Sports cards have evolved incredibly over the past couple decades. In hopes of helping the sports cards community, I have compiled this list of sports cards definitions. Thank you to those who contacted me on my sports cards IG account @whatcards with suggestions. Please contact me if there are any that I am missing or needs updating.
Acetate – this refers to the type of material used on the card. It feels different than your standard paper/cardboard stock. Acetate looks and feels like a clear piece of plastic and gives it a more shiny look. The card itself will rarely say “acetate”, but you can check eBay where sellers will often describe the card as acetate.
Airbrush or Airburshed Card – you will hear this often when referring to Panini issued baseball products. When a company does not have a pro sports license such as Panini not have an MLB pro license, then the company (Panini) will airbrush the team’s logo to avoid any conflicts when the company that actually has the MLB pro license (in this case Topps owns the MLB license).
Altered or Altered Card – usually you will see this word on a card that has been graded by an authentication company such as PSA. Simply refers to when a card has been changed from its original state. This can include recoloring or trimming.
Artist proof – simply refers to a parallel of the regular base card. Sometimes the card will say “proof” or “artist proof”
Auto – shortened term for “autograph”
Autograph – card has been signed by a player/celebrity
Base card – refers to cards that are part of a regular set. There is usually nothing distinctive about these cards with no special or increased odds of getting the card and usually printed in higher volumes. Also referred to as a “common” card.
BCCG (Beckett Collectors Club Grading) – this is the cheapest form of grading by Beckett in which grades are given out as “BCCG” with a whole number grade. One thing to watch out for when paying or a BCCG graded card is to know that if a card is a BCCG 10, you are NOT guaranteed to get a gem grade on this card. Most collectors will buy a BCCG 10 as there is usually a very good chance at getting a mint (9) grade and a small chance of getting a gem mint grade, which will significantly increase the value of the card.
BGS or Beckett Grading Services (also BVG or Beckett Vintage Grading) – grading and authentication servicing company that is one of the most reputable companies. Widely considered to be one of the top 2 along with PSA. Many consider PSA cards more valuable than any other so you will consistently see PSA graded cards selling for more than any other company. Beckett Grading gets a lot of hobby love due to the thicker cases and transparency on adding subgrades. Click here to see Beckett graded cards for sale
BIN or Buy It Now – an eBay feature to click a button to buy at the price listed without waiting for an offer to be accepted or for the auction to end. Collectors will sometimes refer to as a card ending at $100 BIN as a data point of past sales.
Black Box – typically refers to a sealed black box of cards given to select attendees of The National’s Panini VIP Party or The Industry Summit. Cards are typically of very high quality. Click here to see Black Boxe cards for sale
Black Label or Beckett Black Label – these graded cards are only provided by Beckett Grading Services. A black label is considered a perfect card because all four subgrades and the final grade is given all 10’s. Black labels are extremely rare and command a significant premium over a non black label version. Click here to see Beckett graded Black Label cards for sale
Blaster Box or Retail Blaster Box or Retail Box – only available through big box stores such as Target and Walmart. Blaster boxes are different from hanger boxes, which literally hang from a store display. Blasters have been gaining popularity for popular releases due to the affordability
Book Value or Beckett Value or BV – refers to the value of the card according to pricing guides. The main source of BV is from Beckett. Many argue that Beckett Value is no longer relevant like it was in the 90’s and will rely more on completed sales either from eBay or another source. There are still collectors who will only go by BV so be sure to stay open minded
Breaking or Group Breaks – this is a completely legal practice, but you want to make sure you participate with highly reputable breakers. Breaking is when a seller will have a box or case of a product and then sell spots based on player or team. Once all spots are bought, the seller will then go on cam to open the product. If a particular team or player is hit, the buyer will get the cards tied to the spot you bought. Group breaks are hit and miss and you can easily be out hundreds of dollars in a matter of minutes
Cello Pack – getting increasingly popular as distributed in retail stores such as Target and Walmart. Cello Packs typically contain a few packs inside the cello. Due to the affordability of cello packs especially for popular releases, cellos have gain popularity
Coin – term used mostly on social media platforms in which a seller or trader will put their name or user ID on a piece of paper next to the card as a way to prove they have the card in possession. Coining a card is very common when attempting to sell or trade a card valued at $100 or more.
