Yet again, I am changing my collecting focus. I do this all the freaking time. It drives my wife crazy. It would probably drive me crazy, but I’m already nuts.
The new focus is on serially-numbered cards from the 1990s. Let me explain.
When I collected in the early 80s, cards were cool but easily got stale. In 1980, unless you were going after cards packaged in food products, Topps was the only card to collect. Donruss and Fleer entered the scene in 1981, but they sold virtually the same junk as Topps. I tapped out in 1983. More of the same couldn’t keep my attention, and I went after vintage cards. They seemed to have withstood the test of time and had value.
While distracted with old, beat-to-hell cards, I was missing out on a revolution in modern cards. Upper Deck started it all with a serial numbered Reggie Jackson insert in 1990. In a stink pile of what is now known as “junk wax,” Upper Deck gave the illusion of a scarce card just by putting a serial number on it. Only 2,500 Jackson cards were signed. That’s a TON of cards by today’s standards, but these babies still manage to command a steep price. (Hmmm, standing the test of time and having value.)
In 1991 Donruss had its Elite insert set numbered to 10,000. Are there even 10,000 collectors who want these cards? Somebody wants them because they’ve held their value. Circa issued a parallel set (Circa Rave) numbered to 150 in 1996. Flair Showcase followed with their (in)famous 1 of 1 parallel in 1997, and Pinnacle had the first printing plates in the same year. Relic cards (serial numbered, of course) would appear in the next year. All these innovations occurred over just a few years in the 90s and continue to define the hobby nearly 15 years later.
Not every important card from the 90s had a serial number. Topps Finest Refractors in 1993 had an estimated print run of about 241. These are still very popular cards, but I bet they’d be much pricier if the cards had serial numbers.
So what is my point? My point is that serial numbers were the beginning of the modern card scene, and those serial numbers started in the 90s. So, I am collecting them – serial numbered cards from the 90s.