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DFG's Hockey Card Collecting Dictionary

New to the hobby? Never heard of a term? Can't figure out what a "slug" is? This is the place. DFG's Hockey Card Collecting Dictionary will provide you with my take on terms, abbreviations, definitions, slang and phrases to try and help navigate the world of hockey cards (or cards in general) and collectibles. 

Acetate: By definition, this is a material made of mixing acid and cellulose to create a clear, plastic like substance used in manufacturing trading cards. Usually, acetate cards are "see through", and can feature printing on both sides, one side that's visible on both, or layered with the printing on the interior. Upper Deck used this printing form frequently in their Ice, Trilogy, and Clear Cut products over the years, as well as many insert sets. A drawback to acetate is that it is sensitive to light and can "yellow" over time. In recent years, products that once used acetate have switched to PETG. See PETG.

Airbrushing: Most infamously used in the 1960s-1980s on trading cards by Topps and O-Pee-Chee, airbrushing is the act of altering a photo on a card. This was used primarily to show a player in a different uniform from the picture, usually after a trade. In modern times, it is most frequently used by companies forbidden to show team logos, jersey numbers, or player names, however it's less actual airbrushing and more digital removal.   

Artist Proof or Printer's Proof:  In general, like in the art world, an artist proof is a print issued extra to the regular printing, and in many cases held back for the artist themselves. In trading cards however, this can't be farther from the truth as these are simply an additional parallel to the base cards, usually with a stamp or other designation, with various levels of scarcity to increase demand. These cards could first be seen regularly in Score and Pinnacle brands in the mid 1990s. 

Auto or AU: This is the abbreviation you will usually see for the word Autograph. May also be referred to as a signature or sig. 

Base Card: The standard card that makes up the (usually) sequentially numbered set it comes from. Generally speaking, these cards are the mass-produced cards, free from short-printing, serial numbering, or other premium scarcity designations (of course there will be some variations to this as some more modern sets have even the base cards serial numbered...See 2010-11 In The Game Enshrined, for example).

Base Set: A set that includes only the main cards in a sequentially numbered set. Generally this will not include inserts, star or veteran short-prints, or rookie cards that are short printed and in most cases fall at a more scarce rate than the other cards.

BCCG, BGS, BVG: All levels of grading services offered at one time or another by Beckett. BCCG was designed to provide services to the Shop at Home Network originally and is considered by most collector's to be interior to the other services.  BGS is the overall grading division itself. BVG is the division in charge of vintage cards. 

Buy It Now (BIN): A term used to describe an item for sale, usually on an auction site, that can be obtained in the traditional purchasing sense. It doesn't require bids or competition with others to obtain. A BIN offer is exactly what the seller is willing to take to sell the item.  

Blank Back: A trading card that is exactly that...blank on the back. You will find no pictures, stats, or printing of any kind. In most cases, it looks like a standard piece of cardboard. Many times, these were done intentionally as part of a parallel set (sometimes it was an accident). O-Pee-Chee is very famous for having blank back cards included in their releases. 

Blaster or Blaster Box: A box of sealed trading cards made available for purchase by manufacturers specifically for sale in retail stores.  These boxes are generally smaller than those that are made available to hobby shops and in many cases, contain less chances or much higher odds of receiving potentially more valuable cards. The pandemic brought a shift in how blaster boxes have been marketed and many began finding these in hobby shops for sale as well, as hobby allocations became limited.

Blisters or Blister pack: A group of generally 2-5 pre-packaged packs that have come from retail boxes or blasters, that are sealed together with a cardboard backed package or sealed in plastic. In general, these are only found in retail stores and usually have the eye-hole in the package so they hang on peg-hooks in the card aisles. This term can also sometimes be used to describe the "team sets" manufacturers make available in retail stores in their local market areas.

Book Value or BV: An antiquated method of determining a card's marketable value. This is the published value, usually found in a price guide such as a Beckett Media publication, or in the 1980s and 1990s, publications like Tuff Stuff, Sports Card Digest, etc. In modern times, this is considered by most collectors as a less-than-accurate pricing source because it is not a true reflection of "real-time" pricing in the trading card marketplace because print media generally has to be compiled long before print.  Most collectors simply use a book value as a guide, especially when there are no other sources for comparable sales.  However, the dealers and folks that still swear by "Beckett Pricing" tend to sit on inventory for very long periods of time. Use with caution.

Box Bottom: Prevalent in 1980s and early 1990s hockey releases by Topps and O-Pee-Chee (and later 2007-2021 OPC releases) that feature up to 4 additional cards that usually would be separately numbered from the regular set. The idea was to cut the cards from the boxes but many collector's prefer the panels to be intact. Many are highly collectible including the 1985-86 release with Mario Lemieux's rookie year card. Because they are literally the bottoms of the boxes, they come in contact with shipping crates, display shelving, and everyone who handles the boxes themselves, making them very condition sensitive and many times hard to find in decent condition.

Box-Topper: These cards are generally included in boxes as a "bonus" and can be anything from a card, autograph, or piece of memorabilia. In today's card market, these are often found in retail blaster boxes or "Mega" boxes as a bonus item. While not always the case, many times box toppers are oversized versions of cards you can find in the sets.

Break: A general term that refers to opening trading card products. Over the last 20 years or so, it has become a term synonymous with an organized opening of product where consumers pay for predesignated spots that correlate to a team, division, player, etc and if those cards are pulled from packs/boxes/cases, they are entitled to receiving those cards. 

Breaker: The person or persons (organization) that performs a break. 

Bricked: The phenomenon that occurs mostly with product printed using a glossy finish. Over time, as temperatures change, the finish heats and cools, causing many cards to stick together. This can occur in storing cards as well as unopened box product. 

Collector 1: "Did you open that box of 1991-92 Stadium Club you got for $5?"

