MOST EXPENSIVE 1990 LEAF BASEBALL CARDS

The 1990 Leaf Baseball card set is considered one of the most iconic and valuable sets of the 1990s. While not quite as large as Topps or Donruss sets of the era, Leaf managed to land several huge star players and inserts that have become highly sought after by collectors. Let’s take a look at some of the priciest individual cards from the 1990 Leaf Baseball release.

The most expensive single card from the 1990 Leaf set is the Frank Thomas rookie card. Widely considered one of the top rookie cards of all time, the Frank Thomas rookie fetched over $480,000 in a sale in 2020, making it by far the prize of the 1990 Leaf set. Frank Thomas went on to have a Hall of Fame career with the Chicago White Sox, winning MVP awards in 1993 and 1994. His rookie card arrived right as his stardom was blooming, giving it fantastic timing and demand that has only increased over the years. In near-mint to mint condition, PSA 10 examples of the Frank Thomas rookie have sold for well over $100,000 consistently.

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In second place for 1990 Leaf expense is the Ken Griffey Jr. Precious Metal Gems insert card. These scarce parallel inserts were printed on embossed metallic cardstock and featured some of the game’s top young stars. Naturally, the Ken Griffey Jr. Precious Metal Gems ranks as one of the most coveted among collectors. In a January 2021 auction, a PSA 9 GEM MT example of the Griffey insert sold for an amazing $112,500, showing its status as a true blue chip vintage card. Other high-grade copies have sold in the $60,000+ range as well. Among all Ken Griffey Jr. cards across all sets, this 1990 Leaf insert is near the very top value-wise.

Following the Thomas rookie and Griffey insert is another huge star’s rookie from 1990 Leaf – Barry Bonds. While Bonds is certainly a controversial figure now, his rookie card remains a vintage treasure from one of the game’s all-time great careers. A PSA 10 example of the Barry Bonds rookie sold for $93,000 back in 2018. Since then, other PSA 9 and 10 grades have consistently commanded $40,000+ at auction. Some attribute his high card prices simply to his massive talent and stats amassed over 22 seasons, while others argue politics and personal opinions must also be partially driving current collector demand for young Bonds. Either way, it is undoubtedly one of the most historically significant and valuable rookie cards from the early ’90s.

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Rounding out the top 5 most expensive individual 1990 Leaf Baseball cards is a tie between two more future Hall of Famers – Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. Maddux enjoyed a record-setting career as one of the best pitchers in baseball history, and his rookie card certainly foretold that dominance. In 2020, a PSA 10 Greg Maddux rookie sold for $69,000. Other high grades still trade in the $30,000+ range. Meanwhile, Tom Glavine was a star pitcher for the Atlanta Braves dynasty teams, winning two Cy Young Awards. His 1990 Leaf rookie has also achieved over $50,000 in recent PSA 10 sales, with PSA 9’s reaching $25,000-30,000. Both capture these hurlers early in their Hall of Fame journeys and remain highly sought after by collectors to this day.

In addition to the star individual cards mentioned above, there are also several key inserts and parallels from 1990 Leaf that frequently appear on “most expensive” lists. After the Precious Metal Gems Griffey, another ultra-rare insert is the 1990 Leaf Million Card Set Checklist card, of which reportedly only 250 were printed. Examples in top condition have crossed the $30,000 threshold at auction. Among parallels, the hologram parallel subset, printed on cards with embedded holograms, features some of the biggest risers – with a Frank Thomas running over $15,000 PSA 10.

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While other earlier and larger sets may have more total cards exceeding $10,000 in value, no single release from the vintage boom era of the early 1990s perhaps produces as many consistent six-figure cards as the 1990 Leaf Baseball set. Anchored by the all-time coveted Frank Thomas rookie and starring other future legends, it remains a true heavyweight in the world of vintage sports memorabilia even over 30 years later. Condition-sensitive, with demand driven by nostalgia, historical significance, and pure baseball fandom, the crown jewels from 1990 Leaf will certainly continue appreciating for dedicated collectors and investors.

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