Something To Ponder About Low Print Run Cards

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5.00 star(s)
Jun 11, 2005
Washington State - The Pacific NW
Back in the late 90s, when the first pack released 1/1s were hitting the streets, everyone was going crazy. I believe I heard a story about someone collecting the Flair Masterpiece cards of Griffey. There were three different 1/1 versions and the guy had obtained 2 of the 3. Prices were somewhere in the $10K range if I remember correctly! Not sure if he ever found #3 or not...

Fast forward to 2009, fast approaching 2010. Most players have a list of 1/1 cards in the double and even triple digits. High end sets, fabulous patch cards, cut autographs, etc are commonly found in even some of the newest of collectors collections merely because they neat the odds and pulled one or more.

As I continue to come across these types of cards on ebay and in message boards and sites like this, I find there are still a fair number of people who hold the cards in the highest of regards. There is nothing wrong with that and for a collector like me for example, who has pulled maybe 2 1/1 cards ever, it has to be a nice feeling to land one, especially a decent player.

However, these "rare" cards will probably never be priced. I watch some sell on ebay for single and low double digit prices commonly, yet see asking prices of what seem like nothing special cards in the triple digits commonly as well. Some sell, others don't.

What is your opinion on these cards?

Is a cut autograph, numbered to 17 copies made from a 3x5 card of a decent 40s star who is deceased really worth $150 to most people? Maybe you can get the 3x5 auto for $8-10 on a regular basis.

How about a 1/1 of a decent current player. Not a future HOFer, but a 2-3 time AS? He might have 86 1/1 cards, but should we expect to have to pay $65 for it?

Just curious how others felt. Some of you have them and want to sell them. Others want them and can't find "deals". What are your thoughts?
My opinion,
When the 1/1's were introduced it pretty much sealed the deal of not ever being able to complete a player collection,which I feel kind-of ruined alot of collectors aspirations of being able to do so.
In the mid to late 90's you still had the chance,especially if you were collecting a semi-start or minor star.I actually feel that the advent of the super rare card has hurt the hobby more then helped.I have a 1/1 of V-mart and I like the card, but there are other cards that are alot more easier to find that I like just as much.

It all comes down (and this goes for anything, base, RC, AU, GU, 1/1, bobblehead, whatever) if somebody wants it bad enough they will pay the money. Especially for us PC's out there. Example, you might pass over an 04 DK Signatures Platinum Rocco Baldelli w/o even a thought, but I would seriously consider spending some hard earned dough (within my means of course) to add that to my Baldelli master collection. So bottom line is it all comes down to the collector and his/ her interests... my .2 cents ;)
I have never held 1/1 cards in much esteem I have in hand zero 1/1 that came from packs. I do however, have three inbound via trade. I thought I would add a few of my favorite players to my pc just for fun. JMHO Jim
I think part of it is the human nature aspect. We want things that set us apart. So having that 1/1 or that 1/5 is something no one else, or just a handful of others, can have.

Another part is the feeling that if we have it, it's worth more than if we don't. Here's an example of that: Take a 1999 Topps Power Brokers Ken Griffey Jr refractor. It's a 1:144 pull, so about 1:4 boxes. There are 20 cards in the set, so the chances of pulling the Griffey specifically are about 1:80 boxes. If I have that card, I'm looking at it that way and that $20 BV seems a bit low, whereas someone looking for that card will point out that there are 5 on ebay at this moment and one can be had for under $12 delivered. Same applies to 1/1 or low # cards. If you pull that A&G 1/1 Todd Helton, it's mojo, you beat the odds, it's priceless. To the Helton collector looking for it, it's another contrived scarcity that's not really THAT much different from the Bazooka back, the black border, the unnumbered, or the 15 other 1/1's he is looking for from other sets.

My personal opinion is similar to what mrmopar mentioned. If I pull it, great, but I likely won't be adding many to my collection on the secondary market. Same with the 'cut' autos. If I can buy it cheap, yeah, but I'm not paying $80 for a cut auto /63 when I can get the certified 3x5 for $10.
I dislike cuts Autos for the reason you original 3x5 can be had for the fraction of the price .

As for 1/1s, although they have lost their luster (just like GU and many autos), there is still a collecting base for them. Yes someone might have paid $500 for one 10 years ago and now wants to get "$300" back when the market will only "yield" $50... it's a game that we all play "Buy low, Sell how"...that has never changed.

You pay what YOU feel it is worth REGARDLESS of market conditions. JMO!
I agree with some of what has been said above. For me, I also hold CERTAIN 1/1's in higher regards than others. Example? I have a set price in mind that I will pay for Bill Hall 1/1's - regardless if they are Autographed, Game Used, whatever. However, I will pay up to 5 times that amount for Superfractors and Topps Platinums. Why? Similar to what valediction said above, even though they are 1/1's - they are inserted at much tougher rates than the 1/1's in other sets. I also love the looks of the Superfractors, and I think I'd pass on 3 1/1's just to buy one superfractor.