Collector 2: "Yes I did but the entire thing was bricked."

Brick-and-Mortar: The term used to describe a standard style hobby shop with a physical presence. Either a stand alone building or part of a retail center, shopping mall, plaza, or other structure. You can physically go to a brick-and-mortar store, walk inside, talk to real people, and buy real product. See LCS.

Bro-Case: An impenetrable case carried around by card-bros at card shows, filled with thousands of dollars worth of graded ultra-modern cards they purchased during the global Covid pandemic with the goal of making enough money to retire. These cases are usually made of heavy-duty plastic, not dissimilar from a gun case, and manufactured by companies like Casematix, Strongway, Preza, or similar. When you see one, it generally means you can't afford what's inside.

Bubble Mailer With Tracking (BMWT): Used often in auctions and card selling, BMWT means that your items will be shipped in a bubble mailer and will include a tracking number for the shipment. As tracking is necessary for most Ebay sales, you will find this as a frequently used shipping method. Many sellers have shifted to "PWE" shipping more and more to save on final values and draw more attention to their auctions for the lower shipping costs. However, sending something BMWT can be more secure and has more reliability in following along in the shipping process.

Cabinet Card: A photo card that is bigger than a standard trading card, many times found in the 5″x7″ or 8″x10″ size, that were common in the early days of hockey collectibles.  The most famous distribution of these was by Beehive. With the popularity of curio cabinets, collectors could easily display their photos, leading to the name. These were brought back a few times over the years, especially with the resurgence of the Beehive brand in the mid-2000s.

Card-bros: A term that popped up as a direct result of the global Covid pandemic. It is used to describe the folks that jumped into the hobby during this "down" time to focus on running their side hustles, clearing retail shelves of trading cards, and flipping the product for what promised to amount to a fortune.  Those in this group that still linger in the hobby can usually be seen at card shows, phone in one hand, and Bro-case in the other. See Bro-Case.

Coining: The act of placing a coin in a photo to prove that the item being displayed belongs to the person displaying it. The act itself has evolved from actual currency coins to trinkets, tchochkes, name/date labels, etc. The practice grew out of a mistrust between buyers and sellers over the authenticity of photos related to their merchandise, and whether or not the pictures used could have been copied from another source.

Collating: This term, depending on how it's used, can be describing the process of inserting trading cards into packs for distribution. It can also be a reference to putting together a set of cards, generally by hand (instead of as a factory set). Also found in forms such as collate, or collation.

Cut Signature: A signature by the subject that was originally signed on another medium. The original autograph is then "cut" from it's source and placed into the design of a new card.  There is a lot of controversy over cut signatures as many collectors do not agree with the idea of destroying the original signed items in order to create a new collectible. However, the scarcity and premium value that cut signatures hold cannot be denied as it has led to making formerly unattainable autographs of rare subjects available to collectors, especially of athletes and popular culture figures that have long passed, or rarely sign.  

Decoy Card or Slug/Spacer: A thick piece of cardboard randomly inserted into packs (or included in all packs in many higher end products) that mimics the existence of a "hit". These have come in many forms over the years, sometimes including athlete photos, team logos, advertising, or even puzzle pieces. The idea is to make the packs uniform in size and weight so that it is not as easy to "pack search" for more prized cards. In recent years, decoy cards have become somewhat desirable in certain circles, especially for custom card creators, artists, and for general shipping and box filling purposes. 

Double Print or DP: These are typically cards that were printed twice as much as the standard print run.  Because typical trading card configurations at printing included 132 cards per sheet, sets can sometimes have the same card appear more than once on a sheet. The result is those cards will be printed in a higher quantity (ie, 2 per sheet rather than 1 per sheet). This phenomenon happened frequently in the 1980s when sets were generally smaller in size and thus the number of cards available are much higher, lowering the ultimate value. The 1988-89 Topps Brett Hull rookie card is a good example of this, where the O-Pee-Chee version frequently sells for significantly higher than it's double printed Topps counterpart. 

Dufex: A printing technology that was actually patented by Pinnacle back in the 1990s.  Many releases that include the foil coating that is both reflective and almost prismatic in effect, used the dufex technology in their printing. Panini resurrected this technology in the early 2010s in their hockey releases with products like the rebooted Pinnacle and Zenith. 

Easter Egg: Similar to the same term used in movies, an Easter Egg is a term used to describe a card or set of cards that are part of a brands overall release that never was announced, made it to a sell sheet, appears on a checklist or is otherwise unknown to exist until after it's discovered. Upper Deck is usually good for one or two of these every year, including Blank Backs in O-Pee-Chee products and the Ionix inserts in 2020-21 Extended Series, or the latest incarnation, the 2023-24 Connor Bedard Draft Pick card in Series 1.

E-Bay 1/1 or One-Of-One: A term that was made up to fool buyers into thinking an item carries a premium for value. This isn't a physical serial number per se, but more of an arbitrary "uniqueness" the card may possess. The most common one used by sellers is the serial number that corresponds to a players jersey number. It's a novelty premium only as, all things being equal, one number shouldn't necessarily carry any more value than another because scarcity is the same.  Another use of the term could refer to a card that is posted for sale and is the only one available on the platform. Thus, it's the one and only one available to buy.  

Entombed: A "derogatory" term for a card that has been sealed in a grading or authentication type plastic case.  These cases are generally designed to be tamper-proof and UV resistant, however, collectors have found ways to "free" them over the years, most of which include destroying the casing.

ePack or Upper Deck ePack: A popular digital platform created by the Upper Deck company for collectors to buy and trade both digital and physical trading cards obtained through their application. Users can create an account and purchase digital "packs", "boxes" and "cases" of products (which in most cases exist in the physical form as well), collect them, trade them with other users, and have physical product shipped to them or transferred to another sale platform (Check Out My Cards or COMC). Upper Deck also provides collecting incentives such as combining digital only cards into physical versions, collecting milestone rewards, and other collecting contests for it's users. More recently, Upper Deck has used this platform to introduce and distribute their print-on-demand products, known as Game Dated Moments.

