Junk Wax Is About to Get Just a Little Rarer
By Paintball aka Richard Mock
I mentioned in my last article that sport’s card collecting has always been a form of gambling, but in retrospect I was wrong. I remember when I was a kid that my purchase of a 5 cents pack of cards was never about the value of the cards I would get in the pack anymore then my purchase of a 10 cents comic book was about how much the comic book would later be worth. I wasn’t a collector; I was just a kid who loved to read and fantasize. My sister was a true collector. Starting at a young age she collected stamps and she has continued doing so her entire life. She has always looked at what stamps to buy for her collection the same way card collectors are now doing with sports cards. I don’t remember which sets she collected every year, but she constantly talked about the number of stamps printed. Over and over again she talked about how these rare stamps were the same price as the ones printed by the millions and how they had to go up in value. Some have gone up in value, but some haven’t because of one very simple fact. The post office didn’t pass out these limited edition stamps to people to use in mailing their letters. They kept them under the counter and only sold them to the collectors asking for these stamps. Therefore although limited in their numbers they were almost all saved by the collectors. Very few, if any, were used to mail a letter. It was and still is a money maker for the post office.
The most recent cards in my old shoebox of cards are 1963. Therefore I was 15yrs old when I purchased my last pack of baseball cards until my oldest son started buying cards. The oldest cards in his collection (except the older cards we purchased) are 1983. He was therefore 10 yrs old when he bought his first pack of cards. All three of my sons and their friends looked at these cards as a collection. They, like my sister, talked constantly about what cards would go up in value. This is why they became rookie card collectors. Their thinking was that a player might have thousands of cards during their career, but there can only be one year of rookie cards. Important to note, however, is the fact that although they only separated out the rookie cards and the cards of a few super stars to place in their books, they didn’t throw away or destroy a single card. The era of my kids’ collection, has become known as the “Junk Wax Era.” Very few of their cards have obtained any great value when compared with the previous decades and the present decade. Most articles I have seen published on the Junk wax era blame the card companies for over production which is in all probability one of the main reason for the low value of these cards, but another big reason is that every card from every pack opened was saved and placed in a box. These cards weren’t handled like the cards of old, and they certainly weren’t placed in the spokes of bicycles to make them sound like they had a motor. Baseball card purchasers became collectors, just like my sister and her stamp collection.
When my boys left home, they all left the card collection at home. It has really become just one collection with it being passed down from oldest to youngest as each left home. When I decided to organize their collection and continue to buy cards for the collection I had to make some decisions. Which cards deserved to be placed in a top loader and placed in my 3/5 index card filing cabinet? I decided on a simple rule. All autographs, game used, limited edition cards, and all rookie cards of stars whether limited edition or not would be given a top loader and placed in the filing cabinet. Once a player gets his low end rookie card in my filing cabinet he gets to stay there even if his career goes flat. My filing cabinet is therefore full of valuable cards and 25cent cards side by side. If Chipper Jones’s 25cent rookie card doesn’t deserve a spot in my cabinet then I’m not really a rookie card collector.
I will now get to the title. I consider the cards in my filing cabinet and the boxes of super stars as the collection. I don’t consider the closet full of common cards as a part of the collection. I have already pulled all the rookie cards and future Hall of Famer’s cards (including those probably excluded because of steroids) from the cards in these boxes. The closet is full, and I now need to do something with the old common cards. I am going to just throw them away. I don’t know if this same action is going to be taken from other collectors of the junk wax era, but if only half of the cards saved are thrown away then the cards will become rarer. When I thought about this possibility I decided to keep the cards, but then I thought that if everyone thought this way then none would be destroyed so I decided again to throw them away. It is a funny circle, but I’m letting those of you with a closet full of junk wax know that your cards are about to get at least a little rarer.
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