The Junk Wax Era

The Junk Wax Era

The junk wax era, as it's now known, is usually defined as the period from 1987 - 1994 but could stretch earlier. The era of junk wax was ushered in by a huge boom in collecting in the late 80s and early 90s.

Interest in sports generally was growing with Bird and Magic lighting up the NBA, Barry Bonds, and Ken Griffey Jnr in the MLB and Bo Jackson and Troy Aikman in the NFL. By the time Jordan, and later Shaq, came along sports cards were on fire and a genuine global phenomenon.

Card companies like Topps and Upper Deck couldn’t print enough to keep up with demand from collectors so they printed more.

And more.


Everyone wanted a Shaq rookie card in 93' and thanks to junk wax pretty much everyone had one.

I can remember cards in every corner store, newsagent, supermarket as well as several dedicated card stores in my small hometown in Australia. We didn't know at the time that we were in the middle of what was destined to be 'junk wax'.

As we covered in a blog from 2017;

Australian kids became NBA card collectors in the 90s because the popularity of Jordan, Shaq, Barkley, and others took the NBA worldwide.

I remember filling folders with sets of cards from Upper Deck, Fleer, Skybox, Topps and others - I still have my collection of Larry 'Grandmama' Johnson cards but my Spreewell cards lost their shine since he choked everyone.

Due to the volume printed many of the cards from this era are not worth much but key rookie cards and inserts can fetch very good money especially when in good condition and graded.

Are we in a new junk wax era now? Let us know in the comments.

Ready to learn more? Read about live breaks here

What's an eBay 1/1? Find out here.

Want to know some of the best players' top cards? Read Zion, Luka, Jordan and Kobe Top 5s.

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