Event Used: The term used for memorabilia encased in a trading card that was used by the subject in an event and not necessarily competition. This usually comes from signing events, promotional events, charity events, etc. These have become more prevalent in recent years as collectors look for more transparency in where memorabilia swatches in cards come from. In many cases, it's also much cheaper for a manufacturer to obtain event used material rather than actual game used equipment. However, collectors prefer game-used over event used in most cases and are more willing to pay for the later. 

Exclusivity or Exclusive Licensing: A term or terms used to describe the singular ability of card companies to offer products that represent a certain league, team, or player. Player licensing has been around for many years.  It was made very visible when Upper Deck burst on the scene back in 1990 with exclusive superstar signings of Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe. In later years, they signed Sidney Crosby and then Connor McDavid.  Other examples of this are prevalent in the hobby.  For instance, Score had the exclusive rights to Eric Lindros in the early 1990s, leading to controversy over other brands using his photos/likeness. In another instance, Leaf Trading Cards (unlicensed by the NHL) signed Jack Eichel to an exclusive back in 2015, eliminating any chance of signed cards in his licensed product by Upper Deck during his rookie season.  Panini, who had already lost their licensing by the NHL and NHLPA at the time, somehow signed both Vitali Kravtsov and Kaapo Kakko to an agreement in 2019, and only could produce their cards through their digital, print-on-demand platform. 

League licensing is an even bigger hobby issue as it's existence dictates which products can or can't be produced each year.  Only certain companies can produce products with team logos and make reference to league owned property. Currently (also from 04-09, 2014, and again in 2019) Upper Deck possesses the NHL/AHL licensing however, pre-Fanatics Topps, pre-Panini Score/Pinnacle, Panini, Pacific, In The Game, original Leaf/Donruss/Playoff, original or Price owned Parkhurst, original O-Pee-Chee have all had licenses at one time or another.  With increases in revenue potential, the desire for leagues to have centralized licensing management, and the new trend toward consolidating most of the hobby, exclusivity continues to be problematic for collectors looking for more options, more competition, and better creativity in products.

Extended Rookie Card or XRC: If it wasn't for Beckett, this term wouldn't exist. In the mind of DFG, it still shouldn't. However, it refers to a player's card that was issued in a players rookie year but isn't considered part of a base or mass-produced release.  You will find this used quite often in the 1980s and 1990s, especially in the Traded, Update, or similar type sets. A great example is the 1991-92 Parkhurst Bill Guerin rookie card, which is sequentially numbered as part of the base set but comes from the Update set only available through mail-order. 

Fake Comps: When auctions go unpaid, are shill bid, or other fraudulent scenarios are involved with the closing of the sale, but yet are still used in providing real-time market data. This is common when relying on sites such as eBay that does not control or have a standard for the way users can buy/sell/list, nor does any due diligence before reporting their data. 

Food Issue or Food Related: A card or set distributed as a "giveaway" with a food product. These are usually inserted into products, like a prize in a cereal box or box of Cracker Jacks, and can be sealed in a package, loose product, or even part of the actual product packaging.  Many times, the term can carry over to include those sets released by grocery stores, police or fire departments that are sponsored by food manufacturers, ie: the Pittsburgh Penguins sets of the 1990s given out by local police departments and sponsored by local grocery chain Foodland. Some of the most desirable food issues come from box cards that would many times be thrown away, leading to a potentially smaller supply. 

For Sale/For Trade or FS/FT: Kind of self explanatory but it's more common to see this abbreviated. If someone lists something FS/FT and you like it, make them an offer because they will sell it or trade it.

Friends & Family or FF: Used in negotiating prices on most social platforms as FF, friends & family is a method of paying on Paypal where there are no fees incurred by either party in transferring funds. While that seems like a great idea for both buyer and seller, it's not recommended especially if (as a buyer) you aren't familiar with the person you are dealing with, as it carries no assurance against fraud or being scammed and cannot be easily reversed in cases of problems. It's also problematic for sellers, especially for large volume, as those transactions are monitored and most likely should be subject to taxation. Use this method at your own risk.

Game-Used: The term used for a piece of memorabilia enclosed in a trading card that has been actually used by the subject of the card in a game. The stipulation is that the item should be traceable to some specific game, or is already certified to be from one. Game-Used cards generally have a guarantee printed somewhere on the card that attest to the item being used in an actual game.

Game-Worn: The term used for a piece of memorabilia enclosed in a trading card that has been worn by the subject of the card in a game. The term is usually synonymous with Game-Used when it comes to memorabilia, but is more specific to uniform pieces or body equipment (pads, pants, gloves, skate, etc). Game-worn cards generally have a guarantee printed somewhere on the card that attest to the item being worn in an actual game.

Gatekeeper: A term used to describe someone that claims to be a hobbyist, collector, or influencer but tends to focus more on telling others what to do, what to collect, and how to do it rather than suggesting or offering information for others to make their own decisions. 

Collector 1: "You shouldn't collect prospects. They rarely ever pan out so you are just wasting your money."

Collector 2: "Who died and made you gatekeeper?"

Ginter: A shortened term referring to the various sets belonging to the Allen & Ginter series/brand of cards. Originally, this was a tobacco company from Virginia that marketed the first cigarette cards to promote collecting and trading. In more recent years (since 2006), the IP was revived by the Topps Company and used for their annual eclectic baseball release the is predominantly featuring MLB players, but also includes actors, politicians, social media people, and other sport athletes mixed in, as well as other oddities that collector's either love or vehemently despise. Over the years, there have been the occasional hockey related personalities including Mike "Doc" Emrick, Mike Lange, or the Hanson Brothers.

