Rookie Card Year: 1961-62
Investment Rating: 8.0
Wilt Chamberlain remains one of the biggest names from the history of the NBA. There are not a lot of cards from his playing days, but vintage Wilt Chaberlain cards remain popular with collectors, and certified autographs carry a premium.
Although it was a much different time, Wilt Chamberlain did not follow a traditional route to the NBA. After three seasons playing, and largely dominating, for the University of Kansas, Chamberlain was tired of the college game and ready for a paycheck. NBA rules prevented him from joining the league since he had not graduated, so he spent his first year as a professional with the Harlem Globetrotters. After one season with the Globetrotters, Wilt Chamberlain made the move to the NBA, but was not technically selected in the 1959 draft, where he would have gone first. Instead, he was selected by the Philadelphia Warriors as their territorial pick. The team successfully argued that although he went to college in Kansas, Chamberlain grew up in Philadelphia, which made him eligible for the territorial pick designed to capitalize on the popularity of local players and help grow interest in the league in local markets.
From there, Wilt Chamberlain enjoyed a very successful NBA career. Critics point to him "only" winning two titles and his terrible free throw shooting, but few players could match his dominance on the court. Plus, he is responsible for one of the most iconic moments in basketball history, when he scored 100 points in a single game. After retiring in 1973, Wilt Chamberlain was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978 and was also chosen as a member of the NBA's 35th and 50th anniversary teams. He passed away from congestive heart failure in 1999.
While Wilt Chamberlain played 14 seasons in the NBA, official cards were only produced during five of those seasons. This greatly reduces the options for collectors, but additional vintage cards are available for the 1973-74 and 1974-75 seasons from Topps, and there are also multiple regional and oddball cards. Certified autograph cards remain rare because he died before the trend became commonplace. Only two cards are available that do not contain cut signatures and both came from Upper Deck in 1999. Those two cards, as well as other top cards can be found in our guide to the Top Ten Wilt Chamberlain Cards.
Wilt Chamberlain Rookie Cards
The only Wilt Chamberlain rookie card was not released until his third season. The 1961-62 Fleer design has aged well and even has an artistic appeal to it. A black-and-white image, set against a deep maroon background, makes for an impressive card. High grades are tough to find and even ungraded versions start around $200.
The action counterpart to the Wilt Chamberlain rookie card, card #47 shows "Wilt the Stilt" going to the basket with a green top. Although it is certainly not a cheap card, it presents a more manageable option for collectors, with ungraded prices starting around $50.
Wilt Chamberlain Autographed Memorabilia Buying Guide
Below you will find an example of what Wilt Chamberlain's authentic signature looks like. This can be used as a first point of reference for determining the legitimacy of autograph memorabilia, but is not a substitute for having your items authenticated by a well-respected professional autograph authentication company. Reputable authentication companies include JSA, PSA, Panini Authentic and Mounted Memories, to name a few.
Wilt Chamberlain Cut Signature Exemplar
Wilt Chamberlain Key Signature Attributes: An authentic Wilt Chamberlain signature autograph will exhibit several distinguishing characteristics, depending on when in his career the item was signed. Other characteristics that play into his signature style are the particular item and venue. Look for the following signature features:
- The signature starts with a large loop, similar to a 9 or 4.
- A standard "W" comes after that and the pen lifts.
- In legible cursive, "i-l-t" is clear, with a dotted "i" and crossed "t."
- A printed "C" begins the last named and the pen lifts multiple times in the last name.
- Next comes an "h," followed by "a-m-b" and "e-r-l." The "b" resembles a lowercase "L."
- The pen lifts one last time before "a-i-n."
- The overall signature normally exhibits an upward lean, going from left to right.
Wilt Chamberlain Signed Memorabilia Pricing:
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