Modern Sport Cards
1986 Fleer on Basketball
2020 SOLD for $ 1.8M including premium
Because of this hiatus, many young players had not yet had a regular trading card and their 1986 Fleer is considered by collectors as their rookie card. They include Michael Jordan who had begun his NBA career in 1984.
In 2020 Jordan's glory is at its peak, driven by the success of the television documentary series named The Last Dance. Collectors are flocking to his rookie card, although it is not uncommon including about 300 cards graded Gem Mint.
A card graded Gem Mint 10 by PSA was sold for $ 96K including premium by Heritage on May 8, 2020, breaking by far the previous record set 19 days earlier by the same auction house. Another copy of the same grade will be sold online by Heritage on July 30, lot 56540.
The 1986-87 Fleer series consists of 132 cards and 11 stickers. On July 30 in the same sale as above, a complete set fully graded 10 by PSA is estimated $ 200K, lot 56545.
For retail, Fleer offered packs of 12 random-inserted cards and one sticker, not to forget the bubble gum. For wholesale, Fleer assembled boxes of 36 packs and cases of 12 boxes. In the same next sale by Heritage, a box whose content has been reconstituted with 36 unopened packs is estimated $ 80K, lot 56605. The list of stickers is identified in the catalog.
On August 6 online, Collect Auctions sells as lot 31 a factory sealed case. The lot therefore contains 5,184 cards and 432 stickers which have not been handled after their packaging. Statistically, bidders can thus hope to find therein in as new condition 39 cards and 39 stickers of the Jordan rookie. The bidding exceeded $ 1M on the first day (July 13) and continues to increase.
RESULTS including premium
Collect Auctions (case) : SOLD for $ 1.8M
Heritage : SOLD for $ 216K (complete set), $ 90K (box), $ 75K (Jordan card)
1996 Chrome Refractor for Kobe Bryant
2021 SOLD for $ 1.8M including premium
The big step forward was technological. In 1993 Topps incorporates metal into the cardboard. The Topps Finest Baseball series is thus accompanied by a parallel with a chrome plating of the circular frame around the photo. The publisher registers the protected name Refractor to describe this novelty.
Basketball competes with baseball. The first Topps Chrome Refractors series is released in 1996, without serialization. Luckily, it includes Kobe Bryant's rookie card. The metallic frame of the image has become rectangular. It is thus better visible and perhaps also less fragile. Later Topps will introduce color Refractors.
BGS and PSA grade these items in a base scale which is similar. However, BGS goes further by recording on the carrier labels their rating on four criteria : Centering, Corners, Edges and Surface. This allows them to award a higher top end than the mere Gem Mint, the Black Label, for cards rated 10 for all four criteria. The price differences are considerable.
Let's go back to Kobe Bryant's Topps Chrome Refractor rookie card.
A card graded Gem MT 10 by PSA was sold for $ 450K including premium by Goldin on January 31, 2021.
Two cards were rated Pristine Black Label 10 by BGS. One of them is listed by Goldin in the online sale which ends on March 6, lot 1.
A card graded Pristine 10 by BGS which lacks a half point in centering to obtain the Black Label is listed by Heritage in the online sale which ends on February 27, lot 80052.
RESULTS including premium :
SOLD for $ 1.8M by Goldin
SOLD for $ 520K by Heritage
(1997)-1998 Upper Deck Jordan
for sale by Goldin on May 22
In 1997 the new impulse for special effects appeals their competitors including Fleer and the ephemeral Metal Universe. Upper Deck creates another goodies : the jersey fragment inlaid on the card.
The first series that displays pieces from a Jordan jersey in the Game Jersey edition of Upper Deck for the 1997-98 season, with a 1998 double copyright to the publisher and to the NBA.
This card is serialized out of a high figure of 23 which corresponds to the player's number but does not mean that this quantity has been entirely produced. Jersey and photos relate to a prestigious event, the 1992 NBA All-Star Game in which Jordan scored 18 points in 31 minutes of play.
The card 8/23 was sold for $ 1.44M by Heritage on February 5, 2021 from an estimate of $ 400K, lot 50196. It is rated NM7 by PSA. Progress remained to be made : the designer had not planned a dedicated place for the autograph signature, weak and narrow, graded 8 for this copy.
The card 21/23, also certified by PSA, will be sold online by Goldin, lot 3 closing on May 22, 2021. It is graded 9 for the autograph and NM-MT 8 for the condition. Its game-worn patch relic is a tri-color piece.
Bidding in @GoldinAuctions opened last night w/$20M in bids in the first five hours.— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) May 3, 2021
This signed card features a cut up piece of MJ’s 1992 All-Star Jersey.
Current top bid with buyer’s premium is $1,611,300, which already makes it the highest priced MJ item ever at auction. pic.twitter.com/OpMZT3XdeX
2000 Rookie Card of Tom Brady
2021 SOLD for $ 2.25M by Lelands
Since 1998 the Playoff Contenders Championship Rookie Ticket series has been the high end for American football autographed cards. It is published by Playoff Corporation which bought out Donruss but was unable to acquire a franchise in more lucrative sports.
The quarterback won his first Super Bowl in 2002. With his seventh Super Bowl won on February 7, 2021 for the year 2020 at the age of 43, he is the most successful player in the history of American football.
He had to be trusted in 2000. His Playoff card becomes the most sought after in American football in 2021, along with those of Patrick Mahomes. This card is serialized between 1 and 100.
