Q&A – What’s Up With Those Black Marks On 80’s Topps Boxes?

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Question: Dear Sports Card Info: I really enjoy your blog, especially the weekly contests.  I’ve got a question for you.  I’m looking to purchase a box of 1984 Topps Football.  Why do so many of them have black marks on the front?  It seems like a lot of Topps boxes from the 80’s have these markings.  Thanks!

Answer: Great question!  Congrats on wanting to purchase a box of 1984 Topps Football.  That set has some great rookie cards including Dan Marino and John Elway.  Opening a box like that can be really fun.  If that’s what you plan to do.

During the 1980’s, Topps allowed distributors and stores to return older products that they were having a difficult time selling.  A way to get rid of old inventory.  The people making the return would get a little something back.  When an old case would be sent back, Topps would open it, place a black mark on the front of each box, and then send it back out to discount retail outlets for sale.  If I’m not mistaken, Topps would even allow individual boxes to be sent back too as long as they contained all (36) packs.  Back then, Topps did not seal their boxes with plastic like they do today.  Its possible that individual boxes sent back could’ve been compiled from other boxes in order to make a complete box.  Its almost impossible to know if the packs inside are the original ones Topps put in there.  They could be from other ’84 Topps Football boxes.

Authentic boxes without the marks will almost always be more desirable.  I wouldn’t purchase a valuable older box without the people at Baseball Card Exchange looking at it.  They have a great reputation with collectors.  The last thing you want to do is spend $1,000 and find out your box was tampered with.

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