Cut or Cut Signature or Cut Autograph – an autograph that is not on a card and is cut from some other piece of paper such as an index card, letter, check, etc. Nowadays cut signatures are common for players whose autographs are still obtainable. In some cases cut signatures are the only way to obtain a certain player’s autograph. Click here to see cut autograph cards for sale
Die Cut or Die Cut Cards – card in which part of the card stock is cut and removed to form a specific shape. Die cuts are usually part of inserts sets of varying levels of difficulty to pull from a pack. Die cuts can also be refractors. Click here to see die cut cards for sale
Doctoring or Doctored Card – unethical act of altering a card to make it seem as though the card is in better condition than it really is
eBay 1/1 or eBay One of One – refers to a card jokingly when a card is not a true one of one, but is instead a 1st numbered card, last numbered card, or a jersey #’d card
Embossed Card – refers to a card in which the image is pressed onto the card, which makes it seem as though there is depth to the card. As you touch the surface of the card, you will notice that the surface is not flat. Click here to see embossed cards for sale
EX or Excellent Condition – card that is in excellent condition. Typically grading companies will consider EX as follows: PSA 5, BGS or BVG 5-5.5
EX-MT or Excellent-Mint Condition – card that is in excellent-mint condition. Typically grading companies will consider EX as follows: PSA 6, BGS or BVG 6-6.5
Event Worn or Event Worn Card – a relic card in which a piece of jersey or suit, for example, that is guaranteed to be authentic and worn at an event such as a photoshoot. The issue many collectors have with event worn is that the player could have worn the suit or jersey at any point and not in a particular game. This type of card becomes less desirable, but with a fewer number of competing manufacturers, event worn has been deemed acceptable or unavoidable. It is a cost cutting measure by manufacturers
Factory Defect – unfortunately refers to an issue with the card that comes directly from the card manufacturer due to poor quality control. Factory defects can include print lines, off centering, and ink print dots
Facsimile Auto or Autograph – these are stamped autographs. Facsimile autographs were typically part of a regular set and still are today, but you will now see unethical sellers selling reprints of cards that have the facsimile auto. Collector’s today are still fooled by these stamped autos because if not examining the card close enough, the auto looks real. A quick way to check for a facsimile auto is to hold it against the light. If the autograph shines or reflects light, then most likely a fake.
Flagship – typically refers to a player’s main Topps rookie cards
FOTL Box or First Off The Line Box – describes a box offered by Panini in which collectors can buy directly from Panini. FOTL typically is very popular because the resale market is almost always higher than the original price. For certain boxes and sports, FOTL boxes will get sold out in less than a few minutes. Some will use bots to ensure they can secure several boxes. Click here to see FOTL boxes for sale
FS (For Sale) or FT (For Trade) – acronym typically used on social media platforms to indicate cards that are available to sell or trade
Game Worn or Game Used Card – a relic card in which a piece of jersey, for example, that is guaranteed to be authentic and worn during a game. Some collectors will only prefer to have game worn or game used cards in their collections. This type of card is more desirable. More manufacturers are starting to include an authentication sticker to the game worn jersey in which you can type in a code online such as mlb.com to confirm when the jersey was worn. Click here to see game used relic cards for sale
Gem or Gem Mint or Gem MT Condition – card that is in gem condition. Gem mint cards can be considered cards that are almost perfect. Typically grading companies will consider Gems as follows: PSA 10, BGS or BVG 9.5
Gold Bar Card or Silver Bar Card or Bullion Card or Diamond Card – a unique offering by high end Panini products in which an actual piece of gold, silver, bullion, precious metal is added as part of the card. The price you pay for these type of cards will always be less than the going rate of the actual precious metal. You always pay a premium for the pleasure of having a precious metal added to the card. Click here to see silver bar cards for sale
Grade or Grading or Graded – the process of checking cards for condition and then placing a number to assign and describe the card’s condition. Grading is subjective and is a service offered by the 3 major players: PSA, Beckett, and SGC. Grading typically provides extra authentication protection and card protection because the card would be slabbed or encased
Hanger Box – a type of retail box that you can only purchase at big box retailers such as Target or Walmart. The box literally hangs from a store display. Hanger boxes have been increasingly popular not only by collectors but also retailers because of the space saved
High End Cards – there will be varying definitions of what is considered high end cards. Typically cards over $100 can be considered high end cards, but again, this will vary by collector
Hit – typically a pack pulled card that is different than the standard base card. Hits have different meanings but can refer to inserts, parallels, short prints, autographs, relic cards, serial numbered cards. Many collectors use the word “hit” casually and not as part of a seller listing
Hit Draft Break or Hit Draft Case Break or Hit Draft Box Break – for some of the higher end products and products that offer only sports memorabilia, every card or product is a hit rather than a bunch of base cards. If the product has 10 cards in a case, then there can only be 10 buyers for 10 spots. A randomizer is used to set the draft order. Where you land in the order is the where you will be able to choose your card.
