The market for high end sports cards has been white hot of late, with LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo rookie cards breaking modern day single card sales records in two recent auctions, in addition to the eye-popping final sale prices closing on eBay daily.
On September 20th, a 2013-14 Panini National Treasures Giannis Antetokounmpo "Logoman" Autograph - the only one of it’s kind produced (1/1) - sold for $1,857,300. This price narrowly topped a July 18th auction in which a LeBron James 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Rookie Patch Autograph (1 of only 23 produced) sold for $1,800,000.
While these two cards are not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, considering the Giannis card is the only one of it’s kind produced, while there are 22 others of the same LeBron card in circulation, it is a great example of just how collectible the Panini National Treasures brand has become.
What is National Treasures?
To give some of the history behind National Treasures (NT), in 2006, Panini started producing National Treasures Football, which contained only 1 pack of cards inside of a beautiful wooden box. This pack contained only 7 cards, with 1 base card and 6 autograph or memorabilia cards. The chase card in NT football sets is the 1/1 NFL Shield, which feature the NFL logo taken from that player’s game worn jersey, as well as their autograph.
In 2009-2010, NT basketball arrived on the scene. The chase card in all NT basketball boxes are the 1/1 Logoman cards which are similar to the NFL Shield 1/1, but with the NBA logo. These boxes contained 1 pack of only 8 cards, including 6 auto or memorabilia cards.
If you are lucky enough to unbox a low numbered rookie who turns into a star, you can potentially make a fortune. In addition to the record breaking Giannis card previously mentioned, six figure NT sales have been closing on eBay, with two recent Luka Doncic RPA's that we will discuss later selling for $180,100 and $230,001 on the same day!
Why So Expensive?
With boxes selling for almost $4000 currently, that equates to over $500/card.
In a game of supply and demand, National Treasures has arguably become the most collectable of all of the premium sports card sets. A PSA 10 Patrick Mahomes 2018 National Treasures #161 /99 that sold for $3500 in 2018, sold for $60,100 in February of 2020, a whopping 20x return in just over 18 months.
However, with such a high cost to even get in the NT game, and the full sale price of these boxes outside of most collector’s budgets, it has become the gold standard for products opened on live streams in card breaks. When all the popular break pages go live with an NT break, the number of viewers is typically off the charts with people tuned in to see what’s in the box.
People who invest in a box of National Treasures are drawn in by the astronomical potential return on hitting the right card, as evidenced by the cards I am about to mention below. However, it is also important to note that most of the cards pulled out of an NT box will not recoup the cost of buying in.