Sports card collecting for beginners ; a glossary of helpful trading card definitions and terminology

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The culture of sports card collecting continues to explode worldwide with collector numbers rising at a meteoric rate.

There are many subcultures growing within sports card collecting and it can be quite complex trying to navigate around the hobby.

New terminology and slang continues to evolve and it can be hard to keep up.

Here is a glossary of popular terms and their definitions especially helpful for beginners to guide you through the hobby and keep you up to speed.

Definitions & Terminology 

Auto - short for autographs or signatures

Base - the main cards that make up a base set. They're typically numbered on the back and are the most common

BGS - Beckett Grading Services (along with PSA) is unanimously the industry standard for grading, using a 10-point scale to quantify a card's condition

Box - a box is made up of various amounts of packets of cards. 

Break aka. Box break - What’s a Box Break? The explosion of a sports card collecting subculture

Case Break - A case is comprised of a number of boxes. Think of it in the same way you buy a case of beer

Centering -  an element of how a card is graded. A Mint condition card will have perfect centering - 50/50 ratio top-to-bottom and 50/50 left-to-right. It's a major component of pricing variation on cards prior to grading.

Comps - a comparison of recent sales prices for a card(s). is the most popular price comparison tool

Grading - The examination of a card by a third-party (refer BGS and PSA) for the condition of a card which is then assigned a numerical grade matching its condition

Inserts - a type of card in a set that is non-base and a non-parallel. Usually will have its own theme, design, name or numbering sequence.

Legend - has fast become a colloquial term to refer to someone who is passionate and honest in the community.  

Lot - usually refers to multiple cards that are generally up for sale, an auction or a razz

Mailday - the best day ever! When the postman delivers to good and brings your cards to your door

On Card - refers to an auto that is signed on card (and not a sticker)

One Touch - Holds cards up to 35pt thick. Has a unique design with slide-in hinge and tight magnetic closure

Patch - a card containing a piece of jersey material also known as a swatch

PC aka Personal Collection - a term used to describe a collector's cards that they're not likely willing to sell or trade. Usually is the focus of ones person’s collection.

Related: Personal Collects #1: Wolfgang’s NBA Cards feat. Ja Morant rookie Prizms

Penny Sleeve - a thin plastic pocket used as a first level of card protection. Usually is inserted prior to placing into a top loader

PSA - Professional Sports Authenticator (along with BGS) is unanimously the industry standard for grading, using a 10-point scale to quantify a card's condition

PYT - 'Pick Your Team' format which is commonly used in box breaks

Raw - a card that hasn't been graded by a company i.e. fresh out of a box/packet

Razz - What’s a Razz? Sports Cards Razzing/Raffling Culture Explained

RC - Rookie Cards

Soft Corner - a condition where your card displays fraying or layering causing it to have a rounded corner which isn't sharp edged 

Tipped & Shipped - a typical razz will require a neutral party to be a 'video runner' to randomize the razz. The party is 'tipped' a nominal fee for running the razz. Shipping refers to the postage cost of the card.

Top Loader - a hard plastic holder for storing single cards. Available in hard and semi-hard varieties with different thicknesses 

Variation - a card that is different from the same cards in a set. Usually will vary in colour, background or lettering are a often numbered as a limited edition

W - used as a way to 'tag' yourself to receive updates and reminders for a certain post for a card 

►About Wolfgang Sport

My passion for sports led me to create Wolfgang Sports in 2017 as a way to connect American & British sports culture. My writing is driven by a fascination for sports culture focusing on popular culture, rookie players, data analytics and sports card collecting.

Check out the original post at Wolfgang Sports

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