30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The $20 Card Collection

I have a love/hate relationship with the 90's.  On one hand... the decade represented my college years and involved some of my fondest memories with friends and family.  It also marked the start of my career in education which opened doors to a new purpose in life, as well as creating new friendships and experiences.  From that point of view... it was a pretty awesome decade.

On the other hand... I wasted thousands of dollars busting packs and boxes searching for inserts, parallels, rookie cards, and autographs in hopes of funding an early retirement.  I'm pretty sure you can figure out how that worked out for me.

That's the first thing that popped into my head after I bought this shoebox at the Capitol Flea Market on Sunday:

While sifting through the top loaders, I couldn't help but think that this was some guy's retirement fund.  Whoever he was... we were similar in the sense that we collected a little bit of everything back in the 90's.


I remember pulling a Jeff Bagwell Hit Parade insert out of a pack of 1996 Studio and immediately putting it in a screwdown.  I felt like I hit the lottery.  The card was gorgeous and serial numbered, which was a decent combination back in the mid 90's.

Holographic Die-Cuts

It's taken me eighteen years... but I've finally added the 1997 SP Special FX insert card to my Tony Gwynn PC.  Isn't it lovely?

Acetate Die-Cuts

When I was a kid, my brother loved making stained glass windows.  It's weird... seemed like back then you could find them hanging in just about everyone's homes.  Anyways... that must be why I love this insert set so much.

See-through Acetate

I was one of those guys who collected a little bit of EVERYTHING in the 90's.  That includes comic cards.  However... by the time Fleer released this set, I had moved on to other things like Manon Rheaume.

Discolored See-through Acetate

This card was on fire back in the day and I was surprised to see that people are still asking $7+ on COMC.  One of these actually sold on eBay for $3 (+ $4 shipping).  Not too shabby.


Topps' Mystery Finest were another popular insert set from the 90's.  Topps applied a "mystery peel" to the front of these inserts to keep the card variation a mystery.  This non-refractor bordered version is the most common, but since it's Mr. Air... it still is popular among basketball collectors.


Topps had Chrome, while Fleer had Metal.  The people responsible for player selection at Fleer knew what they were doing, because all six players in this insert set made it into Canton.

Collectors were exposed to parallel versions of cardboard before the 90's.  But it was during this decade that card companies started to mass produce them... and collectors like myself ate them up.

Artist Proofs

I remember opening packs of Select Certified in search for mirror golds and artist proofs.  I remember paying a ton of money for the 1995 Select Certified Mirror Gold parallel of Tony Gwynn.  Today you can buy them for under $3 on COMC.

1st Day Issues

There were approximately 1,000 of these Derrick Thomas parallels produced in 1993.  Back then... this was considered pretty scarce.  This led to collectors paying a decent dime for these parallels.  Today... you can actually find these parallels in dime boxes.


In my humble opinion... Pinnacle's claim to fame was their use of Dufex Technology on their inserts and parallels during the 90's.  However... I was more of a refractor kind of guy.


My mama always teased me, because I was attracted to shiny objects.  Out in the hot California sun, this card could literally blind someone.

Protected Refractors

To peel or not to peel... that is the question.  Twenty years later, I'm still undetermined.  Some days I feel like keeping the protective peel intact.  Other days... I want to see the card's true beauty.  Unfortunately... once you peel back, there's no turning back.


Before Gypsy Queen and UD Masterpieces... there were Pinnacle's framed Pinnacle Power inserts.  I sound like a broken record, but these are sure pretty.


Cards made out of pleather?  Yes please!  Ever since these came out in 1996... I've been wanted to add the Favre to my collection.

E-motionally N-Tense

There are a handful of card brands that I truly miss.  Topps Gallery.  UD Masterpieces.  Flair Showcase.  And of course... Skybox Emotion.  Great card designs and thick card stock make these inserts stand out.

On the other hand... I'm perfectly fine with Wild Card closing their doors.


In 1991, I went wild over Wild Card.  The concept?  If you pulled a "striped" parallel, you could exchange the card for lowered numbered stripes or regular base cards.  For example, the person who pulled the card above could send it in and request 10 regular Steve Youngs.  I also heard that collectors could do the opposite and send in 10 regular Steve Young base cards and request a "10 stripe" parallel

I don't necessarily dislike Wild Card, but whenever I see their products... I'm reminded of how much money I spent on their stuff.  By the way... if you ever stumble across "1000 striped" parallels... they are very collectible and have sort of a cult following.


Normally... I'd be upset with pulling an expired redemption card.  But I've got to admit, these two cards are pretty cool since I'm actually building this autograph set.

Last... but certainly not least plain Jane 90's insert that features two of the most popular running backs in NFL history:

Classic Combos

So there you have it.  Twenty dollars for an entire collection of 90's sports cards that was probably worth 10 to 20 times more twenty years ago.  Not sure if I should be ecstatic or depressed.

Happy Thursday and sayonara!


  1. You got some nice Broncos in that lot.

  2. Seems like a great lot for the price Fuji!

  3. Great stuff for the price of a blaster. Well done as usual.

  4. Loving those Museum Collections and the TD refractor. Congrats!

  5. Those Stained Glass inserts are some of the most beautiful cards ever made.

  6. That takes me back, I pulled one of the Payton/Emmitt Dynasty-Destiny cards from a box of 1994 Stadium Club and I thought it was the coolest card around.

  7. Oh man I love all of that!! For me, not about the value. It's about the great looking cards and those are some really great looking ones. I also don't have the Griffey lol.

  8. Looks like a lottery hit. A little bit of everything good, bad and ugly.

  9. Excellent score! love the pleather.

  10. raz - yeah... helped me fill my elway page in my insert binder.

    jeff - the seau is gorgeous. as usual... the scan doesn't do the refractor justice

    nick - totally agree

    sports card collectors - lol... these days 90's inserts are rarely about the value. but back in the 90's... well that's another story.

    adam - tempted to... very tempted.

  11. nice group of cards for the money. the prior post said the lady let you fill in the gaps. anything worth mentioning?

    1. Not really. If you look at the box, you'll see the 50 and 100ct. plastic boxes. Those were pretty much the fillers. There were a few parallels here and there, but for the most part they were just more 90's base.