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Aaron Rodgers’ Rarest Rookie Card Auto Has Air of Mystery

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As Aaron Rodgers football cards continue to appreciate this season, collectors are distinguishing which of those in the Rodgers catalog are the ones that may prove worthy over the long haul. While popular issues from 2005  Contenders and Exquisite often dominate the discussion of which issues constitute Rodgers’ best and most expensive rookie cards, one rarely seen card from Upper Deck could hold a special place in very few collections. The card is starting to gain some notoriety… which may not entirely be good given some curious varieties presenting themselves in online auctions.

Upper Deck Rookie Premiere Rodgers autoAs it had done in previous years, Upper Deck issued its Rookie Premiere boxed set in Rodgers’ first season of 2005. The popular set offered collectors in most instances, the first Upper Deck trading cards of many of the top NFL draft picks. Rodgers, despite his now famous and fortuitous slide to the Green Bay Packers on draft day, was included in the set. For each player included there is a standard issue card (generally worth $5-15 ungraded), a gold variation, and a platinum, listed in order of least rare to rare. And there is an autographed card of each player in the set, seeded at a rate of only one per case.

But while the 2005 Upper Deck Rookie Premiere sets appear to have been printed in abundance (the factory sealed sets often sell for less than $25), the randomly inserted rookie signatures are not necessarily as plentiful. Many of the autographs are SP’s (short prints) including Rodgers. Internet rumors have persisted for years that there are only ten Rodgers autos in the population though those numbers have not been confirmed by Upper Deck. But the card is very, very short printed when you look at some comparative numbers.

Short of an Upper Deck confirmation as to how many were indeed created, we’re left with some comparative analysis to glean how many of the signed Rodgers cards might actually have been produced. To do so, let’s look at the 2005 Playoff Contenders Aaron Rodgers Rookie Ticket autograph, card #101. This card, by all accounts, is limited to 530 produced, relatively short printed itself.  To establish some comparable metrics for the Upper Deck Rookie Premiere auto, let’s look at how the 530 Contenders cards and 199 Exquisite Rodgers cards are represented in a few venues.

2005 Playoff Contenders Aaron Rodgers Rookie Ticket auto, card #101 (530 made).

Total number of listings for this card on eBay as of 12/29/2011:  21 (4% of population)

Total number of this card graded at Beckett (BGS) as of 12/29/2011:  133  (25% of population)

2005 Upper Deck Exquisite Dual Patch Auto, card #106 (199 made).

Total number of listings for this card on eBay as of 12/29/2011:  7  (4% of population)

Total number of this card graded at Beckett (BGS) as of 12/29/2011:  60  (30% of population)

Now let’s look at the numbers for the Upper Deck Rookie Premiere auto.

2005 Upper Deck Rookie Premiere auto, card #RSAR (unknown quantity made)

Total number of listings for this card on eBay as of 12/29/2011:  0 (0% of population)

Total number of this card graded at Beckett (BGS) as of 12/29/2011:  3  (?% of population)

Since there are no eBay listings to use in a formula (we’ve only seen one sale in the last 45 days) we’re left only with the Beckett grading population. But that still tells us something. If you apply the 25% number representing the percentage of the overall Playoff Contenders population that passed through BGS grading, and extrapolate that number from the three Rodgers Upper Deck Rookie Premiere autos that BGS has graded, you’re left with a possible number of 12 printed if you believe in the accuracy of comparative data. Even if the number of actual Rodgers Upper Deck Rookie Premiere autos is really ten times that amount, we’re talking about a very rare card. Of course, Rodgers has some very short printed issues but most are parallels or derivative of another existing card. The Rookie Premiere auto stands on its own.  They simply haven’t reavealed themselves despite the passage of six years.

Sticker auto...real or not?

These numbers are not finite, of course. There are resubmissions, bad listings, etc, or other data anomalies that can skew the formula. But it does give us some basis for comparison. The Rookie Premiere auto could be one of Rodgers’ most rare rookies with a valuation eventually to follow. Already, the card has quadrupled in value from one post Super Bowl sale in early 2011 through the few sales of the card that have taken place since.

Interestingly, recent listings on eBay for a card with a similar title have created some confusion in the marketplace. A card (pictured below) which appears to be the standard #16 card from the set with a Rodgers sticker-auto on the front has been listed twice by two different sellers.  This card does not appear in the list of Rodgers football cards in Beckett’s catalog.  It is unknown if this card is a buyback of some variety, was homemade, or constitutes another variation. The seller does not report a buyback stamp or sticker, however so until there is a Beckett entry for this new card, buyers should proceed with caution.

About Rich Mueller

Rich is the editor and founder of Sports Collectors Daily. A broadcaster and writer for more than 30 years and a collector for even longer than that, he's usually typing something somewhere. Type him back at [email protected].

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