We are routinely asked about the big ugly mark emblazoned across the top of early 80’s Topps boxes. Affectionally termed the “X-Out”, it will make most collectors wince just a bit. Why did Topps have the “X-Outs”? Well, I personally was not there during that time frame, but this is how I understand it. At the end of the season Topps allowed dealers to return unsold product for a credit. For instance, let’s say that Topps originally distributed a Baseball Wax Box to a dealer for $20. Then, at the end of the season, Topps would allow the dealers to return that box for a $17 credit. Topps would in turn “re-sell” (blowout) those boxes to dealers for $10. (These numbers are fictitious and just used as examples). Well, they had to have a way to keep the “unsavory” dealers (there might be one or two lurking within the industry!) from buying those boxes for $10 and “re-returning” them for $17. Hence, the “X-Out” was born. When a box was returned, it was given the “X-Out”. From 1981 to 1988 Topps used various markings to identify “X-Outs” on wax, rack and cello boxes in all major sports and non-sports issues. It seems as though they used everything from a crayon or marker to a 4” paintbrush to put an “X” or a line across the top of the box. This “X-Out” signified that the box had already been returned once, and it could not be returned again. The “X-Out” marking on some years were worse than others. I think that 1984 was the worst as they seemed to very, very generously deface the lids of their boxes that year. Another problem with the “X-Out” is that they usually put the boxes back into the cases without letting the marking dry completely. So, when the boxes are removed from the cases today it results in many of the lids being torn off. Topps also marked the outside of those cases “Final Sale”. We will address the “Final Sale” in another post. Even though “X-Outs” cannot be given the “From A Sealed Case” designation, many of these cases were never opened by the dealer, only Topps when they marked them. However, there is a chance that these “X-Out” boxes (from “Final Sale” cases) were actually displayed in retail stores as we have seen packs from “X-Out” boxes with price stickers on them.
In the past we (Baseball Card Exchange) have not differentiated between “X-Out” and “Non X-Out” boxes on our website. This was primarily due to the fact that we were more concerned with the packs within the box. However, with the escalating prices of the early 80’s boxes we feel it is time to make a change. Over the next month we will generate separate listings for these two types of boxes. Of course, the “Non X-Out” will carry a bit of a premium, or the price of the “X-Outs” will be slightly reduced depending on how you look at it.
Thank you, Rick.
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