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Monthly Mailbag - January 2024

It's a new year but the main goal is still the same - buy all the cards! Just kidding. But I am hoping to continue picking up some great cards for The Rolen Collection this year. Here's what I have been able to add this month:

1998 Topps Tek - Patterns 15, 50, 53, 60, 61, 83. 84. 87, and 88

I wanted to finish this run of cards last year. And I was so close too! I was only missing nine different patterns when this year began. 2023 came and went and I wasn't able to find the patterns I was missing to complete the run.

As 2024 started, I was thinking about my hobby goals and the 1998 Tek run was first on my list - finish the base set! I'm not sure if it was focused energy, fate, divine intervention from the hobby gods, or just a little luck, but as it turns out, this was the year I was meant to complete the base set.

In typical hobby fashion, it was a fellow collector who was able to help me accomplish this goal so soon after ringing in the new year. In a Facebook group dedicated to Topps Tek cards, another guy named John posted that he had all 90 patterns of Rolen available. I sent him a message and within minutes a deal was struck. Just a few short days after that first message, I had finally completed the entire run with these nine patterns! You can check out all 90 patterns together here: 1998 Topps Tek - Scott Rolen.

2010 Topps Update - All-Star Stitches #AS-SR. Scott only had 83 cards produced in 2010, so there isn't really a lot to collect from that year. Especially considering that 34 of those are 1/1 (mostly printing plates). This card marks my 32nd card from 2010 and it's exactly what you would expect from that era of cards. A small simple swatch of event worn jersey from the 2010 MLB All-Star Game festivities jersey. Nothing super rare or over-the-top awesome. But I got it for the right price at the right time and I'm always happy to add a card to the Rolen collection that I need.

2023 Panini Chronicles - Revolution Groove #43. So I posted about these Revolution cards last month and at the time I was worried about being able to identify the different foils they used on these. Well, that worry was unwarranted because Panini was gracious enough to tell us collectors exactly what parallel we have. On the bottom left corner of the back of the card, they printed the parallel that you have. I still need to track down six more parallels of this one to have them all.

2023 Topps Museum Collection - Single-Player Signature Swatches Triple Relic Autographs Gold #SWTRA-SR, SN25. Such a long name for a card! I got a really good deal on this card, which is why it found it's way into my collection this month. I talked about the nitpicks I have with these cards last month, primarily the sticker auto and the red jersey swatches with Rolen pictured in a white jersey. But, for the price, I was happy to pick up this Gold parallel serial numbered to 25 this month.

2023 Topps Museum Collection - Four-Player Primary Pieces Quad Relics #FPQR-VRVG, SN99. This card has a touch of damage on the left side near Votto, but you can't really see it. That is one reason I got this card for less than one-third what these cards normally sell for (thanks, Griffey). I probably won't pick up any more of the parallels of this card for quite some time - unless the price is just right.

2000 Stadium Club Chrome - First Day Issue Refractors #120, SN25. This card, in my opinion, is severely underrated. These were originally released a month before I graduated high school (May 2000), which was a period of time where I wasn't buying very many baseball cards. All 250 cards in the set had this gorgeous parallel available, limited and serial numbered to just 25 copies, but they were inserted at a rate of 1:131 packs. Back then, you got five cards per pack and the packs cost around $3.99. So you can get an idea of just how difficult it might be to pull this Scott Rolen card!

2023 Topps Archives Signature Series Retired Player Edition - 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter #82, SN28. What kind of a collector would I be if I didn't pick up one of these this month? I know, I know...we've seen this card before. It was also in the 2021 and 2022 sets. In 2021 it was serial numbered to 86 and in 2022 it was a 1/1. This year, Topps gave us another completely arbitrary number of 28. I'll continue buying these cards when they're available for next to nothing. Mostly because it's an on-card auto of a Hall of Fame player, so, why not?

2023 Topps Allen & Ginter - Mini Brooklyn Back #324, SN25. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - I love these Allen & Ginter cards! These Brooklyn back parallels are limited and hand-numbered to just 25 copies and fall at a rate of 1:379 packs. I don't know how I feel about the hand numbering being on the front of the cards this year. In previous years they put the numbering on the back side of the cards. I personally think they should have stuck with the backs of the cards for this process. There's just something about writing on the front of these that takes away from the eye appeal for me. Nevertheless, I am a fan of hand serial numbered cards, so I still love this card. Looking at the image on the back, I can kind of see why they elected to number the fronts this year; there is a lot of little writing on the back that a serial number would have covered.

2023 Panini Chronicles - Clearly Donruss Gold #7, SN10. I have to give props where they're due; and they are certainly due here! This card looks absolutely incredible in-hand. The acetate isn't your run-of-the-mill clear plastic here. It's got a rainbow shine to it that reacts with the light when it hits the card. You know the look of oil when it's sitting on top of water? That's what comes to mind when looking at this card. It doesn't have the same swirl pattern as that, but the rainbow shine is very similar. If Panini keeps this up, they may just have me as a fan for quite some time!

