Buyer Beware: 1-of-1 Cards Might Not Truly be One of a Kind

Imagine busting a case – not a box – of 2008 Topps Sterling Baseball, not chump change mind you, and finding some sweet examples of 1-of-1 jumbo swatch cards. It’s what collectors are truly looking for – one-of-a-kind relics that serves as cornerstones to a collection.

So how could you be unhappy with 1-of-1 jumbo swatch examples of Paul O’Neill, Bernie Williams, Bob Feller and Steve Garvey?

When other 1-of-1s appear on eBay and they look suspiciously like the same 1-of-1s you just pulled from your case of Sterling Baseball.

Pictured are two Bernie Williams 1-of-1s from Bowman Sterling. The one of the left was pulled, the other was being offered online. They’re parallels, but the patch is similar. Same with the Bob Feller cards below.

Such was the scenario for “Joe” and a collecting partner “Ryan.” They pulled the cards mentioned above and later found nearly exact examples of those cards being sold online. In other words, the swatches were identical and they felt the 1-of-1 claim was bogus.

So what gives? 
This is one of those games card companies play when dealing with parallels, inserts, subsets and the like. Within each tier, there are 1-of-1 draws.

For example, pictured here are two Bob Feller 1-of-1 cards from the 2008 Sterling issue, one of which is the card Joe pulled (left). Both have a three-color patch that is nearly exactly the same. However, you will notice the color of the physical card is different. The same with the Bernie Williams card pictured.

There’s the loophole in the arguement from the manufacturer side of things. The card itself is slightly different, making it unique even though the swatch itself is the same. If the physical card’s color is unique, then it can be considered a 1-of-1 even with the swatch itself being the same.

Topps didn’t comment on the issue when contacted by TTSCM, and Joeo didn’t get anywhere either with the company. 


But Joe does have some legitimate questions.

Joe asked Topps about a checklist for 2008 Sterling Baseball and was told there wasn’t one. TTSCM price guide analyst Joe Clemens said a checklist is available for the product online, but it’s incomplete, at best. This begs the question, if the card needs to be replaced due to damage, what is the replacement? Are there records as to what exactly is being distributed?

You might think the 1-of-1 swatch cards are one piece of one jersey and that’s what was used by the company. In truth, there are usually many jerseys of said player and companies use the same pieces (and multiple pieces) from those jerseys in their products. The presentation of those swatches is the difference. The companies aren’t technically doing anything wrong, but it could be misleading to collectors and hence the purpose of this article. 
If other collectors have had similar experiences, let us know. The more collectors can get together and make each other more aware, the better the marketplace will be.

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