The value of many vintage unopened boxes isn’t just in the value of the cards that could be in the packs but in the scarcity of the box itself. In the case of 1968 Topps hockey, not only does the set contain a few incredible cards, but you rarely see an unopened box come to market. A few weeks ago, a collector shared a pair of incredible photos of a 1968 Hockey box, so I wanted to discuss the product and how I estimate its value.
As I said, a part of valuing unopened products is to look at the popularity of the cards. The 1968 Topps hockey set is really popular and has cards of Bobby Orr, Bobby Hull, Gordie Howe, Terry Sawchuk, and the rookie card of Bernie Parent. PSA has graded over 14000 individual 1968 Topps hockey cards, and GemMt 10s on many of these cards have values in the thousands. The thing is, the set only has 132 cards, so the chances of pulling (if you were brave enough to rip a rare box) stars is high.
I can’t find any reported sales of a 1968 Topps hockey wax box but Collect Auctions has sold quite a few vending boxes (via Larry Fritsch Cards), which Steve Hart of the Baseball Card Exchange has authenticated. The box pictured below sold for $8828 in March 2020. The auction house has sold ten over its history ranging from $7500 in 2015 to $12k in 2013 (sales from 2011-2020).
Next, in trying to value a box, I would look at sales of individual wax packs. PSA has graded 16 total packs of 1968 Topps hockey (4 PSA 7s, 4 PSA 8s, and 8 PSA 9s), less than a full box’s worth. PSAs records show an eight selling for $835 back in May 2011 at Memory Lance Inc. The pack pictured below, the PSA 7, was sold in 2017 at Robert Edward Auctions for $1800. So I believe a PSA 8 would sell for over $2k today.
Even the wrappers sell for over $275 in the rare instance one comes to market. An empty box without a lid was recently listed for sale on eBay for $400, and an empty box is currently on eBay for $999 (shown below).
A slight comparison we can make is to boxes from the same era from other sports. In April 2021, a 1968 Topps Baseball Series 1 box sold for $94k at Mile High Card Co. Vintage baseball is more popular than hockey, so it’s reasonable to limit the hockey box price ceiling with this baseball box (despite the hockey box being rarer).
Given that data, what’s the value of this 1968 Topps hockey box?
The box has 24 packs, and graded ones are worth ~$2k each (at least), so you could multiply out and say $48k for a box. The owner said that Steve Hart (of the Baseball Card Exchange and PSA’s pack authenticator) had authenticated the packs. If Steve said these packs are all originals to this particular box (these 24 packs all came together distributed from the factory), I think it’s safe to say that the price of a box of 24 packs is worth a lot more than 24 individual packs.
I was talking about this box with a big vintage hockey collector who confirmed the rarity of the box and acknowledged having just a single GAI 1968 Topps hockey wax pack and wished he had an entire box. He admitted there aren’t as many hockey collectors in the market compared to other sports, but he still thought the box was worth ~$75k. And I have to agree with that figure. The box is one of an exceptionally few complete boxes of these cards (perhaps the only box), the graded pack population count is really low, and the set is very popular. Brokered, I could see a $75k sale happening. At an auction, I wouldn’t be surprised by prices between $60k and $80k.
What do you think a box of 1968 Topps hockey cards is worth? Let me know down in the comments, or shoot me a line over on Twitter.