Hobby Box or Hobby Case – similar to retail boxes except hobby boxes are only available in boxes available at card shops or approved retailers. Although there is increasingly more interest in retail boxes available at big box stores, hobby boxes are still the standard. Click here to see hobby boxes for sale
Hobby Exclusive – similar to retail exclusive except hobby exclusives are only available in boxes available at card shops
Holo Optic Card – Panini created a refractor card that Topps has had since 1993. Panini uses the term “holo” for its Optic product, which is basically a refractor or a prizm silver card. Click here to see optic holo cards for sale
Hot Box or Hot Pack – refers to a collector opening a box or pack that has an abnormally amount of more hits than normal. Be careful when you look up “hot pack” on eBay. These sellers will list “hot packs” with guaranteed hits (typically relic cards or autographs). The reason these sellers knows there is something in there could be because of pack searching, weighing the packs for heavier cards, or they have opened a lot of packs and know that the ones remaining have a hit inside
Inscription or Inscription Auto – an autographed card that is signed by an athlete or celebrity with additional words. An example of an inscription could be a nickname, an achievement such as “Cy Young” or “MVP”, or something else significant to the player. Click here to see inscription autograph cards for sale
Insert or Insert Card – card that is not part of the base set or a parallel of the base set in which the parallel looks exactly like the base card. Inserts have entirely different designs and inserted at various odds in packs. The name of the insert set is unique and values can vary drastically
JSA or James Spence Authentication – authentication company mostly dealing with in person signed items. Considered a reputable company along with PSA and Beckett Authentication Services. Click here to see JSA cards for sale
Jumbo Pack or Jumbo Box – similar to a hobby pack or hobby box except jumbo versions have more cards and more hits
Junk Era or Junk Era Boxes or Junk Era Cards – refers to the period especially from the latter part of the 80’s to the early 90’s. This was when card manufacturers over produced (over printed) cards. Because of the overproduction, card prices have plummeted. However, there is still value for these cards when in gem mint (PSA or BGS) condition. Condition is more important during the junk era to find any value. That said, there is some fun in opening junk era boxes for nostalgia reasons
Licensed or Licensed Cards – card manufacturers must obtain the licensing rights from the major sports leagues in order to be able to use the player, player’s name, and especially the team name depicting the team logo. Licensing agreements make a big difference in value and desirability. If a card manufacturer does not have the licensing rights, then the card will either depict an airbrushed uniform to not show the team’s official logo or the player will not be in a major league uniform and instead be in generic clothing.
Lot – refers to buying a group of cards. Buying lots can be advantageous because some sellers will save you money for buying quantities compared to if you were to buy individually
Loupe or Jeweler’s Loupe – handheld magnifying tool that jeweler’s typically used to inspect quality, authenticity, and condition of a card. You will see various kinds that also includes a light because some card shows have bad lighting. The recommended power is to use a 10x loupe for checking condition. Click here to see loupes for sale
Low End and Low End Cards – there will be varying definitions of what is considered low end cards. Typically cards <$10 can be considered low end cards, but again, this will vary by collector
Magnetic Case or One Touch – a hard, typically durable case with a magnetic holder. Nowaways, collectors will rarely use screw down cases because of potential damage the screw downs can cause to a card and will now use these one touch cases to protect their cards. Click here to see one touch magnetic cases for sale
Master Set – refers to completing the entire set including base cards, parallels, inserts, relic cards, and autographs. Nowadays with so many variations of a card, master sets are increasingly rare. Click here to see master sets for sale
Memorabilia Card or Relic Card or Game Used Card or Player Worn Card or Event Worn Card – refers to a card that has a piece of the jersey, bat, ball, suit, wardrobe, etc of that player or celebrity. Some collectors will jokingly refer to one color relic cards as “napkins” because of how flimsy and unappealing one color relics are. Click here to see relic cards for sale
Metal or Metal Cards – card that is printed on actual metal. These cards will be noticeably heavier
Mid End Cards – there will be varying definitions of what is considered mid end cards. Typically cards between $10-$100 can be considered mid end cards, but again, this will vary by collector
Minimum Size Requirement or Min Size – this only refers to when you are getting a card graded. You have the option to indicated a minimum requirement such as a certain minimum grade or a minimum size
Modern or Modern Cards – typically refers to cards in the mid to late 90’s to current. Modern is used loosely. Cards you can typically expect if someone sells modern cards including inserts, autographed cards, relics such as game used cards, and numbered cards
Mojo – term used casually to describe a major hit that provides extra excitement
MT or Mint Condition – card that is in mint condition. Typically grading companies will consider NM as follows: PSA 9, BGS or BVG 9
Multiplier or Card Multiplier – certain cards will use multipliers such as 2x of the base card to approximate the value of the card. Multipliers are simply used as a guideline in case you cannot look up eBay or completed sales. A common use of multipliers today is using these in bowman prospecting in which the various color refractors will have approximate multipliers for quick and easy valuation of the card
National or NSCC Show or National Sports Collectors Convention – the most attended, biggest card show that takes place annually at various locations. You will see cards you will never get to see in person. You will most likely find cards that you were looking years to buy. Just as importantly, this is not called “Nats” or “Nattys”; do not be ignorant and a douchebag and refer to The National by these names. Visit nsccshow.com for more details.