I remember the same Griffey story. The guy did end up completing his Griffey set. The publicity int he original Beckett story helped him track down the 3rd one. A kid in the NE part of the US pulled it, and the father basically held it hostage for 25K. If my memory is right, they settled on a price between 15 and 25 grand.

By the way, I currently have (2) Bill Hall Superfractors. I have purchased the only 2 I have ever seen. I do not own any Topps Platinums - and I have never seen any. My guess is that some of those are still in packs. There are only (3) superfractors left out there for me to get: 2006 Topps Chrome, 2007 Finest, and 2008 Topps Chrome.

I was at the National in Anaheim and I don't remember which year (2000 or 2006) and there was this guy selling the Flair Masterpiece cards of Ken Griffey jr.....I believe he had about three differents ones of Griffey jr for sale.....He was telling everyone .....yes...I'm the guy that spend a lot of money on these cards...and now he was selling them each for about $2 to 3 thousand dollars. I was tempted...but thats all I had for the National...I had to pass. Serial numbers cards are great...but don't spend a ton of money on them is the moral of the story. Best regards, David
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I'm primarily a set collector and the thought of completing a 1/1 set is slightly intimidating. ;)

My son is a Jeter fan. While a 1/1 would be pretty cool, I think he'd prefer to pick up a few really nice cards vs a single 1/1 if it came down to spending the same amount.

I pay for cards based on the quality of the card and not for the serial number. That's the main reason I've never owned a 1/1 but it doesn't mean that there aren't 1/1s I'd like to own.
When it comes to my Garvey collection, I tend to be greedy about the low print runs. Anything 10 or less...look out. I want all 10 copies if I can find and afford it. 25 or less and I will at least try for it.

I have noticed that although the lower print runs do sell for more, the higher print runs and those w/o print runs, but not SPs, tend to sell stronger. I feel it is those looking for a reasonably priced signature card, for example, that drives a run of the mill Garvey auto over $10 often! Where as I can sometimes land those numbered to 10 or 25 for just a few dollars more. Take this for it for $27.30! Numbered to 6!
The story about the Griffeys, the guy bought the first two for about $11k to $13K and heard of the other being pulled by a kid (in Alaska I believe). He flew up there and offered $14k and the dad said he should hold onto it until he broke all the HR records to pay for his college education. That did it for the Griffey collector who decided there was just no way to get a complete collection.
As a team collector the 1/1 pose a very difficult thing, but I do like them. However, I will pick them up if I can get them for 10-13 for basic players (Note: if anyone is at a show and can pick any A's 1/1 up for around this price I will gladly reimburse you for it), more depending on the player, I just picked up a Reggie for a little under $70.

Would I like to have all the A's 1/1's? Yes. Am I willing to pay $50 for a Terrence Long? No.

I think as time goes on the price comes down as people in the market have deserted the idea of ever attaining all of them, so they go for none of them... and people who wanted a 1/1 back when they first came out for the novelty, have filled the desire.

As long as they continue producing I will continue to go after them, at a reasonable price.

- Chris
Funny this thread came up. I saw a Nolan Ryan GU card that was numbered really low the other day on ebay. Funny thing is, it looked EXACTLY like the one I already have, except for the different (and lower) numbering. The card was fairly expensive, and I thought "Why?". I basically have the exact same card, why would I buy this version with the same swatch, just because it is numbered differently? I guess the really hardcore collectors (looking at you Loyalty!) might have grabbed it, but with my limited budget I figured I could better spend that money on a card that at least looked different than one I already have.
Nice timing - 2 1/1 Joe Nathans just went off ebay in the last week. The 2007 Topps platinum 1/1 went for $43 or so, and a sketch card for about the same. It would be a nice card to have and complete the rainbow, I guess, but at $43 I'd much rather have the patches and autos I've gotten for that price. Personally, I consider my 2009 Topps Chrome rainbow complete now that I have the red refractor #d/25 - I wouldn't object to having the superfractor, but I'm fine with it as is.

That said, I do agree with Tim that the superfractor would be the one 1/1 :)) ) I'd be most interested in having.
I don't understand why 1/1s aren't priced in Beckett. There are more than enough 1/1s out there for star players to guage a ballpark price. Isn't that what Beckett is about? Ballpark price? When some young stars have over 100 1/1s already, how are they too scarce to price?
I don't understand why 1/1s aren't priced in Beckett. There are more than enough 1/1s out there for star players to guage a ballpark price. Isn't that what Beckett is about? Ballpark price? When some young stars have over 100 1/1s already, how are they too scarce to price?

Beckett a few years ago used to ballpark what low number inserts would go for, with a higher range for premium brands and the lower one for ones with multi-tiered versions of the same card. You can try to extrapolate what one would be worth by seeing the progression from those higher tiers, but with the specific card coming out sporatically it's really anyone's guess what two people really commited would bid some particular player card up to.