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Monthly Mailbag - November 2023

November is typically a month where we express our thanks for things in life. While I am incredibly thankful for a lot of things in life, I'll keep this post focused on baseball cards and this hobby overall. Over the past 11 months this year, I have met several amazing people because of this hobby. I have connected with guys like Ron who built an amazing Rolen collection during Rolen's playing years and sought out a collector, like me, who would appreciate the cards as much as he did. I've been able to add well over 300 unique cards to my collection this year and I enjoy each and every one of those cards! Here are the unique cards I am thankful to add to my collection this month:

2023 Topps Gilded Collection - Gold Framed Hall of Famers Autograph

These gorgeous cards were released on October 18th of this year. I was incredibly tempted to jump all over the first ones that hit ebay, but now I'm glad that I waited a little bit. The initial sticker price has subsided substantially and I was able to pick these up at a fraction of the cost this month. Topps did an outstanding job with the overall design on these in my opinion. They are nice and thick with the gold frame border and they've got some weight to them because of that as well. The beautiful on-card autograph is a must-have with these cards too! The only miss, and it's something that is becoming somewhat annoying to me, is that this is a "Hall of Fame" card, yet they feature Rolen in his Phillies jersey. While he did spend a good portion of his career in Philadelphia, he went into the Hall as a Cardinal. As such (and in my totally biased opinion as a Cardinals fan) they should have featured him in his Cardinals jersey on these cards.

This month I was able to add the following from the Gilded Collection:

  • Base, SN99

  • Rose Gold, SN50 (1:6 packs)

  • Emerald, SN25 (1:10 packs)

  • Onyx, SN10 (1:23 packs)

2003 Leaf Certified Materials - Mirror Blue #174, SN50. Back in 2003 the card market hadn't been plagued by the massive rainbow colored parallels quite yet. That said, this card had the "standard" color parallels for the year: Black (/1), Blue (/50), Emerald (/5), Gold (/25), and Red (/100). The shine on these mirror cards is stunning in-hand! When I saw this card listed for $0.99 on ebay, I threw in my $1.00 bid and let it ride; and I won it for that opening bid. Scoring cards like this for next to nothing is one of the ways I've been able to add so many unique cards to my collection. And I hope to continue that tradition moving forwards towards my next collecting goal!

2023 Topps Pristine - Around the Diamond Pristine Refractor #ADR-SR, SN99. I added the "base" version of this card to my collection last month and I was able to add this Pristine Refractor this month. It was a bundle deal with the Rose Gold Gilded card featured above. I've always been a fan of the Pristine lineup from Topps, and these horizontal cards are really growing on me; especially when they include an on-card autograph and a piece of memorabilia like these do.

2005 Donruss Diamond Kings - Materials Framed Red #398 MEM, SN200. I will likely never get all of these Diamond Kinds cards released in 2005. Why? Well, because there are 223 different cards (including many 1/1s)! So, knowing that I probably won't ever get all of them, I'll be happy just adding new ones to the collection whenever I see them come up for sale. I'll also need time to refer to my checklist because there are so many of these cards that are incredibly similar, and there is no way I'll be able to memorize exactly which cards I have versus which ones I still need. I really do like the looks of these Red parallels though, especially for the cards depicting Rolen on the Cardinals for the team color match!

2023 Panini Chronicles - America's Pastime Majestic Marks #MM-SR, SN50. I have so much to say about Panini with regards to them making unlicensed baseball cards. But I think that dead horse has been beaten to death in the hobby circles for awhile now. Another thing about Panini, and this release of Chronicles, they've added Scott to their checklist and there are a LOT of cards of him in this release. Not only is he in several of the subsets, but there are a myriad of parallels that accompany those. I feel like I'll be searching for these cards for quite some time! But, lets focus on this particular card. The on-card autograph is absolutely perfect! It is a great representation of Scott's signature right now. I was surprised to find that this card is unnecessarily thick too! I had to break out the 180pt one-touch to get this card scanned. Why is it so thick? There isn't any memorabilia embedded into the card, it's just thick for no real reason. I do like that the front of the card is an acetate material mated with the cardboard backing. That material provided a great surface for the autograph and lends to the overall clean look of the signature.

