Chrome®

Unlike traditional paper cards, Chrome cards use chromium paper, which gives them a shiny, metallic look. Chrome cards are also more firm and durable than paper cards. First introduced with the 1996 Bowman Chrome set, Chrome remains one of the most popular card types in the entire Topps line.

 
1st Bowman®

1st Bowman®

A player's 1st Bowman card is their first professional baseball card, released before their official RC. Read more
Autograph

Autograph

A card that is autographed by a player, celebrity, or other subject. Autos are a type of chase card – they are more limited, and thus more valuable, than the more common cards in a set. Read more
Base Card

Base Card

Base cards make up the base set, which is the most common set of cards in a sports or non-sport product. Base cards are considered common cards and make up the majority of cards in a given product. They typically feature a card number on the back of the card, making them… Read more
Blaster Box

Blaster Box

A blaster box is a type of retail box that is commonly distributed at large retail stores like Walmart and Target (as opposed to Hobby shops or online exclusives). Blaster boxes tend to have fewer packs per box (anywhere from 4 to 15) and, like other retail products, tend to have a… Read more
Book Card

Book Card

When one or more cards – generally, autographed cards or relics – are combined together to open like a book. Read more
Box

Box

A box is a sealed container that holds packs of cards. Some boxes may contain as little as one pack of cards; others may contain 30+ packs. In the most common configuration, a Topps box will contain 24 packs, though the number packs-per-box varies considerably from product to product. Read more
Box Loader

Box Loader

Box loaders – or toppers – are special, single cards or sets of cards that are only available as inserts in hobby boxes. Box loaders are usually larger than standard-size cards and are meant as a unique opportunity for collectors to engage in the Hobby. Read more
Breaking

Breaking

Breaking refers to the practice of opening multiple boxes or cases of a product at the same time, and then distributing the cards to a larger group of paying customers. Breakers sell ‘slots’ to their breaks, and customers receive a defined portion of the opened product. In some cases, the… Read more
Breaking

Breaking

“Breaking” means opening the seal on the box or pack to reveal the cards inside. Breaking can take many forms but is typically done by a collector or dealer specializing in the particular type of product being opened. Collectors will buy into a break in hopes of acquiring rare or… Read more
Brick-and-Mortar

Brick-and-Mortar

Brick-and-Mortar refers to Hobby Shops. These Hobby Shops represent the foundation of collecting and continue to be the most critical institutions in the Hobby. Even as the Hobby develops and grows digitally, the brick-and-mortar stores remain important industry collaborators and cultural custodians. Read more
Card Show

Card Show

A trade show where collectors and dealers congregate to buy, sell, and trade cards. There are hundreds of card shows around the United States each year, and an increasing number of shows are now held in Europe and other countries. Most card shows are local and attended by a relatively… Read more
Card Sleeve

Card Sleeve

These are plastic sleeves used to protect cards. The most popular kind – Penny Sleeves – get their name for being inexpensive: they cost a penny. Read more
Card Stock

Card Stock

Card stock refers to the type of paper or material used to produce trading cards. Card stock can vary in thickness, depending on the set and type of card. Thicker card stock is often used for higher-end or premium products. The thicker stock provides a more substantial and impressive feel… Read more
Case

Case

A case is a sealed container that holds a set number of boxes. Most Topps hobby cases contain 12 boxes, though the number of boxes-per-case varies from product to product. Read more
Case Hit

Case Hit

Boxes are shipped from manufacturers in cases, and for some products, a special card will be inserted ‘one per case’. These case hits are more rare and thus more valuable to collectors. Read more
Chase Card

Chase Card

Any given set of cards will include a limited number of chase cards, which are highly coveted by collectors. Some examples of chase cards include: autographed cards, rare parallels, rare rookie cards, relic cards, and insert cards. Unlike common base cards, chase cards are more rare and valuable. When opening packs, some collectors will completely ignore… Read more
Chasing the Rainbow

Chasing the Rainbow

A modern collecting phenomenon where you collect different color parallel cards of a player. Read more
Checklist

