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.


Dig Out Those Trevor Bayne Cards

Trevor Bayne became the youngest person to ever win the Daytona 500 on Sunday.  As you can imagine, being such a new driver his cards are taking off in popularity.  His rookies can be found in the following 2010 Press Pass products:

  • Element
  • Stealth
  • Press Pass Racing
  • Main Event

Between 2010 and 2011, Bayne only has 48 different cards.  Believe it or not, but 26 of those are autographed.

I’m really glad to see someone new win the “Super Bowl” of NASCAR racing.


Bring Back Those 90’s Inserts

The 90’s were filled with some of the nicest inserts and parallels the hobby has ever seen.  In those times, pulling a card serial numbered to 100 could easily classify as your “Pull of the Year”.  But as time went on and collectors became more interested in relics and autographs, card manufacturers lost their focus when it came to design.  Its almost as if manufacturers thought collectors would purchase anything as long as the card contained a relic or autograph.

I think it would be cool to see someone re-insert these popular 90’s cards into newer products.  Usually the answer would be to make more cards like them featuring updated players, but I don’t think that’s the answer.  Imagine flipping through a pack and pulling a rare ’93 Topps Finest Refractor.  I think it would be awesome!  Now lets kick it up a notch.  Perhaps we could put a little buyback twist to these cards.  One of the most popular sets from the 90’s are the Donruss Crusade inserts.  Player collectors go nuts over them spending immense amounts of money for something they have been searching years for.  What if a few of them were signed?  That is something I would like to see.

Which 90’s cards would you like to see re-inserted and/or made into buyback autographs?


Save Those Redemption Letters

Redemption cards can be one of the biggest pains in The Hobby today.  A majority of the time they are used to act as substitutes because the manufacturer couldn’t get a certain card inserted into a product on time before they had to ship it out.  Sometimes they are used for extremely rare cards and the manufacturer likes to hold on to the real thing just to keep it safe until its time for it to go to its new owner.  Usually when you receive your card in the mail, which could be weeks or even years, it comes with a letter from the company.  Most collectors toss the letter and keep the card wrapped inside.  After seeing this auction, it might not be a good idea to throw out those redemption letters, especially if they contain the signature of the person who is head of the company.  Who knew there was such a demand for a Dr. Price autograph?  These letters might actually be worth more than the cards themselves 🙂


Last summer I met TRISTAR’s President & CEO Jeff Rosenberg during the ’09 National in Cleveland.  After talking with him, he was nice enough to sign a copy of the e-mail he sent out to bloggers.  I wonder if there is a demand for his signature?