Nickname or Nickname Auto – an autographed card of a player who has inscribed the card with a nickname. Example would be a card autographed by Kobe Bryant as “Kobe Black Mamba Bryant”. These nickname autographs are typically sought after because of the extra time an athlete or celebrity spends to write additional words. Click here to see nickname autograph cards for sale
NM or Near Mint Condition – card that is in near mint condition. Typically grading companies will consider NM as follows: PSA 7, BGS or BVG 7-7.5
NM-MT or Near Mint to Mint Condition – card that is in near mint to mint condition. Typically grading companies will consider NM-MT as follows: PSA 8, BGS or BVG 8-8.5
Numbering – used to identify where the card sits in a set. Many collectors will sort their cards according to the numbering on the back of the card
OBO (Or Best Offer) – acronym typically used on social media platforms to indicate cards with a price and the seller is open to taking offers
Off center or OC – refers to a card that is not perfect centering, which is 50/50 left to right and 50/50 top to bottom. Some cards that are vastly off centered will be labeled as OC by PSA, which is a card grading service
On Card Autograph – card that has been signed on the card with no sticker. Collectors will always prefer an on card version of the card over a sticker autograph because an on card autograph means the player or celebrity would have had to touch the card to sign rather than simply a sticker that is placed on the card. When searching for listings, “on card autograph” is rarely used, but there is still search volume because some collectors can be picky about the autograph they collect. Click here to see on card autograph cards for sale
One of One or 1/1 or True 1/1 – card that is serial numbered either machine stamped numbering or hand numbered. Simply means there is only of that specific card. As one can imagine, true 1/1 cards are highly desirable and the most expensive of that particular player in the set. A lot of eBay sellers will try to attract attention to their item, but using 1/1 especially in unique numbering circumstances such as a card that is of a jersey number, but is not a true one of one card. Click here to see true 1/1 serial numbered cards for sale
One Touch or Magnetic Holder/Case – a hard, typically durable case with a magnetic holder. Nowaways, collectors will rarely use screw down cases because of potential damage the screw downs can cause to a card and will now use these one touch cases to protect their cards. Click here to see one touch magnetic cases for sale
Pack – group of cards sealed by a manufacturer. You can buy packs separately or as part of a sealed box. Be careful buying packs from eBay because of the potential for pack searchers. If buying packs, buy from a reputable seller such as your local hobby shop
Pack Searcher or Pack Searching or Card Pedophiles – unethical practice of feeling or weighing packs in hopes of finding a hit such as a serial numbered card, a hit such as a sticker auto or relic card. With the increasing popularity of collectors buying boxes and packs at retail stores, you will notice more reports of pack searching and videos of these scumbags in action
Parallel or Parallel Card – a variation to the standard base card and usually noted with the same image, but a slight variation to the background color, logo change, etc
Patch or Jersey Patch Card – used to describe a multi colored or multi layered relic card typically from a jersey. Overall multi colored jersey patches are much more valuable than the standard one color versions of the same card. As a result of this, it is known that some fraudulent sellers will replace one colored jerseys and replace with a multi colored version to increase the value. Click here to see penny sleeves for sale
Penny Sleeve – soft, thin plastic sleeve to protect a card. Typically collectors will put cheaper cards into a penny sleeve and better cards in a penny sleeve and a toploader. Click here to see penny sleeves for sale
PC or Personal Collection or Player Collector – refers to a collector who is obtaining a card for their specific collection. PCs can be a specific player, team, common themes within a group of cards such as high end numbered Jordan’s, etc. Usually there is an interesting story around why a collector will have a PC
Player Worn Card – a relic card in which a piece of jersey, for example, that is guaranteed to be authentic and actually player worn. The issue many collectors have with player worn is that the player could have worn the jersey at any point and not in a particular game. This type of card becomes less desirable, but with a fewer number of competing manufacturers, player worn has been deemed acceptable or unavoidable. It is a cost cutting measure by manufacturers
Pop or Pop Report or Population Report – number of cards graded of a particular card by a grading company. Many sellers nowadays will attract buyers by sharing how much of a “pop” a particular card has of that grade. This is to show the increased rarity of the graded card. An example is “this Jordan graded card in this grade is a pop 15”
Pre Priced Team Break or Pre Priced Team Case Break or Pre Priced Team Box Break – there is a pre-set price for each team in the break. Typically the prices for each team will vary depending on the rookie class and the types of hits you can get.
