1986 Fleer Basketball wax boxes were sitting on shelves with packs not even selling for fifty cents a pack in 1986. There were boxes sitting in discount racks and barely selling for $10 each in 1987. Our Vice President recalled buying boxes for $10-12 each, opening them, collating the 432 cards and 36 stickers building sets and selling the complete sets (with stickers) for $12-15 each in Sports Collectors Digest. That was a pretty good return since a single box had an incredibly consistent collation and if it wasn't "rebuilt" or a combined box, it would yield 3 complete sets of 132 cards and 3 complete sets of 11 stickers and some duplicates. I shared my love of the set with Sports Collectors Digest in July of last year in this article: 1986 Fleer Basketball Reaching New Heights, but It Didn't Start Out That Way.
It was not uncommon to find ads in several of the sports magazines with national dealers selling complete sets for as little as $8.00 and boxes for $9.99 plus postage as late as 1988. That was about the time when the basketball market finally started to take notice and the prices on the boxes, sets and singles started to rise. But even a few years later, the cards and boxes were still relatively affordable for most collectors. The cards really started to take off after Jordan and the Bulls began their amazing run to 6 NBA Championships in 1991 when they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers.
They're Worth How Much?!?!
But that was then and this is now. A quick glance through a few major auctions that have closed recently show that these boxes, that used to sit unwanted for less than $10 each, are now selling for as much as $40,000 to $60,000 EACH for clean, certified and verified boxes. That's BOXES, not cases, but a single, 36 pack box. A sealed, 12 box case would sell for well over a half million dollars - if one actually appeared and came to market. Just Collect is ALWAYS looking to buy unopened packs, boxes, cases, singles and sets from this issue.
The Split Box
We recently bought a collection from a father and son collecting tandem which featured a near complete 1986 Fleer Basketball Set. They related the story that around 1993, the father and son purchased a box of 1986 Fleer Basketball and split the box with a friend. While they didn't have a ton of details, they recalled that they spent a couple hundred dollars on the box and divided it up so that everyone got to open some packs and kept a portion of the cards from the box. The cards that they kept made almost a complete set (130 of 132 cards), a near complete sticker set (10 of 11 stickers) and a few duplicates. The key card was the #57 Michael Jordan rookie card that we evaluated as a strong NM/MT card in our evaluation. We noted that it was strong and had a shot at grading higher and if it did, we would share in the upside. Well, it did grade higher and we let the seller know that we were sending them an additional payment. That is part of our WIN/WIN philosophy.
We're not sure how the father and son stored the cards after they split the box, but the majority of the cards were still loose in a storage box. Surprisingly, they survived in very nice shape and presented mostly NM to NM/MT with a few commons that were nicer, including a couple of commons that ended up grading MINT and GEM MINT.
Among the sticker set, which was missing only one card, there was a pair of Michael Jordan stickers. This often overlooked card is very tough to find in top condition because it was wrapped on the back of the pack and was susceptible to the wax seal and roller damage as well as being rather poorly cut.
#23 Isn't the Only Hall of Fame Rookie in the Set
Michael Jordan is often identified by his profile, by the tongue-out dunking style, the championship cigars, but he is most noted for the number twenty-three. He's also identified by the iconic image on the 1986 Fleer Basketball card. While the Jordan card is the cornerstone of the first Fleer basketball issue since 1961, it isn't the only card in the set that garners hobby interest. There are no less than 25 Hall of Fame players in the base set and also a dozen rookie cards of Hall of Famers including Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, Clyde Drexler, Dominique Wilkins, Isiah Thomas, Hakeem Olajuwon, Joe Dumars, James Worthy, Ralph Sampson and Chris Mullin. Many of these same stars are included in the 11 card sticker set, including Michael Jordan.
Our Buying Philosophy
We've run into a wide range of people and collections over the past decade. Although we are known for buying vintage sports cards and especially vintage basketball cards, we are also extremely interested in buying non-sports cards, too!
Every collection and every collector is different and we treat EVERY collection with the respect and attention that we show for our own collections. We understand that many have put their heart and souls into building their collections. So when you're ready to sell, Just Collect understands the feelings that you're going through and we will work with you to help you reach a decision that is a WIN/WIN, because if you're not happy, we're not happy.
We Are Always Buying
Just Collect is always buying vintage sports and non-sports cards from 1879 to 1979 as well as select modern cards. If you have a collection that you are considering selling, contact us today to discuss or get our industry leading purchase offer. If you have a collection that you want appraised, please contact us and we would be happy to discuss your collection and help you understand the real cash value of your collection in the current marketplace.
The 1986 Fleer Basketball Box Break Collection Video: