I think that it’s safe to say that every collector has that dream of finding a yard sale or a shop off the beaten path that has some Holy Grail in it for cheap. For Magic players, that dream is basically one of finding ABU cards in a bulk bin or an old comic shop with some old sealed box hidden away that they sell for a few hundred bucks. As the game ages, and more people become aware of the value of the cards, these possibilities, which were already slim, become even slimmer. This is my tale of one such instance, albeit very minor.
As I mentioned before, my mother passed away this summer, which has me feeling nostalgic and sad. While chatting with a friend recently, I remembered a time my mom bought be Magic cards at a yard sale in Ohio, and thought it would be a bit cathartic to retell the tale. You see, my mom was an avid and experienced yard/garage saler and flea market shopper. She knew to haggle, do the walk away, and seemed to have a supernatural sense of what sales would be worth stopping the car for. When I was a kid, we spent lots of our summer mornings frequenting these sorts of sales and I was often able to pick up Star Wars action figures (the ’77-’84 ones because I’m old) and other related gems. She always found some jeans or bric-a-brac for the house, and I got the feeling that for her it was really about the hunt, as well as connecting with the other people for that momentary glimpse into their lives.
One particular week last summer, I had several great mtg scores. It started with an old acquaintance asking me if I wanted to buy his old cards. He dropped them off one night when I wasn’t around, for me to look over and make an offer. It had a bunch of Kamigawa stuff that I didn’t know much about, but we agreed on a number and I pulled a few things for EDH and set the rest aside for buylisting. Then one day I was out at the beach with my kids and as we were leaving we passed a yard sale that had fat packs to catch my eye. They included two or more of each of the Battle Lands (Celestial Colonnade, etc), a bunch of full art Zendikar basics, and lots of smaller stuff.
That same week, to complete the “things happen in threes” sort of confirmation bias, while Skyping my mom and telling her about my scores, she tells me that she bought me a box of Magic cards at a garage sale recently. She heads off camera for a few moments and returns with a long box, 800 or 1000 count. At this point I’m really excited! She asks me if I want to see them or if I just want to look at them when I visit next. Of course I want to see them, and she does the most my Mom thing ever; she pulls a few cards out and only shows me the back! I laugh and am like “yep those are Magic cards, Mom”. She flashes a few at me and I see a white border Lightning Bolt and some other things that look like fun. We keep chatting and she tells me the story of buying them.
I saw the box and recognized them as Magic cards, so I ask about the price. They were marked at $10 but hadn’t sold yet so they offered them to me for $6. Well, I know that I can do better than that and eventually he takes $4 for them.
Fast forward some period of time until my next visit where I excitedly tear into the box looking for treasures. What I found did not disappoint. No, I didn’t pull a Black Lotus. Not even a Revised dual land. What I did get was a stack of Revised and Unlimited playable cards though, well worth their $4 price tag. I hugged and thanked my Mom and gave her the asking price of $10 for them, for her effort.
Cracked the box and immediately dug right in. The ephemera was so great to be included, particularly the buttons. I’d never wear the Go ahead tap my manna one but it cracks me up, and the other button is presumably from the shop where the previous owner bought this stuff. I remember playing D&D in that shop’s game room when I was in High School and had forgotten it even existed. As icing on the cake, I already owned the two player box set but it didn’t have the velvet bag and counters, and only had a single Revised Starter box, so this score “completed” that set for me.
The cards that were in the box were exactly what I’d reasonably hoped to find. Sure, pulling some Alpha rare or a dual land would have been absolutely bonkers, but this exceeded my actual expectations. Getting a Sol Ring, some Angels, Bolts, Unlimited Commons, Strip Mine… So many solid playables, and the stack on the left are all basics, mostly Revised, and the other stack is less playable stuff and newer stuff that went into my hopeful “PreModern/Middle School” box. I say hopeful because I’ve yet to build a deck for them, but have kept a lot of old frame cards with that in mind for the future, but that’s going way off topic.
Have any of you folks had experiences with finding random mtg treasures out in the wild anywhere? If so, I’d love to hear about them.
Finally, thank you Mom, for the cards, the memories, and everything else. <3