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Wrestling trading cards have been around since the late 1800s, and one set in particular stands out as the landmark set for collectors: 1982 Wrestling All-Stars.
The 1982 Wrestling All Stars set was available only by mail through an ad in The Wrestling News that ran during the first six months of 1982. The cost for a 36-card Series A set was a mere $5. The cards were sent to customers in a cellophane wrapping. Each card features a colorful border around a color photo of the wrestler. Border colors include yellow, red, blue and purple, among others.
Today the 1982 Wrestling All Stars set is one of the most sought after sets in the hobby. Super collector David Peck has the top collection in the world, with an astounding 16 complete 1982 Series A sets, including one set with all cards graded mint or higher by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA); the mint set took him more than seven years to complete. Peck provided the pictures that are included with this column.
So what are the top cards in this historic set? This list is comprised of the five cards that are the most commonly graded by PSA and Beckett Grading Services (BGS), the two premier companies for grading and authentication. Population reports — the number of cards graded and how many of each card have received each grade — are available online at psacard.com and beckett.com, respectively.
PSA and Beckett have slightly different grading scales: PSA’s top grade is a “Gem Mint 10,” the equivalent of which is a BGS “Gem Mint 9.5.” BGS also offers a very rare “Pristine 10” grade, but no 1982 Wrestling All Stars have ever received that grade.
Grades are based on factors such as centering, corners, surface, and edges. With the 1982 Wrestling All-Stars set in particular, certain cards are more likely than others to receive more favorable grades. For example, Peck noted that the yellow cards in particular — which includes Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant — are notorious for centering issues, which can affect the value of a card and the grade it is given.
Another major factor for these cards is the location of the cards on an original uncut printing sheet and where the cards were placed in the set when they were mailed to collectors. Cards that were centered on an uncut sheet and in the middle of a set had more protection, so are more likely to receive better grades.
“Andre was on top of the back, so he is the most susceptible to corner wear,” Peck said.
On to the list …
- Hulk Hogan #2. For collectors of vintage wrestling cards, this is their holy grail, akin to a 1952 Mickey Mantle in baseball or a 1965 Joe Namath rookie card in football. To date, 266 copies of the Hogan card have been graded by PSA and BGS combined, and only 40 (15 percent of the total) have received a grade of “mint” or higher. PSA has never awarded one of these cards a “Gem Mint 10” and BGS has only graded 10 copies “Gem Mint 9.5.” On June 16, a PSA “Mint 9” copy of this card sold for $5,900.
- Ric Flair #27. Collectors looking for a mint or better copy of Flair’s card have much better odds of finding one than a collector looking for Hogan’s card. Of the 209 total submissions to PSA and BGS, 79 have received a grade of “Mint” or better, or nearly 38 percent of the total. Six copies of the card have received a “Gem Mint 10” from PSA, while Beckett has awarded a Gem Mint 9.5 to 13 copies. The reason for the disparity in grades between Hogan and Flair may have to do with the previously mentioned original placements on uncut sheets and in sets. Hogan’s card was located in the top center on an uncut sheet, making it more susceptible to dings, dents and creases. The Flair card was located in the center left spot, which shielded it from some damage. A PSA “Gem Mint 10” of Flair sold for $2,550 in March, and a PSA “Mint 9” sold for $409.26 in May.
- Andre the Giant #1. To date, BGS and PSA have graded a total of 208 copies of the Andre card, with only 16 (or 8 percent of the total) receiving a grade of “mint” or higher. PSA has never graded a “Gem Mint 10” copy of this card, and BGS has graded only three “Gem Mint 9.5” copies. Of the 36 cards in the set, Andre was among the most susceptible to damage because it was located in the upper right corner of the uncut sheet and on top of the sets that were mailed out. A “BGS Mint 9” sold for approximately $800 in May.
- Dusty Rhodes #6. BGS and PSA have graded a combined 139 copies of Dusty’s card, and 17 (12 percent of the total) have been given a grade of “mint” or better. There are just two “Gem Mint” graded copies in existence:a 9.5 from BGS and a 10 from PSA. Dusty’s card was located in the upper left hand corner of the uncut sheet so, just like the Andre, it was especially susceptible to damage. No “mint” or higher copies have sold in the last 90 days, but a BGS “Near Mint-Mint 8” sold for $32 in April.
- Junkyard Dog #5. It is somewhat surprising that JYD rounds out the top five, ahead of other top stars like Bruiser Brody, Jerry Lawler and Terry Funk. There have been 126 copies graded by BGS and PSA, with 20 (16 percent) graded “mint” or higher. BGS has awarded two “Gem Mint 9.5” grades and PSA has given out just one “Gem Mint 10.” JYD was inserted in the same upper middle spot as Hogan on one of the other sheets.
David Peck’s collection of Wrestling All Stars — which includes 1982 Series A and B and a 1983 series — must be seen to be believed. His in-depth site, 1982wrestlingallstars.com, has links to his cards, facts about the sets, articles about his collection and more. You can also follow him on Twitter @dpeck100.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PRIOR COLUMN: COLLECTIBLES COLUMN 5 COUNT: Most Valuable Pop Vinyl Wrestling Figures
Five Count is a new format for the Pro Wrestling Torch’s long-running collectibles column, which began in 2011. Each week will feature a new top five list: items of a particular wrestler, hot cards or figures, collectibles news items and more. If you have a topic you’d like to see covered in the new Collectibles Column 5 Count, contact Michael Moore at email@example.com or @MMooreWriter on Twitter.