Print Run – the amount of copies made of a particular card. Sometimes print runs are known such as when the card is serial numbered while the majority of cases print runs are not known and are simply educated guesses
Printing Plate – the actual plates used to produce a card by manufacturers. Printing plates are indicated as such on the back of the card and inserted into packs. These are considered 1/1 for each of the 4 standard colors: yellow, black, magenta, cyan. Nowadays not many consider printing plates as valuable as other short printed and certainly less valuable than actual 1/1 cards. Many are starting to stay away from collecting printing plates as part of their collections. Click here to see PSA graded cards for sale
Prizm – couple definitions here. Panini has a set called Prizm that is the staple especially for basketball rookie cards. Prizm is also Panini’s version of a refractor, which when putting against a light, you will see a rainbow reflection. Panini’s Prizm refractor is also referred to as a Prizm silver
Prospect Card – usually refers to the first card of a particular player especially common in baseball because of the vast amount of prospects. Some prospect cards literally say prospect or will be indicated with “1st”. Many consider prospect cards rookie cards (RC) even though prospects cards do not have the official RC logo.
PSA or Professional Sports Authenticator – grading and authentication servicing company that is one of the most reputable companies. Widely considered to be one of the top 2 along with Beckett Grading Services. Many consider PSA cards more valuable than any other so you will consistently see PSA graded cards selling for more than any other company. Click here to see PSA graded cards for sale
PSA/DNA – service offers by the grading company, PSA, to authenticate signed items. Note that PSA provides grades for the card or the autograph separately. a PSA/DNA card almost always indicates that the item was signed in person. Click here to see PSA/DNA cards for sale
Pull or Pulled Card – a way of saying a card was pulled out of a pack
Qualifier – designation by a grading company because of some issue with that card. You will typically see different types of qualifiers such as qualifying a card as an off centered (OC) card or a stained (ST) card. Some listings will try to make it absolutely clear that the card as “no qualifiers”. Qualifer cards are always less valuable than the no qualifier cards
Rainbow or Completing the Rainbow – refers to a collector who is attempting to obtain all color parallels of a specific player card. This includes the 1/1 superfractor and the various color refractors
Random Break or Random Case Break or Random Box Break – this is a type of group break that sellers will offer. All teams are given a spot and each spot typically equals one team. The seller aka group breaker will always list how the spots or teams are assigned. Once all spots are filled, a list of all the teams, and finally a list of all the buyers are randomized. The resulting list is then paired so that each spot, team, and participant are matched.
