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Rising Prices: 1974 Topps Basketball Unopened

Introduction

The price of unopened sports card material has been skyrocketing for a few years.

In particular, 1970s Basketball has seen an unusually high growth rate over the past two years. Already printed in far lower numbers than its baseball counterparts, 1970s basketball wax was already tough to find. I’ll be using the 1974 Topps Basketball set to demonstrate.

1974 Topps Basketball Set

The 1974 Topps Basketball set features 264 cards and two key rookies; Bill Walton, and George Gervin. Both cards fetch over $5,000 in PSA 10.

1974 Topps Goerge Gervin

The set is one of the toughest to complete in high grade. According to this article, only 25.2% of PSA submissions have received a grade of nine or ten. Since the publishing of that article, that rate has crept up to 27%.

The allure of those key rookies, a slew of Hall-of-Famers, and a condition sensitive set have made the 1974 Topps Set appealing to collectors.

1974 Topps Basketball Unopened Varieties

1974 Topps basketball cards came in wax boxes, wax trays, and vending boxes. Wax packs contained ten cards plus a scratch-off game card and went in a 24-count box at 15 cents a pack, or $3.60 a box.

The low print runs of 1970’s Topps Basketball cards, coupled with an alluring group of player cards has resulted in unopened scarcity too. PSA has graded only 216 1974 Topps Basketball wax packs compared to over 500 1974 Topps Baseball wax packs.

1974 Topps Basketball PSA Pack Front
1974 Topps Basketball PSA Pack Reverse

Of the 216 packs, five have been graded PSA 5, forty PSA 6, seventy-three PSA 7, and ninety-eight PSA 8, with none higher. Of those 216, at the time of this article’s listing, two packs have featured George Gervin on top (graded 6 and 7, respectively).

There are six wrapper variants; Bazooka, Head & Wrist Bands, and Card Locker, with each of those coming in an option saying “Collect all 264 cards” or “Extra…scratch off game card in every package.”

1974 Topps Basketball Wrapper Bazooka
1974 Topps Basketball Wrapper Head & Wrist Bands
1974 Topps Basketball Wrapper Locker
1974 Topps Basketball Wrapper Bazooka Extra
1974 Topps Basketball Wrapper Head & Wrist Band Extra
1974 Topps Basketball Wrapper Locker Extra
1974 Topps Basketball PSA Pack W/O Extra

A box sold by Huggins and Scott in April of 2008 shows both pack varieties in a single unopened box. Although I can’t be sure to the validity of that packing method. Therefore, I’d encourage anyone with raw boxes arranged this way to ship them to Steve Hart and the Baseball Card Exchange for authentication.

The red box with yellow and black lettering has excellent eye appeal and features four action shots on the top.

1974 Topps Basketball Wax Box
1974 Topps Basketball Wax Box Bottom
1974 Topps Basketball Wax Box Side

Vending boxes show commonality to others of the era.

1974 Topps Basketball Vending
1974 Topps Basketball Vending Reverse

I haven’t been able to track down a picture of a wax tray. Mark Murphy’s Unopened Pack, Wrapper & Display Box Guide (2d Edition) lists it as an item though.

1974 Topps Basketball Wax Pack Unopened Prices

When Mark Murphy released his guide in 2012, he listed a 1974 Topps Basketball Wax Pack at $55. A PSA 8 will run you close to $400 today. Pack prices have increased with PSA 8 and PSA 7s selling for almost twice as much as two years ago. It hasn’t been easy finding enough pack sale prices to develop a valid trend line, but this chart is close. I feel the trend is representative since a PSA 7 pack is up for sale for $299 on DaCardWorld’s site, and another PSA 7 is up for $300 on eBay. Additionally, a GAI 7 is up for $285 on eBay, and a PSA 6 and PSA 5 are on eBay for $275 and $225, respectively.

1974 Topps Basketball GAI Wax Pack
1974 Topps Basketball GAI Pack Reverse

1974 Topps Basketball Wax Box Unopened Prices

Data on unopened wax box sales are even scarcer. However, in 2008 Huggins and Scott sold a 1974 Topps Basketball box along with a 1979 Topps Basketball box for $1100. In 2013, Lelands sold a 24-pack box for $986. Robert Edwards Auctions has sold BBCE authenticated boxes for $5700 in the Fall of 2015 and then $7800 in Fall 2018. Currently, TONYeTrade has a box for sale for $7250, and there is a GAI graded box on eBay for $12,500.  

1974 Topps Basketball Wax Box – TONYeTRADE
1974 Topps Basketball Wax Box
1974 Topps Basketball Wax Box Reverse

1974 Topps Basketball Vending Box Unopened Prices

Vending boxes from Collect Auctions have been more stable with sales for $2014 in Aug of 2014 and Aug 2018, with a slight raise to $2225 in March 2019. Before BBCE was authenticating boxes, they sold copies for around $1,000.

1974 Topps Basketball Wax Tray Unopened Prices

I can only speculate what a 1974 Topps Basketball Wax Tray would sell for today. Mark Murphy listed a 1974 Topps Basketball Wax Tray for $200 in 2012. That’s almost 4x what he valued a single wax pack. With Packs currently selling for $400, I could easily see one selling for $1600 today just based on multiplying by four, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see one sell for over $3000 based on rarity.  

If you have a 1974 Topps Basketball Way Tray or a picture of a wax case, please get a hold of me!

Wrapping Up

1974 Topps Basketball is a unique set with two key rookie cards. Since limited unopened products have come to market, Topps smaller printing of basketball compared to baseball, and more people entering the unopened game, it isn’t surprising to see such an increase in wax prices the past two years.

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