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Dream Cache – How Much Do Magic Cards Weigh?

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How many cards can you fit in a shipping box?

How much does 1000 Magic cards weigh?

How can I measure my collection without a ruler or scale?

Folks, today we're answering those questions and more! This enterprising author busted out his scale, his ruler and his massive collection of junk cards to bring you the dimensions and measurements that you need to know if you are going to buy and sell Magic collections.

Counting Magic cards is time-consuming. You can go through them, one by one, or count up a stack of a hundred or so and replicate that with other stacks until you get a rough guess. That takes too much time for me and it is very imprecise! As a result, I developed a table of useful measurements that will get your collection measured up and counted.

How Much Do Magic Cards Weigh?

The best way to get a collection quantified is to weigh it. If you have a kitchen scale, this is a great use for it. If you lack one, get one because they are inexpensive. Alternately, if you have friends who enjoy recreational pharmacological adventures, they likely have their own scale that you can use. I counted up a thousand Magic cards and put them on the scale. Here is what it looked like:

So your first metric is that one thousand cards weighs 1775 grams. By the way, in my research for this, Kelly Digges at mtg.com did his own mathematics with a postal scale, and when I calculated out his result, he had 1816 grams. I explain the discrepancy with the following: his scale weighed in ounces, mine in grams. At these weights, grams are more precise than ounces on a scale. If  you really have the time, you can weigh your own and see how it matches up. I did another test and came up with 1768 when I moved the scale from my table to my (carpeted) floor. I suggest you measure on something hard, ideally resting on concrete. In any case, a Magic card weighs around 1.8 grams, rounding up, so you can see that the discrepancy is only about four cards' worth here or there.

Well, you say, grams are great if you live in Germany or South Africa or of the over 180 countries that use the metric system, but what if you're in the U-S-freakin'-A and want to measure up those cards? Simple math and knowing that there are 454 grams in a pound results in one pound of magic cards containing about 257 cards. I warn you that a bathroom scale cannot accurately measure one pound, but it can measure several pounds with a little bit of accuracy. At 257 to a pound, one thousand magic cards weighs roughly 3.9 lbs, and you can figure that three thousand will weigh just about twelve pounds. For a really easy way to measure this, get on your bathroom scale, weigh yourself (and grimace) and then hold  near-weightless plastic grocery bag full of the cards. Deduct that weight from your original and you can get a good idea of how many thousand cards you are looking at.

But, you say, I lack a scale! How can I quantify my cards! You can measure them!

How Tall Is a Stack of One Thousand Magic Cards?

One thousand magic cards is approximately 12.5" tall, or 31.56 centimeters.

You don't have a ruler? Get out a dollar bill!

A dollar bill is 6.14 inches long. I counted up that stack of cards, and found that a dollar bill is as long as 494 magic cards. You can round that up to 500 and easily count the number of cards in a stack of Magic cards. By the way, that stack weighed 878 grams, if you were interested.

How much does it cost to ship a Magic card collection?

Now that we know the dimensions of a thousand cards, let's work out how many we can cram into a post office mailer!

A medium post office flat-rate box costs $10.70 at the time of writing. Its dimensions are easy - 8.5 x 11 x 5.5 inches. That is, as large as a piece of paper and 5.5 inches deep. I took a sheet of paper and arranged magic cards on it to see how many I could fit into that dimension. I found that if you do two rows of three and one row of four, you can get ten cards on, representing ten stacks of cards. It's best to do it yourself and see how it works out. 5.5 inches translates mathematically into 437 cards per stack. Ten stacks means that you can fit 4,370 cards in one of those boxes. That pile of cards weighs 17.1 pounds!

I took that same figure of 17 pounds and ran it through the postal rate calculator on the Post Office website and found that, on average, to send the same box would cost about $22 - we save $11.30 when we are shipping flat-rate. These figures represent the cost to ship an absolutely packed box, though, so you have a little work ahead of you if you want to ship shy of four thousand cards. Shipping in the small box means you can fit in about 550 cards with wiggle room. That weighs 2.2lbs. A box costs $4.95 and that same weight would cost, on average, $6.50 to ship.