Gravity Feed: A term used to identify a typical retail trading card pack display. Manufacturers will ship cards in cardboard boxes that generally contain the advertising graphic of the product. The boxes are designed to be displayed upright so that as product is pulled from the opening at the bottom, the rest of the stock continues to fall to the bottom utilizing the Earth's gravity.  It's science. 

Greatest Of All Time (GOAT): The term used to recognize a player that was the greatest in their sport, their team, their position, etc. This term was reserved for players such as Michael Jordan for basketball, Babe Ruth for baseball, Tiger Woods for golf, or Wayne Gretzky for hockey. Unfortunately, the term has been watered down by sports fans over the years to describe players that aren't really "goated" or "goat worthy".  It is often now used sarcastically or many times in opposition to discussion and discourse about who may actually be the best. Because the term has lost all meaning, for everyone's sake it should probably cease to be used. 

Collector 1: "Did you see. Tyler Toffoli scored a hatty last night and finished with five points. He's the GOAT."

Collector 2: "I agree he had a great game but please stop talking to me now."

Good & Services or GS: Used in negotiating prices on most social platforms as GS, goods & services is a method of paying on Paypal where fees are paid by the seller and there is assurance that the buyer would be covered in the case of fraud or other problems. It's the only way to protect a transfer of money through the Paypal platform.  

Hard Signed: The act of actually signing on the surface of a trading card. This is in opposition to a sticker auto where the subject signs a sheet of stickers that are later affixed to the card surface. Hard signed cards are considered by many to be more desirable because the subject actually handled the product in order to sign it.

Hit: The generic term used to describe premium cards that are released in a box that are guaranteed to be included. Most boxes of cards will guarantee a certain number of hits that can range from an autograph, memorabilia card, low print-run card, or other premium offering. Hits generally drive demand for the product and most collector's (not interested in set building or base cards) view them as the primary item in a release to chase, therefore they carry the majority of a box or packs value.

Hobby Box: A box of cards made available for sale by a manufacturer specifically for distribution to hobby shops or online hobby retailers. Traditionally, hobby boxes consist of more cards, better selection of cards, and higher chances at potentially more valuable cards than retail boxes.

Holy Grail: A term used by the hobby to describe some of the cards that are universally accepted as the most sought after pieces of cardboard ever created. This phrase is often used INCORRECTLY to refer to a White Whale card, which are also sought after, but by that specific collector and not by most of the hobby. Holy Grails are generally cards that stand out as historically significant, extremely rare, exorbitantly expensive, or sometimes all three. Holy grail cards are ones that will rarely be attainable to most collectors. 

Hot Box: A phenomenon in trading cards where a manufacturer will insert an abundance of inserts, parallels, or specialty cards over the stated odds, replacing base cards in the packs of the box. This is by design by the manufacturer to generate excitement for their product with hopes that collectors will share their experience with others.  These are rare and most collectors would agree they are completely random. However scarce, they do exist. I opened one once.  It was an O-Pee-Chee box filled with the black retro parallel cards in every pack. About 100 of them in fact. More recently though, hot boxes have become synonymous with product opened by breakers and other perceived influential members of the hobby that seem to always contain the best cards from the product releases, as if planted by design.

Hot Pack: Similar to a Hot Box, in the mid-90s these would turn up in random boxes by different manufacturers as individual packs full of inserts. However, these days the term generally refers to a pack that guarantees a "hit" from the product. The difference? Where a manufacturer would fill a box for publicity purposes with an over abundance of inserts/parallels/etc., there was never a guarantee you would ever find one. Today, the term is more synonymous with the personal guarantee by the person holding the pack. How do they exist? If a product has three hits and 10 packs, and after opening nine packs there is still one hit short, logically it must be in that last pack. These are commonly found on the eBay marketplace as well as prevalent at sport card shows being sold by "dealers" for well more than the normal suggested pack pricing.

Hulking or Greening: A chemically based phenomenon that has occurred over time to cards printed using the Chromium technology of the 1990s (think Topps Chrome or Topps Finest as an example) where the cards have turned a weird shade of green.  This is caused by the type of ink that was used in the printing process interacting with the chromium materials of the card itself, causing a chemical reaction over time that causes the green hue. As far as we know, there is no real way to stop this from happening. Some collectors slab their cards, remove from sunlight, or even peel them (if they have a protective coating) but it only delays the inevitable. If you have Chrome cards of the 1990s, they WILL hulk out.

In-Person or IP: This term refers to an autograph that was obtained from the subject by someone directly. These are usually obtained by attending an autograph signing, buying product to be signed at an event, or having a player sign right in front of you as you bother them at a restaurant. Unless you obtained it yourself, buying IP autos from a reputable dealer or person, with a certificate of authenticity is recommended for such items as there is a large chance of fraudulent signatures. Even a COA is only as good as the person guaranteeing it. Participate in collecting IP Autos at your own risk and definitely do your homework. 

Imperial Tobacco: If you hear this name thrown around in the hockey hobby, you'll know the conversation is of the vintage nature. Imperial Tobacco of Canada was basically a cigarette company that produced one of the first hockey cards for the NHL (then NHA). In 1910, a 36 card set (now known as the C56 Set) was released featuring illustrations of various players from the inaugural season of the NHA. The backs also features brief information about each player. Since this was the first hockey card set, every card is a rookie card and they are some of the most sought after cards in the entire hobby. See this article for information about this set. 

Influencer: A person, or persons, or a group/company/collective that benefit in some way by creating internet or other multi-media content that suggests or advises the purchasing of certain players, teams, sets, etc. in the trading card world. This term has become more derogatory over the years than a moniker that many would be proud to be labeled. A large reason for this is the mistrust in the authenticity of the content they produce because of their own financial agendas, whether it's being heavily leveraged in what they are promoting or the sponsorship/endorsement money they get for advertising specific products or services. Following the advice of an influencer is not always the best idea and you should always do your own research.

