Magic the Gathering Cards

Being inspired by another person who is selling 50k baseball cards, I thought I would ask a similar question, although several OoM smaller.

I have 500 or so MtG cards, mostly 2nd run, although a few 1st run as well. Any suggestions on how to best sell these? Where can I look up what these guys might be worth?

Are the 2nd run’s worth anything, or only the 1st run’s?

If by second run, you mean Beta edition, then yes, those can be worth a lot. Depends on the cards you have though.

Your best bet would be to look up the value of the cards as individuals, sell the ones that are worth $5 or more individually, then sell all the lands as a lot and all the rest as a lot.

Here is a price guide for Beta edition, that notes Black Lotuses are going for $3,000.00 a pop. Of course, most of the common cards are still only going for a dime if they aren’t in great condition.

I’m surprised you’ve held onto them for 15-20 years and not thought of their worth.

I played MTG when I was in middle school. I sold my cards to put money toward other hobbies I had in high school, but a few years ago I found about 15 cards I had saved in hard plastic cases. I have a brother in law who I understand holds “dorkapalooza” parties at his house (his word, not mine) so I gave him the cards at a family function. He looked at me like I had two heads and said thanks. He gave them back about an hour later and said they were worth over $1,000 and he couldn’t accept them.

I don’t know what you mean by first and second run, but my leftover stash was mostly revised 3rd edition with a few Beta and Arabian Nights. The cards I thought would be worth the most weren’t, and the dual lands I mostly got rid of were worth $180 each.

Yeah, I got in at the beginning in 93. I had just got to my college apartment after the summer break, when my roommate said: you gotta come with me. Right. Now. And so we hightailed it to comic book store and bought up the rest of the shipment. It wasn’t much. I kinda wish I’d gotten back a day earlier, then we could be talking about hundreds of alpha’s.

If you are looking for maximum profit you can piece it out on ebay.

If you want to make a quick profit sell them to a reputable dealer.

Michelle Cove is one of the most honest people in the industry. She’s the VP of Gaming Etc. She can be contacted at Send her an email explain what you have, include a phone number.

I have two kids that played MtG way back when, moved out and left us with stacks of cards. They both have recently started playing again and I asked them if they wanted their old cards back. Nope. Can only play from recent sets.


I went thru one kid’s sets that were in albums and tried to find out what they were worth. Some were nice looking foil versions, etc.

But the big issue is trying to determine what set they were from. Really small differences between sets, AFAI could tell.

And going thru price guides a card at a time. Egad.

Is there any simple way to sort thru a lot of cards and determine if any is worth enough to bother selling? I mean, on the order of $50 or more. I’m not going to eBay a $12 card and a local dealer would only pay a fraction of its book worth.

(And then there’s Rage (?) and baseball cards …)

ftg, do you remember when they got into Magic? If it was in the 1990s, and the cards are still in mint condition, they’re probably worth something. If it’s post 2000 or the cards are shoddy, they’re probably only worthwhile as a batch. 1990s and decent condition? There’s ways to tell the earlier edition apart more or less easily. If they have an icon in the middle right, that will make identification easy, although unless it’s a sword, crescent moon, or broken column they probably aren’t worth tons. (maybe the snowflake would be worth something).

If you can sort into edition/expansion, it gets a lot easier.

Flagged for a move to The Game Room.

I’m in the same situation. I own cards from back when the game appeared and I assume that some of them at least probably are worth something but I never bothered to look it up. I wasn’t a fan of the game so mostly after some months and a handful of games I left them alone, and just never think about them.

I also own some RPG books that are probably worth some money too (like the ADD “deities and demi-gods” version that included Moorcock and Lovecraft’s mythos), but those aren’t in prisitne condition. My biggest surprise was to discover a couple years ago that the fanzines about the game Runequest that some friends “published” back then were collectors. I discovered it when a neighbour showed to me his collection of rare old RPG stuff. I had no doubt that those fanzines were absurdly rare, but wouldn’t have thought that some people could want to buy them for real money (or even know they used to exist) 20-25 years later.

ftg, also look for cards which have no icon in the center right, but which have black outer borders. Those will be the earlier editions of the core set, and can be worth money simply by virtue of that.

