Now this is innovation I can get behind & it is great for our hobby! Topps will be accepting submissions of pictures from fans this year and will select up to 30 of them to be included in 2015 Topps Opening Day flagship product as inserts!
Every one who attends a baseball game ends up taking a picture or two – all of us hoping to capture a fleeting moment of our memory on film (or in today’s age in pixels).
Winners will be judged on the photo’s creativity and originality and submission are to be posted to Topps’s official Instagram @toppssports with the hash tag #ToppsLive. More information about the specific rules can be found here at Topps.com.
So what are you waiting for….get to a game and start taking pictures! If you are selected let us know as we will secure a copy of the card and want the whole story (and a signed copy as well for our Card Wall of Fame!) Is anyone else hoping that the first “Fight” baseball card is created?
It appears that there is an unannounced parallel in Marvel NOW! by Upper Deck. It has been know that that there are silver foil parallels to the basic cards in every pack and a red parallel variant that is handed numbered to 10 on the front with the back of the card having the word “variant” next to the card number. The unannounced parallel seems to be a combination of silver and red parallels – front of the card has silver foil and the back of the card has the word “variant” next to the card number.
These “Silver Variants” parallels aren’t “one-of-one” as there have already been two Superior Spider-Man cards on eBay. They might be just as limited or more as the red parallel variants by comparing the amount listed on eBay as a comparison. For characters that have multiple red parallel variants, a couple have already had three on eBay – Iron Man (# 4, 5, & 7) and Rocket Raccoon (# 2, 3, & 4).
Just because the “Silver Variant” might be as limited or more as the Red Parallel Variant, collectors tend to gravitate towards cards that are numbered (even hand numbered) so prices will probably be higher for the red versions. But they are still limited so until Upper Deck releases more information on these “Silver Variants” there might be some bargains floating out there in common boxes … especially in they are indeed limited to a handful.
Here are some of the “Silver Variants” that have sold on eBay compared to their Red Variant counterparts:
Red – #3/10 (item #370995690830) $89.94
Silver – (item #360854034176) $50.00
Red – #7/10 (item #251438437034) $101.01
Silver – (item #371018931389) $49.99
Red – #2/10 (item #33113906936) $64.53
Red – #1/10 (item #141187479182) $42.00
Silver – (item #371011390340) $25.67
We would love to hear your thoughts on these parallels and if you have any luck finding them in the common boxes.
Contributing Author Kevin St. Jacque has been collecting cards, comics and watching baseball and basketball since the late-1970′s. He has over 1,100 Marvel sketch cards and just as many autographed and memorabilia sports insert cards. Raised in the LBC, he’s an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan. Recently he spends time with his young daughter hunting stores for Monster High dolls for her collection. You can find him contributing various hobby happenings on www.forloveofhomeplate.com
As our hobby has matured over the years the card grading phenomenon has exploded. Within weeks of a new product being released you will find graded versions available on ebay for sale, with the higher grades commanding a respectable premium. There is a whole subset of collectors who monitor the various population reports pursuing the highest graded examples and adding an additional dimension of rarity. (*Of course in the new card market there could be identical examples of high grades waiting to be graded around the corner so tread carefully over-spending on modern high grade cards).
I see two very strong plays for endorsing purchasing graded cards and/or getting your key cards graded. As the hobby has evolved into a major business combined with the advances in technology (software & printing capabilities) there is an increasing risk around counterfeits. There has been an increase in very talented individuals offering to make “custom” cards for collectors. Think of a “1989 Upper Deck Babe Ruth RC” or a “1920 Tobacco Ken Griffey Jr RC” as cards that never were being produced. I have actually held some examples in my hand and they are very impressive – we will leave the whole copyright issue alone with this article….but to stay on point imagine that same individual creating a “1986 Fleer Michael Jordan RC” that looks pristine to the naked eye in a magnetic one touch…only to find out years later you purchased a fake.
The second major endorsement to leveraging graded cards is liquidity. Our hobby has long been advised as not to be an investment vehicle and the majority of us collect out of a connection to our pasts, but at the same time we recognize there is actual monetary value in some of our collection. Personally as a father of four and a wife who doesn’t collect I told her if something ever happened to me to just take a picture and write verbatim the heads on my graded cards and put them on eBay. Even if she started out auctions at $0.01 the fact the cards are 3rd party authenticated and graded will at least get them a “fair” market value in return and my family could use the money for something they need/want.