Insert Card: A card that is essentially inserted into packs or boxes that is NOT part of the general print run of the base product itself. These cards usually have their own theme, their own name, their own numbering, and their own separate checklist. Inserts will usually be listed separate from base cards on product checklists and in many cases, are the feature cards to find in products. Not to be confused with a Subset Card. See Subset Card

Junk Wax or JWE: A generic term that refers to cards manufactured in the late 1980s and especially the early 1990s. This time frame is also referred to as the Overproduction Era, or Mass-production Era. The 1990s saw a boom in popularity in the early part of the decade and with licensing restrictions not yet like they are today, companies capitalized on this by mass-producing products. Up until very recently due to a global pandemic and renewed interest in trading cards, with very few exceptions, Junk Wax Era cards held very little resale value as a whole because of their large production quantity. However, that's not to say they are worthless. Many of the sets produced in the early 1990s are chalked full of legends and hall of famers. Collect what you like, but there are some amazing cards in the 1980s and 1990s.

Junk Wax 2.0: See Junk Wax...then fast forward 30 years.  

Lenticular: This is a term used to describe a card that is usually made of some type of plastic or heavier stock, has an uneven surface, and contains tiny elevations made of prisms. Those elevations are printed with different motives concerning your perspective so that the view changes depending on the angle from which the card is viewed. Sometimes these are referred to as "Motion" cards or "Flip effect" cards. Most famously, these were found in the Sporflics cards of the 1980s/90s. In hockey, cards using this printing effect can regularly be found in the annual O-Pee-Chee releases in the form of the 3-D Marquee Rookies. 

Letterman Patch: This started as an actual name for a set but has become a generic term synonymous with cards that feature a patch letter from a players nameplate from their jersey. In recent years (and some previous releases), these have become more and more manufactured patches and less actually game used. However, most of them also contain autograph on the patch pieces. Upper Deck caused quite the stir when they changed their Letterman in the Chronology release to a plastic letter, rather than the fabric version in previous years. See "Styrene".

Local Card Shop (LCS): The physical hobby shop a collector has that is usually closest to where they live or one that they frequently visit. It's commonly seen abbreviated as LCS. See Brick-and-Mortar.

Logoman Patch: A term used to describe a patch on a trading card that was cut from the league logo. In the case of hockey cards, it would be the NHL Shield logo. Since these appear on a jersey, usually only in one spot, these cards are usually numbered as a 1/1 or something with a very low production and are highly desirable.

Lot: A term used to describe more than one item in a product, listing, auction, etc. There isn't necessarily a rule on what constitutes a "lot". It can be anything...two items, five items, a hundred items, etc.

Mail Day or #mailday: Yes, we know. Everyday (except Sunday in most places) is a mailday. But this term is used quite a bit in social media formats in posts people make showing off what they received in the mail. The term has been used as well in realms other than trading cards to refer to the same thing.

Master Set or Master Builder: A master set contains every card that was released as part of the production of a set. This generally includes all the base cards plus the short prints, inserts, and other premium issues that are part of the overall checklist. A master builder is a collector who seeks to put together this master set. This is usually a very long, difficult, and expensive task but popular amongst collectors and the payoff can be huge, both emotionally and financially.

Megabid: When someone places a ridiculously high bid on an auction, knowing that they don't want to pay that price but want the item badly enough to risk it. Sometimes it works and scares off the other bidders. Other times, they're left holding the bag and oftentimes these auctions go unpaid because the winning bidder bails on their obligation to cover the megabid. See fake comps.

Mojo: Don't. Just don't. But if you's a term from the movie "Austin Powers".  In hobby terms, it's referring to having extreme luck or some kind of magic power or spell on you for pulling certain bigger cards from packs or boxes. 

National Sports Collector's Convention of NSCC (The National): This is considered by most involved in the hobby as the largest sports card and collectibles show held in the United States on an annual basis. Starting in 1989, the NSCC has traveled all over the country over the years, finally alternating between Chicago and most recently Baltimore, Cleveland, and Atlantic City every other year. The show is famous for it's number of autograph guests, manufacturer exhibits, dealer tables, and all around social event for collectors. It is known colloquially as The National. Notice there is no "s" on the end. Keep it that way.

No Purchase Necessary or NPN offers: As a response to various changes in laws regarding sweepstakes and odds offers, trading card manufacturers began offering the same odds at special cards normally packed into product, via a no purchase necessary program. Depending on the product, most packaging, including the boxes, packs, and other advertising material, will print the way collectors can take advantage of an NPN program, which are mostly done through standard mail services. This is a great way to take advantage of the chance at free cards, IF you are willing to do what is required.

Not For Sale/Not For Trade or NFS/NFT: Usually found in the abbreviation form, NFS/NFT can be found in many "brag" posts on social media. This just designates the cards are most likely "PC" cards and will not be probably don't ask.

Non-Fungible Token or NFT: A newer term used to describe collectibles (sometimes called a crypto-collectible) that exist only in the digital world, have a limited supply (usually just one), are unique, and can be traced back to a source code that's part of the blockchain. When you "own" an NFT, you "own" the blockchain source code to that item, whether it's a video, gif, picture, trading card, etc. The biggest limitation of this form of collectible is that it requires the source location to be in operation, as well as a means to access the data. There is a large movement toward NFT type collectibles and it will be interesting to see where this trend goes in the next few years. The NHL sponsored NFT program is called Breakaway and can be found here.