Raw Card – refers to a card that has not been graded or authenticated by a grading company. There are still many collectors who hate graded cards because technically grading is subjective to the grader
Raw Card Review or RCR – service provided by Beckett Grading Services in which they will provide a preview grade of the card without slabbing or encasing the card. This service is traditionally offered at shows or hobby shops as listed by Beckett on their site. The RCR holder is flimsy and once you get an RCR grade, the card is not always guaranteed to get that RCR grade if you take it back home. Because RCR services are significantly cheaper than getting a card slabbed, RCR prices will be cheaper than the slabbed prices. Click here to see raw card review cards for sale
Razz – considered a form of gambling on sports cards. Many call it a game of chance. Razzing is very popular on social platforms especially Facebook. A seller will razz a card that sells for $100 and sell a certain amount of spots typically 10 at $10 for each spot. Many times a seller will razz a card for more than the average eBay sales price. A randomizer is used to select a number and that numbers wins the card. I highly recommend that people in general stay away from razzes. Just like any form of gambling, razzing can be very addicting and you can easily lose hundreds of dollars in a matter of minutes. Rather support your local hobby shops and gamble on buying a box of cards
Recoloring – fraudulent practice of coloring a card either with a marker or pen to hide imperfections. The reason sellers do this is to sell the card at a higher price
Redemption or Redemption Card – a card that is inserted into packs as a substitute for the card. Once you redeem the redemption card, the manufacturer will then send you the card. Redemptions are almost always autographs, but are not always valuable. The reason redemptions are included is simply because the manufacturer did not get the item back from the athlete, which also means that redemptions can take an exceptionally long time to receive and receiving the card you are owed is actually not guaranteed. Nowadays if the redemption date has passed, the manufacturer will send you a card of equal value.
Refractor – refers to a card that has a chrome surface and will say “refractor” on the back of the card, “R” to represent a refractor, or you will need to put the card up to the light and see if you can see a rainbow reflection. Refractors come in various forms such as a regular refractor, black refractor, gold refractor, etc. Refractors can be a base card, serial numbered card, autographed card, game used card. Refractors were first introduced in 1993 through the Topps Finest set. Click here to see refractors for sale
Registry – some of the grading companies have an online database in which you can “register” or input your graded cards for that specific grading company. The grading company will offer this service usually free to allow customers to keep track of certain sets and collections. This is a clever way for grading companies to convince you to only grade with their company. For example, if you want to create a registry of a 1986/87 Fleer Basketball set, then the PSA registry will only allow you to input PSA graded cards. You will not be able to register any of its competitors such as Beckett Grading or SGC
Relic Card or Game Used Card or Player Worn Card or Event Worn Card – refers to a card that has a piece of the jersey, bat, ball, suit, wardrobe, etc of that player or celebrity. Some collectors will jokingly refer to one color relic cards as “napkins” because of how flimsy and unappealing one color relics are. Click here to see relic cards for sale
Repackaged Product or Repackaged Seller – sellers will purchase “hits” such as higher dollar cards and repackage these cards into the seller’s own created repackaged product. This is perfectly legal. Rather than buying a hobby box or retail box and hoping for that big card, many will instead buy these repackaged products that will have guaranteed hits. Prices will vary, but you absolutely want to make sure you are buying repackaged products from reputable sellers. Best thing to do is ask around.
Reprint or RP – refers to a card that has been reproduced to copy the original card. Reprints can be part of a regular set that manufacturers release; however, recently there have been many people creating reprints themselves for profit. Some of these reprints are very well done and can trick those new to the hobby. Never buy reprints unless officially released by the manufacturer
Retail Box or Blaster Box – just as it sounds. Retail boxes are only available in retail stores such as Target or Walmart. Sometimes these retail or blaster boxes will have retail exclusive cards that could be more valuable than the standard cards. Click here to see retail boxes for sale
Retail Exclusive or Retail Only – just as it sounds. Retail exclusive cards are only available in retail stores including big box stores such as Target or Walmart. Values on retail exclusives can be hit or miss. Some retail exclusive parallels such as a specific color is more valuable than the base standard version of the card. Click here to see rookie cards for sale
Ripping – casual term for opening packs, boxes, or cases
Rookie Card or RC – refers to a card of a player during the player’s first season at the pro level. On many cards you will note a small “RC” logo on the card designating the card as the player’s rookie card. These RC logo cards typically happen after a player made their pro debut so in baseball, for example, these players will have earlier cards before their pro debut called prospect cards. About half will say that these pre RC logo cards or prospect cards are rookie cards while the other half will say sure count these pre RC logo cards as rookie cards. Click here to see rookie cards for sale
Rookie Patch Autograph or RPA or True RPA – refers to a card that is both autographed and contains a piece of jersey or jersey patch (typically multi colored). Many sellers will use RPA in their listings to gain attraction, but as you understand the hobby more, you will notice that there are certain cards or sets that many will consider the real or “true” RPA, which makes that card even more valuable. The best thing to do if you are not sure about whether you are buying a true RPA is to ask including asking me. Although there are guidelines you can follow such as “most RPAs are usually numbered to 99”, that is not always the case and you can get burned by following this guideline. In some cases on the back of the card, the manufacturer such as Panini will literally say RPA as part of the card numbering. Click here to see RPA cards for sale
SASE or Self Addressed Stamped Envelope – usually used when sending a through the mail (TTM) autograph request. Typically you send an SASE along with the card you want signed in an envelope
Scammer – goes by many names such as scumbag or POS or dirtbag or lowlife or reprint makers. Goes out of their way to rip people off by intentionally deceiving collectors. There are well known and reputable groups on Facebook to search for sports cards scammers. Always do your research and never assume that someone you have dealt with will follow through in your next deal. You never know. Never assume. I recommend you check out the Sportscard Scammers Facebook page.