Checklist

A list of every card in a given product (e.g. 2021 Topps Chrome Baseball) - every base card, every parallel, every autographed card, etc. Read more
Chrome®

Chrome®

Unlike traditional paper cards, Chrome cards use chromium paper, which gives them a shiny, metallic look. Chrome cards are also more firm and durable than paper cards. First introduced with the 1996 Bowman Chrome set, Chrome remains one of the most popular card types in the entire Topps line. Read more
Collation/Collating

Collation/Collating

Collation/Collating is the organizing and assembling of trading cards into complete sets or subsets. Typically done by collectors or dealers, this process involves gathering individual cards and arranging them according to specific criteria, most often using checklists. Collating can be challenging and time-consuming, particularly for larger sets containing many parallels.… Read more
Combination Card

Combination Card

Combination cards feature two or more players, teams, or other elements on a single card. These cards come in various designs: one player on each side, players arranged in a unique design on the card, dual or triple autos, and even relic cards receive the combination card treatment. Combination cards… Read more
Common Card

Common Card

Commons are the least rare, and therefore least valuable, cards in any given set. A typical common would be the base card of a non-rookie player. Commons are the opposite of chase cards and hits. Read more
Completist

Completist

A collector who is driven to possess every card of a given set, year, team, player, or category. If they collect 2021 Topps Chrome Baseball, the completist will hunt down every card from that checklist – including every base card, parallel, auto, etc. For many collectors, common cards from a given set will have little value. But… Read more
Rookie Debut Patch

Rookie Debut Patch

Fanatics introduced this uniform patch for 2023 MLB prospects and rookies playing in the first MLB game. The debut patch is worn on the jersey in the player’s first-ever MLB game. The Rookie Debut Patch was turned into the innovative Rookie Debut Patch Autograph card that first released in 2023… Read more
Die-cut

Die-cut

A trading card that has had part of the card stock removed to create a specific shape, design or function, such as a stand-up. In today’s collecting era, such cards are used as inserts and are usually short-printed. This makes them more rare than other cards in the set, and thus more likely… Read more
Dinged

Dinged

A dinged card is a damaged card. A ding can refer to indentations, scratches on the surface, or other types of damage. But the most common ding is associated with the corners. When a corner is bent, blunted, or otherwise damaged, it is called a “dinged corner”. Usually, this is… Read more
Error Card

Error Card

A card that contains a mistake or error resulting in a variation (aka VAR). Error cards may include misspellings, statistical errors, incorrect photos, or other mistakes. When an error is corrected by the manufacturer, the error cards can be far more rare than the common, corrected versions, which leads to higher… Read more
Event-Worn

Event-Worn

A piece of memorabilia that has been worn by a player at a non-specific game or event. For example, a jersey or jersey patch that was worn at a rookie’s signing session. This memorabilia is then embedded in a trading card. (See also: Game-Worn) Read more
Factory Set

Factory Set

Factory Set refers to a specific way to sell baseball cards. Instead of random packs being placed in a retail box or hobby box, a full set is packaged and sold in a single box. Factory sets first appeared in the 1980s due to the popularity of hand collated sets offered in mail catalogs. Read more
Game-Used

Game-Used

A piece of memorabilia that has been used in a professional sporting event. These items can include, but are not limited to: bats, jerseys, fielding gloves, batting gloves, bases, etc. Baseball memorabilia is typically ‘MLB authenticated’, which means that Major League Baseball guarantees the authenticity and provenance of the game-used… Read more
Game-Worn

Game-Worn

A piece of memorabilia that has been worn by a player in an official game, which is then embedded in a trading card – commonly referred to as a Relic Card. Examples include a piece of a player’s game-worn uniform or gloves. (See also: Event-Worn) Read more
Glossy Set

Glossy Set

Glossy sets refer to cards featuring a shiny, reflective coating. This coating is achieved through printing tech, such as Chrome cards printed on chromium paper. Glossy sets are considered more visually appealing than regular non-glossy sets, and they are often produced in limited quantities, making them more valuable to collectors.… Read more
Grading

