Those who collect vintage football card packs don’t have a lot of trouble finding reasonably priced options during the last half of the 1970s but there’s one that’s a problem.
If not for that Payton guy….
While 1977-1979 packs have gone up in value over the last several years, they’re a piece of cake compared to the year that brought us Sweetness. Walter Payton’s rookie card is often hiding inside a box so prices in this era of rising rookie card values have skyrocketed.
In the latest edition of Vintage Pack Facts, we set the time machine to the bicentennial year. Check out the gallery and facts below.
- The 1976 Topps football set didn’t stray far from the operational plan Topps had put in place back in 1973: a 528-card set, all in one series. There were highlights, leaders and checklists along with the regular cards. Team checklists were part of the product, too. Other than Payton, the set includes rookie cards of some of the era’s top defensive players including Jack Lambert, Ed “Too Tall” Jones and Randy White.
- Wax boxes still contained 36 packs and gum, with the price holding steady at 15 cents per pack. Packs held 10 cards.
- Topps used the side panels of its wrappers for offers that included a free sports card storage locker, an action poster and a free copy of The Sporting News (your editor definitely took advantage of that one). Today, wrappers can be found for around $10-$20 each.
- Cello packs contained 18 cards for 25 cents and came 24 to a box, with a stick of gum. As is often the case, cello and rack packs were usually filled with a certain sequence and if you know it, you can make an educated guess about the cards that are below. At the 2019 National Sports Collectors Convention, we watched a cello pack opening where the owner correctly predicted there would be a Payton rookie inside.
- Rack packs were a better deal than cellos at 42 cards for 49 cents. Spend a buck, buy two and you were well on your way to a set if you avoided duplicates.
- Vending boxes, as usual, held 500 cards with 24 boxes to a case. By this time, there were a small number of dealers across the country who bought cases to make sets they sold via mail order at at card shows.
- Prices for unopened 1976 Topps football boxes and packs have climbed to unprecedented levels. A BBCE-sealed wax box sold for $13,800 in August. There’s currently one listed on eBay for more than that. A cello box sold for $2,370 in a 2013 auction. That was a good investment. The last cello box sold for over $11,000 in June. You can snare one on eBay now for over $16,000. Rack pack boxes are the toughest to find. One sold for $27,600 at auction earlier this year.