When thinking about MTG finance topics, 99.9% of the time my mind goes to cards. The game is made up of cards and they are the only necessary entity to enjoy the game. The cards are what’s tracked on MTG Stocks, and the QS Insider Discord is constantly debating and discussing what cards are smart to buy or sell.
This week I thought I’d switch it up a little bit. There are Magic related items that aren’t cards, which can carry significant value. These aren’t necessarily worth “speculating” on and I wouldn’t advocate buying the market out of any of these items. But it’s good to have an awareness that these items exist, are rare, and have demand. You never know when you’ll stumble over one of these when buying collections or vending at an event.
Duelist Abacus Life Counters
Spindown dice are a dime a dozen nowadays. Wizards puts these in so many products; it’s difficult to not accumulate a handful. This has severely eroded their value. I remember a time when Star City Games offered actual dollars on various spindown dice. Today, while the “Supplies” category is still available to select on Star City’s buylist, nothing comes up when you click on it.
Let’s rewind the clock now. Before Wizards gave everyone spindown dice, keeping track of life totals was a more creative process. One of the first “cool” ways to track life during a game of Magic involved one of these:
This is an official Duelist Magazine Abacus life counter. You see, back in 1995 Duelist Magazine sold these life counters for $12.99 ($22 in 2020, adjusted for inflation). I have no clue how many Duelist sold, but given the age of these items and the fact that Magic is far more popular now than it was in 1995, these have to be somewhat rare.
And their price reflects as much:
If you had purchased these from Duelist back in 1995, you would have made an attractive return for your money. Of course, no one would have guessed that Magic would have been around another 25 years, nor that these would be considered a collector’s item. So it’s doubtful anyone is sitting on tons of these unless they’re collecting them now (in which case, they know what they’re sitting on). But if you ever uncover these in someone’s collection, do them a favor and let them know they have a desirable gem in this life counter.
Magic Page-a-day Calendar
A few years ago, my brother bought me a sweet Magic page-a-day calendar as a Christmas present. At the time, I thought the novelty was really cool and I wanted to show off the gift. The truly special part was that the year was turning over to 2014; coincidentally (or not…my brother is clever), the days/dates of 1997 are the same as 2014.
Therefore, I proudly displayed this page-a-day calendar at work, tearing off each page and enjoying the “card of the day” one at a time. Then 2014 ended and the calendar was gone. It wasn’t until afterward that I realized that I had just thrown away a collector’s item one page at a time!
I’m not sure how much that top listing sold for, but it’s safe to say these calendars are worth over $50. That’s not bad for a calendar that has been obsolete for 23 years!
After I realized the collectability of these calendars, I was fortunate enough to purchase a new one from a seller in the Old School Discord channel. This one I won’t even consider using, however. Well, at least not until the days line up again in 2025!
By the way, this is one of those items that is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. I point this out because currently on eBay there is only one listed for sale—at $6500! Obviously that seller is dreaming, but I do think these are rare enough that the seller can set whatever price they want and just wait patiently. There’s can be no competition and price undercutting when there’s only one seller! Maybe I should list mine for $5500 and see what happens…
I grew up reading InQuest magazines. I loved the monthly publication, and I remember my excitement at discovering a new issue was available at my local hobby shop. My favorite portion was the price guide—even as a casual player back in 1998, I still appreciated that these collectible cards had value! My friend enjoyed the numerous articles that covered all things Fantasy and Gaming.
As an adult, I’ve decided to collect issues of InQuest Magazine. A store manager at my local LGS gifted me a box full of InQuest issues, and this helped springboard my respectable collection. I now have 112 of the 151 issues that exist.
But wait a second. The last issue InQuest published was numbered 150, so how are there 151 in total? Because before issue 1, InQuest published this little number:
This issue is commonly referred to as “Issue 0”. I have to imagine it is quite rare, and because of collectors like me, it carries a little value. Granted, the value doesn’t rival that of the Duelist life counters or page-a-day calendars, but these are definitely worth holding onto if you find any.
