Although Panini still creates the content of their products like its 2003, its pretty obvious the hobby has moved on from that era of collecting. No longer are jersey cards worth any money, and numbered inserts are definitely not worth any money, even with low production runs. Back in the 1990s, that wasn’t the case, as drastic overproduction of products led to some rare inserts being worth more money than ever, even more money with the lower numbered ones.
Donruss was the master of gaudy looking rare inserts, ones that collectors chase to this day. The more prestige the player has, the more sought after the rare inserts become. That doesn’t mean the lesser players don’t have appeal, crazy as it may seem, as low production scrub cards also carry huge price tags some times. This situation has never been more apparent than with a recent jaw dropping sale of this extremely rare Michael Jordan insert out of Fleer Metal Universe.
Because the regular base set was so over produced, and this card is numbered to a tiny 50 copies, its easy to see why this card carries value. However, I don’t understand why it carries THAT much value, especially when you consider that it is from a dead brand with a dead product. 1990s rare inserts have cult following among the collectors that chase scarce cards, and it is crazy how much people are willing to pay, especially for a card that if produced today would not be worth anything. I guess that is where my understanding has to stop, as it is definitely a matter of supply and demand. People go ape shit over these ridiculous looking cards, much in the same way that people lose their minds over ridiculous vintage clothes or cars.
Here are some other crazy examples:
Another big example of this insert phenomenon goes back as early as the Brett Favre 1000 Stripe RC out of 1991 Wild Card Football. These cards were so utterly rare that even then it got huge money for the bigger guys. It entitled the collector to 1000 copies of the 1991 Favre rookie, and that is why it is exceedingly rare. Some of them were redeemed and destroyed, others are probably still in the unopened boxes. Regardless, they bring a crap load of money when they surface on eBay.
If two main lessons can be learned from this it is that 1) contrived/forced scarcity has ruined this phenomenon, and 2) its never going to go back to the way this was, so we shouldn’t try. Panini must not have gotten the memo on number two.