Below is an article featured in The Mangini Letter (a free email letter about rare & interesting sports cards & collectibles. You can get on the list here) about the 1985 Prism Jewel sticker set:
The year is 1985. ‘Back To The Future’ is out in movie theaters, the Nintendo Entertainment System was released in North America, Michael Jordan was awarded the ‘Rookie of the Year’ and there was a “sticker-craze” sweeping the nation.
Kids of all ages chomped at the bit to buy shiny stickers from the vending machines they saw entering grocery, department and convenience stores.
One particular set of 14 stickers, featuring NBA players, was issued by a rather mysterious company named Prism/Jewel. These flashy holo-foil stickers were sanctioned by the N.B.P.A and included some of the established greats of the era as well as new talents that were just starting to ignite the league.
Ahead Of Its Time?
These (what some might even call gaudy) metallic stickers measure different sizes but most are approximately 2 11/16″ by 4″. The front features a colorful, animated drawing of the player, with the player’s name in block lettering, and a facsimile autograph. There are two variations, one with large squares and one with smaller sized squares. The picture has rounded corners and a silver border. The backs are blank. The stickers are unnumbered and a checklist can be found here on the PSA website.
Below is a recent pickup for my Larry Bird collection:
The Crown Jewel
Other NBA legends featured in this set of stickers include Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Julius Erving, Patrick Ewing, Moses Malone, Isiah Thomas and some guy named Michael Jordan.
Not surprisingly, the Jordan sticker commands by far the highest price. He’s arguably the greatest player in NBA history and this sticker predates his 1986 Fleer rookie card. There are only 3 PSA 10’s currently in the entire set, and 1 of them is a Jordan. There are no public sales of the 10 but this PSA 8 below sold for a staggering $53,332 in 2021.
Rare For The Time!
Unlike most cards from this time period, when these stickers came out in 1985 most people didn’t think about their value and used them for immediate entertainment. Most simply peeled off the back and slapped them on a Trapper Keeper. For this reason, not that many survived, especially unpeeled and in high grade condition. The good news is, unless you’re looking to buy a Jordan, you can pick one of these up in the hundreds of dollars (or less) and not thousands!
Since there are quite a few fakes out there, I recommend you look for one graded by PSA, as they have a very solid track record with these, unlike other grading companies.
While the design of the 1985 Prism/Jewel stickers might not be for everyone, I do enjoy a nice shiny collectible and my new Larry Bird sticker might now be the shiniest piece in my collection. My 3 and 4 year old daughters sure approve too!