1​. What is a trading card​?


Trading cards were first known as trade cards. At the beginning of the 20th century, Tobacco companies originally inserted these cardboard trade cards into their products for marketing purposes. Not only did they advertise goods and services, but the stiff cardboard helped protect the packaged cigarettes from bending. Stores with sporting goods took advantage of this space and soon sold their wares with baseball trade cards. At that time, trade Cards were worth next to nothing, but they would go one to set the basis of a multi-million dollar industry. The holy grail of trading cards, the Honus Wagner T-206, was first made in 1909, and it has since sold for $3.2 Million.


As sports expanded and became more popular, so did trading cards, especially with children. Once different versions of trading cards entered the market, vintage cards took on rarity, and trading cards became investment pieces. The older, and more limited the card, the better. Soon, the quality of each card became very important as well. Most vintage cards had been bought by kids for fun; the cards had wear and tear from being crammed into drawers or stuck between bike spokes. Those trading cards that had managed to stay in pristine condition took on a higher value. To help drive sales, trading card companies introduced different features to their new cards to help set them apart and entice new collectors. Trading cards began to sell for fair amounts of money.


Once trading card collectors clued into the overall worth of the cards they had, most hobbyists scrambled to collect high-quality cards. The industry exploded, and companies started to mass-produce trading cards, primarily sports trading cards. Soon other companies entered the game, such as Futera, Topps, Panini, and Upper Deck, creating trading cards for a wide variety of sports, including Soccer, Rugby, and Cricket. The trading cards themselves began to take on artistic and creative designs, with added features such as refractors, foils, reflective ink, and even 3D graphics.


By this time, trading cards branched out from being mere collectibles and meshed together with other card games designed for entertainment. These gaming cards combined the art of card collecting with the fun of gameplay. Titles such as Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Magic: The Gathering, are some of the popular and well-known gaming card products.


Card trading is still a thriving industry today. Many collectibles contain immense value to this day, and avid trading card collectors boast of impressive collections. Autographed cards and Jersey swatches provide a personal touch for sports fans, and they can be memorable gifts for trading card enthusiasts.


2. What is a Base Card?


A Base Card is a common trading card found within a Base Set. These are the standard cards you receive from a typical trading card pack. Base cards are numbered, often on the back of the card, and in this format: 1-XXX. Collecting all the Base Cards of a trading card product series completes a Base set. For example, Futera offers an officially licenced Liverpool collection. To own and complete that collection by yourself, you would need to acquire all base cards found in that particular set. Base Cards are the original collectables, and they hold up the foundation of the entire hobby; without them, other cards would have no differentiating factors that give them value. At first, collectors purchased base card packs for the joy of completing Base Sets.


3. ​What is an Insert Card?


As Base Cards and Base Sets took on more popularity, trading card companies started to insert bonus cards into various trading card packs. Companies randomised these special, single card inserts into a variety of sets, and they all contained unique themes and designs that made them unique. The first numbered collection that we did here at Futera was the Australian Baseball, ABL set. Insert cards created a subset within standard base sets that you could collect. The dynamics of trading card collecting changed after this rare insert card debut. Before, collectors were buying card packs to complete base sets; afterwards, collectors were purchasing card packs to find single and unique insert cards. Insert cards introduced rarity to the hobby and increased the overall value of all trading cards.


4. ​What is a Parallel Card?


Trading Card Companies started to create limited edition, enhanced versions of base cards. These cards replicated already existing aspects of base cards but added distinguishing features to create contrast and rarity. The new designs changed the border colour, texture, and sometimes the card material itself. These augmented and altered cards became known as parallel cards; a card that kept the same photo and initial design elements, but came boosted with additional appearance benefits. Parallel cards contain a number, even if the base cards they replicated did not have a serial attached to it. The features of Parallel cards further increased the demand and value for all sports collectable cards. Parallel cards are worth more than the base card counterparts they represent.


