Every once in a while one of my friends realizes that I am a pretty avid sports card collector and will ask me to give them an idea of what their cards are worth. Normally this is the point at which I cringe. Basically they are asking me to either confirm their fears that their collection is worthless or shattering their dreams by telling them their collection is worthless. I really don’t mind doing it (looking at their cards, not shattering their illusions) but it has been years since i have seen someone with anything remarkable from my circle of friends.
Here are the facts. If you are the typical 40 something now in 2012 then your prime card buying years were likely in the 1980’s. I was born in 1972 which means I was 8 for the end of the 79-80 OPC season and 18 at the precipice of the cardboard explosion in 1990-1991.
Some of the cards I had when I was 8-18 are worth a few dollars now, but for most of us we didn’t keep them in great condition. They were manhandled, flipped, scrambled-for-keepsied, knocked down, bounced back and covered up.
When Upper Deck, Score, Pro Set and others launched the next wave of cardboard mayhem in 1990-1991 it was crazy. The stuff I had been collecting temporarily shot to dizzying heights. Lindros rookie cards were going for $100+ and he had not even played a game yet. But the hobby changed and what was once a fun passion became a business. Pack prices soared from .25$ to 2.89$ or more. Now you can get charged up to $50 for a pack. Craziness.
As a result their was massive speculation and massive overproduction. Millions of cards were made and for many people it was a matter of taking them right from the wax pack and putting them right in sealed containers never to be touched again. Everyone had a Beckett guide and it was the only way to justify your card. Who cares if you liked the player and if he was good. if their RC was listed in Beckett at $10 then gosh darn it it was worth $10. As a result everyone chased the RC’s and the base set withered. Commons became fluff. Whole sets became fluff if you did not have the one key card (and then people had 7 or 8 of them..no seriously. One of my friends had about 10 Joe Sakic OPC RC’s but not one other single card from the set.
So, getting back to the topic of what it’s worth. The honest answer is likely not much. here is a quick breakdown of Hockey Card values
ProSet Hockey – Nuthing
Score Hockey – Mostly Nothing
Any of the multitude of other card companies printing between 1990 and 2012 – likely not much
OPC – Post 1990- Nothing
OPC – 1980s – commons nothing, stars a few bucks, Star RC;s a few more bucks
OPC – 1979 and older -Stars a few bucks, commons a few less, RC’s definitely a few bucks
Upper Deck…Short printed Young Guns Maybe Something (depending on who they are a couple bucks to maybe $50-100) Base Cards – not much
Their are of course exceptions to every rule. Some cards from the 80’s and 90’s (and 00’s to 2012) are worth a bit of money. These tend to be cards that are so short printed that the chances you have of seeing one are pretty slim.
And condition is paramount. A slightly rough 1969 OPC common can be worth just as much as a Mint condition 2000 Upper Deck
Don’t believe me? Look on Kijiji and Ebay and see how many people are trying to sell their cards from the past 20 years. Look at how many actually have bids.
Don’t let this stop you from asking for the moon. I am still more than happy to look at your cards and give a value. Heck there is a chance you might have something really good. But if you bought in the 90’s for a few years and stopped then don’t be mad at me when I tell you the best thing you could do is burn them. At least that way you are helping reduce the cards numbers and then if everyone else does this maybe in 100 years they might be worth something to those who held out.