As of April 2021, 75 units have been graded by Beckett including seven Mint 9 and none higher.
On December 7, 2020, the 025/100 graded 8.5 by BGS was sold for $ 240K including premium by Sotheby's and Goldin. On March 6, 2021, an unserialized card rated 10 by PSA that had probably belonged to Donruss's archives was sold for $ 210K including premium by Goldin.
Lelands sold the 099/100 for $ 2.25M on April 2, 2021, lot 1. It is graded NM-MT+ 8.5 by BGS with an autograph graded 9 by Beckett.
2021 SOLD for $ 1.72M by Goldin
2021 SOLD for $ 1.6M by Heritage
2003 LeBron James UD Rookie Card
2020 SOLD for $ 1.8M by Goldin
Modern editors such as Upper Deck and Topps add goodies that allow them to offer limited editions with a separate serialization. They may include the integration in the card of an element from another category of collectibles, such as the autograph signature of the player or a piece of his jersey. There can also be only a tiny difference in the design of the card.
The new collector-investor will want to constitute for a model of his choice a complete set of all the variants, and in the best possible condition.
Basketball has joined baseball as America's favorite sport. In 2003 Upper Deck launched its Exquisite Collection trademark without forgetting an Exquisite Rookie Patch identification for the rookies. The front side includes a photo of the player, his signature, the piece of his jersey and the serial number in the specific variant. The back includes another photo, Upper Deck's guarantee of authenticity of signature and jersey, and the NBA logo.
2003-2004 is also the rookie season of LeBron James. His Exquisite Rookie Patch is the high end of all basketball cards, especially since Upper Deck had overtaken Topps and Fleer by obtaining the exclusivity of his autograph on a card for that season.
The Upper Deck Exquisite series is made of two variants, RPA (Rookie Patch Autograph) and RPP (Rookie Patch Parallel), differentiated by the position of the piece of fabric. The RPA is edited in 99 copies and the RPP in 23 copies.
The card 14/23, graded Gem Mint 9.5 by BGS, is the highest graded in the RPP group. It was sold for $ 1.8M as lot 12 by Goldin on July 18, 2020. The rating breakdown is provided by BGS : Centering: 9.5, Corners: 9, Edges: 9.5, Surface: 9.5. The signature is graded 10 by BGS.
On April 26, 2021, PWCC announced that they have brokered the 07/23 for $ 5.2M. It is graded Mint 9 by BGS with perfect Centering and Surface, both graded 10. Edges are at 9.5 and corners at 8.5. This example confirms that the Surface is more important for the demanding collectors than the overall grade and the corners.
2021 SOLD for $ 1.72M by Goldin
The details of the BGS condition report are : Centering: 9.5, Corners: 8.5, Edges: 9.5, Surface: 9
2021 SOLD for $ 1.54M by Goldin
2009 The Lottery of Baseball
2020 SOLD for $ 3.94M including premium
The cards were randomly distributed by the publisher in the original packaging. Their discovery is a game akin to the lottery. In events announced in advance by specialist companies, a client opens an old box that is still sealed. When one of them gets his hands on a holy grail, the video of the event is a good marketing incentive for the operator.
The most popular cards are those of the rookies. The most promising have the whole range of variants, including the Red Refractor in five copies. At the top of this hierarchy is the 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospect of Mike Trout, who will be the best baseball player of his generation.
On May 22, 2020, Goldin sold for $ 920K including premium the 2009 Red Refractor 5/5 of Mike Trout, graded Gem Mint 9.5 by BGS with an autograph signature graded 10 by Beckett.
Can do better !
The Red Refractor, despite its limited edition, is not the top of the range. Here is the Superfractor. The player's photo is layered with a reflective pattern that provides a glitter. Several Superfractor variants of the same card can coexist but each piece is unique in its variant, and serialized 1/1.
In an online sale closing on August 22, Goldin sells as lot 1 a Superfractor 1/1 of the rookie card of Mike Trout. It is graded Mint 9 by BGS with an autograph signature graded 10 by Beckett. The starting bid was $ 1M.
2014 The Greek Giant
2020 SOLD for $ 1.85M including premium
Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the most complete players of all time, both in offense and defense. He is helped by his height, 2.11m, and his exceptional span, 2.36m, but this giant nicknamed the Greek Freak is also very athletic and very agile.
He was born stateless to Nigerian parents, in the suburbs of Athens. His official name is a poor transcription when he acquired Greek nationality at his coming of age. His original name is Adetokunbo. He had started his life as an irregular street vendor.
The rules of the drafts of the NBA accept foreigners. Although coming from a lower division Greek club, he was placed 15th in the 1st round in 2013, hired by the Milwaukee Bucks. He made his Bucks debut on October 13, 2013, becoming at under 19 one of the youngest players in NBA history.
The Bucks managed to keep him, with substantial pay increases. His progress is spectacular and puts his team at the top level. On March 17, 2019 he scored 52 points in a single game. On December 16 he had 18 successful goals out of 31 attempted.
Panini has since 2009 the exclusive license of the NBA for the trading cars and stickers. In an online sale that ends on September 20, Goldin sells as lot 1 the National Treasures Horizontal RPA rookie card of Giannis Antetokounmpo edited by Panini for the 2013-14 season. This horizontal card numbered One of One shows on the left a photo of the player, on the right his autograph signature and in the middle the NBA logoman cut out from one of his jerseys. It was graded Mint 9 by BGS. The copyright is dated 2014.