For the past few years, I’ve really been trying to wrap my brain around junk wax production numbers and cardboard scarcity in general. From 1987 to 1992, we have heard numbers anywhere from 1 to 7 million made for nearly every single card. I try to visualize what that would look like if you and I stood in front of the entire production run of a single solitary junk wax card, and how many of these monster boxes it would take to store them:
Y’all, 5,000 cards of a single card is a lot. If you have collected for a while, you know what a 5,000 count box looks like. It is big, it is heavy and it takes FOREVER to go through. At a rate of one card per second, you are looking at 83 minutes to get through one of these. Now, I want you to really try to visualize what it would look like if two of these boxes were filled with the exact same card. Over and over and over again. Some of the rare serial numbered cards in the early 90s were numbered to 10,000. That means TWO FULL monster boxes could have been filled to the brim with one of these “rare” cards, and it would take you nearly 3 hours to shuffle through them all.
Still think they are rare? Compared to regular cards back then…yes. Ridiculously rare, and probably more rare than in comparison with many of today’s cards numbered to 100.
Now, imagine what it would look like if the entire run of a regular junk wax card filled up 5,000 count monster boxes. Let’s visualize it being this card. (I’ve asked a lot of folks what single card is in most everyone’s collection and the ’89 Donruss Ken Griffey Jr. Rated Rookie came up more than any other.)
If we are looking at a “conservative” number of 3 million, it would look like this. EVERY SINGLE 5,000 count monster box shown below would be filled with the exact same card.
REMEMBER! This isn’t just ’89 Donruss. This is ALL ’89 Donruss GRIFFEY ONLY!!!
Do you hate 1989 Donruss yet?
How about now????????????????
Stop whining. These boxes could have been filled with Rance Mulliniks!
Work through the pain … OWN THOSE PAPER CUTS!
At this point you are begging for a Mulliniks to be thrown in just for variety.
This would be SOOOOOOO much easier if Griffey just smiled.
Hmmmmm….why isn’t he smiling, anyway? Maybe because he just went through THREE MILLION FREAKING CARDS!!!!
Wake up, Sparky! Almost done …. (well, maybe not)
THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL CARDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hmmmmm….I wonder what the value would be of an 89 D Griffey if the rest of these mysteriously went up in smoke….
I wonder what 1989 Donruss tastes like.
BLECHHHH….these taste almost as bad as the Topps gum!
ANNNNDDDDDDD….Done. You’ve made it. Congratulations! You have wasted over half of a year thumbing through these cards if you worked on this project solid Monday through Friday, 9-5 minus the lunch hour. (Hey, I’m not a slave driver!)
Lets imagine for a second that these were ohhh, I don’t know … Fleer Ultra cards. They have been roasting in your garage for a decade, and have stuck together to become bricks. You would have enough bricks to make a 2,600+ square foot house out of them. (True story! It takes a 2,400 sqft house 5,226 bricks on average to cover the entire outside).
I know the house above isn’t a brick house, but use your imagination. If you are sitting at home right now, imagine that your home was 2,600 sq ft and imagine the entire outside of the house being built with 1989 Donruss Griffey rated rookie cards. Using junk wax as firewood? Forget that! We should build houses with them instead. Imagine an entire neighborhood of 660 houses built out of 1989 Donruss. (I call dibs on the house at 643 Canseco Avenue!)
You would think that everyone on the planet who collects baseball cards would have at least 10 1989 Donruss Ken Griffey Jr rated rookie cards, right? Wrong. Many collectors do not have a single one of these. In fact, many don’t have a single Griffey rookie at all! It isn’t due to price – some can be had for a buck. It isn’t because of scarcity, either. Heck, there are about 200,000 Griffey rookies in the PSA pop report (Donruss/Fleer/Score/Topps/UD combined).
Using the search term “1989 griffey”, over 5,900 have sold in the past three months, with nearly 1,000 of these search results having multiple Griffey rookies in the same listing. Using eBay data, it is estimated that approximately 100 Ken Griffey Jr. rookies sell every.single.day. And this is nearly 30 years after they were produced! How is that for a high print run? Sometimes I bellyache about not being able to find some cards for my collection that are numbered between 25-100 copies. Psshh. I could barely build a set of coasters out of those, much less a house.
There is no real reason for my musings other than to just try to get a grasp on how many cards have been made in the past vs. now. Here are some takeaways for me:
– A big house can likely be built using the entire production run of a single junk wax card
– Approximately 100 Griffey rookies sell each and every day, nearly 30 years after they were produced. I think it is time to retire the book titled “The hobby is dying.” It is possible that 10 million Griffey rookies exist, and yet they still sell. Not at the same numbers as they once did, but they still sell.
– While it is not rare to find cards serial numbered to 100 or less (card companies make these like crazy nowadays), any given card serial numbered to 100 and less really is quite rare in the grand scheme of things. Imagine how hard they may be to find when they are nearly 30 years old!
While it is awesome to have a 1/1, there is also something special about knowing that you have a card only a small handful of other people do as well. I particularly enjoy having cards numbered to 5 or less, because it is entirely possible to personally know everyone else who owns the other 4 or less of the print run. It is kind of like being in an exclusive club.
This was a fun exercise for me, and I hope you were able to enjoy it as well. I think above everything else, it sure makes me appreciate the cards I have that are serial numbered that much more – whether they are numbered 1/1 or 1/10,000.