Trading Card Terms and Definitions


A
Acetate

A transparent plastic.

AL

Short for baseball’s American League.

ALCS

Short for American League Championship Series.

AS

A card portraying an All-Star Player of the previous year that says “All-Star” on its face.

AU

An autographed card.

AW

Award Winner.

 

 

B
Bazooka

A brand of bubble gum that began to be marketed in the U.S. by the Topps Company shortly after World War II.

BC

Bonus Card.

Beckett

A publisher of sports card price guides. The first Beckett price guide was published in 1979.

BL

Blue Letters.

Blank Back

A baseball card that has no printing on the reverse side by design or as a result of a manufacturing error.

Blue Back

A card with a blue back. This term is usually connected to the 1951 Topps Blue Back baseball card set.

Book Price

The retail selling price that appears in a price guide.

Bowman

A well-known card manufacturer that began production in 1948 with baseball, football, and basketball cards and now owned by Topps. Cards with this brand name are popular in the sports card market.

Box Card

A card issued on a box.

Brick

A group of 50 or more cards having common characteristics that is intended to be bought, sold, or traded all together.

 

 

C
Cabinet Card

An oversized card that was issued by tobacco manufacturers. They were commonly produced on a thick cardboard stock and available as premiums in the 19th and early 20th century and displayed in Curio cabinets.

Cello Box

A box that contains cello packs. These boxes were distributed to retailers for individual pack sales. Most cello boxes contain 24 packs.

Cello Pack

A form of card packaging. These packs usually contain more baseball cards than the standard wax packs and are wrapped in a transparent packaging. Cello packs that have a star visible are collectable and carry a premium over the price of the single card.

Certificate of Authenticity (COA)

A statement of the genuineness of an item, printed on a piece of paper, thin cardboard, that is furnished to the buyer by the seller. Certificates of authenticity can be issued by the seller or a third party authentication service.

Checklist (CL)

A list of cards in any one set or series. Checklists can be found in books and price guides,
and are often included in sports card sets.

CL

Checklist card. A card that lists in order the cards and players in the set or series. Older checklist cards in Mint condition that have not been marked are very desirable and command premiums.

Common

A term used to describe a card that is not a rookie, semi-star, or star card. These are usually the least expensive cards in a set.

COR

Corrected Card.

Cracker Jack

This term Cracker Jack is used as reference to the 1914 and 1915 Cracker Jack baseball card set that was issued as an insert in Cracker Jack boxes. Cracker Jack was also a baseball bat sold by Hillerich & Bradsby during the 1920s to 1950s.

 

 

D
Diamond Kings (DK)

A subset of cards issued with Donruss Baseball cards.

Diamond Star

A set of cards that was produced from 1934 to 1936 by National Chicle.

Die-Cut

A card with part of its stock partially cut, allowing one or more parts to be folded or removed.  After removal or appropriate folding, the remaining part of the card can frequently be made to stand up.

Ding

A term used to describe the damage on the corner of a baseball card. A ding is commonly caused by dropping or mishandling a card.

Donruss

A sports card manufacturer that began production in 1981 with a baseball set and a golf set.

Double Header

A unique set of baseball cards that was issued by Topps in 1955. The cards are larger than standard and feature colored art drawings of baseball players. When the card is folded in half, another player’s body matches up with the shared feet and legs of the card.

Double Play

A baseball card set Issued by Gum Inc. in 1941. This set features 75 black and white cards, each depicting two different players.

Double Print (DP)

A baseball card that has twice the print run of the rest of the cards in the set.

Dufex

A method of card manufacturing technology patented by Pinnacle Brands, Inc.  It involves a refractive quality to a card with foil coating.

 

 

E
Error Card (ER)

A card with erroneous information, spelling, or depiction on either side of the card. 

Exhibit Card

A larger-type card that is roughly the size of a postcard made by the Exhibit card company and were commonly sold in arcades.These were produced from the 1920s to the 1960s.

Extended Rookie Card (XRC)

A card released in an extended or limited set outside of the regular issued set of the major company.

 

 

F
Facsimile Signature

Also known as Facsimile autograph. A stamped or printed reproduction of an autograph which may appear on a baseball card.