Grading

Many collectors will submit their cards to a third-party service to evaluate and assess their physical condition. This third-party service will assign a numerical grade between 1-10; the higher the grade, the better the condition. Cards with higher grades tend to fetch higher prices on the secondary market. A card… Read more
High Number/High Series

High Number/High Series

The subset of cards within a particular set released later in the production run, typically with a higher number. Read more
Hit

Hit

A modern hobby term referring to higher-valued chase cards. Autographs, relic cards, insert cards, and coveted rookie cards are all commonly understood to be hits. In some cases, manufacturers will guarantee a certain number of “hits per box”, which means that a specific number of chase cards have been inserted in each box. Read more
Hobby

Hobby

A widely-used shorthand for the practice of card collecting and the community of card collectors. Read more
Hobby Box

Hobby Box

Hobby boxes are high-end boxes that typically feature a greater number of chase cards, which makes them more expensive/valuable. Unlike retail boxes, which are widely distributed in big box stores (think: Walmart or Target), hobby boxes are usually distributed exclusively through hobby shops or online. Read more
Hologram Card

Hologram Card

A hologram card features a holographic image or design element. The hologram can be the primary focus of the card or be used as an accent or security feature. Holograms refract light to produce three-dimensional images or shiny, prismatic effects that change depending on the angle of view. Holograms have… Read more
Inscription

Inscription

When a player signs an autograph, they sometimes include an additional inscription along with their name. Some popular inscriptions include the player’s nickname, Hall of Fame induction year, specialized notation (e.g. statistical achievement), or other personalized message. Read more
Insert Card

Insert Card

Insert cards refer to any non-base and non-parallel cards in a trading card set. These cards typically have their own themes, names, designs, and numberings. Read more
Jersey Card

Jersey Card

A trading card that contains a small piece – or “swatch” – of a player’s jersey. Unlike Patch Cards, which are taken from specific parts of the jersey (i.e. the logo or number), jersey swatches are typically single-color and consist of basic mesh or cloth material. The memorabilia used in… Read more
Junk Wax Era

Junk Wax Era

This refers to the period in the late-80s and early-90s where card manufacturers flooded the market with product, resulting in an massive, supply-side imbalance of supply and demand. Most cards and boxes from the Junk Wax Era are worth significantly less than similar cards released earlier in the 1980s, simply… Read more
Lenticular

Lenticular

A visual effect that gives a card 3D-depth and movement. When you shift a lenticular card from side to side, the image appears to move. Read more
Logoman

Logoman

A logoman card features the logo patch from a player’s jersey. Logoman cards are always 1-of-1 (there is only one patch per jersey) and are often autographed, making them among the most desired and valuable cards in The Hobby. Read more
Low Numbers/Low Series

Low Numbers/Low Series

Cards from the first series produced for a set in a given year Read more
Mini Cards

Mini Cards

Mini cards are any card smaller than the standard trading card size of 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches. The size of a mini card can vary, but it is typically around 2 inches by 3 inches or smaller. Mini cards are often used as a special subset or insert within… Read more
Multi-player Card

Multi-player Card

A special type of card featuring two or more different players. Read more
National

National

The National is shorthand for The National Sports Collectors Convention, the largest and most well-attended card show of the year. The first National was held in 1980 in Los Angeles. In recent years, it has been held in Atlantic City and Chicago and has attracted over 100,000 attendees. Read more
Numbered

Numbered

Numbered cards are short-printed (e.g. limited edition), and the print run is specified on either the front or back of the card. For example, a card may be sequentially numbered 10/100 to indicate that it is the 10th card out of a print run of 100. Read more
On-Card Auto

On-Card Auto

With on-card autos, the player puts their signature directly on the card, rather than on a sticker affixed to the card (a sticker auto). Many collectors prefer on-card autos because they offer a closer connection to the player and are more aesthetically pleasing. Generally speaking, on-card autos have greater value than sticker… Read more
One of One

One of One

A 1/1 card is the rarest type of trading card, making it especially appealing to collectors. Some of the most valuable cards in existence today are 1/1 cards. Read more
Pack

Pack

A pack is a sealed container that holds a set number of cards. Most Topps packs have between 4 and 16 cards, though the number will vary from product to product. Read more
Parallel

