Hobby Outposts From the North: Make Memorabilia more Unique  

It’s been more than 20 years since we first saw memorabilia cards hit the market, and when you surf through trade groups on Facebook, message boards or talk at shops or shows, the signs of jersey swatch exhaustion are very present. 

Finding offerings of selling or buying for jersey cards for a buck or less are unfortunately becoming more commonplace. For novice or younger collectors, this is a welcome sight, but for the more experienced collector, this means that the once highly-heralded cards are becoming far too commonplace and don’t excite like they once did. 

Companies, overall, are responding pretty well, putting a higher concentration into multicolor swatches, large pieces or very alluring patches; but the population in these areas are going to start to burst at the seams soon too.

Thankfully, the producers are getting smart and are producing some truly amazing cards with more unique pieces. Bats and hockey sticks, often with very colorful swatches or pieces of a player’s name or number depicted, are highly sought after, while cleats and shoes are fun pickups from the hardcourt or gridiron.

Still, there are some areas that just aren’t explored enough that could – and should – be harvested for unique game-used cards.

For instance, we’ve seen a large number of former stadiums that have been torn down over the years; yet, unless I’m missing something, a capsuled piece of brick from one of the famed stadiums has never been done. The precedent of doing this sort of card does exist, with Topps producing cards containing a piece of the Berlin Wall in American Pie several years ago.

Football, many years ago, also showed a spark of creativity when turf cards were created. These cards featured a swatch of astroturf from a couple stadiums, but, similar to American Pie, were only issued quite a few years ago. Here’s the kicker (pardon the pun) – recently, a few teams began selling turf on their own, including UND and Vanderbilt through Fanatics. The technology is readily there to slice up these pieces and it would be amazing to have these once again. Could you imagine owning a piece of the field from Joe Burrow’s first game? I know I’d like to have that in my collection.

Now the NBA is in a very unique situation this year, with all of their bubble games taking place at Disney World. Floor cards have been used several times over in basketball sets and they’re still insanely cool; but how about having a piece of the floor that was used throughout the rejuvinated NBA season and playoffs? Now THAT would be a great way to remember this unique season.

The same, of course, could happen in hockey, which is bubbled in two arenas – one in Edmonton and the other in Toronto. Game-used ice, of course, will melt and a burst capsule can leak water into your collection; but rink boards? 100% fair game. Fleer did these in the early 2000s and there is no reason that they couldn’t be brought back.

Of course, these aren’t the only unique memorabilia cards we can dream up, and we can look to Fragments from the Farm, a theme used for multiple years in Topps MiLB sets, for inspiration. Championship banners, tickets, advertising signboards, dugout, mascot pieces… just about everything imaginable has been used in past years; so why not import these from other arenas as well? A slice of the mound rubber stood on by C.C. Sabathia would be a unique addition to a collection, as would a hole flag from The Masters.

The bottom line is that the creativity that can happen is endless. There are some cool opportunities out there, some with the precedent from ages ago that may have been too early to market. Now, however, is the time to start re-investigating and get creative.  

Hobby Outposts From the North: Making Memorabilia more Unique – Image Gallery
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