Factory Set

An entire set of cards that was packaged by the manufacturer for sale to the public. Sets from the factory generally carry a premium over hand-made sets.

Fleer

A manufacturer of sports cards. The company produced baseball cards from 1959 to 1963, as well as several football sets and a single basketball set in this same era. In 1981, the company once again began production and is a leading manufacture in today’s market.

Foil

A foil embossed stamp on a card.

Foil Packs

A group of cards that are packaged by the manufacturer for retail sale. These packs are so named for their metallic packaging.

 

 

G
GAI

Short for Global Authentication Inc., a professional grading company.

GL

Green Letters.

Gloss

A card with a luster; a shiny finish as in a card with UV coating.

Goudey

A popular card manufacturer that produced cards from 1933 to 1941.

 

 

H
High Numbers

A description of the last, or near the last series in a baseball card set.

High Series

Also known as a high number series or high number, a high series contains baseball cards from the last series distributed for a set in a given year.

HL

Highlight card.

Hologram

The silvery, laser etched trademark printed as an anti-counterfeiting device by sports card and memorabilia manufacturers, and authentication services.

 

 

I
Insert

A word that describes cards that were added to a regular pack to help increase sales. The first inserts were around the turn of the 1900’s, when tobacco companies used cardboard to keep packs of cigarettes from getting smashed. Eventually, pictures were included on the small pieces of cardboard. Over time, these premiums became collectible and a key element of different cigarette sales. Throughout the years, manufacturers have used many kinds of inserts. Inserts have evolved to the point where almost every new issue available contains at least one type of insert. These modern inserts are far rarer than regular issue cards. Inserts from the past have included posters, decals, and  scratch offs as well.

 

 

J
Jersey Cards

A card that has a piece or “swatch” of a game used jersey embedded into the card. These are often thicker than regular issue cards.

 

 

K
Key Cards

The most expensive, desirable, or important cards in a set.

 

 

L
Leaf

Well known for its production of its modern day sets, Leaf is also well known for several sets produced right after World War II. In 1948 and 1949, they produced crude sets of baseball, football, and boxing stars. Over time, these issues have become very popular, especially tough-to-find, high-grade examples.

Limited Edition

A term often used by makers of cards and memorabilia to indicate scarcity. A production of the item in question will be limited to a certain number. However, that number may be large or small, and is relevant to the amount of collectors interested in it.

Low Series

Low series or low number cards are from the first series distributed for a set in a given year.

 

 

 


M
Major Set

A set produced by a national manufacturer of cards containing a large number of cards.  Usually 100 or more different cards constitute a major set.

MC

Short for miscut. A card that has no border, or even portions of another card. Cards with a factory miscut, such as a diamond cut, or when another card’s image is on the original card will be designated MC.

Metallic

A glossy design method that enhances card features.

Mini

A small card; for example, a 1975 Topps card of identical design but smaller dimensions than the regular Topps issue of 1975.

Minor League Card

A card that features players from the minor leagues. Most minor league cards have low print runs and are difficult to locate.

MK

Short for mark. It is a term used with baseball card grading. The card exhibits marks caused by pen, pencil, or some other type of ink and the presence of the mark.

Multi-Player Card

A single card depicting two or more players.

Mylar

A type of plastic from which many card holders, plastic sheets and other protection devices are made.

 

 

N
NAU

No autograph on card.

NNOF

No name on front.

NOF

Name on Front.

Notching

A card grading term used to describe indentations along the edge of a card, sometimes caused by a rubber band. Notching decreases a card’s value.

 

 

O
OC

Short for Off Center.

Off Center

A term most commonly used with baseball cards. An off center baseball card for example could have a ratio of 35/65 as opposed to a perfectly centered card of 50/50.

OJ Cards

Short for Old Judge cards.

Old Judge

A brand of cigarettes which was popular in the late 1800’s. Also the name given to the huge set of baseball cards issued as a premium with that brand of cigarettes.

OLY

Olympics Card.

O-Pee-Chee

A division of the Topps company located in Canada that manufactures baseball and hockey cards.

 

 

P
Parallel

A card that is similar in design to its counterpart from a basic set but offers a distinguishing quality.

Platnum

A metallic element used in the process of creating a glossy card.

