In the world of card collecting, there are legends in every field. With some of these cards, their rarity comes from their age. Some of the cards on our list are over 100 years old — which is a long time for a card stock trading card to survive. Others are tournament winnings, which means that only a minimal number were released. These cards, every single one on this list, is a Holy Grail.
We usually don’t make such grandiose claims, as a Grail is a very personal thing to collectors. But these cards are so rare, and so valued, they are worth more than a car, and in many cases, more than a house. When you talk in that sort of value — the term Holy Grail is well placed.
Alpha Black Lotus – Magic: The Gathering
Finding one of these cards is almost like catching lightning in a bottle. Black Lotus is the most infamous of Magic: The Gathering Cards. It’s incredibly rare, and even more valuable. Getting your hands on one isn’t going to be easy — or cheap. If you happen to be looking for a beta version of the card, you could pay as much as $10,000 for a card with a high grade. But if you’re looking for the holy grail of Magic: The Gathering cards, the Alpha Black Lotus? We saw it go for $87,000 in July of 2018.
Michael Jordan – Basketball – 1986-1987 Fleer Rookie Card
The average Michael Jordan Fleer Rookie Card isn’t a gold mine. So don’t get your hopes too high, but if you have one in perfect condition, you could be looking at a massive pile of cash. If you can bring yourself to part with it. First off, you need to get it graded. Without a grade, people aren’t willing to pay as much — but with a perfect 10 grade from one of the respected companies like PGA? Well, at the time of writing this article, it has been selling for $32,000. But it’s record was from back in 2011. A perfect copy sold for an astounding $100,000. Maybe the card will go back up to its record-holding value, for now, it’s still worth enough to pick up a really nice new car.
Hank Aaron – Baseball – 1954 Topps Rookie Card
The first of many Baseball cards on our list. There are soooo many valuable Baseball cards — probably because they’ve been around since the early 1900s. Hank Aaron is one of the baseball greats, he held the record for career home runs for 33 years. That’s an outstanding run (pun intended). His 1954 baseball card is also one for the record books. Finding one that isn’t a reprint is rare. Finding one in good condition is even more extraordinary. This card is 60 years old, after all. But in 2016, a near-perfect condition Hank Aaron card surfaced. It sold for a staggering $192,547 at auction, making it one of the most valuable baseball cards ever — but nowhere near the top spot.
Pokémon Illustrator – Pokémon
Early on in the Pokémon Trading Card Game, there were illustration competitions. In these contests, people would submit their own card art for consideration. Those who were chosen received the Pokémon Illustrator card as a prize. It declared that the owner of the card was an official Pokémon Card Illustrator. This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about this elusive card — it tops the most valuable Pokémon Cards of all time list and is the only Pokémon Card that made the list. Don’t expect to find one just anywhere. Only about 40 are known to exist from the various contests, and their value keeps going up. In October of 2019, one sold for a staggering $195,000, beating the previous record of $54,000 by a Wailord sized sum. We can only imagine what the next one will sell for.
Joe Doyle – Baseball – 1909-1911 ATC T206 White Border
While “Slow Joe” isn’t one of the most popular players out there, or the most well known, his card is to collectors. See, some of Joe Doyle’s cards had a print error. The white border around the outside was slightly shifted and made one side very obviously bigger than the other. There are only 9 known to exist and none above a grade of 6. The thing is, none of the higher grades have sold — or at least that we know of. So we really don’t know the true worth of a high-quality card. There also aren’t any perfect condition cards. If you want one of these misprint cards, however, we hope you have deep pockets. A PSA 3 graded card sold for $414,750 in 2011. PSA suggests that one sold for as much as $550,000, but we can’t find a record of that sale.
Roberto Clemente – Baseball – Topps 1955
In Baseball, Roberto Clemente is a legend. He was not only the first Caribbean player to be inducted into the hall of fame, but also the first Latin American. The man had a batting average of .300 for 13 seasons, which is unbelievable. He made over 3000 hits in his career and is considered one of the greats. He was also incredibly kind and donated his offseason time to charity. We’re stoked his card made the list. A Roberto Clemente rookie card may not be the rarest card out there — but it’s highly sought after. Finding one in near-mint condition is another story. In 2016 a near-perfect (PSA 9) Roberto Clemente rookie card sold for a grand slam worthy $475,000.
