The Hardest John Elway Football Cards to Collect: 1984-1992
Collecting John Elway football cards has been a hobby of mine for some time. I currently own the largest, PSA-graded collection of John Elway football cards in the world as far as I know and as far as PSA is concerned. I've provided a link to that set below.
I used to collect many different types of football cards, but felt that my collecting was extremely unfocused. Because I've been a Broncos fan all my life and their winning the Super Bowl was this seminal event in my sports life, I decided to concentrate on Elway football cards.
I hope this article and future articles detailing other difficult football cards, will be of interest to Elway and Broncos fans as well as other collectors. And by "hardest", I mean collecting particular football cards in the highest possible grade. Some cards can be had easily enough, but getting them graded and achieving that perfect grade can be near impossible.
You'll notice that Elway's football rookie card is not listed here. It's not that hard to find. Ungraded, the card sells for under $50, if not less. A PSA 9 is around $100. And I've seen a PSA 10 go for around $900, well down from its price of a few years ago above $2000.
And just a quick caveat to all this, I can only talk about the difficulty of collecting football cards I actually own. In reality, the hardest cards to collect are ones that I don't already have.
1985 Topps John Elway #238
Until recently, there were no PSA 10 versions of this card in existence, but a few have popped up on Ebay recently and now there are 5 PSA 10's in existence, making this card infinitely harder than collection Elway's rookie card of which there are 69 PSA 10's. The 1985 Topps set is one of the more popular football sets because of the black borders that make collecting PSA 10 versions very, very difficult.
The PSA 9 version of the Elway card shown here can be had on Ebay for under $100 in most cases. The PSA 10 version goes for around $500-$1000, assuming one can find one.
1987 Ace Fact Pack John Elway
There is one version graded PSA 10.
I wish that the card I owned was a PSA 10, but I got kind of burned on it. These cards can sell raw for over $100 because they're so rare. I bought mine for $125 raw from somebody who said it was in pristine condition. Indeed, when it arrived, it certainly looked that way, but upon further examination, I found that it had ballpoint indentations on it from somebody who obviously was writing something with the card underneath. Probably an accident, I'm sure, but a microscopic example of the dangers of buying raw cards. Now, I usually only buy graded cards unless the card is very, very rare.
1988 Starline Prototype John Elway
The highest grade in this card is PSA 8, so it tells you something about how hard it is to collect and to get raw in a good grade.
Supposedly, there were only 300 of the Starline sets produced (though I've seen mention that it was only 75 of each card), which includes four cards: Elway, Phil Simms, Bernie Kosar, and Joe Montana. The cards never made it to market for sale. I've seen a number of these on Ebay, but they can be fairly expensive. A raw card of Elway is under $50.
1990 British Petroleum John Elway #1
There are only two of these cards that have been graded PSA 8. There are none higher. There are supposedly two versions of the card - the same front, but different backs. This is from a set of 36.
The problem with this card is the perforated edges, which make collecting a pristine version very difficult because somebody along the line has to separate the cards, which means tearing and fingerprints; etc. I tried very hard for awhile the get a better grade than an 8, but gave up. Not a super hard card to find, but very hard in a high grade.
1992 King B Discs John Elway #11
This is the highest graded version of this card in existence at PSA 9.
I'm not sure of the origin of the cards - whether "King B" is a brand name or what. The card is exceedingly rare either raw or graded. Many other King B discs are out there, particularly for baseball, but finding the Elway disc is all but impossible.
1992 Newsport John Elway
Tells you something about how hard this card is to find given that the highest graded version is PSA 7. Furthermore, the card, when graded, comes in the largest holder that PSA offers.
The card is part of a 32-card set issued in Newsport, a French magazine. Due to its large size, a very difficult card to get graded high. However, it can be found raw on Ebay for under $20.
- PSA Card Set Registry - Mr. Cranky's Master Elway Set
Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) is the world's largest third-party sportscard authentication service -- the experts in grading cards, sports autographs and memorabilia.
- 1993-4: Hardest John Elway Cards to Collect
Four of the hardest John Elway cards to find and grade are analyzed in this article.
- The Hardest John Elway Football Cards to Collect: 1995
An analysis of five of the harder John Elway cards to find in PSA 10 from 1995.