What Is A Relic Card?

In recent years, the baseball-card collectors market has faced some major changes. This is most notable in the rise and falls in the market that has made wise investments challenging for people looking to invest in baseball cards. 

While some card values have declined over the years and are not worth as much as they used to be, card companies are creating different ways to increase value in collectible sets. One notable example is relic cards. 

What Is A Relic Card

So, What Are Relic Cards?

Essentially, relic cards are the same as normal cards; however, they contain one major difference that sets them apart. Relic cards contain a piece of in-game used memorabilia.

For example, a card may have attached a tiny square piece of a particular player’s jersey or uniform. 

These relic cards can be found within typical sports card packs, creating a new trend in the card-buying industry and the latest card to get your hands on.

This can already be seen in major stores with card enthusiasts handling sports card packs to try and feel for a relic card.

The reason for this is that packs containing a relic card will have a slight weight difference and you may be able to feel the outline of the patch memorabilia. 

Why Relic Cards Are Becoming Popular?

Many people have begun collecting relic cards not just for their value, but because they are owning a semblance of baseball history.

If card companies are truly placing authentic game-used memorabilia into these cards, then you are essentially owning a piece of material that contributed to shaping a segment of the game’s great history.

While it may not be the same as owning the actual cleats or the game-worn jersey; however, many modest card collectors will be happy enough with just a piece of material. 

Examples Of Relic Cards

Typically, most relic cards are quite similar to one another; mainly consisting of pieces of material from worm uniforms and clothing, however; Topps Allen & Ginter issued a fairly unusual relic card recently.

Three George Washington DNA relic cards were released, containing pieces of the first president’s hair. 

While some people may find this somewhat creepy to have the strands of a dead person’s hair on their baseball card.

If you can get over these creepiness factors then it is a pretty interesting idea.

If authentic, it was a bold move by Topps to release these cards to the public where anyone can get their hands on them (see also “Does Anyone Read The Back Of The Cards?“), if they’re lucky enough, even small children who may not even think twice about them and throw them in the trash. 

After the release, the first of the three cards was discovered by a card collector in Arizona. The card was placed into an online auction where it is predicted to reach thousands of dollars.

With the amount of attention these cards received, you can rest assured that Topps Allen & Ginter has some more interesting collectibles up their sleeves ready to be released in the near future.

Albeit, hopefully, nothing too creepy. 

In terms of sports relic cards, these can include:

Tom Glavine 2021 Immaculate Printing Plate Dual Patch Card 1/1

Willie McCovey 2021 Immaculate Hall of Fame Jersey Patch /9

Bo Jackson 2021 Spectra Epic Legends Jersey Patch /99

Ronald Bolanos Select Swatches Relic Cracked Ice Inset /25

Kris Bubic 2021 Immaculate Jumbo Fielding Glove Brand Logo 1/1

How To Purchase Relic Cards?

Sites such as eBay and Craiglists have a huge amount of relic cards, ranging from various types of sports. Another good place to look would be your local trading card shops. 

If you can’t find the card you’re looking for, you could try trusted online retailers that specialize in relic cards. These include Hall Of Fame Relics and Slam Sports Cards.

Whichever method you choose it’s important to conduct your own research to make sure you’re getting authentic relic cards. 

The Issue With Relic Cards

Since the initial release of relic cards in the 1990s, card companies have opened a Pandora’s box they couldn’t quite contain.

While some cards are unquestionably popular, especially with people looking to collect player cards, they also ensue collectors who open packs for ‘hits’, and discard the remaining cards as ‘garbage’.

These ‘garbage’ cards have sometimes even been worth more than the relic cards. 

Over the years, these types of cards went from being a rare price (for instance, 1997 Upper Deck Game Jersey) to something that was generally expected in most card packs.

The rule of thumb seems to be that for a pack of cards to have any success they must contain a relic card.

These cards have been getting bolder, bigger, and equally more expensive as each company is trying to outdo one another. 

Card companies have expanded this concept of relic cards, not long after the release, and began creating cards with vintage items that are considered a part of the iconic Hall of Fame (see also “All You Need To Know About The Baseball Card Hall Of Fame”).

This led to a debate about the ethics of cutting up memorabilia worthy of being preserved in museums. 

On top of this, there is the question of authenticity. Unless a specific garment has been publicized and people have been made aware of its whereabouts, it’s extremely difficult to determine true authenticity. You can read a bit more about this in our article about Patch Cards.

This could lead to cards being promoted as historic which, in fact, are not. It’s likely that we’ll never know the amount of actual historic relics destroyed in the name of trading cards. 

Final Thoughts

Relic cards are a great way to hold some special memorabilia of your favorite sports players. Essentially, they are composed of a piece of fabric that is claimed to be worn by a specific player.

However, while this may seem like a good idea, there are some issues with relic cards regarding authenticity. Hopefully, this guide has informed you on everything you need to know about relic cards. 

Michael Stewart
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