Baseball cards come in many shapes and sizes—you have singles and lots, and on the sealed wax side you have packs, boxes, and even cases. As a collector you can chase singles, say your favorite player or team, or, you could take a chance on something unopened.
Amazon is a great source for unopened boxes:
There are pros and cons, advantages, and disadvantages to both approaches, and while I’d love to go through them all right now, I want to focus on unopened boxes. I mean, let’s face it, spending hundreds of dollars on a sealed mystery package isn’t for the faint of heart. You could hit the jackpot, but you could also walk away with a very small fraction of return.
In the end, it’s an intimidating endeavor—what do you buy, where do you buy it, and what do you do once it’s in your hands? Do you open it or leave it sealed? So, let’s “unwrap” everything there is to know about unopened boxes, shall we?
In sports cards, an unopened box of cards refers to sealed products from the manufacturer. Boxed products in this case could mean either blaster or hobby boxes, but generally doesn’t include complete sets (which are commonly known as “factory sealed” rather than “unopened). Thus, a manufacturer would be Topps, Panini, and other baseball card brands.
An unopened box of cards contains contents unknown, without much of a guarantee as to what is included inside. A complete set on the other hand is known to contain every card from a set’s main base checklist.
The majority of an unopened card box will be unknown unless opened. That said, many boxes provide some sort of “guarantee” in terms of the “hits” inside. In short, a “hit” is considered an above-average card like an autograph or jersey card. So, an unopened box might boast a statement like “contains 2 autographs on average” and in most cases, will deliver those stated hits. ,
No, most boxes of cards have their own unique configuration which can either depend on the number of packs in the box, the number of cards in each pack, or both.
For the most part, yes, an unopened box of cards would have something like 24 unopened packs of cards, for example. In some cases, though, a “box topper” is included, which could be a loose card, oversized card, small poster, or something else entirely.
Recent box topper examples include oversized 1973-design cards in 2022 Heritage, postcards in 2022 Archives, and 1951 Topps Major League All-Stars verticals in 2021 Topps Series 1.
Unfortunately, because an unopened box’s contents is completely unknown, there is no way of figuring out whether or not keeping it sealed makes the most sense. In most cases, a sealed box will exceed the value of the cards inside, but sometimes will contain a card that will blow the value of the sealed box out of the water. Thus, there is tremendous risk in opening boxes of cards as you just never know.
Cards in unopened boxes can certainly still have imperfections. In terms of condition, it’s not uncommon for some cards to have bent corners or damaged edges. Also, remember that when it comes to the card grading scale, centering is a big factor. So, if you’re planning on opening cards in hopes of grading them, surface and edges are typically in pretty good shape out of the box. That said, if there is something about a card that prevents it from being gem mint, it’s going to most likely be the centering that holds it back (and a chance that the corners aren’t perfect as well).
In terms of where to buy cards or finding collections to buy that include unopened boxes, there really are a ton of options. Refer to those previous links to get started, but to summarize online options, there is eBay, Offer Up, Mercari, Amazon, Fanatics, and online card shops. In-person, there is the local card shop, Target, Walmart, and more. Now, some of these will only have blaster boxes (like retail places) but hobby boxes can be found on eBay and at card shops.