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The Most Valuable Trading Cards and How to Preserve Them

By Staff Writer
Share to PinterestThe Most Valuable Trading Cards and How to Preserve Them
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If you've got a collection of trading cards in your attic, it may be time to take a look. While there's always been an avid fanbase of trading card collectors, lately, cards have been selling for higher prices. From Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Magic: The Gathering to various sports cards, a flawless print of a rare, desired card can elevate its value well beyond the norm.

Some cards are now even selling for hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. If you happen to have one of these cards in mint condition, you may be in luck.

01

Asia Championship Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon ($335,402)

Share to PinterestPremiere Of Warner Bros. "Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie" Arrivals
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This Yu-Gi-Oh card is a one-of-a-kind alternate art print of one of the most popular cards in the series. Acting as a fusion of three Blue Eyes White Dragons during gameplay and playing a major part in the television series, it's no surprise that this print fetched such a great price.

This card was gifted to the champion of the 2001 Asia Championship. Eventually, it fetched 45 million Yen, roughly $335,402 in USD in 2023.

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02

Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Holo Blastoise ($360,000)

Share to Pinterest2022 Pokémon World Championships
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This Pokemon card's value comes from being one of the rarest cards ever sold. Wizards of the Coast, producer of Pokemon and Magic: The Gathering trading card games, only made two of these cards when bidding to win the right to produce Pokemon trading cards in English.

In January 2021, it was sold for $360,000, making it one of the most expensive Pokemon cards in existence.

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03

Base Set Shadowless 1st Edition Holo Charizard ($420,000)

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A first-edition Charizard Pokemon card managed to fetch a record-breaking $420,000. Prior to this sale, a similar Charizard card had sold for $399,000. Graded PSA 10 Gem Mint, it was one of just 121 PSA 10s in existence and also appeared to be flawless, without any visible whitening or imperfections to its centering or holo foil.

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04

Black Lotus ($511,100)

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Magic: The Gathering cards are known for having pricy exclusives, especially for the earliest sets. The Black Lotus card is one of the priciest of all and has become a highly coveted card in the game. In 2021, an eBay auction for an Alpha version of the card with a case autographed by the original designer sold for $511,100.

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05

Alifabolaget Pele Rookie Card ($1,330,000)

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This card was produced by the Alifabologet company, but not much is known about it beyond that. This card shows Pele at age 17, when he debuted in the World Cup and then won the title of the tournament's best young player, launching his career. In February 2022, one of these cards, rated Mint 9, sold for $1.33 million thanks to its rarity and high quality.

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06

Michael Jordan 1997-98 UD Game Jersey Autograph ($2,052,000)

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Featuring both an autograph and a piece of the jersey worn by Michael Jordan in the 1992 NBA All-Star Game, this card fetched over $2 million in May 2021. It is one of just 23 such cards in existence, and Jordan hand-numbered all of them while autographing, making it ultra-rare and highly coveted by those seeking a tangible piece of basketball history.

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07

Wayne Gretzky 1979 O-Pee-Chee ($3,750,000)

Share to Pinterest2022 Hockey Hall Of Fame Induction - Sports Card Expo
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While hockey cards hardly have the popularity of other sports cards, this one certainly holds its value. In 2021, a Wayne Gretzky 1979 O-Pee-Chee card sold for a massive $3.75 million, a record sale over three times higher than the second-highest hockey card sale.

This particular card was graded a Gem Mint 10, one of two in existence, which helped it fetch such a massive price from an avid anonymous collector.

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08

Tom Brady 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket ($3,800,000)

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This card is one of the most iconic football cards in existence. Add to its recognizability the fact that just 100 copies were ever produced, and one of the most expensive cards on the market was born. The card in question sold for $3.8 million thanks to both a BGS rating of 9 and an autograph by Brady himself.

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09

Patrick Mahomes II rookie card ($4,300,000)

Share to PinterestMLB All-Stars Carlos Beltran & Evan Longoria Open Topps Baseball Series 1 Cards
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Patrick Mahomes II is one of the most skilled recent footballers, having earned multiple MVP titles and roles. His rookie card has quickly become one of the most desired cards to add to avid collectors' stashes. One card, featuring Mahomes' signature and a photograph of him in uniform for the Kansas City Chiefs, sold for $4.3 million in a private sale in July 2021.

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10

Japanese Illustrator Pikachu Card ($5,275,000)

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YouTuber Logan Paul purchased the only known mint condition Japanese Illustrator Pikachu card for $5,275,000. This multi-million dollar price marks this card as the most expensive Pokemon card in existence. Notably, this purchase also earned Paul a Guinness World Records title for the most expensive Pokemon card sold via private auction.

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11

Stephen Curry rookie card ($5,900,000)

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Unlike many of the rookie cards that have made this list, Stephen Curry's is relatively recent, released in 2009. Many others are at least 30 years old, and despite the short time between the printing of this card to now, Curry's has skyrocketed in value alongside his success.

It is one of the most expensive basketball cards on the market, with a high-grade copy selling for $5.9 million.

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12

Mickey Mantle rookie card ($12,600,000)

Share to PinterestDraw trading cards from the deck
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The most expensive trading card in existence, and the first card to sell for eight figures, is the Mickey Mantle 1952 rookie card. This particular card was rated SGC 9.5, when, prior to that point, none had ever been graded and sold above a 9.

This score means the card appeared to be a Gem Mint 10 upon first inspection but may have slight flaws preventing it from scoring a 10.

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13

Protect your cards with card sleeves

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Even if your best cards are only worth two or three figures, you probably want to keep them in good condition. One of the easiest and most affordable ways to protect your cards is to place them in card sleeves. Standard card sleeves, sometimes called soft sleeves, offer a thin layer of plastic that allows you to handle your cards without fear of stains or natural oils damaging them. If you want to use these, make sure you opt for acid-free to avoid unintentional damage to the card over time.

Premium card sleeves offer better protection than standards because they're made with thicker plastic. They are particularly suitable if you handle your cards regularly, like if you play games with them. They can protect against edge damage, folding, or bending, and this helps retain their potential value.

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14

Protect your cards with top loaders

Share to PinterestTrading Card Packaging 3D Rendering White Blank Mockup
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Top loaders are typically seen with graded cards. They're made of hard plastic that can prevent your card from folding or bending when being handled or stored. However, because they tend to be larger than the card, it's possible for a card's edges to be damaged by jostling within the case and hitting the plastic walls.

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15

Protect your cards with screw-down cardholders

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One of the best forms of protection, especially for valuable trading cards, is a screw-down card holder. All you do is place your card within the card-shaped recess in the acrylic, then screw a second sheet on top. The card is kept in place safely without being compressed or damaged by the case. This also gives you an easy way to display some of your most valuable cards.

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