This of course leads us to “who” to use or purchase. You will find many opinions on this topic but my perspectives and rational are as follows:
Vintage – PSA (Professional Sports Authenticators) They have a very large following of PSA Set Builders that compete for the highest graded collection or set which makes their market in vintage pretty stable and very strong in cases of rare cards. I also like that you can look at their FREE Population Report and FREE Price Guide to get a feel for how rare your graded cards are and what they are worth.
Modern – Beckett Grading Services Which have a more aesthetically pleasing encapsulation including showcasing sub-grades and Autograph grades. Many of the collectors of modern cards (i.e. Bowman Prospect Rookies, etc…) tend to favor these holders and I find there is a slight premium on items sold here as well.
My last comment is to not get your hopes up on your grades. I know we all think we have Mint cards that are perfect….but nothing is more humbling than opening a box returned from professional grading and seeing a card you thought would be a 9 come back a 7…..or a vintage card you thought would be a 7 come back a 4. It happens to all of us as the professionals use magnification, black lights, etc and scour every possible angle of your cards. My advice to save money is to purchase some graded cards you like and use them to compare to what you are going to submit to get proper expectations.
I have been mulling over collecting a Baseball Prospect in the Minor Leagues and tracking their journey (ideally) to the Big Show! Early in my search I found some astronomical prices for Bowman Prospect cards that made my head spin! After reviewing a bunch of recently drafted prospects I came across a player that I decided to begin collecting (more on that player in a future article!) but even better I met a very friendly prospect enthusiast, Tom Bucci Jr, who was kind enough to help me get my collection started as well as parse out some advice I would like to share.
1. When did you first start collecting baseball cards?
I first started collecting when I was about 13 or 14. The first set my dad ever bought me was a Hoops set with the David Robinson rookie card. I still own it too.
2. What got you into collecting “Prospects”?
Collecting prospects is all I have ever really done. I never got into the inserts and parallels that came out. I always like having the first card of a player. I think because when I was younger and would read a Beckett I would see that the RC was normally worth the most and I thought it would always be the best one to own.
3. Who are your favorites or players you collect today?
My favorite players to collect are Chase Utley and Stephen Curry
I have a couple real nice Utley’s I have his 2002 Bowman Auto BGS 9.5/10. It’s the only one graded a BGS 9.5 and a Stephen Curry National Treasures AUTO/Patch PSA 10. Its the only PSA 10 as well.
4. Holy Grail Pieces you would like to own?
A Jordan RC Fleer PSA 10 or BGS Pristine…Maybe even a Durant Exquisite BGS 9.5 or PSA 10
5. Why do you think prices are so high for prospects that may never make it professionally? What is the Appeal to you?
I think prices are so high because everyone hopes to hit the lottery with one of them. We all think we know who the next Mike Trout is going to be or the next player that we can get in on really cheap and make it big when he goes off. I think that is the appeal for a lot of people. I just like being able to root for someone and know that you might be able to make a few bucks on them as well. I mean we have all owned a Jerome Walton
1989 Upper Deck and either made some cash on it or never sold it because we thought he was going to bring us more then we thought. Therefore, those are still sitting in our closets somewhere..LOL!!
6. What are the thoughts around paying for grading on modern cards? Worth the investment?
I really like graded cards. I like knowing the condition of it and the protection of a nice holder so you can display it. I do think it is worth the investment. I also think it’s a little shady sometimes when it comes to grading companies and receiving grades that aren’t deserved but if I spend enough money with you I will get a pass on something so I can make some cash.
7. Any tips to new collectors of prospects about identifying players to collect? I assume a lot of research is done before hand?
I really don’t have any tips..LOL!!! Pray that they don’t get hurt…HAHA!! I do not like collecting pitchers personally because I got burned during the Mark Prior era. I made some money, but not what I spent on him. I think pitchers are too expensive for the overall profit that you make on them. I really don’t do much research. I have liked guys and got lucky by them doing well. Yet at the same time, I have lost money on guys that I thought would do something and they never did a thing.
