The Slow, Agonizing Death of Memorabilia Cards

There was once a time, long ago, when game-used relics in card form were considered “dream cards” for player collectors. With Upper Deck’s introduction of memorabilia cards in baseball back in 1997, they created a hobby stampede. It’s now been almost twenty years and to say that collectors are sick and tired of these cards would be an understatement. There have also been several instances of materials used for these cards not being authentic.

If you go to any card show or if you are fortunate enough to have a card shop in your town, you know how inexpensive these cards are today. Even when they come out of “high-end” products, there just isn’t enough value in them to keep this gimmick going much longer. If I’m buying a $200 dollar or more box of cards, the last thing I want to see is some bastardized, cut-up uniform or bat chip in front of me unless there is also a certified autograph included on that very same card. It’s just not appealing any more, at least not to many collectors I’ve spoken with.

With Walmart and Target more often than not becoming the only place in many cities to buy baseball cards in person, perhaps its time for game-used relics to become a retail-only exclusive. That way, you can grown the card market in retail outlets and card companies can focus their attention to producing better certified autographs, interesting parallels, die-cut and card designs, and more hobby-level products. Hell, this move could create more collectors based on these “game-used” relics in stores everywhere while the rest of us can enjoy better produced premium products that don’t include questionable memorabilia cards. If that’s a move that drives down the price of hobby boxes, even better.

The bottom line is that collectors have grown tired of dull, monotonous memorabilia cards and for now, low-numbered parallels is where collectors can make their money back, whether they spent $19.99 on a blaster at Walmart or $99.99 at their local hobby shop. Just look at a recent auction (and there are MANY). A 2014 Topps Triple Threads 7-piece relic with two pinstripes #’d to 36 sold for under $40 dollars. Meanwhile, a 2014 Bowman Chrome Gold Refractor that’s numbered to 50 sells for $45-$55 all day long on eBay. Go a little lower and you strike oil.

$_57 (1)

Categories: The Hobby | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “The Slow, Agonizing Death of Memorabilia Cards

  1. Andy

    Hey Mario.

    I read this with a wide grin all over my face as I wrote a very similar piece in April last year…

    I like relic cards for what they are, a superfluous and unnecessary insert set. Could we survive without them? Hell yeah!! Would our collecting lives be a little emptier if they weren’t around anymore? Perhaps a bit!

    I agree that those GU sets of the late 90’s were where it was at, but I find it more interesting that somewhere along the way they became christened ‘relic’ cards… A totally apt way of describing a somewhat ‘antiquated’ and out-dated aspect of the hobby.

  2. Thank you for the comment, Andy!

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