The 1990s were the time of good music, bad hair do’s and sport card mania. With the value of sports cards only going up, the late 80’s to early 90s was the prime time to collect your favorite sports stars card.
After collecting dust in attics and drawers it is finally time to discuss whether those old collectables from our childhoods are worth something.
Throughout this article we will determine whether those sports cards are worth holding onto to earn some quick cash or if they should stay in that junk drawer.
Why Did The Sports Card Industry Plummet?
Labelled the ‘junk era’, the late 80s to early 90s saw a massive boom in sports card consumption and printing by major publications.
Major players such as Tuff Tuff and Becketts continued to supply the extensive demand for sports cards. Although, no one was aware of the overproduction taking place.
With the launch of eBay it quickly became clear that there was a significant amount of supply with little demand, decreasing the value of highly sought after sports cards.
As publications continued to overprint cards, non-card enthusiasts quickly realized the true value in collectable items.
Taking part in trading for a quick buck, sports cards became a market for cash which meant die-hard fans slowly lost interest in finding their ‘golden-goose’.
High Valued 90s Sports Cards
With almost two decades since the sports card phenomenon, surely those childhood collectables have increased in value.
While most cards were overproduced and the market still remains saturated, there are a few rarities which are worth value.
Peyton Manning Refractor
With the longest single yard throw in NFL history, a card featuring Peyton Manning is sure to have both high sentimental and market value.
Specifically a 1998 Topps Chrome edition. With only 20% of cards made being sold, this card was quickly ranked a top earner.
From being named ‘Future Watch’ by SP Authentic, Peyton’s “rookie” cards are also of high value. To then have a record of being the oldest NFL Quarterback to win the Superbowl, trading any Manning card is sure to be a success.
Ken Griffey Jr.
Member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Griffey had over 20 years as a professional baseball player. With a loyal fanbase, Griffey or “The Kid” was beloved by the masses and with over 600 home runs, it’s not hard to understand why.
While not the rarest card to be produced, the Ken Griffey Jr. 1989 Upper Deck rookie card became a fan favorite.
This card can be easily found and tends to be more budget-friendly in the world of sports cards, although high-grade examples can cost a bit more.
With just under 4000 cards on the market, this collectible is the corner-stone of any Ken Griffey Jr card collection.
That’s right, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Whilst never having featured in an NFL game, Johnson’s success off the field was enough to make this card a high value collector’s item.
After a college career with the University of Miami in the early 90s, Johnson is rather renowned for his career in wrestling. Making this card all the more desirable.
The 1994 Miami/Bumblebee Dwayne Johnson Perforated is on the lower end of condition concerns, however, it can still sell for a hefty price.
Printed on sheets which contained other cards, this card has a perforated edge making it almost impossible to find in mint condition making the find even that more enticing.
Frank Edward Thomas Jr. or “The Big Hurt” is a former first baseman and a designated hitter in the MLB throughout the 90s to the early 2000s. Named a five-time All Star, Thomas has become a household name in the world of baseball.
However, in the world of cards, Thomas is recognized for the infamous 1990 Topps NNOF Frank Thomas rookie card.
With the normal version being printed in mass-production, a small few were produced without the name on the front.
This gave the card a higher value than the original as more collectors sought to collect on the production company’s errors.
Michael Jefferson Jordan
Six time NBA Champion, Michael Jordan has been quoted as “the best basketball player of all time”.
The key to ensuring the popularization of the NBA throughout the 80s and 90s, Jordan has become one of the most famous basketball players in the world. Making any card featuring Jordan of high value.
Getting your hands on a 1997 Upper Deck Game Jersey Michael Jordan would be extremely beneficial when trading or collecting sports cards.
In short, yes your 90s playing cards are valuable. However, they will generally hold more sentimental value than profit unless you get your hands on rare collectors items like the cards mentioned above.
Obtaining cards of All Star or Hall of Fame players from the 80s or 90s are more likely to hold monetary value, even more so with a signature from the athlete.
However, if you are rediscovering your love for sports cards all cards hold some value no matter how little in the game of trading.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Sports Trading Cards Go Up Or Down In Value?
Sports cards fluctuate in value over time, as fewer cards are produced the value of rare cards is more likely to increase. However, due to the ‘junk era’ many cards have lost their value due to oversupply.
As trading cards increase and decrease in value, the act is not only considered a hobby for sport enthusiasts but also an investment as the market continuously changes.
Are Novelty Sports Cards Worth Anything?
Sports cards containing photographs of a group of athletes are considered to not be as valuable as cards focusing on one individual.
Custom and novelty cards which were once desired in the prime time of sport card trading, are now depreciating in value in today’s market. You can learn more about custom cards in our article about Randy Poffo (aka Randy Savage the wrestler).