Serial Number (#) or Serial Numbering – refers to a card that is either machine stamped with a specific serial number or hand numbered. These are rarer than the base versions of the card, but serial numbered cards are not always rarer than short prints (SP) or super short prints (SSP)
Shilling or Shill Bidding – an illegal way of bidding on your own item using a different account or possibly a friend/acquaintance to increase the price of that item. Such practices can be witnessed by consignment shops in which these consignment companies will take in an item to sell on a seller’s behalf. The consignment companies receive a portion of the sale so you can quickly see why some are suspicious of these companies because a higher sales price means a bigger cut
Short Print or SP – refers to a card that is printed in less quantities. Just like SSP (or super short prints), these cards are usually not numbered, more desirable than the standard version of the card, and pricier. Many will try to provide educated guesses on the print quantity, but is typically not confirmed.
Silver Prizm Card – Panini created a refractor card that Topps has had since 1993. Panini uses the term “silver” for its Prizm product, which is basically a refractor card or similar to an Optic Holo. Click here to see prizm silver cards for sale
Slab or Slabbed or Slabbing or Graded Cards – refers to a graded card by a grading company such as PSA, Beckett Grading, or SGC. A slabbed card will be in a thick case and the card encapsulated protecting the card and either providing a number for a grade or simply marked as an authentic card. “Slab” is a casual term that many collectors will use today. However, when searching for slabbed cards, you will not want to search on eBay for the term “slab”.
SSP or Super Short Print – simply refers to a short printed card that is even more rare. Sometimes the card will truly be an SSP, but do not be fooled by eBay listings in which cards are listed as super short prints. It is a way to grab your attention. SSP are typically not numbered and known quantity print runs are usually educated guesses. Prices on SSP will be significantly higher than a similar non-SSP card from the same set.
Stacks – no not money stacks. This is in reference to Facebook Stacks. Basically a seller will have a stack of 200 cards and each card is numbered 1 through 200. Seller charges you $5 for each pull. You buy a specific number and seller will then pull that card. Spot 1 would be the top card. The risk here is obvious. You are paying in hopes of getting a much higher dollar card.
Stain or Gum Stain or ST – typically used for card condition and card graining. Typically staining happens from either gums from back when gum was inserted into packs or when cards get stuck to one another. Any card that has stains or is graded by PSA with an ST qualifier will devalue the card significantly
Sticker auto or autograph – card has been signed by a player/celebrity, but that person has signed a sticker, which has then been placed on the card. Collectors tend to prefer “on card autos” over sticker autos because on card autos means the player has had to have touched the card to sign whereas the sticker auto means the player only signed the sticker and the company placed the sticker on the card.
