(01-12-2014 04:59 PM)carrollm09 Wrote: You can review the various company grading standards for packs, but part of the grade should account for the centering on the top card visible. Fleer cards from 87-88 (or 86-87, 88-89 for that matter) were cut from the same lot when packed, so all cards in one pack will have almost identical centering, whether good or bad. So if the top card is 90/10 in both directions, every card in that pack will be, so a good grade should mean decent centering and that you're not just tossing your money away on off-center cards.
And yes to your second question, it's possible to know the order from the front card. For 1988-89 Fleer I know that every other card counts up by 4, and the cards in-between do as well but I couldn't give you a specific on what sequence they're in. But like packs are identical. Most auctions advertising an MJ will be the sticker, as it's definitely easier to see through the back than the front, but as far as I know you can't determine the pack collation from the sticker alone. From what I remember you can see parts of the card on the front, depending, but you're looking through wax and you can't really tell exactly what the card is. You can, however, compare the parts you can see to images or a master set, or you can split the packs into separate piles of what looks like the same card on the front and make sure you have a relatively even number of each.
Because early Fleer boxes weren't factory sealed, if you do end up buying a full box check and make sure you at least have the right number of each. Realize you may get two of one pack, four of another, so you may not get 3 exact sets. Also, keep in mind that centering was absolutely horrible for early Fleer, and box busting is more of a novelty than a means to actually make money.
If you end up buying boxes or packs, realize that the person selling them probably knows more about them than you do, and is in the business of making money. You're right that if it had an MJ, they'd advertise it as an MJ, because it's money for them. If someone had a case, being that the boxes aren't sealed, it's easy for someone to justify swapping centered packs for offcenter packs when it's their livelihood. Always buy from a reputable source and remember that patience, in this case, is a virtue.