Other than certain elements of the rare, high-end vintage baseball card and memorabilia market, few segments have drawn as much consistent, unyielding interest as vintage, unopened packs and boxes. Few dealers specialize in them, partly because they’re not easy to find (prior to the 1980s, only a few dealers saved more than a small number of untouched boxes or cases and kept them for the decades to follow. Temptation also wins out more often than not, further depleting the stock.
The interest, spurred by online conversation among the rabid devotees of virgin wax, has caused prices to climb steadily upward.
Some buy to rip them open, in hopes of scoring cards that will grade 10 (or close to it). It takes a certain amount of intestinal fortitude to take that route but the payoff can be big. It can also be disappointing. Others buy just to own them. There’s a certain artistry to the old boxes and packs, designed to stand out on a candy shelf when gum was still packaged with the cardboard.
By Thursday at the opening of the 2013 National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago, the top dealer in vintage packs, Baseball Card Exchange, located an hour or so from the city, had already sold nearly six figures worth of material.
Their large set up in the center of the room featured glass display cases and temporary shelving filled with unopened product from all sports.
We grabbed a few vintage boxes as Reed Kasaoka, who spends much of his year traveling in search of product for the company (unopened is only part of the business), offered a show-and-tell update on the market from the floor at the Stephens Convention Center.