Babe Ruth – Baseball – 1914 Baltimore News SGC
If you don’t know who Babe Ruth is, you’ve probably been living under a rock. He is, perhaps, the most universally recognized figure in Baseball. Babe Ruth is a legend in American sports and considered by many to be the best Baseball player of all time. Babe Ruth is one of the first 5 people inducted to the baseball hall of fame. Which marks him as the best of the best. While he was known to be a bit of a drunk and a womanizer — it didn’t stop him from scoring record after record, one of which still stands today. Now anything he touched is worth its weight in gold. Even some things he didn’t touch — like his rookie cards.
There are a couple Babe Ruth cards that are worth a lot of money, but chief among them is the Baltimore News SGC 1914 Rookie Card. Being over 100 years old, we’re likely to strike out on seeing one in perfect condition. Still, we know the card exists, and even with a low grade, it’s worth a fortune. A Baltimore News SGC 1914 Babe Ruth Rookie Card with a 2 grade sold in private for $575,000, despite its condition. If a copy appeared at a grade of 5 or higher? We assume it would break records.
Tournament Black Luster Soldier – Yu-Gi-Oh!
Most Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards come in packs, like Pokémon Cards, or Magic: The Gathering Cards. But some rare cards are tournament only prizes. This is the case with the Tournament Black Luster Soldier. The first-ever Yu-Gi-Oh! tournament in Japan gave just one of these cards to the winner. The card is stainless steel instead of cardstock. Which makes it the only non-paper card to make our most valuable trading cards list. But it’s the correct size, and still considered a trading card by fans — so it makes the cut. The winner eventually put it up for sale at $10 million, but it only sold for about $2,000,000 when it finally moved. Which, while impressive, and downright unbelievable, doesn’t manage to top our list.
Mickey Mantle – Baseball – Topps #311
This is many collectors all-time Holy Grail — and the vast majority will never get close. Let’s face it. This baseball card is the thing of legends. Like the sort of stuff that is whispered around campfires, and if you have one — and it’s not locked in a vault somewhere, you never mention having it.
Why is that? Well, Mickey Mantle is one of the best switch hitters ever to play. Hands down. He still holds the record for most home runs at the World Series (He appeared in 12) to this day. So, when we say this man was a legend. We mean it. You can probably see why his rookie card is worth a fortune. Just how much? A near perfect condition card (PSA 9) sold for a jaw-dropping $2,880,000 in 2018. It didn’t quite break the world record though — despite his own prowess. There is one card that can beat it out in value.
Honus Wagner – Baseball 1909-1911 T206 White Border
Honus Wagner is one of the all-time greats. He is uttered in the same breath as Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth, which tells you this guy had what it takes. Honus has records that still stand unbroken today, and there is no telling when someone will finally manage to. This is the greatest shortstop ever. EVER. And we won’t back down from that statement. But his card holds records he probably never expected. The most valuable baseball card in the world — and the most valuable trading card in the world.
These are titles we don’t give lightly. After all, there are two million dollar cards on this list already. But this Holy Grail tops them all. See, a few of the Honus Wagner cards have a misprint. Their borders are wonky. This creates a sloped appearance, and more importantly, it’s cut just a bit bigger than standard cards. The larger size earned it the nickname “Jumbo Wagner.” The miss cut Wagner is incredibly rare. The card is rarely discovered in a condition close to good.
But in 2016, a PSA 5 appeared at auction. Collectors went nuts. And the sale broke the card’s previous record of $2.8 million. The PSA 5 is the best condition, Jumbo Wagner. It sold for a price to match that quality. A collector paid $3,120,000 for the honor of owning it.
Because this card is so rare and so valuable, there have been many forgeries over the years. But even with the risk, if the card is authentic, it will sell for an incredible price.
Gemr is the #1 free app and website for collectors. It’s the best place on the internet to meet fellow fans, show off your collection, talk all things geeky, and buy and sell cool stuff with people who love the same things you do. If you’re looking for the only place on your phone (or the internet) built just for collectors — this is it!