2023 Topps Archives - Fan Favorites Autograph Blue #72FF-SR, SN25. Rolen is indeed a fan favorite, so it was a no-brainer for Topps to include him in this year's Archives insert by the same name. Once again, we've got a great looking on-card autograph here. The picture, while it leaves a lot to be desired, it does go well with the theme of the throw back design that Archives is known for. On this particular parallel, the blue foil, the border of the card really shines in-hand! I was able to pick this card up for as much as the base white border cards have been selling for, so I'll probably wait things out to pick up some of the other parallel versions.

2023 Topps Tier One - Prime Performers Autographs #PPA-SR, SN199. Tier One from Topps has quickly moved it's way towards the top of my favorites list year over year. I enjoy the classy design, the use of foil on the fronts of these cards, as well as the on-card autographs. I also like that they chose a picture of Scott in his Cardinals jersey for this release. And this is most definitely an instance where it is far less expensive to pick up singles you want for your collection as opposed to buying a box in hopes of hitting any specific card.

2023 Topps Tier One - Tier One Relics #T1R-SR, SN400. I picked this card up in a package deal with the autograph card featured above. As big a fan as I am of the Cardinals, and specifically Scott when he was with the Cardinals, I do appreciate Topps changing things up a bit with regard to this card. I imagine it has just as much to do with them obtaining a Reds jersey as much as anything, but I like the picture they used here of a seasoned leader of the Reds team. This is another fairly thick card, fitting inside a 130pt one-touch. I guess the thicker cards is Topps way of conveying "high quality" to us collectors.

2012 Kahn's Cincinnati Reds #NNO. I have been searching for this card for quite some time! Regional issues such as this can be rather difficult to track down. These were given away at the Reds vs. Astros game in Cincinnati on April 29, 2012 as part of "family day at the ballpark". They were given to the first 8,000 kids 14 and younger. Which is likely why it has taken me this long to track one down that is in good condition. Fairly limited (especially this day in age) and they were given out to kids. I'm pretty excited to add this one to the collection this month!

2021 Topps Tier One - Tier One Talent Autographs Silver Ink #T1TA-SRO, SN10. Yet another card that proves "patience is a virtue". When this product was originally released, this card was fetching a premium due to it's "scarcity". Being limited, and serial numbered, to just 10 copies, it doesn't come up for sale very often. The first couple that came up to auction went for far more than I cared to pay for the card. Fast forward a couple of years, and I was finally able to add this one to the collection. And, as luck would have it, the on-card autograph on this particular copy is actually pretty nice. The silver pen that Scott used tended to run kind of streaky, but this copy is pretty solid throughout.

2023 Panini Chronicles - Clearly Donruss Blue #7, SN50. Another one of the Panini Chronicles subsets is this Clearly Donruss card. This is the Blue parallel, serial numbered to 50 copies. I plan on picking up as many of these parallels as I can of this card. Mostly because it reminds me quite a bit of the cards from the 90s being printed on a clear acetate as opposed to cardboard. The picture Panini used for this card is also excusable, considering they don't have a license to use MLB logos. This picture of Scott at the end of his swing obscures the front of his jersey and his helmet quite a bit, so the absence of MLB logos isn't as noticeable here.

2023 Panini Chronicles - Essentials #19

Here is another subset from the Panini Chronicles release - Essentials. What is really tough to discern from these scans is the striking 90s-esque beauty these cards have. The front of the cards have a nice refractor-y rainbow shine to them. Similar to the Clearly Donruss above, Panini chose a good photo of Scott late in his swing to hide the lack of MLB logos here (for the most part). I really thought that I would dislike Scott being in a Panini product, but they are slowly winning me over with their flashes of 90s design and style with these cards - quite a pleasant surprise!

So far I've been able to add the following Essentials:

  • Base

  • Essentials Red, SN199

  • Essentials Blue, SN99

2023 Panini Chronicles - Titan #22

Another Panini Chronicles subset that I'm actually pretty excited about is the Titan lineup. The base card is sort of boring, but I find that card even has a certain beauty about it. Perhaps it is, once again, the photo they used for the card. With 12 different parallels to chase, it's not grossly overdone like many other releases and the litany of parallels that follow. There are, however, two 1/1s in this set that I'm not sure I'll ever be able to track down and obtain. But that leaves me with just enough to chase to make the grouping look great together.

