Saturday, February 22, 2014

What are you receiving in Game Used Relic cards?

Have you ever wondered what is really inside your game used card? Ever wonder how much you are really getting inside your card of that players uniform, bat or other pieces or memorabilia? Collectors spend most of their money on game used or autograph cards, these in turn become some of their prized possessions in their collection. Game used relic cards continue to grow and have a strong secondary market for any player. Some legends or superstars have prices in the upper hundreds for some of the limited cards. Which brings us to our topic; What are you really getting in those relic cards? If you spend $200 on a Babe Ruth bat relic how much of his bat are you owning from the bat that was used to put into the cards? What percentage of a jersey are you receiving in a small swatch relic card?

We decided to run a little test on two damaged relic cards we have and see what was inside and provide some information to collectors on what they are receiving in relic cards. Both the cards we used were damaged and both are different companies and years. The test was to see what was inside and compare between the two if possible.

Card #1 is a 2012 Topps Tier One George Bell Triple Relic Bat /25. This is a great card and was part of the PC until it showed up damaged from the seller. There is a heavy crease at the top right where the relic starts on the front and back of the card.

We took a knife and cut down the left side of the card right beside the relic. Once cut, we started to peal the back of the card to show the relic. The first thing we noticed was the bat relic was in three different pieces. the second noticeable thin was that each piece was just a little more width of a piece of paper. Needless to say we were shocked. The pieces were so thin and fragile that while we were carefully peeling them off the card they were breaking into pieces.

After we took the pieces out we were left with multiple pieces of a bat sliver. This was a good example of a card which was low numbered having very little quantity of a relic. This wasn't a patch or barrel but we would have thought that maybe one-eighth of an inch might have been a good representation for a relic piece. Almost wonder how many thousands of bat cards could still be made from 1 George Bell bat.

Card #2 is a 2005 Donruss Absolute Tools of the Trade Jeff Bagwell Triple Relic /175. Yes another great relic card that was damaged. It doesn't show well on the scan but this one had a crease right above the Pant relic and a very large crease down the back. Another card coming in damaged from shipment.
This one was a little unique because it had two fabric relics and one bat relic. Like the Bell card we took a knife and cut down the right side of this card beside the bat relic. Peeling the card apart we noticed the bat relic right away was the same width as the Topps card. Now this bat is different wood so it didn't break easily from the card. One piece on the right did break off but the reminder of the relic stayed together. The two fabric relics were both nicely cut to fit the space on the card, small but were not torn or cut badly.

The difference on the Bagwell relics was the fabric relics had printed numbers and Bagwell's name on the glued side. Both have different numbers so Donruss could tell which was the pants and the jersey. Not sure if Topps or other companies do this but kind of cool to know the way Donruss knew back in 2005. The same result on this card was that you received three small pieces of relic from that player. All three were just over a half of an inch in length, which again could give companies thousands of relic cards to produce.

In conclusion, if you really think about what you are spending on relic cards you may want to think of maybe a different route. It is one of the greatest innovations in our hobby and a very important piece to each company producing cards today. But if you thought about buying an authentic jersey or bat of a player how much do you think you could spend on that piece compared to the numerous relic cards you may have or are willing to buy of that player. The convenience of having these pieces in a baseball card is a lot easier to store than an actual bat or jersey but it is another way to look at collecting. As an example of the George Bell card, I paid $15 for it which isn't too pricey. However I know of a local person that has an authentic game used bat of his that he is looking for $150 for it. I wonder how many cards I could make of out that one if I end up picking it up some day?

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  1. I could have used the Bagwell lol. Once again nice article and interesting break down. No surprise about Topps though. And that's all I'm gonna say about that company!


    1. Thanks, if I come across another one I'll let you know. This one didn't show on the scan but had a huge crease down the back of the card.

  2. I know it doesn't necessarily prove that the player actually used the jersey or pants, but it's sort of comforting knowing that Donruss tagged each of those swatches with Bagwell's name.