Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Collecting 101: A Primer On Hobby Venacular

I received an email from a reader who has recently returned to the hobby to share the experience with his young boys and relive some of his youth. He brought up a very good point that many of us take for granted, Hobby lingo.

The Hobby has changed in many ways through out the years and for those readers who are new to collecting or getting back into collecting, I present a Hobby Glossary. I am sure I will forget a few or screw-up a few, so please, in the comments provide a corrected or new term and definition when applicable, so this post can serve as a resource for our returning brethren. So let's get started.

Short Print or SP- A card printed in less quantity than other cards in the set. These are often rookies.

Insert- A subset of the main or base set.

Serial Numbered- Cards produced in a limited, known quantity, stamped and occasionally hand written, the serial numbering is designated as xx/xxx. The theory being, the lower the serial number the more collectible the card.

Parallel- A card similar in look to a base card from the set with some sort of differentiator. Examples, different colored border, serial numbering, etc.

Variations- A card that "varies" in some way from an identically numbered card in the set. For example, the regular version of a card has the player in a home uniform and the variation in an away uniform. Typically used in retro or flashback themed products like Heritage.

Refractor- A card that utilizes a different finish on the card stock to create a "reflective" type appearance. Often found with various color borders. Typically found in brands such as Topps Finest, Topps and Bowman Chrome to name a few.

RC-Rookie

Common- A standard base card in a set.

Stars- Pujols, A-Rod, Jeter, etc

Semi or Minor Stars- Chase Utley, Lance Berkman, etc

Standard Condition References-
P- Poor, F- Fair, G- Good, VG- Very Good, NM- Near Mint, M- Mint

Card Grading- Having a 3rd party company examine the card for condition and assign it a numerical value from 1-10. 1 being Poor and 10 being Mint. Different companies try to one up each other with half point grading scales and other terms have entered the glossary like Pristine and Gem Mint.

Slabbed- A card that has been graded or authenticated is then encapsulated in a relatively indestructible and tamper proof case.

Book Value (Don't get me started)- An antiquated pricing structure used by only the most moronic of collectors. The advent of the Internet created the ability to sell cards direct to other collectors on a secondary market creating historical data to determine a card's Real Value.

Flagship Brand- A trading card manufacturer's most produced, and readily available set. i.e Topps Series 1 and 2, and UD Series 1 and 2

Brand Acronyms- Upper Deck utilizes several variations of SP which we now know means Short Print. Some of these include SPA - Authentic, SP Legendary Cuts, SPx. Topps has A&G for Allen & Ginter. (Help me out with others guys)

Unlicensed Product- A product featuring retired players or minor league players that is not officially licensed by the MLBPA. Donruss and Razor Entertainment.

Multi-sport Products- Fairly self explanatory. A product containing players from multiple sports. Examples- Sport Kings, Donruss Sport Legends.

TCG- Trading card game. Current on the sports market is Topps Attax.

Game-Used or GU- A card containing what is supposed to be a piece of material worn by a player in a game.

Event used- Similar to above but NOT worn in a game. Might have been worn at a photo-shoot, Draft Day event or other.

Auto or AU- A card bearing an authentic signature.

Premier or high-end product- On the high side of the dollar scale. Products of this type typically guarantee a minimum number of game used and or autographed cards.


Low-end or entry level product- Your more "kid-friendly" products with typical pack prices ranges between $.99c and $3.00.

Patch- A game used card containing a multi-colored jersey swatch typically off the player's jersey numbers, team insignia, or name.

Swatch- The piece of material on a game used card.

Manufactured Patch Cards- Not all cards with a logo, lettering etc are game used. Often they are produced by the manufacturer and are really just another insert.

Cut Signature- An autographed card made using a signature from another source such as a cancelled check.

On-card or hard-signed- A card bearing an autograph that is actually signed on the card.

Sticker autograph- To save time, expense, and delays, companies have started having athletes sign stickers that are then placed on cards. Less desirable than a hard signed card.


TTM- Through the mail. Used in reference to an autograph request sent via mail.

Redemption- A card that is part of the product but was not completed in time for actual distribution upon the product's release date. Most often applies to autographed cards.

UD- Upper Deck

DLP- Donruss Leaf Playoff, now owned by Panini

Penny Sleeve- Individual card holder made of thin plastic. Also called a sleeve.

Top Loader- A rigid card holder.

Snap Tight- A card holder used for thicker trading cards. Come in different thicknesses based on the point value of the card stock. The higher the pt. stock the thicker the card.

Hinged case- Card holders with a hinged lid that come in several varieties to accommodate different quantities.

Magnetic Holder- Similar to a snap tight but held together with a magnetic. Both types often feature diamond cut inlays so the corners of a card do not touch the case.

Junk Wax- Typically referred to cards from an era of over-production, 1986-1994


Vintage- Typically referred to card produce prior to 1970. Some collectors will stretch this to 1973 the last year Topps was produced in more than two series.


High numbers- Refers to vintage cards released later in the season and are the later cards numbered in a set i.e. 600-700.


Craig's List Idiot or CI- A person selling cards typically from the junk wax era with no clue to what the cards are really worth. Avoid at all costs.

3 comments:

Dave - Fielder's Choice said...

Rob, that's a good list, but I don't think that Upper Deck "SP" stands for "short print". Obviously, not every card in SP products can be short printed. When SP was first introduced in the early 1990s, it was "Super Premium" and as far as I know, that never changed ...

Chris Harris said...

Upper Deck never really said what "SP" ever meant. But when it the brand was introduced in '93 it was assumed to mean "Super Premium."

devin said...

niiiice little glossary.

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