Michelle Knows Antiques
Unusual things that people collect includes UNO cards
by Michelle Staley
Greetings, all. I hope this finds you healthy and warm.
By nature I am a very curious person. If there is a box sitting by the side of the road, I’m going to stop and open it to discover what’s inside. Believe me, I have regretted this decision on more than one occasion but continue to do it.
The ability to start a conversation with anyone has served me well over the years. This has led me to meeting some really great people with interesting stories to tell. One such incident recently occurred while in Austin. I started chatting with a young woman sitting near me. We talked about the icy cold weather in Texas, the amazing antique table lamps in the bar, and quickly the conversation turned to what people collect.
She collects UNO cards — yep, the 100-plus-cards-to-a-pack, colorful card game. I have heard of people collecting playing cards and have seen some beautiful antique cards. There are role playing cards such as Magic the Gathering cards that came out in the 1990s, some of which can be worth in the upper five figures, especially if they are from the first edition. Somewhere in my house is a shoebox full of these cards that our youngest daughter just had to have. I put them away for safe keeping and have yet to find the silly box.
The UNO card game was invented in 1971 by Merle Robbins. It was later taken over by Mattel. It is estimated that there are more than 640 variations on the cards and a number of spinoffs.
Her UNO card collection really intrigued me as I was unaware that there were even different styles of UNO cards. She just happened to have photographs on her phone, and I was blown away by the her collection. My favorite UNO cards in her collection are the “Non-partisan” pack; there are no blue or red cards in this politically correct pack. What’s not to love about this? You can pick up this particular set for less than $10. She indicated that this is a favorite among most of her friends and one she actually allows out for a quick game.
Most of the other sets she has are special editions, many of which are sold in decorative metal containers, such as the pictured Pixar 25th Anniversary put out in 2023 set, which sells for less than $20.
One young lady’s UNO card collection reveals the different styles that have been released since the game was invented more than 50 years ago. (Image courtesy of the author)
UNO is a popular card game and editions are released with little, if any, fanfare. During the height of COVID, Mattel released a set titled, “Thank You, Heroes.” It could only be ordered from the Mattel website and only for a limited time with all proceeds going to first responders. Mattel has not divulged how many sets were made or sold, so buy it if you find one, because the price could be quite high — if not now, in a few years. There are also sets commemorating artists such as singer Luke Bryan. Once again, there is no information on how many sets were released or the price point.
I asked her how many different UNO sets she currently has, and she told me 25 and growing.
My advice is this, if you come across an early UNO pack or what might be a limited run, grab it. One thing the young lady I met said is that she also likes collecting the card game because they take very little room to store. You just never know, so I always err on the side that one day someone will pay good money to own one of these sets of UNO cards. Yes, I will now start looking for these.
*All prices given are for sale in a private sale, antique shop, or other resale outlets. Price is also dependent upon the geographic area in which you are selling. Auction value, selling to a dealer or pawn shop prices are about ½ or less of resale value.
Michelle Staley is a Lenexa, KS-based dealer and researcher with 35 years of experience in the antique trade.
Send questions with photos to Michelle at email@example.com or TXSmichelle@gmail.com. Please keep queries to one question; questions without photos of the item may not be answered. There is no guarantee that your question will be answered or published.
Michelle is also available for consulting and extensive research work beyond this column. If you would like an appraisal on an antique or collectible please go to www.michellesantiqueappraisals.com for a one-on-one appraisal. Please note new web address.