The junk wax era of sports cards ran from 1988-1994, during which production totals jumped significantly, and beyond what anyone thought was happening. The flood of cards on the market devastated supply vs. demand curves and values dropped dramatically.
However, third-party grading has made some cards from this era particularly popular and costly. In this post, I’ll share six junk era hockey cards that, when graded PSA 10, command prices far exceeding the cost of acquiring the entire raw set they come in.
All of these are big-name hockey players, but none of the cards are hard to come by in raw form, they’re junk wax cards after all. A lot of factors contribute to pricing here. Some of the cards do have uncommonly poor printing characteristics making a PSA 10 rare from a population perspective. For others, the popularity of the player, set-registry goals, and the general popularity of PSA 10 graded card collecting contribute to the valued discrepancy between a PSA 10 and the cost of the entire set.
1988 Topps Brett Hull #66
PSA 10 – $499 in June 2020
1988 Topps Raw set – ~$25-30
42 of 2412 of these cards are PSA 10s (1.75% PSA 10)
1989 Topps Joe Sakic #113
PSA 10 – $910 in 2019
1989 Topps Raw Set – ~$10
17 of 1099 cards of these are PSA 10s (1.5% PSA 10)
1990 OPC Premier Jaromir Jagr #50
PSA 10 – ~$150
1990 OPC Premier Raw Set – ~$30
2698 of 8205 of these cards are PSA 10s (32.9% PSA 10)
1990 Score Martin Brodeur #439
PSA 10 – ~$75
1990 Score Factory Set – $5-10
1009 of 4693 of these cards are PSA 10s (21.5% PSA 10)
1992 Upper Deck Chris Pronger #591
PSA 10 – $45
1992 Upper Deck Raw Set – $5-10
63 of 246 of these cards are PSA 10s (25.6% PSA 10)
1994 SP Jarome Iginla #181
PSA 10 – >$200
1994 SP Raw Set – $10-15
65 of 571 of these cards are PSA 10s (11.4% PSA 10)
Certainly, the majority of the value of a set comes from its superstars. A 1952 Topps set, for example, is a lot cheaper without the Mickey Mantle. And the cards I have presented are all key cards in their respective sets. But, these raw cards and sets are available in quantity on the market.
The Brett Hull and Joe Sakic are tough to come by in PSA 10 with less than 2% of the graded population of each grading 10. Interestingly, the Hull, in a PSA 10 slab, commands a 20x markup over an entire 1988 Topps set, and a PSA 10 Sakic commands a staggering 91x multiple over a whole 1989 Topps raw set.
However, the other cards, their populations indicate much more commonality in getting a PSA 10 grade. But the discrepancy between the raw set and the PSA 10 is still staggering with Iginla commanding 20x, Pronger 8x, Brodeur 15x, and Jagr 5x.
After reviewing the price discrepancies presented in these junk-era hockey cards, it’s tough to deny the impact the sports card grading companies have had on the economics of the hobby.