Wax packs, also called unopened packs, are collectible cards still in their original packaging. Similarly, trading-card boxes are unopened boxes of cards. Buying wax packs and trading-card boxes involves a little bit of risk and suspense, and a whole lot of self-control—you won’t know what you’ve bought until you open the pack, but opening it decreases the value, so most collectors never do.

There are wax packs for musicians, movies, and sports (baseball, football, basketball, and hockey), among other things, though baseball wax packs are the most collected. Most, but not all, wax packs include a stick of bubble gum. If the wax pack is vintage, the gum is likely rock-hard by now. Vintage wax packs printed before the 1970s are especially sought-after.

While some people call wax pack collectors crazy, the accumulation of unopened packs is simple economics: the packs of cards themselves are often scarcer than the cards inside, so the unopened packs gain value both for collectors of unopened packs and for those hoping to get their hands on a pristine Mickey Mantle or Michael Jordan card. And every time an unopened pack from pre-1970 is opened, that means one fewer wax pack still exists, and the value of those that do goes up.

Although wax-pack collecting is definitely a niche hobby, the Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA) has begun grading unopened packs for collectors, and so has Global Authentication Inc., as counterfeit wax packs have become prevalent.

Not surprisingly, the most collectible wax packs come from the most popular sets ever printed. Number one on that list would be the 1952 Topps baseball set, which includes Mickey Mantle’s rookie card and a bevy of other memorable cards of stars such as Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson, and Yogi Berra. Not far behind the ’52 Topps set is the 1933 Goudey Sport Kings baseball set, which is the only prewar baseball pack that has been authenticated and includes the likes of Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb.

Most unopened packs of interest to collectors date from the 1960s or before, but the most collectible basketball wax pack is the 1986 Fleer set. Although there are ample supplies of this pack, demand always seems to outweigh it, as this is the set that contains the coveted Michael Jordan rookie card.

For football, the most collectible packs are the 1953 Bowman, 1955 All-American Football, and the 1965 Topps. Popular hockey packs include the 1966 Topps set, which carries Bobby Orr’s rookie card, and the 1979 OPC set, which has a rookie card for Wayne Gretzky. Collectible non-sports wax packs include a Topps 1978 Battlestar Galactica set and a 1984 Michael Jackson trading-card box.

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1955 Bowman Baseball Wax Pack 1 Cent Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)1980-81 Topps Basketball Unopened Wax Box - Bbce1975 Topps Mini Baseball Unopened Wax Pack Box W/ (24 Packs) Vintage 1979 Topps Football Card Unopened Wax Box With 36 Packs1977 Topps Star Wars Series 4 Trading Cards Wax Pack Display Box Sheet1956 Topps Football Unopened 5-cent Wax Pack Psa 6 *4877791986/87 Topps Hockey Wax Box (36 Factory Sealed Packs) Patrick Roy Rc?1993 Topps Baseball Series #1 Unopened Wax Box (jeter Gold Rookie??)1976 Topps Basketball Unopened Wax Pack Box Bbce1986 Fleer Basketball Wax Pack Psa 8 Jordan!1987 Garbage Pail Kids 10th Series 48 Unopened Wax Packs Beautiful Box1979 Topps Baseball Grocery Wax Pack Tray - Bbce Authenticated(8) 1977 Topps Star Wars Series 1 Factory Sealed Wax Packs Rare Lot1985 Opc Hockey Wax Pack Psa 8 * Lemieux Rookie ???1963 Topps Baseball Wax Pack 1 CentVintage 1960's Odd Rods Unopened Wax Pack Rare1985 Opc Hockey Wax Pack Psa 7 * Lemieux Rookie ???Vintage 1975 Topps Mini Baseball Card Unopened Wax Box With 4 PacksGraded 1966 Superman Wax Pack 8.5 Gai!! Check Pictures!!!1976 Topps Football Unopened Wax Pack Psa 9 Mint1969 Topps Baseball Wax Pack 5 Cent1980-81 O Pee Chee Opc Hockey Unopened Wax Pack Graded Psa 91976 Topps Mlb Baseball Authentic Wax Pack Graded Gai 8 -- Unopened Memorabilia1982 Topps Football Wax Box With 36 Factory Sealed Packs Real Nice1965 Topps Baseball Wax Pack 1 Cent1985 Garbage Pail Kids Series 1 Unopened Wax Pack1972 Topps Football 1st Series Unopened Wax Pack *4877801992 Bowman Mint Wax Box W/ 36 Sealed Packs Mariano Rivera Rc!1974 Topps Mlb Baseball Authentic Wax Pack Graded Gai 9.5 - Unopened Memorabilia1982 Topps Football Unopened Wax Box - Unsearched - Wow(5) 1977 Topps Star Wars Series 1 Factory Sealed Wax Packs Rare1985 Topps "garbage Pail Kids" Series 1 Wax Pack 1962 Topps Baseball Wax Pack 5 Cent1972 Topps Mlb Baseball Authentic Wax Pack Graded Gai 7 -- Unopened Memorabilia1967 More Of The Monkees Partial Wax Box W/10 Unopened Wax Packs Donruss-n.r.!!!Original Garbage Pail Kids Series 14 (partial) Un-opened Box W/ 31 Wax Packs!!1979 Unopened Topps Baseball Cello Wax Pack! Tight Seal, Possible Ozzie Smith Rc1988-89 Fleer Basketball Wax Box - 36 Packs - Jordan Pippen Miller Stockton1980 Topps Football Wax Box 36 Factory Sealed Packs Real Nice1993 Topps Series 1 Factory Sealed Wax Pack Box (derek Jeter Rookie) (36 Packs)1987 Garbage Pail Kids Series 9 Wax Box With 48 Packs Canada Semi Colin Rare1959 Baseball Wax Pack 1 Cent1985 Fleer Baseball Unopened Wax Box 38 Unopened Packs(5) 1981-82 Topps Nba Basketball Unopened Sealed Wax Packs Lot(3) 1984 Topps Football Unopened Wax Packs - John Elway, Dan Marino Rc's ? 21972 Topps Football Wax PackCharlie's Angels Tv Trading Cards Partial Wax Box 4th Series 26 Packs Topps 1977(2)-1981 Donruss Vintage Baseball Card Wax Box Lot (2) 72 Packs Total1957 Topps Football Wax Pack 1 Cent1977 Topps Charlie's Angels Series 2 Wax Box (23) Packs Unopened Sealed1976 Topps Star Trek Full Unopened Wax Pack Box Nice!!!!Authentic Psa Certified Unopen 1951 Topps Red Back Wax Pack Baseball Cards1975 Topps Baseball Mini Wax Pack Graded Gai 9 Mint -- Authentic Memorabilia1968 Topps Football Wax Pack 5 Cent1962 Topps Football Wax Pack 5 CentGarbage Pail Kids Series #4 Wax Box1988-89 Fleer Basketball Wax Pack Psa 8 Nm-mt Michael Jordan Sticker Back1980-81 Topps Basketball Wax Pack1976 Topps Baseball Wax Pack Unopened1970 Odd Rod All Stars Sticker Unopened Wax Pack Donruss