Promotional Card

A card produced by a manufacturer to promote upcoming issues.

PSA

Short for Professional Sports Authenticator. Founded in 1991, PSA was the first widely accepted grading service and set the standard for the graded card market.

Puzzle Card

A card whose back contains a part of a picture which, when joined correctly with other puzzle cards, forms the completed picture.

PVC

Polyvinyl chloride, a substance used to make many of the popular card display protective sheets.  Non-PVC sheets are considered preferable for long-term storage of cards by many.

 

 

Q
Qualifier

A card that meets all the criteria for a particular grade, but fails the standard in one area.

 

 

R
Rack Pack

Packs designed for retail sale. These clear packs usually contain three panels of cards, which are designed to hang from store displays.

Rare

A card or series of cards of very limited availability. 

Raw

Refers to any card that is not encapsulated by a grading service.

RC

Short for Rookie Card.

Re-Colored

The art of fraudulently re-coloring the surface of a sports card to hide wear or physical damage.

Red Back

A card with a red back. This term is most commonly used with the 1951 Topps Red Back set.

Red Heart

A 33 card set from 1954 that was issued by the Red Heart Dog Food Co. The set was issued in three series of 11 cards each that had different colored backgrounds behind the player: Red, green, and blue.

Refractor

A card that has chrome reflective devices. These cards often come with a thin removable protective layer. The card loses some value if this plastic layer is removed.

Regional Set

A set issued only in a specific geographic area.

Reprint

A card that is a reproduction of an original, usually more expensive card or set.

Rev. Neg.

Reversed of flopped photo side of the card. This is a major type of error card, but only some are corrected.

Rookie Card

A players first year of cards, whether or not it is his rookie season. Players may have one or dozens of rookie cards, depending on how highly touted he was as a youngster and in which year his rookie card was issued.

 

 

S
SA

Super Action card.

Scarce

A card or series of cards of limited availability.

Semi-High

A card from the next-to-last series of a sequentially issued set. A card is not called a semi-high unless the next-to-last series in which it exists has an additional premium attached to it.

Series

A group of cards that are a part of a larger set.

Set

An entire run of cards from a given issue, including all card numbers that were produced.

SF

Starflics.

Short Print

A card that is printed in lesser numbers than the other cards in the same set.

Skip-Numbered

A set that has many  card numbers between the lowest number in the set and the highest number in the set that were not issued. A major set in which a few numbers were not printed is not considered to be a skip-numbered.

Skybox

A sports card manufacturer that started production in the 1990’s.

Slabbed

A term used to describe a professionally graded card that has been encapsulated in a sonically sealed card holder.

Sportflics

A manufacturer of baseball cards in the 80’s and 90’s, best known for their 3D style cards.

Stand-Ups

Refers to a type of card that was die cut around the player’s picture. The background section then could be folded in half, so the card could stand up by itself while the player’s picture stood alone.

 

 

T
TeamCard

A card that pictures an entire sports team.

Team Set

A complete run of players from a given team from a larger set.

Tiffany Set

A high end set of cards, issued by Topps. These sets were identical to the regular issue set, except for the higher quality white cardboard stock and the addition of a protective UV coating.

Tobacco Card

A card that was issued in a tobacco product as a premium.

Topical

A subset or group of cards that have a common theme.

Topps

The most recognized sports card manufacturer.

Traded Set

A set of cards that features players who switched teams during the season, as well as those who made their debuts.

Trimmed

A card that has been doctored by cutting or shaving the edges.

 

 

U
UER

Uncorrected Error.

Uncut Sheet

A sheet of cards cut by the factory into individual cards. Most uncut sheets contain 132 cards.

Upper Deck

A major sports card manufacturer that started in 1989 with a premium issue.

 

 

V
Variation (VAR)

A card that is different, usually subtly, from its more common counterpart in any set.

 

 

W
Wax Pack

An unopened pack of cards, named for its traditional form of packaging: a wax-coated paper that is sealed shut at the factory by applying heat.

 

 

X
XRC

Extended Rookie Card. A card released in an extended or limited set outside of the regular issued set of the major company. Most often once a player was drafted and prior to a player’s first major league appearance.

 

 

Y
YL

Yellow letters on front.

 

 

Z
No Definitions.