Checking eBay, I see that one seller had sold two new copies of Issue 0 back in November for $15.99 + shipping. But now there are none for sale on eBay, and I can’t help but wonder if there’s a buyer out there willing to pay a higher price tag. I had a saved eBay search for “Inquest magazine 0”, and I had to wait many months before someone finally listed one for sale. There only has to be a couple others out there with the same interest, and one of these issue 0’s could readily sell for upwards of $30-$50.
Issue 1, by the way, is worth a little something as well. In fact, all issues probably have a little value to collectors, but Issues 0 and 1 are definitely the most collectible.
Magic Poker Decks
I’m not referring to poker decks that magicians use to display sleight of hand tricks, here. I’m literally talking about a poker deck with Magic card backs.
This collectible item dates back to 1998. Other than the Magic card back, these are also cool because the face cards use classic artwork—the kings are dragons, the queens are angels, the jacks are knights and the jokers are jesters.
What does an item like this fetch on the open market? You may be surprised to see some of the completed eBay listings!
These are approaching $100! Well let’s face it, these are 22 years old now and it’s not like they’re making any more!
Havic: the Bothering
Last but not least, what Magic ancillary product article would be complete without mention of Havic: the Bothering. Published by PGI Limited back in 1998, this collectible card game was designed as a spoof on Magic. The target audience was high school and college boys, judging by the awful stereotypes in the art (some of these are downright offensive).
I doubt many of these sold. Despite PGI Limited’s best efforts, I believe there were some legal ramifications to publishing this game. A planned expansion set never made it to the market and the game disappeared from store shelves as quickly as it arrived.
Nowadays, starter decks sell in the $50 range.
There was a hot minute when these were selling for a higher price—it was shortly after Rudy of Alpha Investments made a video about this game. A few decks sold in the $200-$300 range. At the time, I remember declining an offer of around $700 for my three decks. In hindsight, I should have accepted the offer since these have dropped back down to their old price. But I’m a pretty big fan of this obscure product, so I’m happy to keep these (now I own 5) decks for a rainy day.
Wrapping It Up
I guarantee there are other ancillary Magic products worth money that I left out of this article. I know there’s something called a “Spellground playmat” that sells for a couple hundred bucks. There may be other life counters or calendars worth money. There may even be Magic figures worth digging out of collections.
This was not meant to be an all-inclusive article. Instead, it was a fun exploration of a variety of products with surprising value. If you want a more exhaustive list, I’d recommend browsing Magic Librarities. There you’ll find a more complete catalog of rare Magic products.
I hope you enjoyed exploring Magic memorabilia as much as I enjoyed writing about it. If nothing else, your awareness of these products will make you a better collection buyer. You never know when you’ll find a Craigslist listing or a garage sale with these products, and now you know they can have some real value!
Author’s Note: If anyone has old InQuest magazines—even issues beyond 0 and 1—and you want to turn them into a little cash, please reach out to me! I have 112 issues, but that means I still need 39 more! Most of the issues I need are between 106 and 138, so please help me complete the collection!
- Card Kingdom’s hotlist hasn’t changed too much over the past seven days. Many of the same cards remain, and only their actual buy price has fluctuated. I noticed Transmute Artifact and Power Artifact are still on their, now with high buy prices of $105 each. These fluctuate between $80 and $105 frequently, so if you’re looking to buylist these I’d definitely hold off until you can get three figures.
- I see a number of Judge Promos on Card Kingdom’s hotlist, including Mana Drain ($120), Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite ($100), Noble Hierarch ($95), Mana Crypt ($140) and Force of Will ($180). These are also fluctuating frequently, and Card Kingdom is definitely a good pricing resource with up-to-date numbers on these promos.
- Remember the uninspiring set that was Iconic Masters? Here’s a pop quiz: what is the most valuable card from the set? Hint: it’s on the first page of Card Kingdom’s hotlist. Give up? It’s Mana Drain! The reprint is currently buylisting for $70, a full $50 higher than the next highest card from the set (Avacyn, Angel of Hope).