5. What is a Relic Card?


Relic cards are trading cards that come with a piece of sports memorabilia attached to it. To help raise the value of a card, trading card companies embedded various sporting swatches into the design of a card. Objects an athlete had used during a game held extra worth. Relic pieces might include broken-bat splinters, sections of an athlete's shoe, or swatches from a world cup soccer jersey. Relic cards were introduced in 1997, and they became the highlight of many collectible enthusiasts collections. Most collectors include jersey Cards and swatch cards as relics, while Patch cards remain excluded (patch cards focused on mixed jersey colors and often contain less valued sections of team names, numbers, or sports logos).


6. What is a Commemorative Card?


Commemorative Cards highlight specific sporting achievements. These collectables recognize record-breaking events, historic achievements, or any special celebration in the sporting world. These cards often came in sets with descriptive write-ups or detailed cardholders. Commemorative Cards often brought delight to collectors for their non-traditional approach, their creative booklets and informational material, and for their ability to endorse sporting events such as the Olympics.


7. What is a Game-worn card?


As Trading Cards grew in popularity, relic cards took on a variety of meanings for different Trading Card Companies. The definition of a true relic came under dispute, and collectors soon discovered the difference between an event-used relic and a game-worn relic. Trading cards companies had athletes wear for-public jerseys during pre-shows or game rituals with the express design of turning them into relics. An athlete never wore an event-used relic during actual gameplay. Other Trading Card companies inferred that the certain relics had been with an athletes representative (aka, a signing session). Some relic trading cards that were perceived to have been game-worn had in fact come from sections of rookie jerseys. Collectors became confused as the details for relic trading cards changed. No one could tell if they were receiving an actual swatch from a hall-of-fame athlete, or a sub-standard copy. Many collectors began looking into the stitching quality of various jersey swatches to try and confirm if they had a legitimate, game-worn relic. Because of the immense value given to game-worn relic trading cards, dealers started to create fake jerseys set inside relic cards, with some of these fraudsters earning jail time. An entire side branch of trading card doctors sprung up, willing to open up relics and help prove their authenticity.

The only true relic is a graded, authentic Card with a jersey swatch worn by an athlete during a sporting game. Be sure to read the fine print on the back of each Relic Card when you purchase. If possible, get your card graded from a professional service as damage and/or defects to these cards can lower any value.


8. What is an Autograph card?


The name of this card speaks for itself: these trading cards are unique because of the autograph etched onto it. The worth of a Lionel Messi Soccer trading card, with him pictured on the front, increases dramatically if the man himself has signed it! The most desired of all autograph cards is an on-card autograph. These are cards that include a sports icon or celebrities personal, hand-written signature on the existing card. Because of their personal touch, sports fans highly desired these on-card autograph trading cards. At Futera, for example, we ensure that all of our Autograph cards are signed by the player or manager. Trading card companies began to attach autographs in a variety of different ways, but these new methods provided a much lower quality autograph. 


For example, some started to create sticker or hard-signed autograph Cards. For sticker autographs, companies would print an athlete's certified signature onto a label, and then apply that sticker onto a trading card during manufacturing. Stickers were easy to manufacture, and they could be placed in pleasing locations of trading cards. For hard-signed autographs, trading card companies digitally printed the signature of the athlete onto the card itself. Creative designs for the cards could be maintained, and a hard printed signature presented the fastest way to make autograph cards. Just as relic cards with jersey swatches started disputes among avid collectible card enthusiasts, so did autograph trading cards. On-Card autographed trading cards are by far the most valued collectibles, but all autograph cards add a wonderful connection between fan and athlete alike. They are a proven delight to most trading card hobbyists. 

9. What is a Sketch Card?


Sketch cards (also known as artist proofs) are hand-drawn cards designed by artists hired for trading card Companies. Sketch cards contain plain backgrounds, printed on a variety of materials, often ranging in sizes from 2.5” x 3.5” to 3.5” X 5”. A trading card sketch artist uses these blank canvases to create unique, one-of-a-kind sketches overtop. A personal sketch card has a high value because of its rarity and singular, personal design. There are no restrictions on what the sketch card could be, and each Sketch card is an original work of genuine art from a sketch artist. You can find Sketch Cards within randomized trading card packs. Trying to find an original Sketch Card from a particular Sketch Artist is very rare.

