What Is The Junk Era Of Baseball Cards?

As a new baseball card collector there are a lot of things to get a grip on. New terminologies, eras, and card rarities mean that there is always something new to learn.

So let’s say you’ve just come across the time ‘the Junk Era’ and you don’t recognize it, if you find yourself in this situation then you’ve come to the right article!

What Is The Junk Era Of Baseball Cards?

We’re going to be breaking down the Junk Wax era within Baseball Cards, explaining what it is, what it means, and what happens if you happen to get a card from this era. 

What Is The “Junk Wax Era”?

If you’re new to collecting sports carts, or baseball cards in particular, you might be wondering how there can be eras in the first place.

As with anything that a lot of different people get invested in over long time periods, there are usually periods of time where certain trends exist, and it’s no different with baseball cards.

The Junk Wax era is a period of time that took place from the late 80s to somewhere around the early 90s. This is a time period when sports cards – including baseball – became suddenly popular again.

A sudden surge in interest means that a lot more collectors are trying to get their hands on cards, which means that companies are incentivized to print a lot more.

The market grows within this period, and the rarity of cards decreases. 

In fact, to meet growing demand companies actually made far too many cards in this time period, meaning there are countless cards laying around. 

The Junk Wax Era is typically thought to be from the years 1986 to 1993. Chances are, if you have cards from this time period, especially if they’re low in rarity, they’re going to be fairly worthless.

The Junk Wax Era actually caused a lot of problems for Baseball Card collectors, because the excess of cards made it hard to find a rarity, and meant that a lot of companies got into trouble by not being able to sell their excess of cards. 

Common Cards From The Junk Wax Era

So now we’re going to take you through some of the most common Junk Wax cards. This era is defined by companies printing double, or in some cases, triple the amount of cards that they normally would.

Rookie cards became even more commonplace than normal, with some of the easiest to find being: Bo Jackson, Matt Williams, Ruben Sierra, Barry Bonds, Greg Maddux, Mike Greenwell, and Barry Larkin.

The chances are, if you have any of these cards then they aren’t going to be worth much. 

Other Causes Of The Junk Wax Era

When it comes to collecting, a big spike in popularity can cause a large number of problems for serious collectors. This created a chain of events that made cards even more common and far less valuable.

In this section, we’re going to break down some of the causes of the Junk Wax Era, so you can understand how everything worked together. 

Popularity With Children: Card Collecting has been a favorite pastime for kids ever since its inception, and it was no different during this time period.

There is a constant demand for Baseball Cards from kids (mostly boys), all trying to get the rarest cards to show off to their friends.

Packs of cards at this time ranged from $1 to $3, a price range well in keeping with standard allowances of the time. This meant more Rookie Cards in circulation.

Investment Buyers: One of the things that happened during this time period is that people began to buy full sets so to keep for a future date. In many ways, you can think of collecting as an investment.

If you have a full set at the time, in twenty or thirty years it might be worth a lot more. 

But here’s the thing – because so many people bought Baseball Cards during this era, all it did was make those specific cards less valuable. And since lots of people bought sets of Rookie Cards, companies simply created more. 

Price Projections: At the time there was a lot of hype about the potential price projections of these cards, further adding to the demand.

The famous Beckett Sports Card Monthly Print Magazine put out some impressive projections for how much cards could be worth, including rookie cards.

It’s important to note that this era was pre-internet, so there was no way for collectors to easily work out card rarity and what this could mean for the future.

So then it makes sense, as a collector, if you see rookie cards as being projected as twice or even three times the amount they cost to buy, that you would take the leap and try to buy a full set.

When Did The Junk Wax Era End?

The Junk Wax Era is generally considered to have come to a sharp end in 1994. This is because of the Baseball Player’s Strike.

A sudden lapse in players meant a sudden lapse in cards, and companies dropped how many cards they were producing.

This is a good thing for Baseball Card Collectors as it meant that the next era would go back to normal, however it left behind a period of time where rarity is sparse.

FInal Thoughts

So there you have it! The Junk Wax Era can be defined as the period of time from 1987 to 1994.

It’s a time when baseball cards (and sports cards in general) were extremely popular, meaning that a lot of cards created are now worthless.

If you have a card from the Junk Wax Era, it’s likely not worth much, but thankfully today we have much easier ways of telling how valuable something is. 

We hope that this article has given you some insight into this interesting part of Baseball Card history, and that you now feel a lot more confident about it. We wish you the best of luck in your collecting journey! 

Nate Heath
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