Pictured here are:

  • Base

  • Holo

  • Building Blocks

  • Red Wave, SN199

  • Purple Mojo, SN50

  • Gold, SN10

2023 Topps 206 High Series #NNO.

Scott was included in the "High Series" release of this year's Topps 206. The chase with these cards is always the backs of the cards, which I appreciate. There are 12 different parallels of this card, with two of them being 1/1s. Generally speaking, I'm a fan of the "standard" sized baseball card. But there's just something about having these tobacco sized cards in my collection that provides me with a connection to the past without actually collecting a player from the original tobacco sized card era.

Here are the variations I have added this month:

  • Base

  • 95 Morton Brick, PR25

  • Piedmont

  • Polar Bear

2023 Topps Archives - Fan Favorites Autograph Green #72FF-SR, SN99. I posted about the blue foil parallel of this card above, and I was lucky enough to snag this green foil parallel for next to nothing this month! The green foil isn't a dull foil by any means. The foil that Topps used on these cards has a beautiful shine to them that isn't represented well in these flat scans of the cards. To fully appreciate these, you must see them in-hand!

2023 Panini Chronicles - America's Pastime America's Best Autographs #AB-SR, SN50. I'm kind of torn on this particular offering from Panini this year. On one hand, it's a Scott Rolen card featuring him in one of my favorite Cardinals uniforms ever. On the other hand, there is the whole "no logo" thing where they had to remove the Cardinals from the front of the jersey and the STL from his hat. But I'm a big fan of the theme of this card with the outline of the United States and the American Flag behind Scott. Another thing this card has going for it is the autograph; it's another example of an on-card signature. This one is the "base" version of the card featuring silver foil on the front of the card and it is serial numbered to 50 copies. I'm definitely thankful to add this one to the collection this month!

2023 Panini Chronicles - Status Swatches Gold #SS-SR, SN99. This is actually the second copy of this card I bought this month. The first one suffered a tragic fate with the United States Postal Service and ended up with multiple creases surrounding the window where the memorabilia piece is located. I really like this card. The image that Panini chose with Scott in his Phillies blue uniform is nice. And the holofoil used for the background looks great in-hand.

2005 Donruss Zenith - Positions Materials Triple Jersey #P-5, SN100. If you came into the hobby in 2005, you were blessed with Dufex, part deux. If you have been collecting since the 90s, you were also blessed with Dufex, part deux! This card hits on several levels for me as a collector. First, the Dufex, which really tugs at the nostalgic heart strings. Then we get not one, not two, but three outstanding third basemen of the time. I love the jersey pieces used on this card too (even through they're pretty small) at least they match the pictures of the guys on the card. Lastly, and this isn't as big of a thing for me as other things, but still kind of cool nonetheless - this card is serial number 27 - Scott's jersey number when he was in St. Louis!

2023 Topps Archives Signature Series Retired Player Edition - 2000 Stadium Club #120, SN1. You know I couldn't end the month without adding a Topps Archives Signature Series card to the collection. I was able to pick this card up for a steal being a "1/1". I still think the Rolen autograph market has become completely over-saturated, and that is a major reason that some of these cards can be bought for next to nothing, but I'm certainly not complaining!

2022 Topps Triple Threads - Autograph Relic Amber #TTAR-SR1, SN18. If you'll recall, I added a card very similar to this last month. That was the "2004" version of this card. This one is the "Lumber & Leather" version. Just like last month, patience on picking these cards up saved me a bundle of cash. This card sold for a fraction of what they were selling for upon initial release. Even though this card features a sticker auto, I'm still happy to add it to the collection this month. Also, a fun little fact is that both of these cards that are now in my collection just so happen to be serial number 9 out of 18.

That wraps up another great month of collecting for me! I've been thinking about my collection and where I want to take it moving forward. While I still want to add the new release stuff companies are putting out, I think I want to focus more on cards from Scott's playing days. And more specifically than that, cards from the late 90s and early 2000s that I'm missing from my collection. Those cards seem to bring me the most joy and I think I can attribute a lot of that to nostalgia. Those were the cards I was collecting as a kid; before having to be an adult and spend my money on more adult type things - like a mortgage. Having said all of that though, I'm not sure how well I will do at trying to remain focused as I tend to get distracted by shiny new cardboard sometimes. We'll see where things go.


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