The first time I crossed paths with a card embedded with a piece of a player's uniform was when I pulled this 1996 Press Pass Game-Used Jersey card of Ray Allen:
That year Upper Deck took the hobby by storm and inserted jersey cards in their football and hockey products. The following year they gave baseball, basketball, and racing card collectors something to chase and included my all-time favorite player:
It took me fifteen years, but I finally added this card to my collection. And over the years I have spent hundreds of dollars on a variety of memorabilia cards for my PC's. Some include detailed certificates of authenticity on the backs:
While others have very vague descriptions, which leave collectors wondering what's exactly embedded in their cards:
But since most of us aren't privy to the manufacturing of these cards, it's impossible for us to truly know if the tiny swatches of fabric or pieces of equipment we collect were actually worn or used by athletes in games. Even on the most descriptive COA's, there's still the possibility that the company is lying. Which means that collectors are required to take a leap of faith when collecting game-used trading cards.
Up until a few years ago, I was confident that the majority of my memorabilia cards contained actual game-used swatches. But with age, I've matured and grown wiser.
Now don't get the wrong idea. I still enjoy pulling a relic card out of a pack.
However... outside of a few exceptions (like here or here), I refuse to spend more than a few dollars for a single memorabilia card. I have established this rule for myself as a defense mechanism used to battle any future feelings of regret.
It's a shame that a handful of shady people have tarnished something that was once one of the coolest cardboard innovations. I'm sure memorabilia cards will continue to be collected by many of us.
Unfortunately the doubt that has settled into many collectors' minds will never be erased.
And since I'm not the savior of memorabilia cards, I don't have the solution to this problem. On the other hand, I have some personal things I'd like to see happen.
Let's call it my Memorabilia Card Christmas Wish List:
1. I wish that representatives of MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, MLS, UFC, NASCAR, and other sports leagues would step up and actively participate in the production of memorabilia cards, since it puts money into their pockets and helps promote their sport.
2. I wish each league designated a department dedicated to authenticating game-used memorabilia that would be directly handed to card manufacturers. In other words the game-used items should go from the athlete to the league representative, then directly to the card manufacturer. All middle men should be cut out of the loop.
3. I wish card manufacturers stopped using event-worn memorabilia and only embedded the game-used swatches. I understand that would probably reduce the number of memorabilia cards in each product, but personally I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.
4. I wish card manufacturers stated when and where each piece of memorabilia was used and back it up with a detailed certificate of authenticity with a money back guarantee.
But even if all of these wishes came true... the bottom line is this: Memorabilia cards are like most religions... they require a leap of faith.
What are your thoughts on memorabilia cards?
Happy Monday and sayonara!