Many who collected cards in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s now think those cards they so feverishly collected growing up are now worthless.
You might be shocked to learn that idea couldn’t be further from the truth. Many of the cards from those decades are worth incredible amounts today.
The key to unlocking these monster values is the card receiving the grade of PSA Gem Mint 10. The gap in value between PSA 'Gem Mint 10' and say, PSA 'Near Mint-Mint 8' (cards that at arm's length look perfect), is astounding.
For proof, check out this list of the top 15 modern card prices. Your mind will be blown at some of the prices paid for these cards you coveted – or had in your collection – growing up.
Also, keep in mind that this list features standard modern cards. These cards are not serial numbered, and do not feature game used swatches or autographs. They are simply ink and cardboard. That fact makes these prices even more remarkable.
Learn more about the record prices PSA graded cards achieve on our Prices Realized Page.
The 'Raw High Book Value' prices are all sourced from the Beckett Price Guide.
When you’re finished, you might want to check the attic.
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Raw High Book Value: $700
PSA 10: A PSA Gem Mint 10 #57 Jordan sold for $10,463 in 2013.
The Chicago Bulls drafted Michael Jordan as the third overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft, behind Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon and Sam Bowie. During his rookie season, Jordan made his first Sports Illustrated cover (Jordan was the subject of a record 60 SI covers.) and was named to his first of 14 NBA All-Star Games (named All-Star Game MVP three times – 1988, 1996, 1998).
The Jordan rookie is the most heavily-counterfeited card in the entire hobby. In addition, while it may not be a tough card to find in PSA NM-MT 8, Mint 9 and Gem Mint 10 examples can be challenging as a result of the easily-chipped borders, mild centering problems and occasional print issues.
Learn more about the 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan #57 on PSA CardFacts.
Raw High Book Value: $115
PSA 10: A PSA Gem Mint 10 #79 Fisk sold for $10,855 in 2012.
The only Hall of Famer rookie card from the 1972 Topps set is Carlton Fisk (#79). Hobbyists say that Pudge is not difficult to track down in high-grade. However, of the 3,900 submitted, there have been only three 3 PSA GEM-MT 10s graded.
The 1972 Topps set is considered by many hobbyists to be the premier baseball set of the 1970s. It has great star power and eye appeal as a result of the attractive design. Unfortunately, the Fisk rookie card is often found off-center – especially left-to-right – which has little room for error due to the design of the card.
Learn more about the 1972 Topps Carlton Fisk #79 on PSA CardFacts.
Raw High Book Value: $80
PSA 10: A PSA Gem Mint 10 #482 Henderson sold for $11,042 in 2012.
Rickey Henderson retired after compiling an impressive 3,055 hits, 2,295 runs, 1,115 RBI, 297 home runs and 1,406 stolen bases with a .279 career batting average. As expected after such a stellar career, Henderson was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009.
The Henderson rookie has always been deceptively tough in super high grade. Print defects, sometimes referred to as "fish eyes" or "snow" can often be found in the dark background. In addition, the 1980 Topps cards – even fresh from the pack – will often been seen with a relatively blunt appearance by modern card standards near the corners.
Learn more about the 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson #482 on PSA CardFacts.
Raw High Book Value: $30
PSA 10: A PSA Gem Mint 10 Eckersley rookie sold for $11,718 in 2013.
Dennis Lee Eckersley made an excellent transition from starter to closer mid-way through his career and is the only pitcher to amass 100 saves and 100 complete games. 'The Eck' threw a no-hitter against the Angels in 1977 and was a member of the 1989 World Series Champion Oakland Athletics.
The 1976 Topps cards were designed with a relatively thin white border on the face of the card. Since the issue was known to have centering problems, that thin border left little room for error. This prevents many sharp from achieving PSA Mint 9 and Gem Mint 10 status. In a set plagued by this problem, the Eckersley rookie remains one of the toughest cards in the set.
Learn more about the 1976 Topps Dennis Eckersley #98 on PSA CardFacts.