Conclusion: ship in flat rate boxes if you possibly can.

Easy Magic Dimensions Tables

1 magic card weighs 1.775 grams.

1000 magic cards weighs 1775 grams, or 3.9 lbs.

1000 magic cards is 12.56 inches tall, or 31.56cm.

A dollar bill is as long as a stack of 494 cards.

You're wondering about whether a card is worth its weight in gold, right? Of course. A magic card, made of gold, would cost you approximately $72 dollars. So that Jace, the Mind Sculptor really is worth his weight in gold.

Douglas Linn

Doug Linn has been playing Magic since 1996 and has had a keen interest in Legacy and Modern. By keeping up closely with emerging trends in the field, Doug is able to predict what cards to buy and when to sell them for a substantial profit. Since the Eternal market follows a routine boom-bust cycle, the time to buy and sell short-term speculative investments is often a narrow window. Because Eternal cards often spike in value once people know why they are good, it is essential for a trader to be connected to the format to get great buys before anyone else. Outside of Magic, Doug is an attorney in the state of Ohio.  Doug is a founding member of Quiet Speculation, and brings with him a tremendous amount of business savvy.

View More By Douglas Linn

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26 thoughts on “Dream Cache – How Much Do Magic Cards Weigh?

  1. I love how you're using a Mox Peal and a Franklin in your pics. Easy there Cash Money.

    I believe that foils both weigh heavier and are a little thinker than regular cards. Would love to see those numbers as well. In all, very good resource, thanks for taking the time to write this up.

  2. Thanks for the article! I'm just getting into the buylist game and I've been nervous that I had been wasting money on postage. I was relieved to know that my ~500 cards in the small flat rate box was the way to go.

    Do you have any idea how small a shipment would have to be to warrant traditional postage?

    I'm curious what everyone here does for insurance. Do you fully insure? If it's under a certain value do you skip it?

    1. The thing about insurance is whenever you are paying for it you usually won't need it but it will be that one time that you don't have it that you will wish to hell you did. If you are seriously getting into a shipping dependent oppurtunity, you might want to see what your acceptable loss threshold. This is where you set the bar for your venture for where the cost of insurance outweighs the potential loss of product. Running a business without insurance is like gambling, and in gambling, you never gamble with what you can't afford to lose.

    2. flat rate boxes come with $50 insurance by default. I only pay for additional insurance if the value of what I’m shipping is $100+

      In dozens and dozens of shipments I’ve only had one damaged/destroyed in postal delivery, it was a stack of cards I’d paid maybe $16 for and was reselling for $30. By the time the post office paid it off they gave me $40 which included the refund for postage

  3. In my ignorance I wonder: do older cards weigh a different amount than newer cards? I mean it might be "no" or it might be part of the reason Kelly came up with a different weight for 1000 cards. A good test would be 1000 Zendikar cards (you know you have them!) vs. 1000 cards from some older set you have lying around.

    1. Your cards can be thicker or thinner and weigh differently depending on how played they are and the humidity they are kept in. It is best to double sleeve as soon as they are pulled from packaging and keep them that way, especially if they are foil as this will greatly help against coiling.

  4. Some things about insurance:

    1. It is cheap.

    2. The post office does not know what a magic card is. I have anecdotally heard that the PO is very hard to get to actually make good on an insurance claim. They will try to reimburse you for the cost of a new pack of magic cards. If they ask what's inside, I usually say baseball cards.

    3. If you are selling to dealers, insure. I knew of one dealer who is no longer in business that would say that the PO "lost" boxes that he did get that didn't have insurance. He would then resell the cards at no cost to him. I think the $2 is a good way to keep small-timers honest.

