Friday, January 22, 2010

Serial Numbering

Today I read a post on The Priceless Pursuit about serial numbering and it insprired this response from me. I put a good amount of thought into my comment so I figured I'd put it in a post. Please go check out the original post, because if you don't, mine might not make as much sense.

The following was my comment:

"I am in total agreement accept for when it comes to printing plates. The different color printing plates are legitimately different enough that i don’t mind them each being 1/1. It’s not a rarity that is falsely created: because the manufacturing process requires one of each type of plate, so when you receive the plate they are saying that you have the one and only plate that puts the magenta ink on the card.

But when it comes to different variations of the same auto, I am in total agreement. In my opinion, variations are only legitimate when each progressive variation is more intrinsically desirable than the one that preceded it. For example, the Chrome refractor is more desirable than the plain chrome card. another example would be, a card with a patch and an auto is more desirable than a card with a plain white swatch and the auto. However, when it comes to these two cards, the silver is actually uglier than the copper version, so why the heck would anyone prioritize having the silver version?

It makes me very frustrated to see this happening. And the companies don;t even realize that they are eroding the ground on which they stand. there are only so many innovations that can be applied to baseball cards, and serial numbering is one of them. They demean the intrigue of a serial numbering when they do things like create a million variations of the same thing. Soon enough people won’t care about serial numbering, which means that the companies will lose that innovation as a selling point for their products, and they will have to move on to new ideas. Sooner or later there will be no new ideas worth implementing and baseball cards will lose much of their value and relevance. In essence, manufacturing companies are doing the same thing that the American public did leading up to this recession. They are taxing their future in favor of living large in the present."

What does everyone think of the issue? I'd like to hear people's different takes on it.


  1. I'm with you. The variations in design are great, but when there are, say, 10 variations of a given card of a given player from a given set, all serial numbered, and there are 10 sets in a year, that means there are 100 different serial numbered cards in a single year. And I think that's being pretty conservative, what with multiple 1/1 printing plates, etc. Over 5 years we'd have at least 500 cards.

    A given card might be rare (1/1) or low serial numbered (of 25), but when you take a step back 1/1s in and of themselves aren't terribly rare, and serial numbered cards in general MUCH LESS so. Although I'm primarily a player collector, I've only really chased a couple of serial numbered cards because, since they really aren't that rare, they won't hold value over the long run. I'll be patient and get them later on the cheap.

  2. The only serial numbered cards that I have actively invested in, have been 4 of the 1/1 sketch cards that have come out of the Topps flagship set in the past couple years. A Carl Crawford from 08 UH, a Mickey Mantle from 09, a David Wright from 09 and a Aubrey Huff from 09 (I bought the last one case it went for cheap). I feel like these 1/1s will hold their value much more so than a lot of other serial numbered cards because: A) they look really nice, B) they are individual works of art, and C) there are no variations on each of these cards (there isn't a silver 1/1, a gold 1/1 and a platnum 1/1 all of the same Carl Crawford image). Of course there are several artists commissioned for each player but when it comes down to it, they all ended up creating very different images that each one is unique.

  3. You pretty much nailed it, dude. FOr the reasons you stated, I really don't care all that much about serial numbers, except maybe if I pull a patch or auto or something with the player's number as the serial number...

  4. I love serial numbered cards. My beef is when virtually the same card will have different sets of numbering. For example, the Cahill autos that The Priceless Pursuit displayed were numbered to 65 and 499. How can that be? They are the same card. I would prefer that all of the Cahill autos be lumped together and numbered /564 instead.

  5. Exactly! The silver one is no more desirable than the copper one, therefore the serial numbering system as it exists is worthless, they need to be lumped together as one auto, not two variations.