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Time to Dig Through That Shoebox: Five Forgotten Cards That are Worth Looking for

Have you ever found yourself lucky enough to get a wheat penny back in your change and thought to yourself that it should be worth more than a mere one cent that is printed on its copper surface? If there’s one thing we know about coins it’s that only when they are spent is the face value actually used. Errors, low mintage, and many other variables can make these coins so much more valuable. 

When it comes to rarities and oddities the same can be said about sports cards. Once thought to only be worth the paper they were printed on and the ink splashed on the surface, sports cards and their market have been catapulted to new highs in recent years. No longer are they used in the spokes of a child’s bike, rather the best ones are sleeved and top-loaded, never to be touched by a human hand again. But what happens to those other cards that don’t get the coveted top-loaded status? They get overlooked, thrown into a box, and shoved under the bed to quickly be forgotten about.

However, every now and again one of those shoebox cards becomes a diamond in the rough. With new errors being discovered every day, prospects becoming superstars, and late draft picks becoming world champions again and again these forgotten cards turn out to be worth a whole lot more than the shoes that once occupied that box. Here are five cards you may have tucked away that are worth taking the time to dig out.

1. 2005 Fleer Tradition Ken Griffey Jr. #362

Following Fleer’s bankruptcy in 2005, several never released sets including Fleer Tradition Series 2 reached the aftermarket in the form of repacked products. With the cards in Series 2 being numbered 351-450 these cards have proven very hard to find. With the last sale occurring in December of 2023 and only two of this particular card actually graded, it’s possible this seemingly normal looking card can be found in dollar boxes at your local card shops and shows.

Current Value: $100

2005 Fleer Tradition Ken Griffey Jr. #362

2. 2019 Chronicles Maxx Crosby #CR-21 (Crown Royale) & #222 (Luminance)

With the 106th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft the Oakland Raiders selected Maxx Crosby from Eastern Michigan and since then he’s been terrorizing every NFL team not named the Raiders. What makes these cards special is that not only are they from the same set, but they are also the only rookies Maxx Crosby has. With Crosby being a defensive player and not getting as much hobby love as offensive players do generally his rookies are ones to be on the lookout for.

Current Values: $140 (Crown Royale #CR-21) and $200 (Luminance #222)

2019 Chronicles Crown Royale Maxx Crosby #CR-21
2019 Chronicles Luminance Maxx Crosby #222

3. 1990 Topps Baseball “Blackless” Error Cards

From the late 80’s to the early 90’s Topps and other sports card companies produced so many cards that it became known as the junk wax era, with some estimates that the 1991 Topps set had four million of each card produced. With such a high production number there were bound to be errors and mistakes that slipped through the cracks. One such error is the “blackless” cards where part of the player’s name or other part of the design is missing due to the lack of black ink during printing. If you come across one of these your best course of action is to grade it, as a PSA 6 can even fetch over a thousand dollars.

Current Value: $50-$1,100

The 13 cards that may have the blackless error. Credit to Sports Collector Daily.

It’s believed that during the manufacturing process, the black printing plate was damaged or dirty, resulting in cards only getting 3 of the 4 required print colors (cyan, magenta, yellow) while missing black (hence the “blackless” error name).

This image shows approximately where the black ink is missing from the card design on the errors.

4. 2006 Topps Alex Gordon #297

The 2006 Topps Alex Gordon rookie card is one that technically isn’t even supposed to exist. Back in the mid 2000’s Topps and Major League Baseball had an agreement that players who were not on the active roster or had not played the year before could not have a card produced for them. Being a rookie and not on the active roster, Topps scrambled to put out their fire. With several 2006 Topps blasters making it to at least one major retailer, most of these rookies were pulled, with the rest of Gordon’s rookies being carved for possible cut autographs.

Current Value: $600-$1,500

5. Kobe Bryant Threads Jersey Die-Cuts

While not incredibly rare, these jersey die-cuts don’t even show the player on them but rather the jersey they wore with their name and number. With Kobe Bryant’s being upon the most sought after they were made and put in several sets ranging from 2009-2018. While die-cuts can be hard to get a decent grade on, ungraded versions can make it worth your while to dig through boxes at your local card shop.

Current Value: $25-$75

While none of these cards or sets may be the most modern, it often takes time for players to develop and errors to be found. Throw nothing out, leave no stone unturned, and look through every box you can because you never know what once forgotten card could make you a small fortune!

Ibreak Cards

Sports card YouTuber! Chiefs, Cardinals, Royals, Galaxy, and USA soccer fan! setting up at a card show near you! Check out my YouTube channel.

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