Vintage unopened sports card material has been a popular segment of the hobby for a while now. One of the more prominent companies, and industry leaders, in the segment, is the Baseball Card Exchange, owned and operated by Steve Hart. Steve even authenticates unopened packs for PSA. They don’t have a huge social media presence, but recently, they posted on their Facebook page about the “X-Out.”
Since not every collector has a Facebook account, I wanted to summarize their post and add more information so that everyone can learn a little more about unopened cards.
In the past, retailers pre-ordered boxes of cards, and if they didn’t sell all of them, Topps allowed them to return unsold boxes for credit.
For instance, let’s say that Topps originally distributed a Baseball Wax Box to a dealer for $20. Then, at the end of the season, Topps would allow the dealers to return that box for a $17 credit. Topps would in turn “re-sell” (blowout) those boxes to dealers for $10. (These numbers are fictitious and just used as examples). Well, they had to have a way to keep the “unsavory” dealers (there might be one or two lurking within the industry!) from buying those boxes for $10 and “re-returning” them for $17. Hence, the “X-Out” was born. When a box was returned, it was given the “X-Out”. From 1981 to 1988 Topps used various markings to identify “X-Outs” on wax, rack and cello boxes in all major sports and non-sports issues.Baseball Card Exchange
It seems as though they used everything from a crayon or marker to a 4” paintbrush to put an “X” or a line across the top of the box. This “X-Out” signified that the box had already been returned once, and it could not be returned again.Baseball Card Exchange
Often they just drew a line across the box as well.
The “X-Out” marking on some years were worse than others. I think that 1984 was the worst as they seemed to very, very generously deface the lids of their boxes that year. Another problem with the “X-Out” is that they usually put the boxes back into the cases without letting the marking dry completely. So, when the boxes are removed from the cases today it results in many of the lids being torn off.Baseball Card Exchange
The followed picture of a 1984 Topps Football Box shows a piece of another box stuck to the top.
Topps also marked the outside of those cases “Final Sale”
You can see the “FINAL SALE NOT TO BE RETURNED” stamped on this 1983 Topps Baseball Unopened Rack Pack Case.
A few former card shop owners have shared that they received some cases marked “final sale” in which none of the boxes were “X-Out”s. Possibly Topps had certain products that could only be returned for a limited amount of time and therefore didn’t require marking. Or maybe other products could only be returned by the case. One dealer noted that rack pack boxes that they received were never marked.
Additionally, there are cases from before 1981 that are marked “Final Sale,” indicating that exchange programs started earlier. For example, the 1979 Topps case below shows “Final Sale,” but we haven’t seen any boxes from this era with an “X-Out” on it. I’m assuming Topps noticed some shady behavior and started marking the boxes in 1981.
Non-Sports cards followed the same pattern as you can see in the Garbage Pail Kid box with the black line across it and the 1978 Topps Jaws 2 Case marked “Final Sale.”
If you have any other information or comments about “X-Out” boxes or “Final Sale” cases – be sure to share them in the comments section below.