8. How do you feel about all the Rainbow parallels many Prospectors seem to chase?
I like the rainbow parallels, but they are just insane to own if you want a top prospect or even a middle of the road guy. Their reds, oranges, superfractors and now purples even are just way too expensive way too quickly. Bowman Chrome rules the market for rookies though. I mean platinum and other products are nice, but it doesn’t mean anything until the player has a chrome. Jose Abreu’s comes out soon and it will be an absolute joke at what his prices will be, especially given the fact that he is playing so well. Again people are thinking he is the next trout or might be and we never really know.
Big shout out & Thanks to Tom Bucci Jr….this is what I love about our hobby…start out seeking a collectible and come back with a friend of shared interest. That my friends is prospecting you can’t put a price on!
Let me know if you have an interesting prospect story or perspective you would like to share. Until next time…..May your next PC prospect blow-up like Mike Trout!
There was something magical about pulling a Donruss Diamond King growing up. Perhaps as it was an early form of insert card…or “hit” for collectors – the fact it was so different than the traditional stock photography and crossed the lines of art and sports. Regardless most collectors from the 80′s have fond memories of the Diamond King subsets drawn masterfully by Dick Perez. It started in 1982 when Perez drew the first Diamond King set for a new company, Donruss, who was innovating while at the same time nodding back to the painted tobacco cards of yester-year.
Mr. Perez’s art is prominently displayed in the Baseball Hall of Fame today and he continues doing one-man art exhibits illustrating his love for America’s Pastime. Fast-Forward 30+ years and multiple card companies have attached themselves to inserting “Chase” One-of-One Original Art cards as “Hits” inside their packs. Many high-end products actually insert them frequently in what I deem a replacement to an autograph or game used material.
Now don’t get me wrong I respect some of the artists work you find on the mini-canvas…and given the dimensions of a baseball card the details can be quite impressive. But the ugly side of this practice is the sub-par art that can be found where the player is unrecognizable. The art that looks “rushed” or more than likely done in bulk fashion to meet time constraints. I would love to see 1/1 art cards go away….or at least the act of them modified.
Perhaps the cost would be prohibitive but what would the hobby pay for a true One-of-One Diamond King done by the Great Dick Perez??? Or what if the chases were done by recognizable Comic Book artists as a form of cross-promotion. Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Humberto Ramos, etc…Even if they were unheard of artists from say Pixar (Wall-E designers, etc….) putting a little bio on the back of the cards with who the artist is.
The whole concept of an art card is to make it very desirable and personable on some level. Help us get to know the artist the way we got to know Dick Perez. Perhaps then the Hobby will care more about them.
I’d love to hear other collectors thoughts. Until Next Time…..Happy Collecting!
I love the design of the base cards for 2013-14 Panini Intrigue Basketball. The dark backgrounds with the color splashes really make the player’s pop on the cards. With so many inserts and variations I only ended up with three actual base cards out of two boxes so this will definitely be a tough set to build!
We hit an O.J. Mayo Top Flight Prime Patch /25 which featured a pretty cool Adidas swatch. What was also interesting was in our first box there were two JRue Holiday’s Top Flights one the base version and the other a Prime Patch version /25. Though I am not a JRue fan that was actually kind of cool to see both next to each other….then you realize how much more desirable patch swatches are!
The Intrigue autograph subset we pulled what appears to be a short-print Robert Parish autograph and jersey swatch /15. While you will never turn down the Chief….I do wish it featured him in a classic Celtics jersey….heck even a throwback Golden State Warriors uniform would be sweet!
My favorite insert hands down is the Slam Ink featuring many of today’s high-fliers but mostly because the autographs are on-card. It truly makes a world of difference. We hit former Slam Dunk Champion Terrence Ross of the Raptors /25.
This complimented our Intrigue Dunk Co pull of one of the most popular slam dunk contest winners ever, Mr Spud Webb.
Our most valuable pull could very well turn out to be a variant out of the foil pack of Kyrie Irving Gold Die-cut serial numbered 8/10. You never know what the bidding will go to among personal super-collectors but I am hoping there are a few watching eBay this week!
Overall a very nice product…each box had one Game Used, One Prime Patch & Two autographs. As an added bonus you also get Draft Pick Redemption cards for this coming draft (1 per box).
I think if you want to roll the dice this is a very fun break and one with some potential bang inside!
A collector was disappointed when they pulled this card from a pack of 2014 Gypsy Queen and their initial reaction was to contact Topps Customer Service for a replacement card. One that would feature the actual Autograph of last year’s Rookie of the Year – Wil Myers.
