Trading Cards Explained

Glossary of Common Terms

For those new to the hobby or who have been away from it for a bit, it is important to be able to “talk the talk” with other collectors. Below is a list of common terminology:

Pack – Other than single cards, the lowest denomination of product you can buy. This contains 1-60 cards depending on the product.

Box – A pre-determined number of packs, packaged together in a sealed container. There can be anywhere from 1 to 36 packs in a box on average.

Case – A pre-determined number of boxes packaged together in a sealed container. Can contain anywhere from 1-18 boxes on average.

Set – A collection that completes the whole consecutive numbered series of regular cards, inserts or hits from a particular product. 

Base Card – A common card that is part of the product’s main set. These cards are usually numbered 1-XXX in accordance with the number of subjects in a set.

Autographed Card – A card that has been signed by the player. Also referred to as a “certified autograph.”

Hard-Signed Autographed Card – An autographed card that features a signature inscribed directly onto the card’s surface.

Sticker or Label Autographed Card – An autographed card featuring a certified signature on a clear label, which is applied to the card’s surface during production.

Jersey Card – A card containing a piece of embedded jersey.

Patch Card – A jersey or relic card that features a swatch made from patch(es) on a team jersey. Common patches include jersey numbers, team names, team and league logos.

Letterman Card – A card featuring a patch letter from a player’s jersey nameplate.

Insert – These are usually cards that come at a higher odds ratio. Instead of being a part of the normal base set, however, they are part of a “subset”, or set within the set. They look different then the common cards, and usually have different names.

Parallel – A card that is a serial numbered version of another non-serial numbered card. For instance, a base card would be unnumbered, but a parallel of that base card would have a serial number. Parallels typically have the same design and photo, but offer different color schemes.

Short Print (SP) – A card that has a lower print run than other cards in the set. So, the odds of pulling one randomly out of a pack are lower than a regular card. SP cards are viewed as a challenge by some collectors who look to complete the full set.

1-of-1 – A numbered card that is the only one in existence. These can be the most valuable cards, but not necessarily the most expensive.

Logo Patch – A card featuring a team or league logo patch from a jersey. These are usually the most valuable of the 1-of-1’s that exist.

Logoman – Term for a card that features an entire league logo patch.

Cut Autograph – A card featuring an autograph that is not signed directly onto the card, but is instead cut from another source (such as a check). Most cut autograph cards feature subjects who are deceased.

Printing Plate – A plate that was used to print trading cards. These “cards” are considered to be one of a kind, and come in the four printing colors: black, cyan, magenta, and yellow.

Acetate Card – A special type of card printed on translucent stock, similar to plexiglass.

Hits – Most card products have a stated number of special cards such as jersey or autograph cards per unit you can buy. Cards like this are called “hits.”

Checklist – A complete list of cards contained in a particular set furnished by the product’s manufacturer. Collectors use checklists to help keep track of and complete sets.

Rookie Card – A card from a player’s first year in the league, or the non-parallel version of a base card from a product released player’s first year.

Player Collector – A collector who focuses on specific players.

Team Collector – A collector who focuses on specific teams.

Set Collector – Someone who builds sets from each product, rather than someone who collects a certain player or team.

Book Value – The perceived value of an item according to a price guide published by a third party company.

Sell Value – The value based on recent actual sales of an item, or a perceived value based on how much a person will pay for the card.

Serial or “Crash” Numbered – A card that is short printed to the point where the manufacturer has stamped the print run onto the card. Cards are numbered sequentially, and can be numbered as low as 1.

Personal Collection (PC) – Refers to a collector’s favorite cards: these are usually the centerpieces of a collection.

Exclusive Spokesperson – Refers to athletes whose autographs, jerseys, and memorabilia will not be available in other brands. Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Wayne Gretzky, Tiger Woods.

Learn more from a definitive hobby glossary of key terms that every collector needs to know. You will find this hobby almost has a language all to itself and if you can speak it, you’ll be empowered!


Web Design by Jacob Tyler