Another of the three products that our new best friends at Panini sent us to open and review. This one is the oddest of the bunch by far and probably the farthest removed from what we at The Gum would purchase for our personal collections which makes it an extra special treat. It was a bunch of firsts for us… certainly the first $150+ pack of cards we’ve ever opened and also the first not-entirely-sports-related product we’ve busted. It was a really cool opportunity and we can’t thank Tracy over at Panini enough for entrusting us with the task!
Enough intro, let’s see the goods! At 6 cards, this box break is short as a mub up in this piece. If you’re not the video type, we’ve got scans coming below.
At first, the high school photos of the ballplayers threw me off. But I quickly warmed up to them- it’s an Americana set, not a baseball set and, obviously there’s no license. I prefer this to airbrushing logos, that’s for sure. However, I will say that the baseball relics appear on these cards without the context of a traditional baseball relic set. And that does alter my perception of the very idea of relics. Without a picture of Fisk holding a bat, why is there a piece of wood on this card? Very existential. This card represents the kind of “base” design for this set and I have to say that it really doesn’t do much for me. It’s a little too… utilitarian for me. “Here’s where the relic goes. Here’s where the auto goes.” etc. I don’t get much personality from this card, which is a shame because an auto relic of one of the greatest players of all time should incite some sort of emotion in you other than, “This should probably sell well.” Sure, the sticker auto plays into that and at least they avoided some crazy foilboard nonsense, but I can tell from this card alone that this set is going to have to win me over on might, not heart. This card is numbered to 50, which seems like the highest number for an auto relic you’d want to put in a product like this.
This card pretty much reinforces my previous comment. Same card, no relic. Place for a relic, but no relic. The inclusion of the “Postmark” label there makes me think that there was some serious potential for a stamp-based design for this set (there are tons of stamp cards in this set), but the blown-up microchip background doesn’t play into that at all. And, of course, Larsen’s signature is deteriorating at his age, but this guy pitched a perfect World Series game, so he gets a lifetime pass on anything he does with that magical arm. With these first two cards, you can definitely not complain about the checklist. These two are heavy-hitters that any baseball fan would be glad to pull (except maybe Dodger fans on the last one here). This auto is numbered to 38 because… they had 38 auto’d sticker left? Not sure. Panini’s usually good about having square or reasoned numbering to their hits and inserts, so I’m not sure why they went with a non-significant number here.
Holy Hollywood, Batman! That’s something Greta Garbo wore! Wait, what is it, exactly? Don’t know. Back of the card explains nothing about the relic. Hmm. I was prepared to be impressed by learning that she wore it in an Oscar-nominated movie or something, but there’s really no information. Very disappointing, especially considering that the article of clothing died a brutal death to make this card possible. I hope the information is somewhere. On a positive note, the design of this card makes much more sense- Hollywood studio in the background, awesome stamp featuring the star and a maybe-slightly-too-small-for-my-taste relic. This is a cool card, despite the lack of identifying information. Besides, the relic itself is a super cool silky-faux-fur number. Awesome.
While we’re on the topic of celebrities, let’s get this little guy out of the way. I wonder if it’ll be anyone I’ve heard-
BAM! Jimmy Effing Stewart and Katherine Essing Hepburn. Are there two bigger stars of the era? Maybe. Did we pull them? No. This card is really cool in person. Excellent design and presentation… though still no info on the relic. In fact, there’s not even a way to tell which relic is from which star. That’s less forgivable than the aforementioned lack of information. Still a cool card but I have to say that I expected a little more here. Also a little disappointing is the fact that they made 250 of these. You’d think they wouldn’t have printed so many. In fact, all the relics are /250 which just seems high to me. Sure, they’re top tier, but even top tier relics are a dime a dozen these days. We sold a Lou Gehrig bat card for $40 and were glad to get it. The overproduction of relics in general didn’t take away from my excitement at pulling this card, but it sure wouldn’t help my buyer’s remorse from kicking in.
A final baseball player here. Everyone’s favorite sportscaster, Joe Morgan. This is from a kind of subset called Blast From the Past, but I prefer this design about 10X more than the base versions. Sure, the brick + Boston font is a little off-putting, but I’d take this card over the others for sure. And, again, top notch checklist here- best 2nd baseman of all time? Maybe. Certainly the best who didn’t play in Wrigley… One minor complaint about this relic is the shape. Not the size, really (though I do feel it’s a bit smaller than standard), but the aspect ratio. It’s longer than it is tall and, for some reason, this irks me. Maybe it’s just an OCD thing where I prefer squares.
Finally, we have our astronaut card. What an awesome-looking card. If I was more into the space program, I’d want every single one of these. It reminds me of something you’d see in a space flight exhibit at a museum. Cool stamp, cool design, nice little picture and a relic… but again, we have no idea what the relic was cut from. A spacesuit? Awesome! His tie? Not awesome. There’s a discussion to be had here about the commoditization of celebrity. I mean, Mr. Cunningham is the hereo here, not his spacesuit so why should I care? But I do care. I do. There are autographed versions of these as well and they are not be-stickered like their sport counterparts, making them extra super cool.
In conclusion, I think it’s fair to say that opening this box was a blast. However, I didn’t pay for it. If I had dropped $180+ on this pack and pulled a couple of sticker autos on a design that is seriously lacking and gotten some relics with no information about their provenance, I would most certainly have been disappointed. At this price, I expect hard-signed cards and the extra mile when it comes to design and information. As far as value goes, this is NOT a rip and flip product (and, seriously, there are VERY FEW of those). Shelling out nearly two bills for this box would have been a seriously tough sell even if you’re dying for some of the Americana relics and astronaut autographs. Ultimately, this is a set with a TON of really cool cards that is offset by some cards suffering from poor design and little secondary market value. If you want a handful of the impressive non-sport cards from this set, I’d recommend you pick them up on eBay or COMC. I’d wager you could find 6 of the better cards available in the set for the price of a single box. Mind you, I’d be singing a different tune entirely had we pulled one of the sweet cut autos, but to open this product in hopes of that is betting against the house in a big way. I have to say that I walked away from this break feeling as if I opened a mystery pack of relics and autos, not a cohesive high end “set.” Were there more consistency and a better design, I’d imagine the appeal of putting together a set of relics from this set would increase a great deal. Enough to justify the price? Depends on the collector of course, but this one just didn’t win me over.
Design – **
Set Collecting – *
Inserts – N/A
Hits – ***
Overall – ** out of 5
Now that the formalities are over, it’s time to give this stuff away! We had a huge number of entries in our contest and, remarkably, not one entry had more than one correct answer. Probably poor math on my end rather than any deficiency in our guessers, but once all the tallies were tallied and the bonus points were added, we came away with 4 entrants with a 10 point total: Mark from Mark A., Captain Canuck, BD and Daniel. The plan was to send the entire contents to one winner, so we had to resort to the old Random.org trick for those entries and the winner by random decision is:
BD, if you’re reading this, drop us a line. If you’re not, we’ll find a way to get in touch with you to let you know and send you your winnings! Thanks again for your continued readership and participation. Don’t forget to add your comments about Panini Century Collection below- I’d love an opinion from a more experienced Americana collector!