Friday, December 21, 2012

30 Year Top 50: 1993 Topps Finest

#18-Today's set is rresponsible for introducing the world to the term "Super-Premium" baseball card.  I guess that between 1989 and 1992 collector's quickly got tired of the notion of simply receiving just "premium" baseball cards.  The Topps Finest brand was supposed to represent the best of baseball in 1993 according to the Topps company.  The set had a limited print run and a set of exciting chase cards, limited to a print run of 241 cards each, called refractors.  The term and use of refractor cards has greatly expanded over the past decade and is now found in multiple Topps sets.

1993 Topps Finest Mark McGwire 

I think that some collectors would have placed this set higher on the list, but I had two real issues with the set.  First, there are no important rookie cards in this set.  I don't care how much you like J.T. Snow, or think how great of a player he was, he's not significant in the world of baseball cards.  Rookie cards are always important, in my opinion, in the long-term success of a set.  Second, Topps expanded the use of the technology used in this set to sets that weren't super premium and not limited in print run like this set.   If this set, along with a few other limited "Super-Premium" sets were the extent of the refractor use, I believe these cards would be even more valuable and more sought after.  

1993 Topps Finest Refractor Ozzie Smith

In my opinion, this set is a really great chase set.  What cards does everyone want?  The refractors.  They are super rare at a print of 241, which for 1993 was microscopic, and they have a huge following making the secondary market very competitive on sites like Ebay.  Sellers have a highly desired item and can often sit on them and wait for a collector to pay their price for the card.  Which sure enough someone will eventually.  

1993 Topps Finest Refractor Lou Whitaker

I have a rather large and extensive card collection, but actually only own three of the Topps Finest Refractor cards from this set.  Two of them are Cardinals and the other one, the Lou Whitaker above, I found on Ebay way under price because the lister had misspelled Whitaker, Witaker.  

1993 Topps Finest Refractor Ray Lankford

While I am sure that someone has assembled the entire 1993 Topps Finest Refractor set, there aren't many copies of these cards floating around and they make for a great chase.  If you are a set collector, these cards are probably going to disappoint unless you are long on time and money.  I do think this is a fun set to look into if you have a favorite 90s player, or a team that you collect.  After ten years out on the market, I am still looking for the Lee Smith, Gregg Jefferies, and Todd Zeile cards from this set.  Not that I can't find them, but I don't love Todd Zeile for $99.  

Like the 1993 Topps Finest Set?  Not in my Top 50 countdown in the 2008 Topps Finest Autographs.  I know it sounds like a bit of an odd choice, but this one is more of a personal preference and the ability to actually find and assemble the set.  Like I said above, the refractor and "Super-Premium" innovations that Topps used in making the 1993 Finest set have been reused and rehashed so many times over the past decade that there are easily two dozen other sets that I could potentially place in this space as a similar quality product to the featured set.  

2008 Topps Finest Finest Moments Ryan Braun Autograph

There are several reasons to love the autographs in the 2008 Topps Finest set.  First, for some reason Topps has equated "Super-Premium" to mean that it's cool to buy a box of cards for around $100 and find sticker autographs.  The 2008 set is an on-card autograph set.  The background space where the players signed the cards is white and clear and it appears, for the time being, that the autographs are actually going to hold up and not fade.  

2008 Topps Finest Finest Moments David Wright Autograph

Second, the autograph cards in the 2008 Finest set are a solid collection of players.  There aren't any must have cards in the set, but at the same time, you can find the autographs of Hanley Ramirez, David Wright, Ryan Howard, Ryan Braun, Cole Hamels, and many others.  In my opinion, if you are a fan of baseball and like collecting autographs, they are all worth owning a card of.  Why not an on-card autograph like these?

2008 Topps Finest Finest Moments Ryan Howard Autograph

The last reason to check out these cards is that you can actually assemble the entire set.  The 1993 Topps Finest set is 199 cards and most people collect the refractors.  Most common refractors sell for $10-$20 and the star players can run into the low $100s.  Plus, some of the cards are becoming difficult to find.  The 2008 Topps Finest autographs aren't difficult to find and shouldn't cost you more than $20-$25 for one of the better cards, like Ryan Braun.  

1 comment:

  1. I definately agree with your opinion regarding the subsequent over-use of the refractor technology. Had they relegated it in a more strict manner the releases that feature(d) it would be much more elusive. Not the biggest fan of the '08 Finest Autos though. Too much dead space on that release.