Answering is Exquisite, Still Exquisite?

Unless you are brand spanking new to the world in general, you know that Michael Jordan is the most likely the athlete with more recognition than the President of the United states. As a result, his autograph is without a doubt, the most valuable widely available autograph in sports. Even though he has been signing for years, his contribution to basketball and sports as a whole is so undeniable, that his autograph is the best around.

Dont believe me? Check out this auction to see that his signed cards can go for more than a Lexus.

With the release of 2011-12 Exquisite Basketball, there is one Michael Jordan autograph per case. This has led to more widely available Jordan signatures than ever before, and has brought the saturation to a point that is making Jordan collectors a little uncomfortable. Its no joke that supply vs demand has always been a factor with any desirable signature, but this is Michael Jordan we are talking about, and even outside of that, its EXQUISITE we are talking about.

The values on the initial Jordan autos are still strong, all things considered:

2012 Exquisite Michael Jordan Dimensions Auto Shadowbox

2012 Exquisite Michael Jordan Legacy Auto /23

2012 Exquisite Michael Jordan UD Black Auto /10

To say that Exquisite is exactly the way it always has been is a lie. Its not. Because of Panini’s worthless monopoly on NBA licensed cards, Upper Deck is forced to put this set out with a different look and much different content than ever before. As a result, they made a commitment to the autograph checklist by making sure the average box has a signature that makes up for the enormous price tag that has always been a part of the Exquisite brand. There are a lot of signatures in this product that should excite some major buzz. As an autograph collector, this is music to my ears, but I am not sure that many of the UD loyalists agree.

I dont collect Basketball cards at all, but I identify with the way many Basketball collectors work. Any NBA autograph functions one of two ways – vintage or high end. Much to the misunderstanding of Panini’s approach the last few years, any other approach really doesnt work. I collect in a very similar way, as my PC has to be high end or I wont buy it. Basically, over the last 10 years, Exquisite has been the best of the best, so I obviously have a lot of Exquisite cards in my collection. The question many people like me have asked is, “Without jersey cards, and without the logos that made this product what it was, is this still the best of the best?”

To me, in regards to basketball, the answer is yes. There STILL is no competition because Upper Deck has Jordan and Lebron – REGARDLESS of signature saturation. Now, if Panini were to get both players, and pull their heads out of their butts when it comes to making an NBA product, they might have a shot with licensing on their side. Until then, Upper Deck can have Jordan sign index cards and have Exquisite foil stamped on them, and still have a better slate than anything they could do. Yet, because Panini still cant design their way out of a paper bag, and Upper Deck still has their stable of loyalists that will always call for them to be licensed again, there will ALWAYS be competition.

If you are wondering if I believe Exquisite is all that it COULD have been this year, obviously it isnt. There are some genuinely awful cards in this product. On the other hand, I love the shadowbox Dimensions cards so much, that even I bought a Jordan a few days ago. The non manupatch UD Black cards are great, and the ring cards are awesome as well. Although Exquisite this year is leaving some people starving for the days of old, I think collectors should be plenty satisfied with a Jordan and Lebron auto per case.

Why, you might ask? The print run on this product is around 1600 cases, give or take, and that is not much. Because of the promise to pull the best autographs in sports in 2 out of every 3 boxes, these boxes are not going drop that far in value. To put it bluntly, the rest of the collecting world has no reservations with those odds, even if the loyalists are pissing and moaning about what it means for their existing collections. If anything, it means that the older, NBA licensed Jordan cards with swatches and logos are that much MORE valuable, because by all accounts, they will never happen again.

If I have a choice between a stellar auto checklist and a product with relics and a lesser checklist, I choose the strong checklist every time. That being said, I do not represent the general collecting base, who overvalue relics in their cards. Jersey cards arent special anymore, and they never were really that special to me to begin with. They might be icing on the cake, but when the cake isnt there in the first place, I dont see the point. Panini is infamous for watering down their content, and here is Upper Deck giving us exactly what we want, and all it does is illicit more complaining.

The obvious lesson is that no one will ever be happy. However, I am saying people should be with Exquisite.

3 thoughts on “Answering is Exquisite, Still Exquisite?

  1. Exquisite is still exquisite, but this year is definitely based on a top-heavy checklist. It seems to be neither an NBA or a college checklist, because it doesn’t feature many greats of the last 5-10 years from either league. Current NBA stars are M.I.A. and I’m pretty sure a lot of them attended an NCAA school. It’s more of a “history of some basketball greats” checklist.

    Upper Deck goes back to its bread and butter of Jordan, Lebron, Bird, Magic, Hakeem, Dr. J, Bill Russell etc. to deliver the high-end value. The result is a mega-high-end product. ( 5-6 cards for $1,000 deserves it’s own category).

    In the long-run I do think Upper Deck is willing to sell as many Jordan autos as necessary to turn a profit. I don’t know that they’ll ever reach the level of Leaf guaranteeing a Pete Rose auto in every box or churning out ’89 Griffey RCs, but as long as they have him in an exclusive their goal is to make money on Jordan autos and that doesn’t bode well for the general long term value of his autos.

    Panini should never ever have access to Jordan and Lebron. I can’t bear the thought of seeing their sticker autos pop up in National Treasures. UD gets the high-end concept, Panini only kinda sorta does.

  2. I agree with you 99%. Everyone says they miss the awesome patches, but the autograph checklist is out of this world. Five autos per box with every box giving you several of the greatest basketball players of all time. My customers are all happy with their 2011-12 Exquisite Basketball purchases and wish they could buy more.

    Try to find an older years of Exquisite Basketball for less than $1500 per box. And, they don’t give you a Jordan Auto in every three box case. Throw in the fact that 95% of the 2011-12 cases also give you a Lebron auto, and it won’t be too long before the 2011-12 Exquisite Basketball boxes are going for $1500 per box.

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