They were almost unsellable 30 years ago. Modern basketball cards had all but died and Fleer’s valiant attempt to bring them back in the latter half of the 1980s was met with little more than a yawn. Now, though, unopened boxes of the first two years of Fleer hoops are worth a small fortune.
On Wednesday, just hours after the official opening of the National Sports Collectors Convention, Baseball Card Exchange sold a full case of 1987-88 Fleer–the only one known to still exist. The asking price had been $79,000.
Also gone in a hurry in the $70,000 neighborhood were seven fresh unopened boxes of 1986-87 Fleer–the Michael Jordan rookie card year. Both the boxes and the unopened ’87 case had come from one source. A man in Sherburne, NY who had apparently drifted away from collecting, had contacted BBCE a few months ago after learning of the potential value of the stash he’d had sitting in a room inside his house.
The seller had opened one box to make sets at the time they were purchased more than 30 years ago. A few years later, when prices began to rise, he sold some of the others. Seven remained and that’s where they stayed until April.
Keep in mind a complete unopened case of 1986-87 Fleer hasn’t surfaced in the hobby since the start of the new millennium, so finding six boxes, still sitting the original case is a drawing card for collectors and investors looking for untouched wax. Previous experience with unopened boxes and very good collation by Fleer typically ensures each box contains three or four Jordan rookie cards.
VintageBreaks.com purchased one of those boxes and is currently in the process of selling spots in what would be a hobby first: an ’86-87 Fleer group pack break. For $2,000 per pack, buyers can roll the dice in hopes their one in twelve (or one in nine) shot pays off big. As of Wednesday night, 11 of the 36 spots had been sold (Update: The break did not sell out in time for a planned break on the main stage late Saturday afternoon).
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