What To Look For When Buying Memorabilia Cards

Frank Thomas 2003 Fleer Patchworks Game Word Patch

I recently acquired these three cards. I like the simplicity of design here. I think it's the color differentiation that does it for me. Each color is highly distinguishable and shows varying degrees of jersey complexity. The concept here seems to be that the more complex the jersey cut, the scarcer the card. This is the generally accepted notion among most hobby collectors. Here we're comparing some cards from 2003 Fleer Patchworks Game Worn Patch. Fleer has supported that notion here by serial numbering each of the three color variations with the following tiers:

  • Blue = Level 1, #d/300
  • Green = Level 2, #d/100
  • Copper = Level 3, #d/50

The lower the serial numbering, the more complex the swatch. This concept has become more common in today's market. Multi-color swatches usually carry significantly stronger premiums over single-color swatches. This makes plenty sense given that there is much less space for the jersey numbers and patches than there is for the overall solid-color space that makes up the bulk of the jersey. This fact alone keeps things interesting if you focus on jersey cards. I keep my eyes out for things like this when I am in the market for a jersey/memorabilia card.

If you're in the market for jersey cards, it can be quite the headache given the sheer amount of options available to you at any given time. So, I've compiled a list of things to look for when buying jersey cards. This should help guide you in the decision-making process. That said, let's get to it!

List of things to look for when buying jersey cards (top to bottom - common to rare):

  • Anything that falls in the category of 'unique': This can be a very subjective term which is why I put it at the top. Some collectors may enjoy the 'feel' of the cut as they touch it, others may just like the color. Any number of reasons may qualify as 'unique'; it all depends on the collector.
  • Single color: This is the most common.
  • Pin Stripes: This is the most common of the two-color patches.
  • Visible Stitches: This can be somewhat difficult to distinguish depending on the cut. You'll need some attention to detail to notice stitches, be prepared to squint your eyes. These are less common than pin stripes.
  • Two or more colors showing, the more the better: Generally speaking, pin stripes qualify as two-color patches. However, this category is geared toward those cuts that are from the jersey number, name, unique patches form from championship games etc. These cuts are very limited in comparison to those of pin stripes or solid-space.
  • Dirt/Blood Stains: These can be relatively hard to find given that a lot of times, cuts are from un-worn player jerseys. Also consider the fact that not all game-worn jerseys have dirt stains, it all depends one what happened in the game. If the cut has a blood stain, chances are, it's either the only one or one of a very select few cuts that do. But then again, it all depends on the severity of the spill.
  • Buttons: Buttons are also very scarce as there are only eight of them per jersey and that's being generous as jersey's with eight buttons are usually custom for larger players i.e., Frank Thomas! Not the standard. Custom work aside, there should be only seven available cuts depicting a button.
  • Pen/Marker markings: This is where it starts to get interesting. Not every player writes on their jerseys or caps. So it's player specific. Some players write things like unique identifiers or tokens for good luck around the neck of the bill, the knob of the bat, the wrist of the glove etc. No two cuts are ever the same as no player ever writes the exact same thing in the same exact way twice. Additionally, not every player does this.
  • Laundry Tags: I saved these for last because they are extraordinarily rare. How many tags are on any given jersey? One? If your card depicts a laundry tag, you may just be looking at a 1/1.

As you can see, there are plenty of options. Each carries varying degrees of scarcity. Given the vast variety of jersey/memorabilia cards available in the market, this list should act as a handy guide to help you make healthy purchase decisions.

Question of the Day:

What was the last jersey/memorabilia card you purchased/acquired?

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