Parallel

Most trading card products have a base set, made up of common cards, and then a smaller number of more-limited parallel cards. These cards essentially ‘run parallel’ to the base set – they have a similar look and design, but are distinguished by a unique physical quality. This distinguishing quality can be… Read more
Patch Card

Patch Card

Cards that specifically feature a multi-colored jersey patch embedded in the card itself. Sometimes the jersey patches are game-used, but not always. Read more
Personal Collection

Personal Collection

A modern hobby term to describe cards that a collector specifically intends to keep for themselves. Read more
Player Collector

Player Collector

A collector who seeks out cards of a specific player, just as a team collector seeks out cards of a specific team. Read more
Pop Report

Pop Report

A pop report is a published census showing the total number of cards graded by a third-party grading company. For any given card in any given grade (e.g. Mint 10), there will be a published pop report showing how many times the grading service has awarded that exact grade to… Read more
Post-War Cards

Post-War Cards

A post-war trading card refers to trading cards produced after World War II. This term often distinguishes between vintage, pre-war cards and the birth of the modern Hobby. In contrast to pre-war cards, post-war trading cards were usually produced in much larger quantities, making them more accessible and affordable for… Read more
Pre-War Cards

Pre-War Cards

A pre-war trading card refers to any trading card produced before World War II – from the 19th century to 1939. This term is commonly used in the collecting community to distinguish between vintage cards made before and after this period. These cards were often produced as promotional items or… Read more
Printing Plate

Printing Plate

A printing plate is the thin metal plate used to print cards. They typically come in four different colors: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Printing plates are often offered as one-of-one collectibles for each color. Read more
Prospecting

Prospecting

Prospecting is collecting cards of young players who have yet to reach the MLB. In many ways, Prospecting is all about finding as many cards of potential future All Stars as possible – imagine collecting the first-ever card of Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, or Juan Soto. For Prospectors, it’s all about Bowman Draft and Bowman Chrome.… Read more
Random Break

Random Break

A random break is a breaking event where the contents of a sealed box or case of cards are divided randomly among participants. Each participant typically pays a fixed fee to enter the break by purchasing a “slot” or “spot.” The collector or dealer will then use a randomizer tool… Read more
Raw

Raw

A card that hasn’t been graded and slabbed by a third-party service like PSA or BGS. When you buy a pack of Topps baseball cards, you are buying raw cards. If you send those raw cards to a grading service, they will become graded cards. Grading typically adds value, and graded cards tend to… Read more
Redemption Card

Redemption Card

With redemption cards, the owner exchanges or “redeems” the card with the manufacturer and receives a hit (typically, autographed) card at a later date. Modern redemption cards feature a code printed on cardstock, and the owner redeems their card by simply submitting that code to the manufacturer. Read more
Refractor®

Refractor®

Refractor Cards utilize a special printing technology to create a unique visual effect. The cards refract light to create a prism or rainbow-like look and colorful shine. Most products include multiple types of refractors, each of which is named forby their different colors (Green Refractor, Blue Refractor, etc.). Each color… Read more
Relic Card

Relic Card

A card that contains a piece of memorabilia embedded in the card itself – from a swatch of fabric from a player’s jersey to a piece of game-used baseball. There are Dual and Triple Relic cards, which include more than one piece of memorabilia on a single card. Relic cards are typically… Read more
Retail Box

Retail Box

These are lower-priced boxes that are widely distributed and available in large retail stores like Walmart or Target. A retail box may have the same base set as a higher-end hobby box, but will have fewer guaranteed hits and chase cards. Read more
RetroFractor

RetroFractor

The RetroFractor celebrates historic players across 100 years of baseball who never received their 1st Bowman card. Read more
Rookie Card

Rookie Card

Rookie cards refer to players’ first cards once they make their Major League debut. In most cases, rookie cards are stamped with some kind of designation (e.g. “RC”) on the front or back, and that designation will appear on the card that same year as the debut or, in some… Read more
Rookie Cup