10. What is a graded card?


A graded card is a collectible trading card that has been graded by a third-party service. These services do a full-scale check of the specific card you have, and they ensure that the authenticity of your card is legitimate. After your cards are rated, the grading services ranks them with a number between 1 - 10. 


Your cards ranking is posted onto an online database; the databases give the entire trading card system and its levels of grading accountability. When you get your trading card graded, most of the third-party services will provide you with a sealed, tamper-proof container designed to increase the veracity of your card. Grading provides a lot of benefits to you, especially if you own vintage cards. 


All manner of information can be discovered, such as the declared condition of your card, the value of your trading card, the determined additions or alterations that might have occurred, the type of each card, and the authenticity of your collectible. Some companies will even insure your card, which can provide you peace of mind for those rare, high-priced trading card assets. In most cases, getting your trading cards graded will improve the value of your card.


11. How Do I Get My Trading Card Graded?


If you are planning to have your Trading Card graded, there are a few things you might want to consider. First, determine which cards you would like to get graded. Grading costs money, and there is always the hassle of shipping and insurance. Some unique cards will not increase from the high value they already have just because they received a grading. With that noted, submitting vintage cards, even common ones, can provide you value. There are many collectors out there who are willing to add or complete their graded sets. Plus, collectors often discover many unknown or rare features when they grade even their base cards.


When selecting a company to grade your trading cards, be sure to do some research on each service. Fees can vary between grading, and some newly created services do not have the reputation or trust of the trading card collective. The last thing you want is an incorrect grading, or even worse, a damaged card from an unknown grading service. Here are some of the most reputable grading companies:


●  Beckett Grading Services,

●  Professional Sports Authenticators

●  SGC Card Grading


When you are ready to submit your cards for grading, make sure you read the guidelines that each third party service has for submissions. You will need a safe way to package and transport the cards themselves, and this requires the purchase of penny sleeves and cardholders. Some companies will offer you a full submission kit. Be sure to select a trusted mailing service, and keep track of all receipts sent back from the grading service. 


Once the grading service has received your card, they will complete a full authenticity check, rank your trading cards to their value and condition, serialise them with a number, and then catalogue them in the database. Once completed, they will be shipped back to you with a report. Be sure to cross-reference your item list to make sure nothing is missing!


12. What determines the value of my trading card?


There is a wide variety of factors that determine the value of a trading card. For a complete understanding of your specific card, have a professional grading service determine the value of your trading cards. Here are a few items collectors generally understand to help affect your cards worth:


●  Condition: Mint condition cards have the highest value. Mint condition cards can have no surface flaws of any kind, and any bends or creases of the trading card material will lower any value. Look out for stains or fading, on either the backside or front. Alterations of any kind, especially if your trading card includes any authentic relics, can reduce the condition ranking and hurt the quality of your card.


●  Centering: How well the pictures are centred will have an impact on the worth of your card. Look for cards where the borders and each design element lines up through the middle of the card.


●  Rarity: Following the basic mechanics of supply and demand, the less there is of a specific type of card, the more people want it. A trading cards value will increase the rarer it is.


●  Card Quality: The construction of the card itself can lower or improve any value. The type of material, the thickness of the card, the use of foils or refractors, the design elements, the number of images on the trading card, etc, are all factors that can change the price point of your card. Even print imperfections made by a trading card company can have an impact; out of focus picture rendering and miscuts will drop the value of any trading card you own.


● Features: Certain design features, creative art, attached relics, jersey swatches, autographs, or patches can all influence or increase the value of a trading card. The best investment feature of all trading cards is the pictured athlete or player. Highly successful athletes, hall-of-famers, and cards from commemorative events all receive an increase in value. 

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