2023 Panini National Treasures - Die-Cut Material Signatures Holo Silver #DMS-SR, SN10. Panini released their FOTL boxes on December 19th, 2023 in a "Dutch Auction" pricing format. They began the price of a box at $800 and sold them there until they sold out or the price hit the floor at $525 per box. Regardless, that's way too expensive for my taste, so I picked this beauty up on ebay for a fraction of that cost. I love just about everything about this card. I know, "it's a landscape oriented card and you're not a big fan of those". But hear me out here. This card features a monster patch piece! I'm a sucker for these chunky yellow bat pieces of the patch. This particular copy is limited and serial numbered to just 10 copies, and this has got to be the best of the bunch because of the patch alone! My only complaint: sticker auto. But, I would much rather have the sticker auto as opposed to a redemption that takes forever (if ever) to fill. All in all, this card is another Panini offering that might just be convincing enough for me to keep seeking out their Rolen cards!

2023 Panini Chronicles - Status Swatches Holo Gold #SS-SR, SN10. This is a card that I actually purchased last year. I was actually starting to worry that I wasn't going to get the card because I sent the seller multiple messages that went unanswered. He finally messaged me back and gave me every excuse one could expect an absentee seller to give; but I gave him the benefit of the doubt and asked that he still send the card. It finally arrived about a month after I purchased it and I'm glad it got here safely! This card features Rolen on the Phillies, and one could surmise that is where the jersey swatch came from - a Phillies jersey. This swatch is from the sleeve area of the jersey and apparently that designates it as a "prime" piece as this card is serial numbered to just 10 copies.

2023 Panini Immaculate - Immaculate Materials Signatures #IMS-SR, SN25. This is a card that I held out on for a while. There are pros and cons to this card like any other card. And we've talked about my lack of love regarding sticker autos before. But I finally found, not only a copy with a nice signature, but also at the perfect price. For less than the cost of lunch, I was able to pick this card up this month! I like the fact that Rolen is representing the St. Louis on this card even though we don't get to see the Birds on the Bat or the STL. The blurb on the back was also nicely done; calling Rolen out as a Hall of Famer - big fan of that!

2023 Panini National Treasures - Hall of Fame Signatures #HSI-SR, SN25. Another Panini card. Another sticker auto. And I think Panini could have done better with this Hall of Fame Signatures card if they would have pictured Rolen in his Cardinals uniform instead of this Phillies picture. I know Rolen played a large portion of his career in Philly, and I do like the card, but he was enshrined as a Cardinal and since this is a Hall of Fame themed card, I feel they missed an opportunity here. All that said, the picture they chose definitely works for me with this one. And it ties nicely into the blurb on the back of the card where they talk about Rolen's last full season in Philly.

2021 Topps Chrome Platinum Anniversary Autographs - Gold Refractors #PA-SR, SN50. Yes, I'm still working on adding these to the collection. I can't believe it has taken me this long to add this parallel, but I'm certainly glad I waited for the prices to cool down. This one cost me about 25% versus what it would have cost me upon initial release. I never intended to go hard for these cards and that plan has worked out well in my favor. I don't mind leisurely collecting these. The gold refractor on this one doesn't show well in scans, but it looks absolutely incredible in hand!

2023 Topps 206 High Series - Wood Paper Stock #NNO, PR20. The newness of these Topps 206 cards has worn off. Which, in and of itself, is a double edged sword. The prices have fallen substantially, but so has the supply. Regardless, I'm happy to add this card to the collection this month. They're not serial numbered, but the stated print run for these Wood Paper parallels is just 20 copies per player. The wood paper makes the image a little tougher to see compared to the cardboard counterpart, but I like the concept and execution nonetheless.

1998 Topps Tek Diffractors - Patterns 1, 2, 7, 10, 13, 14, 21, 25, 33, 36, 37, 40, 41, 42, 45, 47, 50, 52, 58, 59, 60, 64, 70, 71, 74, 76, 77, 81, and 85.

I will do a separate blog post for these incredibly rare cards explaining how they came to be in my collection, but just know, adding these 29 1998 Topps Tek Diffractors to my collection this month is a huge honor! These cards rarely come up for sale and most collectors are in agreement that there are only 10-20 of each pattern of each player that even exists. Adding these to my collection this month brings me to 43 of the 89 different patterns. That is 48% of the entire run. A number that I didn't think would happen this soon!

This was an incredible month! Not only did I add all of these new cards to the collection, but just look at those 1998 Topps Tek cards! A completed run of all 90 base patterns and a huge leap forward in finding all 89 of the Diffractors. I was able to add some newer release cards as well as some great early cards that I've been missing. I'm hoping this momentum continues into February!


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