Sure, other modern-era sport cards have fetched higher prices, but they’re in basketball and football. You may have heard of LeBron James rookie cards and Tom Brady rookie cards selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars. They, too, are graded by PSA/DNA, the leading card grading company in the world. Beckett Media also has a highly-regarded grading system, known as BGS. There are a few other grading companies, but none are as highly regarded. When graded and authenticated by PSA or Beckett, cards always fetch a higher price than ungraded "raw" cards.
For those unfamiliar with card grading, a PSA Gem Mint 10 or BGS Pristine 10 is the best you can get, a perfect example of a card in perfect condition. There are very few 10’s of any given card. At the time of the $99,100 sale, there were only 22 PSA 10 Derek Jeter rookie cards in existence. PSA said that they had graded 560 as a 9, or mint, and over 8000 graded as an 8, or near-mint. The SP foil rookie card of Derek Jeter is particularly tough to get in high grade as foil cards tend to show wear and/or damage far more easily than nonfoil cards.
While the differences between PSA 8, PSA 9, and PSA 10 may not be obvious to casual observers, they make a huge difference when it comes to collectible value. This makes sense because, of course, who doesn’t want their collectibles to be in perfect condition? There are also just so few cards worthy of a PSA 10, which is what makes them so rare. Even cards pulled straight from packs and immediately stored in a soft sleeve then hard plastic sleeve (also known as a top-loader) often grade as an 8 and sometimes a 9.
The only things that determine the price of graded cards are the scarcity of a given graded card and how much someone is willing to pay for it. Graded vintage baseball cards have been selling for big numbers for years, even those PSA 7 and below. But with how many cards are being printed today, grading is really the way to distinguish one card from another. Grading has always made cards valuable, and now they’re more valuable than ever.
So, just how high will the prices go on graded rookie cards? Even rookie cards from the “junk wax” era of baseball cards from the late 80’s to early 90’s are worth a few bucks if they’re graded highly. But the 1993 Upper Deck Baseball SP set is far from being a junk wax set. Sets since then have continued to have lower print runs on purpose to make the cards purposely more scarce. With a resurgence in baseball card collecting and sports card collecting in general, we could be seeing rookie cards of other stars start selling for six figures.
Unsurprisingly, there was a bit of a run on this particular card, but there are still fine examples out there for sale if you have the cash. You can find similar Derek Jeter rookie cards, graded and otherwise, for sale on Amazon.
Who do you think will have the next high priced rookie card?