These days, everything is serially numbered, even the base cards in some cases. Its reached epidemic levels, especially with some of the recent releases from Topps and Panini that number the worthless insert cards. In fact, its gotten so bad that the number on a card no longer means a single thing. I remember back in the late 1990s, having a serially numbered card meant it was EXTREMELY RARE. Back then, the low numbered cards were usually some of the most expensive non-autographed modern cards ever. Don’t believe me? Check out this Jordan from Metal, ending tomorrow, that will most likely clear three g’s. What do we have now? Nothing even close.
I was looking over my collection, and not once has a serial number made any sort of difference to me. I want a good looking card above anything else, and the rarity is just a bonus. The problem is that contrived scarcity is so common these days that 1/1s don’t even have the clout they once used to. Personally, if serial numbers went away, I wouldn’t have an issue, mainly because of how much of my collection centers around autographs. So much so that an autograph could be numbered to 1999 and I wouldn’t care as long as it was well designed and had a cool picture.
The worst part is that its gotten to the point where manufacturers are using parallels as a crutch to fill out a product, with Panini taking it to such an extreme that it has become a meme within the hobby ranks. In fact, you are lucky if you find a Panini card that ISNT serially numbered in some way. Instead of spending the time to design more cards for the set, most times, the manufacturers will just create an extra 5 or 10 parallels to a card. That’s how we end up with an insert numbered to 1999, 999, 499, 100, 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1. Guess what? You could put together a complete set of all those cards and not have something to sell on eBay for more than 100 bucks.
I will tell you that my favorite part of this whole adventure continues to be the collectors that pay a premium for a card numbered to the player’s jersey number. I have no idea why someone would think a Brett Favre autograph numbered 4/25 is worth more than the same Brett Favre autograph numbered 5/25. I can understand HOW this practice came to be, but it literally makes zero sense to me. Here is a John Wall Limited patch auto numbered 2/10, which is selling for a shit ton of money because its numbered to his jersey. Yeah, not really going to say that is anything but ridiculous.
The reality of the situation is that this is just another example of a new innovation that has been exploited to the point of parody. When you have a set like Topps Moments and Milestones that contains over 40,000 serially numbered cards, you know that it has gotten worse than anyone has expected. How long will it take for every card to be numbered so low that even the ridiculously scarce parallels mean nothing unless it’s the backwards mirror of the player’s high school jersey number? Don’t worry, that’s an eBay 1/1.