    Foils weigh slightly more, but I lack 1000 foils to weigh : ) If in doubt, remove them beforehand and weigh!

    Older cards and newer cards weigh basically the same. Since most collections are mixed up anyway, it would be of less use to find out how much the weight difference is.

  5. Fun little article. I would have never thought about using a dollar bill. (The C-note is a nice touch) 😉

    Having been playing the shipping game for 13 years there is a lot of factors that go into shipping cards. I'll be happy to share a few.

    1) As mentioned in the article, flat rate boxes are your friend. Most of the time you won't want to ship more than 500 cards (small flat rate) because you aren't going to get more than $11 (the cost of shipping) for a box of mixed commons or uncommons. If you are bulking out a collection like this on eBay use the medium boxes and sell them in lots of 3500 or whatever you can comfortably fit in the medium box. Try to get enough value in the box to get bids up, otherwise people will just calculate thier bulk price and subtract the shipping leaving you a couple bucks for your trouble.

    If you can get them get the 13x11x3 medium flat rate boxes instead. It will hold 3 stacks of MTG cards side by side and you can even squeeze in a pair of 1k count white card boxes if you want to keep them organized inside. I've started wrapping my cards in manageable stacks of celophane. If you are doing a small shipment or a one time deal the stuff you can buy in the grocery store is fine, otherwise they sell rolls of it in office depot for a reasonable price. This keeps the cards from sliding around and getting folded inside the box.

    The question about when is it not beneficial to ship first class anymore is about 12 ounces. You can use a large bubble mailer for this type of package but make sure the cards are secure inside. Keep in mind that you get free delivery confirmation on priority mail using paypal, but you have to pay for it if you don't buy online. (0.80).

    2) Delivery Confirmation/Tracking is more important than insurance. As Doug said it's hard to get the P.O. to pay a claim because you have to prove worth. I'll insure stuff I can prove worth on easily and usually set the bar at boxes worth about $100. Delivery Confirmation is cheeper and still keeps the theives honest. I generally mark my packages as "Trading Cards" which also keeps you free of a host of customs implications if you put "Magic Cards". Nearly every customs dept in Eastern Europe that I've dealt with for example will return "Magic Cards" since Tarot style cards are banned for import there.

    3) International Shipping is more of a hastle than it should be. IMO the U.S. is way behind when it comes to reliable international shipping options. I've heard it costs something like $4 to register a package in Asia, but it costs $14 or so here in the U.S. For this reason U.S. sellers/traders either a.)don't ship internationally, b.)require expensive registered mail which makes it unafordable to international customers, or c.) they just overcharge for shipping and assume some of the risk that way.

    Considering upwards of 50% of my cards go out of the country this is business I don't want to loose. I've used all three in the past depending on the venue and my stomach for risk.

  6. Great comment Cardfather! I have recently opened my auctions to Worldwide to tap into those markets and your info was really helpful/reassuring.

    PS. My first shipment to Sweden was no hassle and already got the feedback 🙂 Great tip on the Trading Cards, I never would have known that.

  7. This is a nice article, very useful information. It's kind of interesting that because foils DO weigh more than regular cards, you could actually figure out what packs do and do not have foils before you even open them. I don't know how you would do this in a non-sketchy way though – either you go to a store with a scale and weigh packs and look ridiculously suspicious, or you can buy a box and sell the packs that don't contain foils as part of a "secretly makeshift" booster box, which ensures you at least get one gold foil. I wouldn't suggest doing either, but if there was some other way that would be less sketchy, I think this is an awesome plan.

  8. Ben,

    Some stores did that when Urza's Legacy came out – they would weigh individual packs and see which ones had foils. This was when they were much rarer in distribution than they are now. You open the pack with the foil and sell the single individually. Other stores would use heat lamps to make the foils in packs bend, then figure out which packs had now-curved foils in them and crack them too.

    Luckily, with foils being more common, this is not a cost-effective measure anymore.

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