I dumped a lot of money during the 90's on sports cards... believe it or not... much more than I spend these days. And it no doubt peaked during the mid 90's... when I was chasing the gold refractors out of 1995-96 Finest Hockey.
I'm not 100% sure what I paid for wax boxes, but I'm sure it was close to $100... if not more. And guess how frequently these bad boys were pulled? One gold refractor for every 288 packs. In other words... one gold refractor per 12 box case.
Eventually... I saw the light... stopped busting boxes... and started buying singles. At one time, I had over 75% of the set. I owned a Wayne Gretzky, Patrick Roy, Ray Bourque, Mario Lemieux, Teemu Selanne, Eric Lindros, Pavel Bure, and Brett Hull. In fact... the only big names that I was missing were Martin Brodeur, Steve Yzerman, and the infamous Jaromir Jagr.
If you've never heard the story behind Patrick Englert and his Jagr gold refractors, I encourage you to read this article: Too much of a good thing...
Essentially... Topps originally announced that only 150 of each gold refractor was produced. But somehow Mr. Englert obtained 159 of the Jagr card. Hmmm... it doesn't take a math magician to figure out somethings wrong with that picture. Especially when Mr. Englert had spent over $50,000 on these Jagr gold refractors. Oh... don't feel bad for him... the guy ended up winning a lawsuit against Topps that paid him $177,000. Talk about making a killer investment.
Okay... back to me and my investment. Ummm... let's just say that I didn't fair so well. I sold most of my gold refractors several years later when interest in these cards had dropped and values tumbled. I have no idea what I received, but I'm sure it was less than 25% of what I spent.
Today... I have only three different cards left from that set:
1995-96 Finest Gold Refractor #41 Brian Leetch
1995-96 Finest Gold Refractor #123 Keith Tkachuk
1995-96 Finest Gold Refractor #140 Alexander Mogilny
Up until yesterday... these were sitting in my tradelist... but I was bored last night and decided to sift through my tradebait. An hour or so later... I had pulled out these and probably 25 other inserts that I've decided to keep for sentimental reasons.
These cards are a healthy reminder to myself that I should NEVER... and I mean NEVER collect sports cards as an investment. Some people are smart and/or lucky enough to make a living off of this hobby... but I'm not one of them.
Today... I look at collecting sports card the same way I look at gambling. It's a form of entertainment. I only spend what I can afford to lose.
So... today's your opportunity to brag about your best and worst card investment:
What's the best card investment you've ever made?
What's your worst?
I'll keep my best investment story for another day... but my worst is probably these gold refractors. Sure I invested a lot of money on Ryan Leaf and Michael Olowokandi, but nothing near the amount I dropped on 1995-96 Finest Hockey.
By the way... the photo at the top was ripped from Ebay... where you can purchase boxes of this stuff for around $80 shipped... so assuming people are paying close to this... I guess unopened wax of this product has "sort of" held its value.
Happy Sunday everyone! Tomorrow... I'm headed back into the classroom... so my streak of seven posts in seven straight days will probably be coming to an end sooner than later. Thanks for reading my blog. Sayonara.
Mr. Engert read this blog post and was kind enough to email me some information I didn't have access to before:
The lawsuit against Topps cost him around $135,000 in lawyer fees and when you throw in the $10,000 spent on the Jagr refractors... it wasn't as much of killer investment as originally thought. But money isn't the only thing that came out of this situation.
Mr. Engert still owns 150 copies of the Jagr and has one helluva story for his grandchildren.