Help me sell my old Magic cards
April 1, 2010 5:15 PM   Subscribe

I have a reasonably large collection of Magic: The Gathering cards (well over 1,500), which is entirely unorganized and which I would like to sell. What's the best way to sell these cards that will get me the most money for the smallest labor investment? I'm not willing to put in the time necessary to create an exhaustive list of the cards, but if there are some easy things I can do to make it easier to get a better price (either selling to a games store or online), I'm willing to put in some time (a couple of hours, tops).
posted by philosophygeek to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Just go through and take out the rares. They're marked with a gold sign right below the picture. If you have 1500 cards, I bet it will take you an hour or less.

Also: how old are the cards? Are we talking like, pre-Fourth edition, or just some recent expansions?
posted by HabeasCorpus at 5:26 PM on April 1, 2010

When it comes to selling off collections, a rule of thumb is that effort equals profit.
posted by box at 5:34 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

The rares/uncommons/commons will only be marked according to color if they're comparatively recent vintage. I think that started with the Urza block, but I'm not sure. If your cards are older they will likely be more valuable but it will take more work to separate the wheat from the chaff.
posted by jedicus at 5:35 PM on April 1, 2010

Response by poster: I started with revised and was collecting for a couple of years (until around 5th edition/mirage block expansions). I acquired a number of cards from the earlier expansion sets as well, particular Legends and the Dark.
posted by philosophygeek at 5:35 PM on April 1, 2010

Take some of the rares that you think could be worth something and see how much they are selling for on eBay. If I recall, even those revised rares aren't worth anything anymore. Otherwise just put an ad on Craigslist for a lot of 1500 magic cards and either set a price you are willing to take for them or say you want them to make an offer.
posted by GleepGlop at 5:51 PM on April 1, 2010

About the games store route, this would probably be the easiest (walk in, drop off, get small amount of money) but you'd make the least -- games stores have to fight to stay open, and they've got no qualms about giving you $20 for $80 worth of cards, if that.

A slightly more time-intensive way to go about it would be to look up a tournament / match day at a local games store that includes the sets you own, go out, play for a while, and see if you can't find someone there who wants to look through your cards. One way to do it might be to ask them to price the set for you, and then give them an agreed-upon number of cards they want from your collection; you could also give them a 10-20% commission for finding you a buyer, but that's a little riskier.

Or, if you're like me, throw together five or six play-worthy decks, put them in a closet, save them to be played whenever high school friends come to visit, and while playing, say "maan, remember that one time," every time someone summons a creature. My general feeling is that this is the most value you can get out of fourth edition cards nowadays.
posted by Valet at 6:11 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would go with GleepGlop's advice. The alpha and beta rares can be worth a lot, as can cards that are still in the current or recent blocks, and thus still available for tournament play. It sounds like your cards fall in the large middle category.

But still check out your rares: just look on ebay for each edition you own, and do a quick scan. There's usually one or two cards in each set that, for whatever reason, collectors still want. Maybe your collection has some of those. I just looked and in two minutes, found out that all these cards sell for something over ten buckst:

Revised dual-lands sell for 40 bucks a pop,
Mirage Phyrexian dreadnaught sells for 15 bucks. Lions eye diamond for 10.
Legends: mana drain, chain lightning, tabernacle at pendrell vale, the abyss,
The Dark: maze of ith.

Just make a quick list of whatever seems to sell on ebay, and then go through that list and see if you have any of those cards. You can junk the rest, or sell them for really cheap
posted by HabeasCorpus at 6:14 PM on April 1, 2010

Unfortunately for you, there's nothing in those sets to distinguish rares. You can browse online buylists like this one and see if you recognize anything.
posted by pwnguin at 6:36 PM on April 1, 2010

+1 to what box says: you're not going to get more than $20 out of this, unless you spend some time on it.

The tough part is that you may have 1,499 cards worth $.02 each, but 1 card that is worth $100+. So, there is really no way to identify the proper price for your collection without going through each card individually and identifying its rarity value.

If you are patient, and possibly bored, you can search for the name of each of your cards and see what retail price for each of these is. Card stores will give you some fraction(possibly 10%-70%? not sure) of that, depending on the current demand for the card. and have large online stores where you can try to quantify the value of your collection.
posted by negative1 at 6:43 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Habeas Corpus just about has it right. I was a Magic player for almost the exact sets that you are looking to sell, and have recently gotten back into the game.
In addition to his list, I would also recommend scanning your collection for:
Alliances: Force of Will (~$20)
Legends: Karakas (~$15)
Additionally, not all of the Revised dual lands are equal. Underground Sea goes for ~$60-$80. If you are looking to not spend much time on this, the easiest thing to do would be to sell the lot on CL or Ebay, making sure to point out the high-value cards described previously are mentioned in the item description.
posted by C^3 at 7:03 PM on April 1, 2010

I've been through the exact same thing. In my case, I took the time to sort and count them, which certainly took a long time, but maximized the eBay resale value.

Since you don't have much time, another options could be to find a younger Magic player who would do an inventory in exchange for a few of the more valuable cards. It might require some supervision, but I would imagine you could find more than a few teenagers willing to swap card sorting for a few rares.
posted by TBAcceptor at 8:48 PM on April 1, 2010

What are you looking for in terms of price? I know a few people that, given the opportunity, would probably drop a couple hundred bucks on a grab-bag of 1500 mixed old cards, especially if there was an assurance that the rares weren't pre-skimmed.
posted by norm at 9:05 AM on April 2, 2010

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