Raw High Book Value: $120
PSA 10: A PSA Gem Mint 10 #216 Montana sold for $11,750 in 2013.
The San Francisco 49ers took Montana in the third round of the 1979 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame. Joe began his professional career backing up Steve DeBerg for his first two seasons in the NFL, but once he became the Niners #1 gunslinger, he led them to the 1981 Super Bowl XVI victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Montana rookie card can be challenging to find with virtually perfect centering and absent light print defects in the background.
Learn more about the 1981 Topps Joe Montana #216 on PSA CardFacts.
Raw High Book Value: $250
PSA 10: A PSA Gem Mint 10 #148 Payton sold for $13,854 in 2014.
The Chicago Bears took Payton with the fourth overall pick of the 1975 NFL Draft out of Jackson State University. After a slow start in his rookie campaign, “Sweetness” led the NFL the next four seasons (1976-1979) in rushing attempts while paving his way as one of the league's most impactful offensive weapons.
Payton's coveted rookie card is often found with slight centering issues amongst other condition obstacles, which can prevent the card from reaching PSA Gem Mint 10 status.
Learn more about the 1976 Topps Walter Payton #148 on PSA CardFacts.
Raw High Book Value: $200
PSA 10: A PSA Gem Mint 10 Bradshaw rookie sold for $18,233 in 2006.
The Pittsburgh Steelers won the coin toss against the Chicago Bears and chose the highly sought after Terry Bradshaw with the Number 1 overall pick in the 1970 NFL Draft. Though he struggled to learn the pro game, leading the league in his rookie campaign with 24 interceptions, Terry developed into one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL by his fourth season.
In addition to the expected centering issues, the Bradshaw rookie card is surrounded by a red-colored border on the front, which makes the card very susceptible to visible edge and corner wear. This, in turn, results in very few PSA Gem Mint 10s in the marketplace.
Learn more about the 1971 Topps Terry Bradshaw #156 on PSA CardFacts.
Raw High Book Value: $80
PSA 10: A PSA Gem Mint 10 #228 Brett sold for $20,315 in 2014.
George Brett was the first player in baseball history to collect 3,000 hits, 300 home runs, 600 doubles, 100 triples, 1,500 RBI and 200 stolen bases.
The Brett rookie card, like many cards that reside in the 1975 Topps set, are easily chipped due to the colored borders. Furthermore, the cards are often found with tilts, which impact the centering measurements, not to mention print defects throughout.
Learn more about the 1975 Topps George Brett #228 on PSA CardFacts.
Raw High Book Value: $60
PSA 10: A PSA Gem Mint 10 #116 Smith rookie card sold for $20,852 in 2012.
Osborne Earl "Ozzie" Smith was a magician at the shortstop position for the San Diego Padres (1978-1981) and the St. Louis Cardinals (1882-1996), wowing fans and inspiring a generation of future shortstops. The Wizard of Oz' amazing agility and acrobatic plays helped him win a record 13 consecutive Gold Glove Awards.
The Smith rookie is one of the toughest modern-era cards to find centered in the hobby. The poor centering is often the number one reason so many examples fail to reach PSA Mint 9 or Gem Mint 10 status.
Learn more about the 1979 Topps Ozzie Smith #116 on PSA CardFacts.
Raw High Book Value: $175
PSA 10: A PSA Gem Mint 10 Staubach #200 sold for $22,161 in 2013.
Roger Thomas Staubach is the last player from any military academy to win the Heisman Trophy and is the first player of four to win the Heisman and the Super Bowl MVP Award, Jim Plunkett, Marcus Allen and Desmond Howard being the others. Staubach had incredible ability to evade would-be tacklers, keep his composure and hurl the football on the run. He is often remembered for his strong arm and success with the long bomb throughout his career.
The Staubach rookie is rarely found in PSA Gem Mint 10 condition. Like most 1970s card issues, the centering can be challenging, especially since the card has fairly narrow white borders on the front. In addition, you often find the card with some degree of print defects along the bright face of the card. The darker-colored defects really stand out against the light-colored design.
Learn more about the 1972 Topps Roger Staubach #200 on PSA CardFacts.