On-Card Auto: See Hard Signed

One-Of-One or 1/1 or 1 of 1: A card that is the only one of it's kind and is designated as such by stamping, printing or hand writing a form of the one-of-one designation on it. While manufacturers have superseded this concept a bit over the years with their varying parallel versions of cards, an actual one-of-one will technically be the only one within it's class. Common 1/1 cards within the hobby are printing plates but many other examples exist as well. The term "eBay 1/1" is NOT the same thing as that is a contrived term sellers use to artificially inflate a cards demand and therefore, price.

Or Best Offer (OBO): When you see this abbreviation, it means the seller will sell the product if they agree to your best offer. You find it more often on auction sites but will see it on seller posts on social media as well. This can be almost anything within the pre-designated parameters of the seller and they generally possess the ability to accept or decline the offers, unlike in a "BIN" scenario where the price is pre-set. See BIN

Pajamas: A term used to describe the look a player has on a card manufactured by a company without complete official licensing. Because showing a player on a trading card generally requires player, team and league branding licenses, there are some manufacturers that only possess two or even one of those. In the case of a player license but not a league license, logos have to be removed from photos, making the resulting picture appear sometimes like the player is wearing pajamas.

Parkies: This is a term used to describe early hockey cards produced by the company Parkhurst. From 1951-52 to 1963-64 (except 1956-57), Parkhurst made hockey card sets that were known as Parkies by the kids that collected them. Rocket Richard and Gordie Howe both have their rookie cards as part of the Parkhurst release (despite playing in the 1940s, there were no other cards made). The Parkies name has been floated around in various Parkhurst releases, after the name was resurrected in the early 1990s by Dr. Brian Price of In The Game fame. It was later used again after Upper Deck acquired the use of the name and has been featured in subsequent releases over the years.

Personal Collection or PC: No this is not a personal computer or political correctness. In collecting, a PC is used to describe a collection of cards that a collector personally collects with the intent to keep, usually forever. Generally, a PC is the centerpiece and what a collector will focus their efforts in obtaining, and displaying. Most collector's PCs will fall into the categories of either Players, Teams, Positions, or another designation of their choosing. There are no rules to how a PC should be kept, maintained, or decided upon as it's entirely the collector's preference. But if your intention is to sell or profit from your collection, it ceases to be a PC.

PETG - An abbreviation for polyethylene terephthalate glycol. Yeah, that's a mouthful. Technically, it is a thermoplastic polyester that delivers significant chemical resistance, durability, and formability for manufacturing. Specifically to cards, and more specifically to Upper Deck, it's the substance used in the manufacturing of the such popular cards as Clear Cut, Ice Premiers, Population Count, etc. Products such as these at one time were printed on Acetate but PETG is a much more durable and cheaper medium. It also has less tendency to "yellow" over time. Although incorrectly used, the term Acetate is generally thrown around to refer to these types of cards.

Pinned: Generally refers to a "tweet" or post on social media that the various platforms allow to be "locked" on the user's profile or feed. Many times you will see this when referring to selling or trading terms of another dealer, vendor, collector, etc. They will post their shipping, packaging, and purchasing rules in a post that stays at the top of their feed for ease of access.

Collector 1: "I'm having a sale. See pinned tweet for details."

Plain White Envelope or PWE: When a seller mentions something is PWE, that means it will be shipped in a plain white envelope or something that doesn't include extra packaging or padding. It's a term generally reserved for standard postage envelopes. PWE has become the mainstay of cheaper card sale shipping (especially under $20 in value) and prevents sales for low monetary value from doubling, tripling, or more because of shipping cost. On the flip side, the risk of damage or loss is much greater as there was generally no tracking involved, the envelopes often get machined at the post office rather than hand sorted, and they can easily be damaged in transport. Ebay instituted an envelope tracking program but in the grand scheme it's pretty early in the development stage and is riddled with issues between their servicing and the actual USPS. See this explanation here.

Plain White Swatch or PWS: A term used to describe the generic jersey/game-used/event-used/game-worn cards that feature a swatch that is only white. These are considered by most collectors as the least desirable of all memorabilia cards and will reflect that on the secondary market. In many cases, the swatch blends in with the card design around them or simply look like there is nothing in the swatch window.

POP Report or POP Count: A report that is published, usually by a third party grading company, that shows how many of each card they have graded, as well as how many of each grade has been assigned. While this is designed to be an accurate depiction of the grading card market for any specific card, it is well known that population reports/counts can be flawed because of the act of collectors opening the slabs for either their own storage, archiving, or resubmitting to other grading companies.  If those removals are not reported to the third-party graders, their numbers will be off. 

Print-On-Demand or POD: Card manufacturers will many times offer the opportunity to purchase product directly through print-on-demand ordering. The idea is they come up with the design of a product, whether it be an individual card, pack of cards, or box of cards, and pre-sell them to their consumers. Once their designated amount of product has sold, they then will manufacture those items and ship to their customers. Examples of this include Topps Now, Topps Living, certain Upper Deck e-Pack products, Panini Instant, or the various Leaf products that are limited production.

Raw: A completely unnecessary and superfluous term used to describe a card that is not graded. It is a card in it's natural state, how the manufacturer intended. However, the slab-heads that believe only in grading cards created a label for their ungraded counterparts. It's mostly an annoying term and shouldn't be used. Try, oh, I don't know, how about ungraded? 

Razz (also known as a raffle): Slang term used in place of the term "raffle". It is terminology created to elude the internet "bots" that target and generally ban or "censor" those types of posts. Why the need for the name change? Because raffles are games of chance and can be considered lotteries by definition in many states. They are also usually frowned upon by the user license agreement for many social media and selling platforms. A lot of states heavily regulate raffles, as they're viewed as a form of gambling. If you aren't a charity organization or have a license/qualification under your local/state law, raffles or "razzes" are usually prohibited. You should check your state's rules on gambling before conducting your own raffle or razz. You should also do your own research before you participate in one.

