In 2016 Classics, we saw that Panini went out and got the players to sign a bunch of cards they had in their inventory. These buybacks are supposedly one per case, and for the most part, have attracted some nice attention from collectors who appreciate the cards they had signed.
Here are some of the bigger ones up so far:
Personally, im a big fan of buyback autograph cards but I know that others might not be as big a supporter of their usage. I honestly wish more companies used buybacks in their products, as it creates a way for them to use pre-obtained content to get hard signed autographs. If you dont need to print the card, all autographs no longer have an excuse to be stickers. So, the question remains – what makes a good buyback?
Lets face it, finding a way for an autograph and a relic to be included on such a small surface is tough. So tough that Panini seems to fail at it about 10 times more than they succeed. Base cards dont have to deal with that type of composition, so there is a lot more room for bigger player photos and uninterrupted design elements. This can mean autos might be tougher to see, but with the right design, the card can be absolutely stunning.
Aside from the fact that this can get expensive for some of the superstar players, the importance of their rookie card to collectors is undeniable. If you ask a collector which type of card is the most important to the hobby, a rookie card is easily top 3 if not the most important. Getting one autographed by the player can make the buy back insanely attractive, especially if the rookie is tough to get.
Everyone remembers 1989 Upper Deck Baseball. Everyone remembers 1952 Topps. 1986 Fleer Basketball is an institution. These sets are iconic examples of trading cards, and they arent alone. Obviously, there are a lot of reason why getting 1952 Topps stuff for people to sign wont work, but the thought is there. If you can get an iconic set combined with a rookie card for a buyback signature? Thats where things can be really special. This luxury car price tag on a 1986 Jordan Buyback is not a joke.
There is no more attractive card than a chrome card with a hard signed signature. Unfortunately, many of the chrome cards feature sticker autographs outside of Topps Chrome. I think if a company really wants to make me fall in love, this type of card would be a great way to do it. Topps has actually done chrome buyback autos a few times, and they remain valuable in many of the examples.
Can you imagine if UD did a widespread buyback program of some of their rare inserts from the late 1990s and early 2000s? Although Fleer Retro had a few examples, it was mostly focused around Michael Jordan. I would love to see them get some of the PMG cards and have them signed. I would buy the shit out of those cards. In all honesty, many unsigned insert cards do look pretty awesome. I would love to see how many would look with hard signed autograph cards.
Again, the need for more unique autograph content is huge in the industry right now. Collectors are routinely giving up on the same old shit year after year, and its time to make sure that we get some fresh content – even if its based in nostalgic connections to older sets. History sells in cards, and companies need to use it more often in creating premium content.