When you buy into a break, you may overlook one of the most important things: where the product came from. A break with the most recent card product most likely came directly from the manufacturer, card shops, or dealers with access to the newest cards. However, when you’re in a break full of vintage cards, be it a pack, box, set, or even hit random, WHERE do those cards come from? A breaker can’t simply call up Topps and ask for a 1952 Topps wax pack. These vintage cards may come from some of the most impressive unopened finds.
1. The 1952 Topps Baseball Card Find with Mr. Mint
THE FIND of the hobby. Alan Rosen, “Mr. Mint” to the hobby, was a big-time sports card dealer. In 1986, Mr. Mint received a call from David Espinola, a forklift driver near Boston, MA. David mentioned talking with a truck driver while making a delivery, and the driver had 1952 Topps baseball cards in good condition that may be for sale.
A skeptical Rosen called the driver, Ted Lodge, who claimed to have had a few of each card from the 1952 Topps baseball high series (cards that contained the iconic Mickey Mantle rookie). Most of the cards from this series were actually dumped into the ocean in a crazy story you can read about here, so for a collector to have multiple cards from each player in top condition, even in 1986, was tough to believe. When Rosen asked Lodge how many Mickey Mantle rookies he owned, the answer was “about 30.”
When Rosen arrived at Lodge’s house, to his amazement, piles of cards were in the original case that sat in the attic for decades. The total number of Mantle rookie cards? About 75 cards of The Mick!
While this find isn’t “unopened,” any Mantle you find in a set break or hit random most likely comes from this find. You can read the full story here.
2. The Beer Box Find of 1948 Bowman Baseball
Nobody in recent generations had ever seen a sealed pack of 1948 Bowman baseball – not a single pack. So when Brian Drent, President of the Mile High Card Company, received a call from a man stating he had 19 packs (out of 24) and the original box, he quickly took a plane to see the cards.
The owner’s late uncle owned a confectionary company dealing with non-sports cards of the 1960’s. The uncle purchased various sports boxes for research, and placed the box into a Stroh’s beer box. After the owner’s aunt passed away, the nephew found the uncle’s cards in the attic.
In 2017, the 19 packs and box from 1948 Bowman baseball sold for $521,180!
3. The Beer Box Find 2 of 1965 Topps Football
Yes, part two! After the owner of 1948 Bowman baseball unopened packs sold the unopened find, he was encouraged to check the rest of his late aunt’s house in search for more product his late uncle may have left behind.
Around a month after the sale of the 1948 Bowman packs, the owner returned to the house and ended up finding 1965 Topps football which could contain Joe Namath rookie cards. Brian Dent from Mike High said much like Beer Box Find One, there was never been an unopened box of 1965 Topps football cards found – and the Beer Box had TWO.
One box of the cards was completely full with all packs and the second box had 21 out of the 24 packs in the box. In 2017, both boxes were sold for $145,746 and $106,150, respectively.
4. The Midwest Storage Unit Find
Breaking 1986-87 Fleer basketball cards is one of the top breaks you can buy into; few things excite you more than pulling a mint Michael Jordan rookie card right out of a sealed pack. While not as vintage as cards from the 40’s or 50’s, you can exactly walk into your local shop and find a pack of the inaugural edition of Fleer basketball. The price tag per pack is a tad more today than the initial 40 cents a pack set you back in 1986 – unless you find a few boxes in a storage unit like one lucky owner in the Midwest did.
When Ken Goldin rolled out of bed one morning in early of 2020, little did he know that the call he would take that day would lead him to a partial CASE of 1986 Fleer basketball! Seven factory-sealed boxes and the case box were sitting in that storage unit and purchased for less than $1,000. When Goldin purchased the boxes from the owner, boxes were selling for around $84,000 each.
5. The Larry Fritsch 1986-87 Fleer Basketball Sealed CASE
Larry Fritsch had to one-up Ken Goldin’s Midwest Storage Unit find. While Goldin purchased a partial case found in the storage unit, Fritsch owned the only-known sealed CASE of 1986-87 Fleer basketball cards.
Fritsch is a long-time dealer in the hobby and has owned many sealed products, and managed to hold onto the last surviving unopened case that could hold upwards of 40 pack-fresh Michael Jordan rookie cards. You could also see 36 Jordan rookie sticker cards from a full case. The case has 12 boxes with each box containing 36 packs for a total of 5,184 cards and 432 stickers that have never seen the light of day.
The case was sold at auction in August of 2020 for $1,789,717!