of what could be in there.
It also leads me to wonder how many people are buying brand-new cases and boxes to stash them away for down the road. Though it is not the norm, 2011 Topps Update has shown us how a product’s price can rise significantly after a few years. I actually received a blaster box of it as a gift in 2011 and was fortunate enough to pull a Trout rookie that I still have. Unfortunately, I prepped the card with eraser in the hopes of getting it signed, negating a large part of its value. I’m happy to have the Trout and still hope to get it signed one day, but I can’t help but wonder how much I’d get for it now if it was still sealed.
I have no doubt that someone somewhere is doing that with 2011 Topps Update Baseball, as well as other newer products. At some point, they’ll likely sell the product when a price they can’t refuse comes along their way. Who knows? Maybe 60 years down the road, a sealed pack or box of 2011 Topps Update Baseball will elicit the same reaction the Bowman Mantle did. Highly unlikely I admit, but in this hobby, nothing is certain, especially where the future is concerned.
For more hobby musings from Kelsey, follow him on Twitter @KelSchroy75.
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