Subgrade or Subgrades – term used to describe grades given by Beckett Grading Services. For modern cards, you can receive 4 subgrades from Beckett that grades based on the centering, edges, surface, and corners. PSA does not give subgrades and Beckett is the only survice that does. Subgrades matter to many collectors and will price cards if some subgrades represent a true gem or a true gem plus(+)
Supercollector – a loyal group of collectors who will attempt to get every single card of a particular player, set, team, specific serial numbering such as a 1st numbered card. Being a supercollector takes time, money, and most importantly dedication
Superfractor – card is always a true 1/1 card and the most desired of that particular player from that particular set. The design of a superfractor is distinct because of the gold and a checkered design. You will typically see superfractors from Topps, but Panini has also been using similar superfractor designs. Click here to see superfractor 1/1’s for sale
Team Bag – used to either protect a card that is in a toploader or can be used to keep several cards. Putting a single card without a toploader into a team bag is not a good way to keep the card in good condition. You can typically fit in about 20-25 penny sleeve’d cards with no toploader. Click here to see team bags for sale
Through the Mail (TTM) Autographs – refers to autographs obtained through the mail. Autographs are typically not certified meaning autographs are not guaranteed to be authentic and not as valuable as an autograph that has been pack pulled. This is a very popular and cost efficient way of getting autographs of baseball prospects and semi stars. Click here to see TTM autographs for sale
Tiffany Set or Parallel Card – this refers to a parallel of a card with no other differentiation except a more glossy surface. Tiffany cards are more valuable and shorter printed than the regular versions of the card. Finding tiffany cards in gem mint condition (either PSA 10 or BGS 9.5) is typically very difficult and in high demand. Click here to see toploaders for sale
Toploader – term used to describe a more rigid or semi rigid plastic in which you can insert the card. Typically you will put your card in a penny sleeve and then put that penny sleeve into a toploader for extra protection. Click here to see toploaders for sale
Trade Value or TV – term used when trading cards. The owner of a card will determine a trade value of the card usually either the average sales price of the card or a small percentage higher than average sales. The trade value is usually agreed upon by both traders before moving forward in the negotiation
True 1/1 or One of One – might seem odd, but when you look at eBay listings, sellers try to be clever with what is considered a 1/1 such as a jersey number serial numbered card or the 1st card numbered. A true 1/1 refers to an actual stamped (or in some cases hand numbered) 1/1 card. Click here to see true 1/1 serial numbered cards for sale
True Gem or True Gem Mint – term used to describe a gem mint card graded by Beckett Grading Services that has subgrades of 9.5 in all 4 subgrades. Many collectors will put a premium on true gem BGS 9.5 cards. Click here to see true gem graded cards for sale
True Gem Plus (+) or True Gem Mint Plus (+) – term used to describe a gem mint card graded by Beckett Grading Services that has subgrades of at least one 10 and a minimum of 9.5 in all 4 subgrades. Many collectors will put a premium on true gem+ BGS 9.5 cards over the true gem BGS 9.5. Beckett is the only grading service that offers subgrades so there is a niche within Beckett graded cards. Click here to see true gem+ graded cards for sale
Uncut Sheet – these are not seen as often in the modern era of sports cards. Refers to cards that have not yet been cut into individual cards. These were available either as a collectible or the original obtained by other means
Variation (VAR) – card that is usually part of the regular standard set, but there is a slight change in the photo. The change could be a background color, no logo, team name, action shot, and on and on. In the past variations were commonly just errors, but nowadays, variations are done intentionally and errors such as miscuts are sometimes jokingly referred to as variations. Click here to see variation cards for sale
Vending Box or Vending Case – typically the term used to describe boxes or cases from manufacturers that were to be used in vending machines. This term is not often used any longer
VG or Very Good Condition – card that is in very good condition. Typically grading companies will consider VG as follows: PSA 3, BGS or BVG 3.5
VG-EX or Very Good to Excellent Condition – card that is in very good to excellent condition. Typically grading companies will consider VG-EX as follows: PSA 4, BGS or BVG 4-4.5
Vintage (Cards) – used to describe cards typically 1980 and older; however, many are shifting their usage of vintage cards to describe cards typically early 1970’s and older. Otherwise, the cards would be considered modern cards. These terms are used fairly loosely
W – collectors will simply type “W” to indicate that they are watching an item that has been put up for sale or trade. Typically used on Facebook. When typing “W”, this allows Facebook to essentially remind you that you have commented
Want List – describes a list of cards that a collector is looking to obtain typically for a player collection, team collection, set, or personal collection
Wax (or Sealed Wax) – term originated from the days when boxes were and packs were sealed in wax. Due to the nature of the hobby today, wax is never used because of the ease of resealing wax packs and wax boxes. However, the term wax is still used today to describe unopened packs or boxes even though wax is no longer used.
White whale – there are 2 different definitions of this term. 1) white whale is a set from Topps Triple Threads that is a 1/1 card. 2) collectors use this term to describe the card of their dreams because either the card is very difficult to find or the price of the card is out of reach
Xfractor (or X-fractor) – term typically used by Topps to describe a refractor card that has a checkered pattern. Click here to see xfractor cards for sale
XRC aka extended rookie card – card manufacturers will use XRC to describe a rookie card that is not part of the regular or standard set, thus the word extended. Some consider XRC as pre-rookie card as well, but nevertheless, an XRC is still a rookie card. Click here to see XRC for sale
Young Guns (YG) – a series of cards by Upper Deck Hockey used to describe a rookie card. These are typically short printed and a key rookie card for hockey. Click here to see Young Guns rookie cards for sale