The 1990 Donruss baseball card set is considered one of the most iconic and valuable sets from the junk wax era of the late 1980s and early 1990s. While most cards from sets released during this time period are not very valuable today, there are a select few 1990 Donruss rookie cards and stars cards that have stood the test of time and retained significant value for collectors. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the most expensive and desirable 1990 Donruss cards that still command high prices at auction.

One of the true gems from the 1990 Donruss set is the Griffey Jr. rookie card. Ken Griffey Jr. went on to have an outstanding career and is considered one of the greatest players of all time. His rookie card from Donruss is one of the most iconic in the hobby. In gem mint condition, a PSA 10 graded 1990 Donruss Griffey Jr. rookie can sell for well over $10,000. Even raw, ungraded examples in near mint to mint condition have sold for $3,000 or more. The Griffey Jr. rookie is truly the crown jewel of the 1990 Donruss set and one of the most valuable cards from the entire junk wax era.


Another highly sought after rookie card is the Frank Thomas issue. Like Griffey, Thomas had a Hall of Fame caliber career and his rookie is one of the standouts from 1990 Donruss. In a PSA 10 slab, Thomas rookies have sold for $4,000-$6,000. Raw near mint copies usually sell in the $1,000-$2,000 range. While not quite as valuable as the Griffey, the Thomas rookie is still a key card for any serious 1990 Donruss collector.

In addition to rookie cards, the 1990 Donruss set also featured some of the game’s biggest stars of the late 1980s and early 1990s. None were bigger than Nolan Ryan, who was entering his final few seasons but was still considered the all-time strikeout king. His 1990 Donruss card has retained significant collector interest. High grade PSA 10 examples can sell for $500-$800. Even well-centered raw near mint copies have sold for $200-$400. The Ryan remains a popular card for both vintage Rangers fans and Nolan Ryan aficionados.

Another Texas Rangers star who is highly sought after from the 1990 Donruss set is Rafael Palmeiro. Palmeiro put together a Hall of Fame career and his 1990 Donruss issue showcases him in his Rangers prime. PSA 10 Palmeiro cards have topped $400 at auction. Raw near mint copies usually sell in the $100-$250 range. Palmeiro mania and Texas Rangers collector interest fuels the demand for this key star card.


While rookie cards and stars tend to get the most attention, 1990 Donruss also featured some other expensive inserts and parallels that drive up values. One of these is the gold parallel issue of Kirby Puckett. Printed on gold cardboard stock and limited, these Puckett parallels can reach $500-$800 in PSA 10 condition. Even well-centered raw copies sell for $200-$400 due to Puckett’s popularity and the rarity of the gold parallel variant.

Another 1990 Donruss insert that has held steady value is the All-Star insert set. Featuring 24 future Hall of Famers like Wade Boggs, Tom Glavine, and Ozzie Smith, a complete near mint set has sold for over $1,000. Individually, key cards like the Boggs or Glavine can reach $100-$200 in top grades. The historical significance and rarity of a full All-Star set adds desirability for team and player collectors.

While the 1990 Donruss set as a whole produced during the junk wax era, the combination of rookie stars, hall of famers, and scarce parallels and inserts has allowed some true gems to emerge that continue to excite collectors and drive up prices. The Griffey Jr. and Frank Thomas rookies anchor the set as true blue-chip investments. Meanwhile, stars like Nolan Ryan, Rafael Palmeiro, and Kirby Puckett variants retain collector interest due to the players’ popularity and the scarcity of their specific issues. For those willing to spend, the high-grade rookies and inserts from 1990 Donruss can be considered the crown jewels of the entire junk wax period.


While the overproduction of the late 1980s and early 1990s hurt values of most base cards, the 1990 Donruss set avoided being labeled true “junk wax” due to standout rookie stars and key parallel and insert cards. Cards like the Griffey Jr. and Frank Thomas rookies have emerged as true vintage investments. Meanwhile, stars, parallels and inserts featuring the likes of Ryan, Palmeiro, Puckett and others continue to excite collectors decades later. For those willing to spend, the top cards from the 1990 Donruss set remain some of the most iconic, historically significant and valuable from the entire junk wax era of the late 1980s/early 1990s.

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