Comparing Card Prices 1995 - 2020
When Magic The Gathering was first released in 1993 it was the first of its kind, part collectible and part card game. By 1995 the secondary market for the buying and selling of magic cards had become well established, with many brick and mortar retailers selling individual cards.
Top 40 - Scrye #9 (1995)
Finding the price of a card in 1995 was a different process then it is now.
Instead of going to a website which aggregates prices from the internet, most people based their prices on lists released by magazines which had sprung up in response to the demand for this and other collectable card game information.
One of the most popular magazines from this time was Scrye Magazine, which released detailed price lists, as well as a "top 40" lists, showing the prices for the most popular cards being purchased around the USA.
Looking at this list we can see the top 40 cards by price, taken from Scrye #9 released September 1995.
This list includes a mix of Magic the Gathering cards, as well as a few Star Trek the Next Generation cards.
If we compare the prices in 1995, to the price for the same cards today*, we can see that some of these cards have increased tremendously in price, while others have been less impressive.
*Lowest buy-it-now price Ebay Jan. 2020
The biggest winners over the past 25 years should stand out as unsurprising to most people familiar with MTG.
The 9 most powerful cards (called the Power 9), have seen the biggest growth. These are: Black Lotus, The Moxen, Time Walk, Timetwister, and Ancestral Recall.
Additionally we can see Library of Alexandria and Time Vault on the list of winners. Both cards which have been coveted and powerful since the games inceptions.
Finally we have Juzam Djinn and Drop of Honey, which may be less familiar to people, but nonetheless very desirable to collectors and players of oldschool magic alike.
Far more interesting than looking at the winners, is taking a look at the cards which did poorly over the past 25 years.
The biggest looser The Wretched, is a card that was reprinted in Chronicles, and wasn't saved by the reserved list as many other cards were. It also has the additional disadvantage of being a creature which has been far outclassed by many creatures since its printing.
The only other card on the entire top 40 from 1995 which was not placed on the reserved list in 1996 is Icy Manipulator, which also lost value over the past 25 years.
However the reserved list is not guaranteed to preserve a cards value. Cyclopean Tomb, Word of Command, Lich, Two-Headed Giant of Foriys, Blaze of Glory, Raging River, Natural Selection, Singing Tree, and Khabal Ghoul, are all on the reserved list but lost value, or did not keep up with inflation, over the past 25 years. Most likely due to lack of playability in even fringe formats.
Some cards have done amazingly well over the past 25 years, increasing in value by 20 or even 30 times their selling price in 1995. Other cards have done poorly, even when protected by the Reserved list, loosing value over the years. If anybody knows what became of the 8 Star Trek cards on the list, please reach out and let us know!