Why Are Cards Called Wax?

Today we will walk through several key factors behind the reason for the term Wax cards. Where it originated, and why this terminology is still going strong today.

Why Are Cards Called Wax

When it comes to collectibles, whether it be NFTs, trading cards, Topps Bunts, or any other well-known card and collectibles. It’s safe to say we have all heard about these at some point during our lives.

Another word frequently used in the collectible industry is Wax cards. 

But what are wax cards exactly? And what are the reasons behind this terminology?

Why Are They Called Wax Cards?

This is because cards saw a massive spike in demand and production during the Wax junk era of the 1980s to 1990s.

The term wax comes from the wax paper packaging in which the trading cards were sold. But this isn’t the only wax definition.

Unopened packages containing numerous trading cards and collectibles. The contents and quantity of these boxes varied more than the number of cards in each pack. This ranged from anywhere between 12 and 36 packs.

These packages remained manufactured, sealed, and unsold due to the overproduction of the trading cards and collectibles.

The term mentioned above, describinging the original wax paper packaging, remained a title widely used and recognized for this era of cards.

The accumulation of unopened packs is straightforward economics. The packs of cards themselves are often rarer than the trading cards contained inside. This sometimes resulted in the unopened boxes gaining value.

The Wax Junk Era

In the 1980s, with technology slowly advancing, the world was about to witness one of the most fundamental and revolutionary changes to the way we communicated and searched for information.

The Internet was off to a shaky start, but this was a game-changer once it was successfully rolled out and proved its worth to the world.

It was soon adopted and became one of the most successful technological advancements in history. 

If you were fortunate enough to grow up throughout the 1980s, then there’s no doubt that you’ll be familiar with trading cards, whether it be your favorite basketball MVP, or your childhood quarterback hero.

The demand for these tradable playing cards boomed and spread throughout most households and high schools. 

Due to the massive demand increase for these cards, manufacturers had no choice but to step up to the mark and produce mass amounts to cater to the enormous demand.

These cards became highly eye-catching with advancements in printing abilities and other areas of manufacturing and design.

Which years cover the Junk wax Era?

The “Junk Wax Era” covers the period from 1980 to 1993, when card companies were overproducing cards to cater to the massive scale of demand they faced.

In return, leagues were over-licensing to anyone who wanted the cash in on the gold rush of the collectible and tradable cards.

Due to the mass production and quantity of these cards on the market, it grew a reputation and name called the junk wax era.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the cards were worthless or junk.

It was deemed a junk era due to the massive quantity of unsold sealed packs of cards that almost became worthless due to the overproduction to meet the demand throughout the country.

Many of these packs remained unsold for years and sat collecting dust in storage.

This caused a common misconception about the value of the cards produced in this era, but you may be surprised to hear that even cards from this junk era are still scarce and valuable. Here are some examples.

Rickey Henderson 1980 Topps #482: 

This has to be one of the most iconic and valuable cards of the 1980s. This beautiful piece of cardboard capturing the Man of Steel’s famed batting stance has proven to be one of the most important collectibles to ever be produced in history with reports of The last PSA 10 selling for more than $76,000.

Due to the fact that there are only 25 gem mints, this means that the next one could fetch even more.

Roger Clemens 1985 Topps Tiffany #181: 

PSA has graded more than 25,000 of Clemens’ Topps rookie cards, and they’ve recorded nearly a whopping 3000 graded copies.

Buyers should expect prices north of $50 for a PSA 9. With PSA 10s pushing $1000 up to $1100 on today’s market.

Barry Bonds 1986 Topps Traded Tiffany #11T:

 When you think of Bonds RCs, this one and his ’87 Topps card should instantly spring to mind. The former demand caused steeper prices on the secondary market due to the scarcity of Tiffany branding.


What Are Wax Cards?

Wax cards are unopened manufactured sealed boxes of trading cards. Also known were wax cards due to the initial packaging, which was made of wax paper. This name remained long after the packaging changed and aimed more at the sealed packs.

Why Do They Call It the Junk Wax Era?

Due to the overproduction of the cards in the 1980s to 1990s.

Where Can I Buy Wax Packs?

For a trustworthy and reliable source, look towards Collectors Weekly. They cover almost every genre of sport and trading cards available; this has to be the top choice when purchasing wax packs or cards online. Click to visit their website here.

How Do I Know If My Wax Packs Or Cards Are Authentic?

It’s always good to research and investigate before buying. Everything you need to know on how to identify authenticity can be found here. Click to visit their website here.


So that wraps up our walkthrough on why cards were called wax packs or cards. The main reason is that the original wax paper packing the original cards was sold.

The second reason behind the name wax packs has been carried on throughout the years and is a term used to describe sealed, unopened boxes of packs of trading cards.

Even still today in a new digital era, these collectibles have remained highly sought after and will continue to do so for generations to come.

Bruno Breen

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