My advice though was to consider sending the card in to get graded by either BGS or PSA to see if they would acknowledge the error in the labeling. My personal opinion is that the error (assuming it is a rarity) would be more collectible and could actually sell for more than the $20 the autographed version is going for on eBay today.
We recently picked up a vintage collection of cards from 1959-1961 and as I was sorting through the treasures I pulled aside a few “shared” cards. You know the ones with the casual photography where the players are talking batting or doing a quick pose on the field before a game.
I guess you could call these the first “insert” cards as it was a way to get additional pictures of your favorite players – often in very interesting groupings. It made me wonder why this practice has declined over the years?
Today you will find “pairings” in modern products like Topps Triple Threads with cool nicknames, but those are individual pictures put together and not a single shot – which captures a moment in time.
For me the ultimate “shared” card is the 1962 Topps Manager’s Dream pairing of Mickey Mantle & Willie Mays. As a 12 year old when I first saw this card it jumped to the top of my want list. I still have the original one I purchased with four well rounded corners, some ink drawn on the back and a surface crease….but it was the one I could afford and it is still a favorite of my collection.
Over the years companies have touched on the concept a few times with some notable results such as the 1992 Upper Deck Bloodlines subset. Or Fleer’s run in the late 80′s capturing some great match-ups….but it is an area I think has become over-looked.
With that in mind what is your favorite shared card in your collection?
The Best submission by the end of April will win a card from our Secret Stash!
CONGRATULATIONS to our Twitter Follower Jeremiah Johnson for his submission and Contest Winning card of:
I have always been intrigued by Through The Mail (TTM) Autograph Collectors. The originators of TTM were innovators of our industry – way before there were autographed insert cards inside packs TTM chasers were getting their cards signed and building impressive collections.
Today’s current TTM collectors are like rebels in our industry who buck tradition and create their own autographed innovations and only pay a fraction of the price! While doing some research I stumbled upon a very impressive TTM collector who happened to be a great guy as well. Travis Jossenberger started collecting in 1990 when he was 7 years old and like most of us has been off and on for the last 24 years. Travis was generous enough with his time to allow me to interview him and below are the excerpts:
How did you get started collecting TTM autographs?
“I got started in TTM collecting from an article in Sports Illustrated for Kids, back around 1994. A reader of the magazine wrote in highlighting his successes obtaining autographs through the mail. I had no idea that getting autographs through the mail was even possible. A short time later my father bought me book of retired and active player mailing addresses, and I became hooked.”
What was the 1st TTM Autograph you received?
“My first ever return was and is my all time favorite player, Orel Hershiser. I sent him a letter and a SASE. He sent me back a signed 1990 Fleer. I put it in a frame and it hung on my wall all the way through high school. The card and autograph are now sun faded, but as far as sentimental value goes, it’s priceless.”
How do you acquire addresses? Any Tips for beginners?
“I used to rely on several books for addresses, or for active players, send directly to their home stadium. Now, the best source out there in my opinion is the online data base www.sportscardforum.com It’s continuously updated by users, who rate their successes and failures. It’s easy to use, and covers almost all major sports. ”
What do you send to the players?
“Normally, I send at least a request letter, a SASE, and something to sign, normally a card. The request letter is very basic, “Dear Mr./Ms. _________, I wanted to write because I am a fan and am hoping to ask for your autograph. If not, no worries! Please know I am a fan either way. Thank you for all that you do for (which sport it is here) and its fans. Respectfully yours, ___________.” I always type the letter, but sign it by hand. Some people try to hand write every letter, but I am not sure that it increases the odds any given player will sign. It’s worth noting that some players respond better to personal letters, and sometimes even questionnaires. But, unless I really have something to say, I try to keep it short and polite.
Most times, I send just one card, unless I know for sure that the player will sign more (and I have more). Sportscardforum’s TTM Database is great for tracking other collector’s successes and failures to help make the determination if sending more than one card will be successful, as members can track how many cards they send and how many are returned signed. Some players, like Frank Tanana, will sign everything, while others, like Jimmy Key, will only sign one. Some players may even keep the extra cards.
Finally, some players do charge, and in that case, I will send cash if I really want the autograph. Prices vary, from very reasonable to ridiculously high. Some prices also vary depending on what you are requesting to be signed.
Ultimately, I can’t stress enough: do research. Sports Card Forum’s TTM Database is an AMAZING tool for this. It takes just a few moments to research any given player from any given sport. “
How big is your collection today?
