🏀 1986 - 1987 Unopened Fleer NBA Box

The most coveted NBA set in the world is up for $183k

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🏀 Unopened 1986 Fleer Basketball Wax Box - $183,750 🏀

⚡Via Collectable 29th December 2020 at 1pm EST. ⚡

This week, Collectable offers up an unopened box of 1986 Fleer NBA cards for $183k and change.

What is the 1986 Fleer NBA box?

It’s 32 packs of 12 cards and one sticker each for a total of 432 cards and 32 stickers. Also some “gum.”

The ‘86 Fleer set comprised 132 cards and 11 stickers, and somewhat uniquely, each box is guaranteed to contain three full sets of cards + 36 extras. The sticker allotment is more random.

Why is Fleer ‘86 special?

This vintage was the first set of NBA cards produced for several years, so it contains several “rookie” cards of NBA stars that debuted during the early and mid 1980s.

But even though this set includes rookies for Barkley, Drexler, Dumars, Ewing, Malone, Mullin, Olajuwon, I Thomas, Wilkins and J Worth, the only card you *really* care about is the one top centre - Michael Jordan.

Jordan has been on a tear this year, valuation-wise.

Two separate PSA 10 grade Michael Jordan rookies have sold at auction for over $200k in the last month. The rest of the set combined is worth around $50k at PSA 10 and $25k at PSA 9.

Rally IPO’ed a complete set of the 1990s Bulls championship rings for $300k last week, and it funded in three minutes. The rings didn’t even belong to Jordan. Or any other player. They were issued to a (much loved) security guard.

This could all come back to earth (and eventually will), but there’s no sign of it yet.

A note on grading. New cards out of a sealed box *should* be rated 10/10, but they're often not due to printing and centring issues. The 1986-87 series had a lot of centring issues. Spend 70 minutes watching these guys open a box to get an idea.

Which brings us to valuation…


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What is the 1986 Unopened Fleer NBA Box Worth?

There are two ways to look at this:

  • Based on recent box and case sales

  • The sum value of the parts

Recent box and case sales of 1986 Fleer NBA

The best recent comparable sale for this box was just a few weeks ago on Rally Road. It IPO’d at $165k and funded out in a couple minutes. I would say that’s the absolute floor.

The next best comp was just this summer, when an unopened case of these cards was uncovered for the first time in 20 years. This 12 box case sold at auction in August 2020 for $1.8m or $150k per box.

So based on the Rally Rd and case auction, we’ve got pretty solid downside protection. While the bottom may drop out of Jordans at some point, we’ve definitely getting a fair price from Collectable.

Sum of the parts analysis

This is where things get really interesting.

Here’s what we know about this box. It will contain:

3x Michael Jordan Rookie cards

4x MJ stickers

3x complete sets of 1986 Fleer NBA

32 other cards

32 other stickers

It may contain a fourth MJ card. There’s around a 1/4 chance of that.

The biggest variable in this box other than the number of MJ cards is the centering.

The surface, corners and edges should all be pristine, but this year was notorious for offcuts and badly centered cards. That can be the difference between a PSA 10 card and a PSA 8 card.

Luckily, we have an excellent resource to tell us exactly what we should expect to get out of this box- Becking grading services. They list the gradings for all 11,546 MJs ever submitted.

So after quite a lot of tedious work, I can share the likely distribution of centering of the cards to come out of this box:

As long as the rest of the card is perfect (surface, edges, corners), here’s what this means in terms of PSA grades for the cards:

  • Center > 9 = PSA 10

    • This should comprise 66% of cards

  • Center > 8 = PSA 9

    • A further 7% of cards

  • Center > 6 = PSA 8

    • A further 21% of cards

Assuming the other three grading components will be perfect is a big assumption, but I see no reason to believe otherwise. If you disagree please say why in the comments.

What are the Jordans worth at different PSA grades?

  • PSA 10: $210k

  • PSA 9: $30k

  • PSA 8: $8k

  • PSA < 7: Maybe $1k

What’s the rest of the set worth at different grades?

  • PSA 10: $30k

  • PSA 9: $15k

  • PSA 8: $5k

  • PSA < 7: Maybe $2-3k

Without getting massively into the weeds, this is what we should expect:

Jordans:

  • Two PSA 10 - $420k

  • One PSA 8 - $8k

Rest of set:

  • Two PSA 10 - $60k

  • One PSA 8 - $5k

The 32 extra cards could be anything, so let’s assign $5k as a fair compromise.

Value of all the cards in the box: $498k

What are the stickers worth

The centering distribution is about the same for stickers, so we can use the same figures here.

A PSA 10 Jordan sticker recently sold for $60k. PSA 9 is worth maybe $5k and PSA 8 is perhaps $1k.

The rest of the stickers in the box are worth about $20 each.

Total value of the stickers:

  • 2x Jordan PSA 10: $120K

  • 2X Jordan PSA 8: $2k

  • Field: $560

Total value of the stickers is around $123k

The total sum of parts valuation for the box is $621k.

That’s $123k for the stickers and $498k for the cards.

This number is, of course, insane. So just to check our maths, let’s be a bit more conservative.

Say there’s only one Jordan PSA 10 card and one PSA 10 sticker. And the rest of the box is filled with newspaper. That gives us a value of $270k.

Or if everything in the box is PSA 9:

  • Jordans - $90k

  • Rest of set - $45k

  • Stickers - $20 (4x Jordans)

Total - $155k

The price of the box on Collectable is $183k.

My verdict on the 1986 Fleer Set on Collectable this week

I’m just sat here smashing the buy button over and over again. If you missed out on the Rally box, or if you’ve found some more pennies in the sofa, this is a great buy.

For sure a 5/5 for me.

One note about this box v the box with Rally Rd. Collectable is set to introduce their secondary market next month, and the don’t have a 90 day lockup like Rally does. That gives this box far more liquidity than the Rally box. If the market were to soften on Jordan, you’d find it far easier to exit a position with Collectable than Rally. Just something worth bearing in mind.

Disclaimer: I own shares of the Rally Road unopened box and obviously stand to gain if sales of this box were to increase the value of these boxes.

Disclaimer 2: Nothing in this email is intended to serve as financial or legal advice. Do your own research, you lazy rascals.