30 Standout Baseball Cards from the Junk Wax Era
There came a time in the history of the trading card hobby that mainstream manufacturers like Topps, Donruss, Fleer, and Upper Deck were shipping cards as fast as they could print them. With the explosion of the hobby in the mid-80s, other manufacturers entered the market. The overwhelming supply and eventually fleeting demand created a perfect storm for the crash that followed.
Unaffectionately referred to as the “Junk Wax Era," the period of 1984 to 1993 was a time of burgeoning gluttony, the ramifications of which are still being felt today. Need proof? Many of these products can still be found by the unopened case or, even, palate.
However, despite the overwhelming amount of material from this period, there are several cards that should be included in any baseball card collection. While some of the cards listed below have long seen their glory days wither away and their values evaporate along with it, they still hold their place in hobby history.
Even today, if graded in top condition, the cards below make scouring through thrift stores, garage sales and long-forgotten boxes in the basement worth it.
30 Great Baseball Cards from the Junk Wax Era
- 1984 Donruss Don Mattingly RC #131
- 1984 Fleer Update Roger Clemens RC #27
- 1984 Fleer Update Kirby Puckett RC #93
- 1985 Topps Mark McGwire RC #401
- 1986 Donruss Jose Canseco
- 1986 Topps Traded Barry Bonds RC #11T
- 1987 Donruss Greg Maddux RC Card#36
- 1988 Score Rookie/Traded Craig Biggio RC #103T
- 1988 Score Rookie/Traded Roberto Alomar RC #105T
- 1989 Fleer Randy Johnson RC (Marlboro background) #381
- 1989 Fleer Bill Ripken "F**k Face" #616
- 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. RC #1
- 1990 Leaf Sammy Sosa RC #220
- 1990 Leaf Frank Thomas RC #300
- 1990 Topps Frank Thomas "No Name on Front" #414
- 1991 Stadium Club Jeff Bagwell RC #388
- 1992 Bowman Carlos Delgado RC #127
- 1992 Bowman Mariano Rivera RC #302
- 1992 Bowman Mike Piazza RC #461
- 1992 Bowman Manny Ramirez #532
- 1992 Bowman Chipper Jones #28
- 1992 Fleer Update Mike Piazza RC #92
- 1992 Topps Traded Nomar Garciaparra RC #39T
- 1992 Topps Traded Jason Varitek RC #123T
- 1993 Bowman Derek Jeter RC #511
- 1993 Pinnacle Derek Jeter RC #457
- 1993 Select Derek Jeter RC #360
- 1993 SP Johnny Damon RC#273
- 1993 SP Derek Jeter RC #279
- 1993 Topps Traded Todd Helton RC #19T
Of all the brands and products released during that time period, only one regular card has carried a consistent “book value" of $100 or more and that's the 1993 SP Derek Jeter rookie. While there are other cards from the Junk Wax Era that still have some tangible worth, the above list is populated with rookie cards of current and future Hall of Famers, as well as those who, unfortunately, will be forever linked to baseball's ugly Steroid Era.
Related Topics: Baseball Cards: Guides