Insider: 10 Collection Gems You Didn’t Know Were Valuable

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When I wrote about the Dead Zone in Magic finance, one of the things I suggested doing to pass the time was to go through your collection, as well as any you might pick up. Going through my own stuff, which I last picked a few years ago, I found plenty of gems worth pulling out to sell.

It got even better when a friend came into a collection that he gave to me to sell. He was happy taking all the money from the rares; and I was even more happy to take all the money from the commons and uncommons I could pick. It went very well for me, and I found a bunch of textless spells on top of goodies like Cursecatchers and Imperious Perfects.

But how much mileage you get out of any collection goes only so far as your ability to pick. Time is money, and if you have to spend hours upon hours of looking up card prices, chances are you’re not spending your time very efficiently. On the other hand, if you’re able to quickly pick a collection and pull out all the cards that buylist for a quarter or more, you’re going to do very well.

A lot of the money I make off any given collection comes from picking the commons and uncommons that people usually forget about. Last week there was a request for me to cover some of these cards, so this week I wanted to point out some of the best gems you’ll find in collections.

My Brainstorm Brewery podcast co-host Ryan Bushard covered the Standard picklist extensively here, so I won’t touch on Standard sets. I do think he went a little overboard on the list, as you end up pulling out a lot of stuff like Mulch that most dealers won’t want, but it’s a very good starting point.

I’m going to keep it to sets within the last five years because, in my experience at least, that’s most often what I get when I buy.

10. Elvish Promenade

Lorwyn block is insane for picking. Basic rules. Pull all the Elves you can find, and a lot of the Goblins and Merfolk as well. Imperious Perfect is obvious the nut high, but Promenade headlines a host of other cards worth picking.

Other things to be on the lookout for include any Harbinger in the set, and things like Knight of Meadowgrain and Jagged-Scar Archers. I love picking cards from this era.

9. Manamorphose

This innocuous common is absurdly expensive for what it is, and these are usually $.50 to a dollar from dealers. You will easily pull dozens of these from a reasonably-sized collection, and they add up extremely quickly.

8. Aerial Responder; Preordain; Serum Visions

These are the big 3 of the last few years, but you’re pretty safe grabbing any playable Blue cantrip. Sleight of Hand is another good one. These are usually a quarter on buylists, and it’s another group of cards you find literally dozens of when you’re sorting.

7. Beseech the Queen

This card is a tutor. Therefore, it is played in EDH and worth money as a result. You can get a dollar apiece on these from a good dealer, and it’s a card I see even practiced players skim over when they’re evaluating cards.

6. Faerie Macabre; Relic of Progenitus

To these you can add just about any Eternal-playable hate card. They aren’t anything super special, but they do add up very fast. Relics in particular I see a ton of in collections, and I love pulling them out. Even with a reprinting in a Planechase product, you can get $.50 apiece on these from dealers.

5. Oblivion Ring

Pull out every O-Ring you find. Despite being reprinted a million times, it’s worth the trouble to pull it out of every set it’s been in, because dealers still give real money for these.

4. Blightning

Fringe Modern-playable, but still worth a quarter to dealers. This one is somewhat surprising, since it screams bulk outside of a Standard context these days. But it’s a common and worth a quarter, which means you’re likely to find $5-10 in Blightnings alone in a typical collection from this era.

3. Mind Funeral

I assume most people know this one, but I’ll mention it anyway. This card retails for $4+ and is a beautiful find in collections. But remember not to stop at Mind Funerals. Memory Sluice is a pick. Drowner of Secrets is sometimes even a pick. Just pull out all the Mill cards and check them later, it’s always worth your time.

2. Vampire Nighthawk

This is an odd one. It’s been reprinted a ton, and the M13 version isn’t worth picking at the moment for shipping to dealers, though you should probably just binder it. The Zendikar version, however, is worth 50 cents to dealers. I came across 10 of these while picking my own old boxes a few weeks ago, which was a nice surprise since I would have figured I’d have bindered them back in the day.

1. Nonbasic Lands

Seriously, grab every one you can. The tri-lands from Alara are worth $.50 apiece. The Refuges from Zendikar are worth quarters. Stuff like Ancient Ziggurat are 50 cents. Basically every non-basic land you can find will be worth money, so just grab them all and check it out later.


There you go. As I’ve said before, making the most out of collections isn’t always about getting flashy rares or scoring sweet discounts on Duals. It’s about finding value in the areas where only you can. The seller can look up something like a Jace, the Mind Sculptor. What they won’t do is look up thousands of commons and uncommons.

You, on the other hand, can sort through these in a matter of a few hours and pull out hundreds of dollars in cash. This is where I make the most money on collections I pick up, and the more practice you get at it the faster it will go. Your hourly rate on flipping the collection will go up, and so forth.

Reading about a bunch of cards worth a quarter or two isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but training your mind to spot these cards while picking will significantly increase the profits you earn. At times it may seem like there are simply too many cards to remember to pick, but that’s why I find lists like this one helpful. You may not be able to remember hundreds of cards to pick all once, but you can remember 10-15 at a time until they become engrained in your mind. And it only gets easier, and more profitable, from there.


Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

2 thoughts on “Insider: 10 Collection Gems You Didn’t Know Were Valuable

  1. This is a great list for the beginning collection buyer. Always insist on the commons/uncommons!

    I would add Etherium Sculptor to the list, it gets up to $.50 buylist at common. I have literally made hundreds of dollars selling these cards off collections allowing me to cashout, slowroll the rares, and keep the awesome.

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