If you are a basketball or football collector that read our article about buyback cards, you probably realized just how similar it sounded to the Panini White Box program.
Still, many collectors don’t understand what White Box cards are, especially when “White Box 1/1s” pop up on their eBay feed.
In today’s article, we’ll look at While Box cards to explain what they are, how you get them, and take a look at how they fare as an investment.
Then, most importantly, we’ll share the sure-fire secret of making profit with White Boxes.
White Box cards are cards that Panini ships in a white box (yes, very on the nose). Some of these cards are cards bought back from the secondary market and signed, while others are cards that never released for one reason or another – perhaps they weren’t redeemed.
Either way, Panini gathers up cards that will work as nice redemptions and has the athlete sign the cards and hand-number the cards (usually 1/1s). They then put them in a mag with a Panini White Box seal. Those cards are dropped off in a white box and shipped out to collectors.
Each white box has one card and a huge mystery element.
White Box is a way for Panini to clear out outstanding redemption cards, similar to the more recent NFL Mosaic Sparkle Redemption Packs.
As explained by the company, Panini White Box is a replacement program for their redemptions that have gone unfulfilled after a certain number of days.
While there is no set number of days past due that constitutes sending a White Box, many collectors on Facebook and Reddit say the first offer of a White Box can come at six months.
Again, this is an internal rule at Panini that is not collector-facing, but the consensus is that to qualify for a white box, the redemption needs to be worth $100 or more in addition to being outstanding for six months.
It’s Panini’s way of appeasing collectors who don’t get their redemption for one reason or another. But despite the solution, opening a White Box isn’t always a joyous experience.
There’s a lot to like about White Box cards, but also a lot of problems that many collectors identify with them.
Here’s a look at the common pros and cons of White Box cards.
Since White Box cards are on-card, one-of-one autographs, there’s obviously some massive hit potential.
Last year, a friend of mine opened four white boxes and pulled both a Jokic and Embiid rookie autograph – the two players who finished one-two in MVP voting. Pulling rookie autographs of those players at such perfect timing results in a big payday.
Also, note that those cards were pulled 5 and 6 years after the player’s true rookie season. That’s another big appeal of White Box cards – there’s no set “year” the cards within have to come from. It’s more than possible to open a White Box next week and pull a Jayson Tatum auto from 2017.
White Box cards are also very, very fun. Opening a white box is just as fun as opening any hobby box because you can count on a low-numbered on-card auto every time.
While some stories of White Box cards end with collectors getting lucky, many don’t go that way. Oftentimes, collectors open a White Box to be very disappointed with what’s inside.
Imagine this: you pass on an outstanding LaMelo Ball rookie auto redemption only to get a white box that contains… a third-year Jaren Jackson Jr. autograph. Great player? Yes. But would you rather have a Melo rookie? Absolutely.
Unfortunately, those disappointments are often the case with White Box cards. You could pull a $50 card or a $5,000 card. But, to be fair, that is how the hobby works, right?
The other clear drawback of the White Box 1/1’s is that they are not nearly as valuable as true 1/1s. Most collectors view them as a nice card, but somewhat gimmicky as a 1/1. Having a player hand-sign a card with a print run of 1,000+ is something fans can do at a ballgame.
On the bright side, this keeps the value of true 1/1s right where is should be.
The price of White Box Panini cards can fall all over the map.
At the time of writing this article, I searched “Panini White Box” on eBay and filtered to sold items. The highest-priced item was a 2018 Patrick Mahomes Flawless White Box that sold for around $15,000. On the lowest-end, a Coby White second-year auto sold for about $30.
While I did not crunch the numbers to get a hard average for the 600 white box cards that fell into the search parameters, the loose average selling price for these White Box cards falls somewhere between $250 – $500 with more outliers on the low-end than on the high.
Here’s a sliver of good news: a White Box gone bad still has a higher floor than a bad hobby box rip.
From an investment point of view, there’s a strategy at play for dealing with White Boxes.
Here’s my number one pro-tip.
As mentioned in the last section, the loose average of White Box cards sells for between $250-$500. Sealed White Boxes, however, sell for north of $2,000.
Let that sink in for a moment. Reread it if that helps.
The numbers don’t lie. If you sell a White Box sealed, odds are you’ll be making about $1,500 more than if you were to open it. This is a common case of mystery adding significant value to actuality, and the smartest, safest thing you can do white a White Box is to sell it sealed.
There’s also a strategy involved in deciding whether or not you should accept the offer of a White Box. I keep coming back to LaMelo Ball as an example because he is infamous in the collector circle for taking a long time to sign his redemptions, but if you’re waiting on a LaMelo 1/1 rookie autograph, you should probably NOT take a White Box for it.
However, if you’re waiting on something like a Desmond Bane /99 rookie autograph, you should certainly take the White Box (particularly if you intend to sell it sealed).
Here’s the takeaway: White Boxes are worth at least $2,000 on the open market and there are quite a few redemption cards that are worth significantly less than that. If yours happens to be one of those cards, take the white box, flip it, and enjoy the easy profit. It’s the safest way to make good money with White Boxes.
White Boxes are mysterious: not only are they full of surprises, but many collectors don’t have a grasp of what they actually are.
That said, now that you’ve read this article and have expertise in all-things White Box, you know the secret of White Boxes: the best returns come from selling them sealed.
While the allure of opening them is strong, the allure of easy profits should be even stronger.
What do you think of getting a Panini White Box 1/1? Share your thoughts on Twitter @card_lines.
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