Raw High Book Value: $30
PSA 10: A PSA Gem Mint 10 #341 Garvey sold for $25,393 in 2012.
Steve came up in the Dodgers organization as a third baseman, but was moved to first with the departure of Bill Buckner and the emergence of Ron Cey. Though he had enjoyed increasing success for three seasons, in 1974 Garvey became the breakout star of the Dodgers as he collected the 1974 NL MVP award.
The 1971 Topps set is a nightmare for collectors of high-grade cards. Cards that come directly out of packs or vending boxes will often fail to reach PSA NM-MT 8 status or higher, which is amazing for a post-1970 production. The Garvey rookie is often found with subpar centering, print problems and those fragile black borders can wreak havoc so beware of recoloring.
Learn more about the the 1971 Topps Steve Garvey #341 on PSA CardFacts.
Raw High Book Value: $150
PSA 10: A PSA Gem Mint 10 #615 Schmidt sold for $25,541 in 2014.
Mike Schmidt was the premier home run threat of his era with eight home run titles and 548 total homers over the course of his career. As a defensive player, Schmidt won 10 Gold Gloves, breaking numerous fielding records along the way.
The Schmidt rookie is subject to many of the condition issues that plague other cards from the 1970s like poor centering and print defects along the white portion of the card and within the small images on the front. That said, the black edges along the reverse are often chipped and reveal wear, which often prevents blazing cards from reaching the top grade of PSA Gem Mint 10.
Learn more about the 1973 Topps Mike Schmidt #615 on PSA CardFacts.
Raw High Book Value: $50
PSA 10: A PSA Gem Mint 10 #223 Yount sold for $25,790 in 2010.
Robin Yount played 20 seasons at shortstop and centerfield for the Milwaukee Brewers (1974-1993), helping them to the American League pennant in 1982.
Like the Brett rookie from the same set, the Yount card is subjected to fragile borders, poor centering and a host of print issues as a result an inconsistent printing process. In fact, while both cards are tough in PSA Gem Mint 10, he Yount is even tougher than the Brett rookie.
Learn more about the 1975 Topps Robin Yount #223 on PSA CardFacts.
Raw High Book Value: $150
PSA 10: A PSA Gem Mint 10 #279 Jeter sold for $33,842 in 2013.
The Yankees drafted Derek Jeter with the sixth overall pick of the 1992 MLB June Amateur Draft and he debuted in 1996 replacing All-Star shortstop Tony Fernandez. Derek won the American League Rookie of the Year Award by a unanimous vote after batting .314 with 183 hits, including 10 home runs and 104 runs, as he led the Bronx Bombers to the 1996 World Series title.
The Jeter rookie has become the most desirable post-1990 card in the hobby. It is also deceptively tough in the PSA Gem Mint 10 grade. The 1993 SP Jeter was made with dark edges and a foil coating, which combine to reveal the slightest tough of wear along the edges and corners of the card.
Learn more about the 1993 SP Derek Jeter #279 on PSA CardFacts.
Raw High Book Value: $800
PSA 10: The only known PSA Gem Mint 10 Gretzky rookie sold for $94,162 in 2011.
Wayne Gretzky scored 46 goals and 64 assists in his first professional season with the Oilers, winning the WHA's Lou Kaplan Trophy awarded to the league's Rookie of the Year. When the WHA folded, the Oilers were merged into the NHL with three other teams and Gretzky's NHL career took off, as you well know.
The Gretzky rookie has become one of the most desirable cards in the hobby, not just because of Gretzky's incredible legacy on the ice, but as a result of the difficulty of the O-Pee-Chee issue. The Topps rookie is also desirable but not nearly as tough as the Canadian counterpart. Poor centering and print defects are commonly-found on the card but the inherent O-Pee-Chee rough cut can create additional problems if that cut impacts the corners of the card.
Learn more about the 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky #18 on PSA CardFacts.
How many of these cards did you have in your collection growing up? Chances are you had a few. Time to check the attic or call mom to check the whereabouts of your childhood collection.