I was rummaging through the attic this weekend looking through my old collection for any value cards I may have missed. I fortunately held on to all my cards when I stopped playing magic, including commons and uncommons. I do this in phases because there is so much to look through that I forget what cards are worth anything among the thousands of cards.

This search was nothing too great, pulling a stack of Mercadian Brainstorms, a Submerge, and a few other random $3 cards from the mix. In one of the boxes, I came upon a stack of old magazines (as with cards, I also have a tendency to not throw away old magazines.) The magazines were from Scrye and Duelist, both which are no longer in print. While Scrye was a third party collectible card game magazine, Duelist was actually owned by Wizards and had a great Magic focus.  Looking through a few issues, it was interesting to see a snapshot of Magic from about 15 years ago. I decided to take a few pictures and look at how things were in the fall of 1997.

The top image is the cover of Scrye from November 1997. At that time, the game has seen the release of the Visions, 5th Edition, Portal, and Weatherlight sets. Tempest was just released but with the scheduling for magazines, this issue was created before it was released (5 sets in one year). The cover mentions new Portal pricing and includes a special Vanguard card.

So what were the popular cards of 1997? Based on this ad from a dealer, Abeyance was the top choice (the only recent card) while the rest of the list filled with base sets, Arabian Nights and Legends cards. Interesting to see that no card was desired from The Dark to Visions. Part was due to the power drop of the sets and the near collapse of the game from overprinting cards. Of course this is from a dealer at Gen Con. Lets take a look at what Scrye puts as the top selling rares:

Top 16 seems like a weird list but that’s what they decided to do. In this case we see more of the current game state with people buying a variety of cards. 6 lands hit the list and we see Abeyance to 8th place in the top list. I presume that Scrye took the list as an average of multiple sellers to create this list, but I am not sure. While most card will be recognizable by players (Hammer of Borgardan, Wrath of God); others were a bit obscure (Mana Web for example.) I’m sure someone who has a better idea of the metagame as the time could explain why better than me. I also took a snapshot of current prices in November 1997:

The good old days, where you could grab a play set of dual lands for less than $70. As you can see from above, the dual lands had a high price of $15 each. It has been a long time since Vesuvan Doppelganger was worth more than an Underground sea, but that’s the game. While the duals have jumped up to 8 – 10 times in value; the Doppelganger had dropped to a faction of its former price.  The demand for the duals is still there though.

Well that’s all for today’s post. I hope it was fun to see some insight on the game 15 years ago and see what the popular cards were. I have a few more pictures from Duelist that I’ll do at a later time, including an Ice Age map after the Brothers’ War among other things. In the meantime, enjoy this picture of a young Mark Rosewater posing for Ancestral Mask art.