“For TTM autos, I have about 300 returns, and about 40-50 pending as of now.”
What is your favorite(s) TTM Autos you currently have?
“I have a few returns that I was very happy to get back. Clayton Kershaw is one, as active players of his caliber normally do not sign for free, or at all, TTM. One of my all time favorite returns was Carl Erskine. I sent him a ROMLB, which he turned into a “stat ball.” It was a special touch, and it was much appreciated! Though he has since passed, I was also happy to get a return from Cecil Travis. He may be an unknown name to a lot of collectors, but he played for the Senators from 1933- 1945. If you never heard of him, it’s worth checking his career stats. There’s an obviously drastic dip post WW2 (and he did serve), but if not for that, he would have easily been a HOFer. It’s a reminder that a lot of people, from all types of backgrounds, gave a lot in service of their country. Finally, a last favorite was also my first, Orel Hershiser. I grew up watching him pitch, and my earliest memory of baseball is the Dodger’s win of the ’88 World Series. He’s always been my favorite player, and getting a return from him when I was a kid solidified that for me.”
Top players on your want list you are still pursuing?
“There are a few HOFers on my want list that I am still after, but in all honesty, the thing holding me back is the cost of their autographs. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be cheaper to simply purchase a reliably authenticated autographed piece than to pay for one via TTM. That being said, one player I am currently trying hard to get is Alan Trammell. He signs very, very selectively, and more often than not cards come back unsigned. I’ve sent a few attempts, all of which have been returned unsigned. But I am still trying to score this elusive signer!”
Here are some additional Tips from Travis on how to research on Sportscard Forum’s Database:
-Research, research, research.
- Often, for any given player there will be more than one address. Make sure to find one that has the most recent successes!
- Always check if a player charges for their autograph. This information is usually in the “notes” section, or other users will leave it in their comments.
- Some players charge, some don’t. Some send the money to charity, some don’t. Even on a basic level, some players sign TTM, some don’t. Whatever a player’s reasons may be for signing or not, don’t take it personally.
- Things can and will get lost in the mail, especially with plain white envelopes! It’s just part of the game.
- Even if a player has 100% successes, it doesn’t hurt to do a little checking. For example, if there are 100% successes, but they are from 2 years ago, and there are quite a few pending since then, don’t hold your breath!
- While they are obvious targets, star players and HOF legends rarely sign TTM, or charge quite a bit. Pick players wisely, and you’ll be happier with your initial success rate.
- Send a card that an autograph will look good on, and even come out on! Most, if not all, players use dark ink. Photos will all dark colors? Not a great idea, unless you’re willing to send (and give up) a special pen. Also, Chrome cards usually won’t take autos well, nor will cards with high gloss. Hitting them with an eraser will sometimes take off enough gloss so autos will stick to the card.
- If you send a baseball, you’ll need a #0 and a #2 bubble mailer. Make sure to get ones that self seal. The #2 is to be your SASE. Make sure to include enough postage on the return. Most post offices can help you calculate the exact amount.
When I saw the sale sheet on this product it was a bit of a leap of faith. Repackaging is all the rage today and repackaging a box with another box could have went in two directions. Fortunately for me and collectors I think Leaf got their formula right!
Not every repackaged box is going to have an Exquisite box inside, but Leaf did an excellent job that each sealed wax box made you feel like you were getting something of value in return.
Some of my favorites from the break were the 2011 Playoff Contenders, 2013 Panini Playbook, 2007 UD Premier and the 2012 Topps Supreme.
When bundled with the Cut Autograph card sealed by Beckett Grading Services in each box, I feel they definitely punched this product into the end zone.
I was fortunate enough to hit a cool Y.A. Tittle with the piercing glare and finished off with a Joe Namath clean cut auto.
Being an avid collector of sealed wax perhaps this product just hits my sweet spot for collecting. The chance of the unknown followed by a choice of do you continue to keep breaking or do you keep the wax box sealed?
For me I only owned one of the boxes I received out of the 8 which was the 2012 Panini Black Football so I think that guy is going to get busted on a future post! But for now I will probably sell my 8 Cut Autographs to recoup some of my costs….and then enjoy the sweet additions to my sealed wax collection!
Until Next Time…..Keep Busting….& In this Case….Perhaps Bust Again!