Seeking investments in an uncertain market over the last few years, you could have put your money into a trendy tech stock or maybe an old reliable like General Electric but you’d have done much better if you’d chosen instead to buy… basketball stickers.
Those old inserts—especially those from the company’s 1986 trading card revival—have increased in value to a point where price guide information is outdated by the time it’s printed and distributed. Finding Fleer basketball stickers for sale isn’t the hard part. Finding nice ones you can afford is. If you’ve owned graded examples for a few years, chances are the value of your collection has gone up–maybe by a lot. Your ungraded examples might be worth sending in if you’ve resisted the urge so far.
Like vintage rookie cards of iconic baseball players, the market for basketball legends has been dripping with profit—even if you haven’t been in the game that long. It’s no secret that Michael Jordan rookie cards have been a blue chip for a while now, but high-grade Fleer Jordan sticker inserts are now riding that magic carpet, too.
Many of the stickers were miscut, leading to a dearth in the number of higher grade examples. Increased interest has fueled auction competition.
On May 13, a PSA 10 1986-87 Fleer Jordan sticker sold for an eye-popping $16,900, a record that lasted all of 13 days. The new high water mark is $19,500. Even if you’d paid $10,100 or $10,500 for one in March as two eBay buyers did, your investment—at least on paper—looked pretty shrewd. And how good do you feel if you’d bought one a little over two years ago? Giddy, even if you laid down the $3,000 most were going for then.
The climb of 1986-87 Fleer Jordan stickers in a mint 9 grade hasn’t been quite as spectacular, but still impressive. Most 9s sold for under $500 just a year ago. In May, there have already been at least three sales of over $2,000 involving PSA or BGS 9 examples. An SGC 96 sold for $1,012 on May 13. Those graded 8 were easily available at under $200 a year ago. Now, the average price is $543.
The interest hasn’t been limited to Jordan’s rookie sticker, however. On May 14, a PSA 10 from the 1987-88 set sold for $13,145 via Heritage Auctions. Less than a year ago, the top price was $4,510 and in September of 2013, one sold for $1,725. PSA 9 examples were under $100 two years ago. The last two sales have been for $1,025 and $760.
The 1987-88 Fleer stickers are actually available in lesser quantity than the first set and often plagued by poor centering and miscuts. Of the 11 in that second set, only two exist in PSA 10 quantities of greater than 10. There are three times as many Jordan stickers graded ‘9’ or above in 1986 than in ’87.
And if you’re thinking the later Fleer sets can’t bring anything but common money, think again. On May 17, a PSA 10 Jordan from the 1988-89 set sold for $24,350. Two PSA 10s from the 1989-90 set have sold for over $3,400 in the last month. A BGS 9.5 brought $1,725. One of the 12 Larry Bird stickers graded PSA 10 sold for $1,525 in April.
The love for Fleer basketball stickers is centered on Jordan, but far from exclusive to him. High-grade examples of some others in the 11-card sets have proven elusive enough to drive the market wild. The #1 sticker in that inaugural 1986-87 set features Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Of more than 1,000 submitted, just 12 have been rated ‘10’. One of those sold in May for $23,766. PSA 9 Abdul-Jabbar stickers have risen from $800-$850 in late winter and early spring to over $1,200 in recent days. With only 20 PSA 10 Larry Bird stickers in existence, the $2,800 someone paid in April seems like a bargain. Prices for the Dominique Wilkins sticker soared after no 10s were offered for 2 ½ years. Three have sold in recent weeks—all for over $3,000. Magic Johnson and Hakeem Olajuwon stickers have also soared past $1,000 in a ‘10’ grade while Patrick Ewings now sell for $500 and up. One of the five PSA 10 1988-89 Fleer Johnson stickers sold for just over $2,000 in April.
An influx of new buyers—obviously with plenty of disposable income—is helping drive prices. Most have a “best of the best” mentality, leaving collectors to complete for lesser, but still high quality examples.
You can check the current top 50 ‘most watched’ Fleer basketball stickers below.