The Surging Use of Acetate and Other Printing Methods

Let me start this off by saying I am glad that card companies are starting to explore other methods of production. No longer is cardboard stock the only way someone can expect to find new cards. Acetate and other alternative means are coming back around, and I could not be happier. We have seen a resurgence in baseball and football, as both Topps and Panini have started making acetate a big part of their overall plans.

Most recently in 2013 Tier One, the Clear Rookie Reprint autos are back for the second year in a row, and I have been exceptionally impressed with the way they look. These cards take collector favorites and present them in a new way, with a focus on getting autographs on cards that never had that opportunity. I have always drooled over new opportunities to collect rookies of my favorite players with hard signed autographs, without having to worry about buying slabbed authenticated versions created after the fact.

Here are some of the examples:

2013 Topps Tier One Rickey Henderson Clear Rookie Reprint Auto /25

2013 Topps Tier One Mike Trout Clear Rookie Reprint Auto /25

2012 Topps Tier One Miguel Cabrera Clear Rookie Reprint Auto /25

In football, we see acetate used all over the place, from cards we see in Panini products like Elite and Momentum, to the incredible Strata shadowbox style cards that were my favorite of 2012. Similarly, the pure glass cards from Leaf Trinity take it a step further, using dual sided printing on plexiglass to create depth and texture to create a style that has never been used before.

Im curious to see how technology can factor into new production methods, as the landscape of the industry is going to change significantly over the next few years. I mentioned in a prior post of what could happen with the advent of 3D printing, and who knows what will be possible down the road. I just want the manufacturers to continue taking risks in the way they produce the products. Too often we get stuck in a rut of the same cards with new faces, and it leads to a situation like we see with many of the product calendars already in place.

Panini has even taken that to a new level by printing on gold sheets, creating cards for Contenders that have value in the production method as well as in the player subject on the card. I think its an interesting risk, but many collectors still see it as novelty rather than sustainable process. The same thing could be said about Topps using football skins instead of the back of the card.

Many of us are looking for the next big thing, the same way jersey cards stormed the scene back in 1996 and 1997. I am not sure if there will be a next big thing ever again. It might not be available, especially in creating value among the cards produced. Inscriptions and other autograph related content is one thing, but we all wonder what else is possible.

The question remains, how else can collectors become closer to the sports they love in the confines of a 2×3 canvas?

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