2008-09 Artifacts Treasured Swatches "Mr. Hockey"
Ahhh, Jersey Cards...
2008-09 O-Pee-Chee Premier Triple Remnants Dale Hawerchuk
2008-09 In The Game Between The Pipes Origins Gerry Cheevers (blocker pad)
The introduction of the small piece of material into trading cards has long been a staple of the industry, dating back to when Upper Deck started putting the tiny swatches into cards in 1996 (I think Press Pass actually started the phenomenon with their NASCAR sets prior to that but look where that got them). I don't know the exact date that they started appearing in hockey cards but I'm guessing late 90s-early 00s, at least that's when I first became aware of them.
2010-11 SPA Future Watch Limited Auto Patch Eric Tangradi
2010-11 In The Game Heroes and Prospects Subway
Super Series Jersey Silver Jonathan Huberdeau
2011-12 Artifacts Tundra Tendems Dual Fight Strap
Marc-Andre Fleury & Kristopher Letang
2012-13 Artifacts Tundra Trios Fight Straps
Joe Thornton/Brenden Morrow/Patrice Bergeron
As I mentioned earlier, more demand spawned more supply. Manufacturers saw the popularity surge and began chopping up every piece of memorabilia they could get their hands on. Jerseys? Cut em. Pants? Cut em. Gloves, hats, pads, bats, sticks, skates, cleats, balls, helmets, towels, warm-ups, nets, photos, checks?? Cut em ALL! There's no telling how many pieces of history have been mutilated in order to satiate an industry demand since the late 90s. I don't know a single collector that would even want to know either. I'm much more familiar with the hockey card market and I can say that I've seen some items by some manufacturers for early era hockey players that come from paychecks, letter correspondence, and other memorabilia, trimmed to fit cards. While many of them look cool, it is scary to think about what had to be destroyed to get to that point.
2010-11 Upper Deck Game Jersey Kristpher Letang
As the manufacturers overloaded their products, they began to get lazy. No more was there thought put into a card design. Player photos were sometimes abandoned in favor of swatch real estate. Even the material swatches and patches themselves became overly focused on single color or even just plain white...PWS is a hobby term used quite often now. In recent years, the higher end sets and more premium cards feature better looking pieces of material with multiple colors and stitching present on the card. But the industry is by far dominated by "hits" in boxes that contain players that don't actually play, aren't exactly household names, and are just plain boring.
2006-07 O-Pee-Chee Swatches Daniel Alfredsson
Which brings me to my last point. Authenticating memorabilia has become a very contentious part of the hobby. The over abundance of fraudulent items that hit the market every year is staggering. I don't think we have gone six months in the last ten years without hearing about a large dealer, vendor, or supplier being investigated by the FBI and many ending up serving jail time. Unless you physically remove the item from the subject, cut it yourself, or watch them sign it, there is no definitive way to prove it's real. Manufacturers have always listed their proof of authenticity on the backs of memorabilia cards but while the industry used to be much more upfront about the origins of their items, they've gradually declined in their details to the point of many saying "here's a piece of something used (or touched) by someone at some point". I'm being facetious of course but it's getting bad.
2010-11 In The Game Enshrined Complete Package Tim Horton
This isn't one that I mentioned earlier that I opened but take for example a box of Upper Deck Black Diamond from last year. Prices are close to about $200 for a box/pack that features five cards. Yes you read that correctly...5 cards plus one bonus Exquisite card. Basic math isn't my strong suit but six cards for $200 comes out to $33.33 per card. Considering there are still 50 base cards to contend with and no guarantee that all the cards will be "hits"...the gamble is high. In real life sales of individual cards start at about 39 cents for base cards and go up from there.
39 cents!! For a $200 product? Nope.