1986 Fleer Basketball Box and Case, Sealed and Unopened


Imagine finding a 1986 Fleer basketball box unopened and sealed, sitting on a shelf in your storage room. If you know anything about sports cards, your heart might flutter just a little bit when you realize 1986 was the year of the Michael Jordan rookie card and the rookie year of many other future Hall of Famers.

That’s exactly what happened to Jeremy Fritsch, owner of Larry Fritsch Cards. Jeremy’s father, Larry Fritsch, opened the card store in 1970, and over the years, they realized they still had not just one box, but an entire sealed case on the shelf. They weren’t exactly sure how they ended up with an extra sealed case, but over the years, as Michael Jordan became the greatest basketball player of all-time, the incredible value of the sealed case started to sink in.

Record Breaking Sale

Back in the 80s, packs of 1986 Fleer basketball cards were selling for fifty cents. Entire cases were sold to card shops and retail stores for around $100. But something that nobody could predict was the group of great players included in one single year. Not only Michael Jordan, but also rookie years for Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Clyde Drexler, Hakeen Olajuwon, and Dominique Wilkins make the Fleer set loaded with stars.

Over the years, as prices climbed for sports cards, there were discussions about selling the case, but the Fritsch’s wisely held out. It was only recently, when the pandemic helped send sports card values through the roof, and ‘The Last Dance’ propelled Michael Jordan rookie cards to sky-high valuations, that the Fritsch’s decided to pull the trigger and sell the case at auction.

The auction was a huge success, the sealed case of 1986 Fleer basketball cards owned by Jeremy Fritsch sold for $1.8 million. The sale equates to around $149,000 per box, or $4,100 per pack.

1986 Fleer Basketball Box

There’s one thing to make clear; there are 1986 Fleer basketball sealed boxes, and there are 1986 Fleer basketball sealed cases. A case holds 12 boxes. There are many sales of sealed boxes; there hasn’t been a sealed case sale in more than 20 years.

Rally, the fractional share investment platform, offered a sealed wax box of 1986 Fleer Basketball cards recently, and the offering was 100% funded incredibly quickly. The value for the sealed box sits at $160,000 for now. Explore the Rally app for more information on the sealed box, and find out when it will open for trading if you would like to own a few shares.

Fleer basketball wax box
The 1986 Fleer basketball sealed wax box. Image from the Rally app.

There’s a huge demand for the 86′ Fleer sealed boxes, with recent sales well over $100,000. Each box contains 36 packs, and each pack includes 12 cards. With 132 cards in the complete set, the average number of Michael Jordan rookie cards inside would be roughly 3 per box.

1986 fleer basketball box
1986 Fleer basketball sealed box recent sale on eBay.

1986 Fleer Basketball Case

An entire case of 1986 Fleer Basketball cards includes 12 boxes, so the math works out to potentially 40 Michael Jordan rookie cards inside the sealed case.

What’s amazing about the Fritsch Family’s case is the stunning condition, with good corners and the original 35-year-old tape. Two labels on the outside of the box explain how it ended up at the Fritsch Card shop. The distributor listed as Holiday Wholesale, Inc. in Wisconsin Dells, WI sold the case to Fritsch Sports Cards, just a few miles down the road in Stevens Point, WI.

Michael Jordan 1986 Fleer Rookie Card

The 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie card has been the poster child of the last few years’ resurgence of sports cards. Prices have skyrocketed from around $50,000 to over $200,000 in 2020 for PSA 10 rated cards.

1986 fleer michael jordan
A recent sale for the 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie on eBay lists a selling price of $250,000.

A great example of how red-hot the ’86 Fleer Jordan rookie is right now you can look at a past offering on the Rally platform. Last spring, Rally offered a 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie, PSA 10, with an opening valuation of about $40,000. Just a few months later, in June, it was purchased by a private investor for $72,000. That’s an almost 80% gain in just a few months.

Since June, it’s possible the card has at least doubled from that price. The biggest gamble in sports cards lately, or almost any asset class for that matter, is deciding to sell. Then you have to deal with the horror of watching the value for what you just sold soar into the stratosphere without you.

The 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie card is by far the most iconic basketball card of all time. Over the last year, prices have skyrocketed. What was once a $20,000 card not long ago is now selling for well over $100,000.

Fleer

The Fleer Corporation was founded in 1885 by Frank H. Fleer. It began as a bubble gum manufacture, the first of it’s kind, and eventually moved into sports cards beginning in 1923. At first, Fleer only printed baseball cards, then later added football cards in 1960.

Fleer
The Fleer Corporation began as a bubble gum manufacture in 1885

Finally, in 1986, the company decided to produce basketball cards, and they picked the right time to enter into the basketball world. Many card collectors regard the 1986 Fleer basketball set as one of the most important of all time, comparable to the 1952 Topps baseball set.

The Fleer company was sold to Marvel Entertainment Group in 1992 for over $500 million, just as the card collecting craze of the early 90s was in full swing. The 1994 Major League Baseball strike and lockouts in the NBA hurt the card collecting industry, along with various other factors, and sales declined. Marvel entered bankruptcy in 1996.

The Big Gamble

It’s a huge gamble to actually sell something these days, only to watch prices continue to rise after you cash out. One of the reasons I love the idea of owning sealed, unopened cases and boxes of sports cards is the “big gamble.”

The big gamble is the thought of unsealing and opening the box to identify it’s contents. The 1986 Fleer basketball sealed unopened case contains 12 boxes. Inside each box is 36 packs with 12 cards each. You might end up with more than 40 Michael Jordan rookie cards, or you could end up with much less. Maybe most importantly, what is the condition of each? Do you even have one single PSA 10? Or a dozen?

As far as I know, the ’86 Fleer case will remain sealed with its new owner, who remains unidentified. Will the new owner ever consider taking the gamble and revealing what they actually own? I would say there’s much value in the case remaining sealed, so we can only imagine the contents. Hopefully, the mysterious case of ’86 Fleer can live on.


Check out this guy, he’s gambling with a single pack of 1986 Fleer baseketball cards, hoping for the Michael Jordan. The suspense is killing me, of course I had to watch the entire video to the end. Find out for yourself if his gamble paid off.