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All About Sports Cards
Sports Card Terminology

Each manufacturer's release may feature some, or all ,of the following types of cards. We have listed the terminology and definitions that sports card manufacturers and dealers use when describing baseball, basketball and football sports card boxes and sets and the type of cards they contain.

  • Hobby Box: Hobby Boxes are available only from Sports Cards Shops, both on line and in physical shops. These boxes are Factory Sealed by the Card Manufacturer. Sports card boxes contain a number of factory sealed packs (wax packs) of cards. Hobby Boxes feature the best chances of pulling special insert cards.Many special cards are only issued in a Hobby Box and some Hobby Box products will have serially number cards.

  • Retail Box: Retail boxes are available in Retail Stores such as K-Mart, Target, and Walmart, and on ocassion from many Hobby Dealers. These boxes are also Factory Sealed by the Card Manufacturer. The retail boxes contain a number of factory sealed packs of cards and have the same base cards as the Hobby Boxes. However, the Retail Boxes have fewer insert cards than the Hobby Box thus reducing your chances of pulling an insert card.

  • Card Set: Card Sets contain individual cards, not Packs of Cards. The cards in the Set are one of each of the base cards produced by the card company for a particular product they have issued. Newer sets are Factory Sealed by the Manufacturer during production. Some Sets are Hand-Collated - put together card by card by a hobby dealer. The hand-collated sets should have all the same cards as the Factory Sealed Set.

  • A Lot: A LOT is a grouping of a particular product into quantities greater than one. (Lot of 5) would be 5 if the listed item. Star Cards: Cards of the more famous, and outstanding players are considered star cards. These are players who consistently rank high in one or more statistical categories.

  • Semi-star Cards: Nationally known players but their stats and popularity are not up to par with the star players.

  • Minor Star Cards: Players that are very popular regionally.

  • Common Cards: These are cards of players who do not rank that high in key categories. Minor star and Common cards are of interest to collectors looking for specific players, or trying to build a complete set.

  • Base Cards: Are the cards that make up a sports card set. The number of base cards in a set can range from 600 cards per set to less than 100 cards. The base card in a set can be of stars, semi-stars, minor stars, rookie cards and commons. Base cards are also available in sports card boxes.

  • Subset: Cards which have a special characteristics that make the subset a complete set by itself. The subset cards are part of a set and are also available in sports card boxes.

  • Insert Cards: Cards that are inserted into packs of cards at a lower rate than the base cards. Insert cards have a distinct design and usually number between 10-20 cards. Insert cards are inserted into packs at a predetermined rate. Often these rates are listed a 1:25 which means that one in every 25 packs will have a insert card enclosed. The insert cards are available in sports card boxes and usually are not part of a set.

  • Parallel Cards: These are insert card with the same appearance as a base card, but with some type of distinctive change that makes the parallel card unique. Parallel cards are inserted into packs at a predetermined rate and the rates are often listed as ratio (see insert cards). Parallel cards are usually only available in sports card boxes.

  • Memorabilia (Relic) Cards: These cards are insert cards that contain a piece of the player's jersey, or a cap, a bat, or glove. These cards may also contain an autograph. Memorabilia (Relic) cards are also inserted into a box of cards at a predetermined rate. The rates are often listed as a ratio (see insert cards). Memorabilia (Relic) Cards are available only in sports card boxes.

  • Autographed Cards: Cards that have been autographed by one, or more players. Autograph cards will include proof of authenticity. Autographed cards may be part of the base set, or be a special Insert card. These will be found only in sports card boxes.

  • Rookie Cards: The first time a player appears in a major sports card release. These cards are usually the most valuable regular-issue sports cards for that player.

  • Errors Cards: Cards that were printed with some type of error on them. These may, or may not, be more valuable than a regular card. Value depends on what the error is and how long before it was corrected.

  • Short Print: Cards that are printed in a lower quantity then the regular cards.

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