Also, while you’re looking for those scimitars, anvils (yellowjacketcoder forgot to mention that one), broken columns, and crescents, you can probably ignore any such cards with a white outer border. Those would be from Chronicles, a later reprinting, and won’t be worth nearly as much.

Actually, as a pretty good rule of thumb, just look for old cards with a black outer border, single those out for further scrutiny, and ignore all white-bordered cards.

Since this is about a TCG, I’ve moved it to the Game Room, where the players hang out.

(with mod hat off)
Last time I sold Magic cards was a few years back, and I got a general idea of the relative values from Scrye magazine.

In my experience, if you sell of cards onsey-twosey, you’ll end up selling the good stuff right away and sitting on the crap forever until you have to toss it. I divided my cards up into lots and sold them that way: 100 beasts, 100 multicolor lands (the only lands worth anything), 100 artifacts, and so forth.

Thanks for the info about older cards.

But it is still confusing. Lots of white border stuff, of course. But several large sets of black border stuff. But those look newer (with higher quality printing) than the white border ones.

Almost all have got to be pre-2000.

Simple? Unfortunately, not really. Someone with knowledge of the cards will have to look through them at some point. Depending on the number of cards, you could lay out a number of them and take a picture to post online. It’s not perfect (and if you have a lot of cards, it’s not really practical), but we could tell you if anything jumps out at us as being high-value.

Given two copies of the same card (i.e., with the same name on the top), the black-bordered one will always be older than the white-bordered one. The black border means (roughly) “first printing” (I say roughly because it’s a little muddy, with the earliest core sets, what counts as a “different printing”, but the black-borders still all predate all the white-borders). But print quality did not increase monotonically over the course of the game’s history, and some sets were infamous for their poor print quality (especially in the color reproduction). So depending on just which cards you have, the older cards just might have had better print quality than the newer ones.

Alternately, your kids might have had some inkling of their value as collectibles, and deliberately preserved the older cards better, which could make them appear higher-quality. And if you’re looking at cards with different artwork, well, some artists are just better than others, and there’s no clear trend at all with that (though they have tried to move away from the cartoony style seen on some older cards, like those illustrated by Phil Foglio or Richard Thomas).

Not at all true any more. Although if your cards are all 5+ years old, it’s LIKELY true, although for instance ice age counterspell (black bordered) is newer than revised counterspell (white bordered).
The quick answer, I guess, is that there is no quick answer.

Here’s a quick and dirty way: go to the website of a MTG card seller (like starcitygames or coolstuffinc) and look at their buylist. They only list the cards that are worth buying, and you can just scan through and look for things over a few dollars and see if you have them.

Of course, you’ll need to know which sets the cards are from to use those lists. The expansion symbols will tell you, which you can find here:

If it has no expansion symbol at all, it’s from one of 5 sets: Alpha, Beta, Unlimited, Revised, Fourth Edition. (Alpha and Beta have black borders, the others have white)

Fifth Edition doesn’t have an expansion symbol either. To determine whether a card is from Fourth or from Fifth edition (not that there’s usually any reason to do so) you can check the copyright date on the bottom of the card. 1997 is Fifth edition, 1995 is Fourth.

heh… I thought that was the case and had originally written 5th in there, but then looked at that faq page and saw one. figured my memory was playing tricks. That’s one of the ones they made retroactively for gatherer, I guess. Though I’m not sure why the made-up symbols for a,b,u, r and 4th weren’t on there too.

Word of advice though, sell the cards individually. Don’t just sell the block.

If this links correctly, [&rarity=|[R]|"]this]([%22Unlimited%20Edition%22) is a search of all the rares and uncommons in Alpha and Beta sets (known as Unlimited). You can see if you have any of these. They would be the big money cards but any cards of that era could be worth something.

The only way to be sure is to find someone you trust who has played Magic for over a decade to take a look at them.

The reason you get a worse deal selling in bulk to dealers is that they have that knowledge and it takes time to sort through giant piles of Magic cards and find the few that will sell.

The closest you can get to a rule of thumb for things that may be worth money and are worth further investigating:

Copyright date 1993 or 1994, black card border
Gold or Orange colored expansion symbol (those are two different colors)
Land card that produces two colors of mana

There are lots of cards that don’t fall into one of those categories that are worth money, but those places are where you’re most likely to find value.

Note that the vast vast majority of Magic cards are not worth anything. Even the pretty old ones.