The Holy Grail. If you are a card collector, you know what I’m talking about. For some people, it’s a T206 Wagner. Some may agrue it’s a 1986 Conseco Rated Rookie. Basketball collectors could petition for the 1986/87 Fleer Jordan while football fans might vote for the 1935 National Chicle Nagurski. Whatever you collect, you know what your own personal holy grail is, be it a highly prized rookie card, an elusive parallel, or some seemingly random card that remains just out of your fiscal grasp.
As an Emmitt Smith player collector, I didn’t feel like I had that one cliché chase card. Emmitt only has five rookie cards, the most valuable being 1990 Score Supplemental. Coming from the near height of “junk wax” and overproduction, it is almost pointless for me to state that I purchased it soon after I discovered the massive online card market for a very reasonable price. Emmitt also played well into the new overproduction age, that of numerous swatches and colored parallels, so there is no jaw-dropping “hit” to track down. While looking through my collection, I had to ask myself, what do I feel is missing? I did not have any autographs and only 5 relics, but that didn’t seem to bother me. No, what I wanted to chase was a card that I would have nearly killed for when I was a kid, consumed with my card collection for the first time. That’s when it hit me — I needed this card:
Click image for a full sized scan
This was not the first autograph set inserted into packs nor was it the first Emmitt Smith autographed card, but it was the first that really grabbed my attention. It was already a base set I loved, so when I found out there was a hard signed autograph insert, I knew I wanted it. I had done some research to find out more about it. The pictures looked amazing. The design might be a tad dated by now, but it is timeless to me. I love the basic elements, the sketchy background, and the vibrant colors on the thick card stock with a matte finish. It was nearly perfect. Except for one thing. The Beckett price tag was far too high and I was trying to save money for a car and a college education.
Flash forward to 2008. I was getting back into card collecting and discovered that I could buy nearly any card I wanted from hobby shops and fellow collectors online via Beckett Marketplace, eBay, Check Out My Cards, etc. Naturally I looked up this card. Only one seller had it available for a steep $235. I saved my money and bought a slew of other great Emmitt cards. Occassionally I would go through the various sites and look, and sure enough, only Burbank Sportscards had it for the same obnoxious price. Rats.
Just last week, I decided I was going to do a write up on the card and my quest. I thought, before I make myself look dumb, I should take one last gander to see if anyone has posted it for less. Sure enough, I found it on eBay. Not only was the pricetag FAR below Burbank’s, the seller included 30 insert cards to boot. On top of that, I had purchased a few smaller Curtis Conway and Emmitt Smith lots (one big advantage during this economic downturn is much cheaper cards for us collectors who are not being forced to liquidate our “inventory”) and apparently Paypal wanted to say thank you with an 8% discount coupon. JACKPOT! So needless to say, I tried to haggle the price down some more, and when I got no where with only four hours left before my coupon expired, I pulled the trigger.
The card you see above is not some stock image. That exact card is currently sitting on my desk at home waiting to be properly organized into my Emmitt Smith collection. The card I have wanted for so long and thought was unattainable without being forced to pay top dollar for is now mine. IT’S MINE! And to make things better, the 30 additional cards were not exactly 1992 base cards and I believe I only had 1 of them previously. Needless to say, I am VERY happy with this purchase!
Of course now I need to come up with a new phantom chase card…