by Rich Klein
Wow! Was it really almost two decades ago (1993) when Topps first announced the Finest brand in baseball? The product truly exploded when a whole bunch of dealers with pen and paper figured out there were "only" 241 of each refractor card printed. This may be difficult to believe, but back in 1993, only 241 of any card was a truly small release. The latest effort in this popular brand is 2011 Topps Finest Football, which hit store shelves a little over three weeks ago.
Those first 1990's refractors came one per box and actually resulted in one of the stranger conversations of the time. I remember talking to a large wax dealer at the time. I do not remember his full name but I remember his Sports Net ID was OK207 and I believe his first name was Tom. He called and was wondering how the price of the set could go down when the wax was exploding. In that case, that seeming discrepancy was easy to explain. So many dealers/collectors were searching for the hotter than the Dallas summer refractors that the price of base cards actually softened. Some dealers and collectors never understood how that could be possible, but too true, singles can actually decrease in price even when unopened is exploding.
Fast forward almost 20 years later and the delivery of Finest is now far different. Finest now comes in two "mini-boxes" which make up one "master" box of 12 packs. Each master box is guaranteed to contain at least two signed memorabilia cards as well as other inserts. In addition, Topps does really nice work with the design of these cards in 2011. I think all the aspects of Finest are well thought out.
With that long history, the good news is Finest is still a reasonably affordable product if you're a serious collector with a little disposable income. Each pack contains six packs with five cards in each for a total of 60 cards in a master box.
Here’s what each master box of 2011 Topps Finest Football is supposed to contain:
- 1 Numbered Rookie Autograph Patch Card
- 1 Numbered Autograph Jumbo Relic Card
- 2 Atomic Die-Cut Refractor Rookie Cards – 1 per mini box
- 2 Finest Moments Insert Cards – 1 per mini box
Our master box contained the following cards:
Base Cards: 46 of 125 or 37 percent of the set
Die-Cut Atomic Refactors: Jake Locker, Torrey Smith
Finest Moments: A.J.Green, Shane Vereen, Titus Young
Moments Refactors: Antonio Brown
Rookie Autograph Patch (#d to 310); Daniel Thomas
Jumbo Jersey Autograph (#d to 589): Alex Green
This was a nice box thanks to the case hit, but I like these even with just the two promised autos.
The hobby has certainly come a long way from when one hit per box would now be an afterthought in today's collecting world. This was certainly an interesting box to open and as you see plenty of hits both big and small can be pulled from a master box or even from a mini-box and the card design stays true to the quality that’s kept Finest on the radar since Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith were the big scores.
The "master" boxes are currently available from on-line retailers for $100-110 per box. Click here to see what they're going for right now.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]