Enter the 1998 Bowman Chrome Golden Anniversary Refractor. These hold a stated print run of just 5 copies and were inserted into packs at a rate of up to 1:1279 depending on the series. These are nearly impossible to pull and are on Most Wanted checklists for many player collectors.
Bowman Chrome has always been a set full of parallels. 1998 was the sophomore year of the installment and it really set things off with these highly elusive and equally desireable Golden Anniversary Refractor parallels. For the untrained eye, the quickest way to differentiate these with the base refractors is with the facsimile signature on the left side of the front of the card. It’s gold on the Golden Anniversary parallels, and black on the base cards. It’s typical for price guides not to provide values for these scarce parallels due to their minimal print run. That said, actual market value is noted via completed transactions. It’s hard to put a price on something with such a small print run. This is also why 1/1s are unpriceable. At the end of the day, however, price tags are just indications of perceived, not actual, market value.
While I don’t consider myself a type collector, I’d always wanted at least one legitimate example from this set. The Travis Lee made sense since I still occasionally pick up cards of his. I cherry picked this card auction-style back on October 7, 2012 and paid $28.75 shipped. I’m not sure if that price would be accurate in today’s market conditions. As time passess and as these continue to be added to permanent collections, I expect to see less and less of these regardless of player.
If you’re looking to try your hand at pulling one of these, grab a box of 1998 Bowman Baseball. Even if you don’t pull a Golden Anniversary Refractor parallel, you still have a chance at pulling a variety of less elusive but still interesting parallels.
Do you remember the Travis Lee prospecting craze that existed in 1997 and if so, can you share a memory?