Rookie Cup

Since 1959, Topps has selected rookies for the “All-Star Rookie Team” – a player for each position, including a Designated Hitter (DH) and Relief Pitcher (RP). Players selected for the team have the “Rookie Cup” logo included on their next season’s card. Rookie Cup cards are every bit as important… Read more
Set Collector

Set Collector

Collector who seeks out every card in a set. Read more
Short Print

Short Print

A card that is printed in lower quantities than other cards in the same set. Short prints, or super short prints (SSPs), are much more scarce than common cards, and thus more valuable to collectors. Read more
Sketch Card

Sketch Card

Sketch Cards are one-of-one, hand-drawn cards created by the licensed artist from a particular set. They are the same size as regular trading cards and include the artist’s signature. Read more
Slabbing

Slabbing

Slabbing is a synonym for grading. A slabbed card is a graded card. “That card is probably worth some money – you should get it slabbed”. Read more
Standard Card Size

Standard Card Size

Topps established the standard size for modern trading cards as 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches (6.4 cm x 8.9 cm). This size became standard because it was small enough to fit easily into card-collecting albums or sleeves yet large enough to accommodate detailed artwork and text. It also allowed for… Read more
Starter Set

Starter Set

Starter sets provide collectors with a basic introduction to the Hobby. These sets typically include a selection of cards representing an overall set or theme and additional items such as binders, sleeves, or other accessories used to organize and protect the cards. Starter sets target new or casual collectors who… Read more
Sticker Auto

Sticker Auto

With sticker autos, the player autographs a sticker or label and then the sticker is applied to the trading card. These differ from on-card autos, where the player signs the card directly.Some collectors prefer sticker autos because they result in fewer indentations on the surface of the card. Read more
Sticker Card

Sticker Card

Sticker cards are just that: stickers that can be peeled off from the back. The most famous examples of sticker cards are Garbage Pail Kids and Wacky Packages. Read more
Superfractor™

Superfractor™

A superfractor is the rarest type of refractor card. Superfractors are short-printed, 1-of-1 cards, which means that for any given card, there will be only one superfractor of that card in the entire product. Because they are 1/1, superfractors are among the most desired and valuable cards in any set. For more on… Read more
Team Break

Team Break

Team breaks – also known as “Pick Your Team” breaks – refer to breaks where collectors split the contents among the participants according to a predetermined set of rules. For example, in a typical baseball card team break, collectors purchase a team (or teams) and receive all the team cards… Read more
Team Collector

Team Collector

A collector who seeks out cards of a specific team, just as a player collector seeks out cards of a specific player. Read more
Tiffany Sets

Tiffany Sets

Topps issued high-end sets of cards from 1984 to 1991 – including the 1989 and 1990 Bowman Baseball sets. Tiffany sets were sold exclusively as complete sets. Officially, these sets were known as “Collectors’ Editions,” but the Hobby would later adopt the “Tiffany” sobriquet for these releases. These sets were… Read more
Toploader

Toploader

Toploaders are thick, plastic encasings used to protect and store cards. Valuable cards are typically placed in a thin penny sleeve and then in a toploader for maximum protection. Read more
Uncut Sheet

Uncut Sheet

An uncut sheet refers to a single sheet of trading cards that has not been separated into individual cards. Trading cards aren’t printed individually. Instead, cards are printed out on sheets and then separated. These sheets can include as few as two or three cards or roll out as big… Read more
Variation

Variation

A card that is different – usually in small and subtle ways – from its common counterparts in the same set. The most common variations include: a different color background or lettering, a corrected error, a name misspelling, or a photo variation. Variations are almost always intentional. On rare occasions, they arise… Read more
Wax

Wax

A commonly-used Hobby term, wax refers to an unopened box or case of cards. To “rip wax” or “break wax” is to open a sealed box or case – often vintage boxes that have been kept unopened for years. Read more
Wrapper

Wrapper

The card wrapper has always been integral to the hobby, whether made of wax, plastic, or foil. Wax was the wrapper material of choice from the 1950s to the 1990s, when plastic took over. By the end of the 1990s, foil became the go-to material and continues to be the… Read more
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