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Card of the Day: 1998 Collector's Edge Masters Gold Dan Marino

Updated on October 14, 2015

Football Cards

So...? Football Cards...

So I don't usually look through anything but baseball cards these days. It's not that I'm not a fan of the other major sports, because I am. I'm a die-hard New York Mets fan, but I'm also a Rangers fan (Hockey), Knicks fan (Basketball) and I'm a fan of both the Jets and Giants football teams. I just don't collect or sell those sports anymore. It's difficult to cover everything so I stick with my first love... baseball cards.

That said, today's card of the day is a football card and I'm using it illustrate a very important point for collector's and dealers alike.

Always look through other's people's junk boxes.

I say this since this is where you'll find those "diamonds in the rough" cards that make collecting sports cards a very fun hobby.

1998 Collector's Edge Masters Gold #89 Dan Marino

Why this Card? Many Reasons...

Rule #1: Look for Stars and Rookies

Always look for star cards in other people's boxes. Whether its dime, quarter or dollar boxes, it's always worth taking a peek at what's in there. There is no question that Dan Marino is a superstar and his cards all reflect higher prices because of it. You may not like him, but he was a great quarterback and has the numbers, and Hall of Fame plaque, to prove it.

Rule #2: Knowing your Card Design

I've had many cards from this set in the past and the Gold Foil was a dead giveaway that this was not a regular base set card. I didn't even look at the back of this card, just looking at the front it was easy to tell that this was some sort of parallel card.

Understanding Serial Numbering is Key

Rule 3: Serial Numbering

I always look for serial numbered cards. It doesn't matter whether they are Inserts, Parallels, or a combination of both. Serial numbered cards are always preferred over non-numbered cards. This particular card is serial numbered out of 150 which is considered very low for this time period. The first serial numbered cards came out in 1990 Donruss and were numbered out of 10,000 and that was considered extremely limited. Based on the number of cards produced for 1990 Topps baseball, the Elite Inserts were (and remain) extremely difficult to pull out of packs.

As we move through the 90's serial numbering cards out of 5,000 and 3,500 which Leaf did to most of it's inserts in 1996 and 1997 became the norm and serial numbering cards to even lower quantities as we enter the 2000's created some very expensive cards. So in 1998, a serial numbered star card out of 150 will be worth a nice amount of money.

Understanding serial numbering is very important. While 150 is considered a low number in 1998, it is not considered a low number in today's card sets. The card companies now serial number cards all the way down to 1/1 and these usually have relics or autographs included on the card (printing plates don't have these features but the printing plate is a unique collectible in it's own right). In today's industry, cards serial numbered under 25 are considered rare.

Rule 4: Price/Cost Analysis

Whether you are a dealer or collector, what the card actually costs you is most important when you're buying. If you can find cards of great value at low cost, those are the diamonds the rough you're looking for. It's not always this easy. In today's case study, I found this card in a quarter box and I knew it was worth far more than that, likely in the $40 range. This is, in fact, an extreme case but I often find cards in quarter boxes that have a $10-$15 value so it's certainly possible.


So the next time you go to a show or even your local shop, take the time to go through some lower-end stuff, you might just find something really useful. Remember the rules:

  • Rule 1: Look for Stars or Rookies - these will make you the most money.
  • Rule 2: Know your Card Design - it helps to know what the base cards look like in order to identify parallels and inserts
  • Rule 3: Serial Numbering - understand how it's changed over time and how you can use it to identify truly rare cards
  • Rule 4: Price/Cost Analysis - Think of it as Buy-Low/Sell-High and look through those extra boxes of "stuff". There's always something interesting in these boxes.

Have fun treasure hunting!!


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