With the recent release of the ‘game-used’-heavy 2014 Topps Museum, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time mulling over the relative merits of memorabilia cards.
Let’s face it, you can’t avoid them as they’re one of the standard insert sets that you stumble across in pretty much every sports card product that’s released these days. From the heady days of the late 90’s when Upper Deck first cut up ‘game-used’ jerseys of Griffey Jr, Tony Gwynn and Rey Ordonez to seed in random boxes of 1997 UD Baseball, to a year later when they committed the cardinal sin of sawing up a bat used by the Sultan of Swat himself, game-used memorabilia cards have become part of the sports card DNA over the last decade and a bit.
Of course, once upon a time these inserts were crazy hard to find and many of those early cards still fetch high premiums on the secondary market. However today’s game-used inserts (or ‘relic’ card as it’s started calling itself today) are virtually two-a-penny, and can easily be found littering pretty much every box of cards that gets produced. Such a high proliferation of these types of cards on the market has resulted in a laissez-faire attitude amongst collectors, and very few relic cards (apart from the incredibly rare short-printed versions of HOF’ers and superstars) seem to carry any kind of weight in the Hobby.
Naturally memorabilia cards have evolved over the years. Alongside those ‘pioneering’ jersey and bat cards we now have patches, buttons, laundry tags, bat barrels, bat knobs, gloves, and so on, and so on! Companies still seem to be pushing the boat out with regard to how they present these items in card form, but is the concept becoming tired after all this time? Maybe just a little bit stale?? Does anyone really care anymore when they pull a small piece of jersey once belonging to <insert the name of any semi-star you like… I’m going with James Loney only because he was the first to pop into my head> that’s cut up into a centimetre square and embedded in a 2″x3″ piece of card??
I’m guessing the answer is a big fat NO (unless you happen to have a James Loney PC)!
Certain news stories over the last few years have cast further doubt over the lowly relic card as a viable form of collectible memorabilia, as it has emerged that a number of different parties have been accused of passing on fake items to the major card companies as the genuine game-used article. Just Google the name ‘Bradley Wells’ for an example of what I’m talking about!
So where does that leave us now with the relic card?
I’ll be honest and say that I don’t know any collectors out there who exclusively pick up game used cards! Maybe there are the odd one or two who will chase them down to supplement their own PCs, but as a collectible in it’s own right the relic card just doesn’t seem to be near the top of anyone’s list as far as I can tell. In fact I know of a fair number of you out there in the Hobby who positively detest them, and avoid them at all costs!
Now, I guess it’s time to let you into a little secret… Are you sitting comfortably? Cool! Here goes…
… I have a little bit of a soft spot for game used memorabilia cards!
BOOM!! There we go… and it’s out there!!
I gave up many moons ago thinking that game used cards were a ‘link’ to the player depicted on the card. I dismissed the notion of ‘game used’ as being the overriding factor behind these cards existing in the first place and learned to start accepting them as a regular old insert, just like any other. Once I did this I felt like I’d made my peace with relic cards and became much more appreciative of them. After all, just look at what Topps has done with this year’s Museum Collection and you’ll see some absolutely stunning looking cards!! The same can be said year-in year-out with Triple Threads! I won’t bring Tier 1 to the table as I think it’s one of the most unnecessary sets of cards out there… Damn I loathe that product!!!
I’ve even gone down the route of considering collecting game-used relics of players in Cardinals uniforms but, as with most of my grand collecting schemes, the idea was aborted early on as I moved on to another fad!
So that’s what they are to me now – a quirky insert set. Certainly not my favourite in the pantheon of baseball card heaven, but certainly not the derided and under-appreciated card that they appear to be to many of my collecting brethren!
Let’s spend a few moments to have a think about the ‘lowly’ relic card then, eh? Is it really that bad? Can it be redeemed in the eyes of even the most vehement anti-relic collector?? Personally I think we should all give the game-used memorabilia cards another crack of the whip – another chance! Given the general feeling towards these types of cards there are often some real bargains to find on eBay and such like.
So the question is now – how do you all feel about relic and other game-used memorabilia cards? Do you collect them yourself? Maybe just a few of your favourite team or player? Maybe you even have a secret love for them just like I admitted to above? Or do you avoid them like the plague?? Worst baseball card idea ever? And if you really, really hate them – why do you hate them?
Feel free to leave your comments below! I’d love to hear your thoughts!