Release Date: The date that a manufacturer plans to release a product to be available for purchase by the consumer. These dates are almost never set in stone and frequently will fluctuate.

Retro: This is a term that has become more and more generic over the years in the hobby. In general, it refers to a product that harkens back to a different time period or era, specifically in it's design or presentation, that may resemble a card set from the past. In recent years, it's been a term that is incorrectly used to describe cards that are older, or vintage. That is incorrect, as retro means that the card is newer but only "looks" older.

Collector 1: "Hey check out these retro 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee cards that my uncle gave me."

Collector 2: "Oh, cool. You have some of the 2008-09 O-Pee-Chee retros? Wait, those are the actual 1979-80 cards. They aren't retro, they're vintage you dolt. Lemme get that Gretzky from you."

Reward Points: A program developed by trading card manufacturer Panini back in 2014, in order to offer the ability for collectors to create an account, collect and redeem the points for cards, autographs or sealed product. The overall program has been criticized as being a way for Panini to "cheapen" their products with points rather than actual desired "hit" cards in their products. The existence of the points forces collectors to make the decision whether to try and sell the points for whatever market value will dictate or continue to collect them to redeem for the more desirable items in their online Reward Store. I had reward points for years. The best card I could ever get with them was a Beau Bennett Luxury Suite rookie.

Rip: Term used to describe opening sealed product. It is sometimes and can be referring to the opening of packs, boxes, or cases.

Rookie Patch Auto or RPA: A term used to describe the high-end, and sometimes most desirable rookie cards that usually feature a patch from a jersey as well as an autograph. The term RPA can also be used to describe a Rookie Premier Autograph as well but most commonly in hockey cards, RPA's come from higher end products like Upper Deck's The Cup or Ultimate and have hard autographs with a more desirable uniform patch piece (not generally a plain white swatch or PWS). In the brief moment where Panini had a hockey license (2010-2014), they manufactured some very desirable RPAs in their varying tiers of products.

Sell Sheet: These are advertising sheets released by manufacturers in order to promote the product release. They are usually sent to distributors and retailers to increase the awareness of their products and give collector's a better idea of what to expect in advance of a release. Most of the time, the cards features in the advertising match what you will find in the product when it will be released but not always. The photos are considered "mock-ups" of what will actually be included. Hard copies of sell sheets from the past are also highly collectible in some circles. Today we find them most often posted on the internet.

Shersey or Shirsey: A shirt, such as a t-shirt, that mocks the design and visual appeal of an actual player jersey/sweater. These are generally the "cheap" knock-offs that can be obtained, either licensed or unlicensed, that allow fans to more affordably support their team/player fandom.

Shill: Although it's not technically legal in practice, when sellers or people appointed by the seller bid on their own items at auction in order to boost the price it is called a shill bid. As more and more popularity and attention is placed on trading cards, shill bids have gone from sellers themselves bidding on their own auctions, to sellers engaging the help of proxy bidders, which is also, by definition, a shill. The practice is strongly frowned on by the collecting community but has increasingly become silently "tolerated" by those heavily leveraged in high value trading cards and many that claim themselves to be influencers. It creates artificially inflated selling values, pushing the perceived market higher than they actually should be, not to the mention the fact that it's pretty scummy behavior.

Short-Print or SP: When a base card that is generally considered part of a base set checklist is printed in a lesser quantity, it is considered short-printed. Short-prints are common for higher sequentially numbered cards in sets that can feature veterans, special alternative photo cards, or rookies. For instance, a set may have 150 cards with the first 100 being common veterans and the last 50 as short printed rookie cards. Short-prints tend to fall at a less frequent rate when it comes to packs and boxes of a product. Their odds of being pulled are much lower than that of a non short-print, standard base card (for example, 1:2 packs or 1:6 packs). The best examples of short printed cards would be the Young Guns in the Upper Deck releases, the high numbers (over 200) in the MVP releases, or the Marquee Rookies/Legends cards in the O-Pee-Chee releases.

Signature or Sig: See Auto or AU

Slab: A general term used to describe a card that has been encased (see entombed) into a graded or authenticated, plastic holder.

Slug or Spacer: See Decoy

Sports Card & Memorabilia Expo or Toronto Expo: This is considered by most involved in the hobby as the largest sports card and collectibles show held in Canada on an bi-annual basis. Starting in the mid-90s, the Expo is famous for it's number of autograph guests, manufacturer exhibits, dealer tables, and all around social event for collectors. It is also the biggest sports card show in North America where the hockey portion of the hobby takes center stage. Most hockey card collectors dream of making the trip to Toronto at least once to attend the Expo and if you don't, you should.

Stack Sale: These are a type of transaction made popular on social media. It's a self-contained marketplace (think of a Pop-Up Store), generally run by one collector, that will feature numerous trading cards for sale through multiple listings, postings, or feeds. A common feature of a stack sale on the social media platform X, involves multiple posts of photos that feature cards with corresponding numbers/letters/other label. The general rule of thumb is you comment to the seller which card you would like to buy. If you are the first to "claim" that number, you get to purchase the card for the designated price. The "Stack" part comes as you continue to "claim" cards until the sale is completed, accumulating a stack of cards to be purchased as one transaction at the end. There are many stack sellers on social media and it's an easy way to accumulate cards you may not normally see otherwise. But like any purchasing venture, you should do your own research before participating in one.

Styrene: Or sometimes referred to as poly-styrene, is a fabricated, impact-resistant and economically manufactured plastic hybrid material. Because of how it's made, it's often used for signage or printing because of it's ease of being painted or glued. Upper Deck used this material for it's Golf Scorecards in years past but created a controversy (known in the hobby as Styrene-gate) when they announced that the 2020-21 Chronology II release would not contain fabric in it's "Letterman" cards but would instead have styrene letters as their manufacturing source could not obtain the fabric due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. See Upper Deck's social media post from 2020.

Subset: A "set within a set", if you will. Cards that feature a theme but are part of the general base set that a manufacturer puts out. These cards usually have a different design than the base cards and will feature some aspect about their subjects, such as groupings featuring just all stars, or a certain position player, or cards commemorating an event, etc. Popular subsets in products over the years have included things like "Crunch Crew" in early 1990s era Score products, or the 1990-91 Upper Deck NHL Heroes cards, or the 2001-02 Victory Mr. Hockey's Greats cards.

Surface Issues: A term you will hear referring to something that may be an imperfection in either the front or the back of a card. Often you will hear this term in reference to a graded card as that is one of the categories they use for considering condition. Common surface issues include stippling, bubbles, scratches, gum stains, wax stains, roller marks, etc.  

Tembec Test Prototype: Tembec was a company that specialized in paper and was an attempt by O-Pee-Chee to experiment with a new paper stock. It's rumored that about 100 copies each of 132 cards from the 1989-90 O-Pee-Chee set were printed on this experimental stock as they were only intended for test print reviewing. Surprise! Some, if not all of them, got out into the world, making them one of the most rare card variant produced during the over-production era. See this article for all you need to know about Tembec cards. And if you have any Penguins Tembec cards I might not have, hit me up.

Test Issue or Test Print: This refers to a small print of trading cards that get released either to a smaller focused market, as a special "buy" or trial purchase, and usually for a short amount of time. Topps used this frequently in the 1960s and 1970s, the most famous of which being the Topps Bobby Orr Test Print Rookie Card, which sells for a large some of money.

Through The Mail or TTM: An autograph that was obtained by mailing/corresponding directly with the subject. While there are many ways to obtain one, many efforts involve sending hand-written notes to players along with a request to sign individual cards, as well as a self addressed stamped envelope or SASE. This is an age old autograph hunters method of building their collections and the community of TTM auto seekers is very large and very active.

Tiffany Cards (Topps & Bowman): The cream of the crop of Topps or Bowman sets in the mid-1980s through 1991 and what many consider to be the first true premium factory sets. From a hockey standpoint, Tiffany sets were a one and done in 1990. By comparison to the mass-production era of the time, these were printed in lower quantities, on better card stock, with a UV coating, giving it a glossy finish. They were also printed in Ireland, which is an interesting trivia question if you are ever on Hobby Jeopardy.

Trade Value or TV: Seen by many as an extension of a cards' true value, the trade value of a card doesn't necessarily equal the monetary value of a card. While this is arbitrary and subject to the collector themselves, trade value is often considered closer to a "book value" as collectors sometimes look for more in a trade than they would in cash. (there are always exceptions to this rule).

COLLECTOR 1: "How much do you want for that Carey Price RC?"

COLLECTOR 2: "Buying or trade?"


COLLECTOR 2: "I'd sell for $150 but I'd like $200 in TV."

Trimmed: The term used to describe the condition of a card when someone uses a sharp edge, blade, cutter, etc. to remove portions of the card to give it sharper edges, sharper corners, or better centering. Trimmed cards are considered altered and should be looked at as less than ideal, especially when it comes to valuation. Trimming has become a huge issue in the hobby as more and more focus has been placed on condition and grades. Plus, there have been numerous high profile members of the hobby actively engaged in the practice, complacent in the knowledge that cards are or aren't trimmed, or even seen showing viewers how they do it. Remember folks, the very first card that was ever graded by Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA), the 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner tobacco card, was found to be trimmed. Do your own research because if it looks too good to be true, you know what they say.

Vending Box: Vending boxes were packaged for distribution to stores with trading card vending machines. Yeah, that was a thing. Starting in the 1950s (going till the mid-90s) and a much more common find in the 1980s, vending boxes and vending cases (24 boxes per case, ~500 cards per box) could be found floating through mostly dealer shops. Because they were sheet cut and packed direct, dealers used them as a great source for pulling key cards, in multiple quantities with better condition than traditional packs or boxes. No gum stains, right? Today, vending cases are highly sought after by collectors and those looking to make big money from grading. But like anything else, just a word of caution. While cases are sealed, boxes were not, making them easily searchable. If the cards in the vending box you are looking to purchase doesn't have the blade cut lines uniformly displayed across the sides of the cards as they sit in the box, or has cardboard shavings on the tops of them, be weary. It's probably been searched.

White Whale: Term used to describe a card you are searching for that is nearly, if not completely impossible to find for your own specific personal collection. The key here is that it's for your own collection, not the entire hobby. This term or phrase is often confused with Holy Grail which is a card coveted by most collectors or even the hobby as a whole and it's existence could change the landscape of things. While the card you're searching for can really be anything based on your individual collecting taste, the term generally describes a card that's very rare, like the actual animal itself.

XRC (Extended Rookie Card): This is a term that was used to describe a card that was issued for a player prior to their being included in a regular released set. Rookie & Traded sets that would come out at the end of a season were most notable for including cards considered to be XRCs. The key to the classification is whether the card is found in the general base release or if it is in another type of set. One of the most famous hockey examples is the 1991-92 Parkhurst Bill Guerin #453. These were only obtainable via mail-order as part of the Update Set, and were thus not readily available. Most of the common Bill Guerin RCs are considered to be in the 1992-93 set releases.  Feel free to draw your own opinion as to whether you consider an XRC as a RC. 

Young Guns: Upper Deck's flagship rookie card each year since the 1990-91 season. Young Guns are short-printed rookie cards that generally fall about six (6) per hobby box and less for retail, giving them a larger premium, especially for those rookies that become NHL mainstays or even stars. While there are varying versions of Young Guns which include acetate, clear cut, exclusive or other parallel versions, the standard, base Young Gun cards are generally the most desirable and attainable rookie cards for all hockey releases.

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