This Cardboard Life: Why Patch Cards Should Be Seen as Works of Art
The year was 1987. I'd just come back from the local record store with a rad new purchase. I ran into my room and shut the door. I opened my closet and pulled out my prized possession. My acid washed denim jacket was about to get an upgrade!
My new purchase was a Metallica patch and it was beautiful.
I carefully spread out the jacket and placed the patch on the back. I reveled in its awesomeness. Metal was my business and business, my good people, was good! Then I realized I didn't know how to sew. Crud! I had to have my mom do it and that made me a little less metal.
Fast forward to present day and I am still enamored by patches, though now I refer to them as “sick," “prime," or, my personal favorite, “colossal." I still don't know how to sew but it doesn't matter because they're all over some of my favorite cards.
Patch cards come in many variations. They can be manufactured, event-worn or game-used and can include everything from logos to shields to sponsors like Nike, Adidas and Reebok.
Recently I posted an article about the fast-fading hobby interest in plain jersey cards, not only in value, but also in excitement. 2010-11 National Treasures Basketball is another example of this. A quick run through eBay tells a story. The rookie class represented in this set is good but that is not spectacular. The cards with an autograph are selling just fine but the cards with an auto and a patch are selling at amazingly high prices. They seem to average around $150, no matter who it is. Why, you may ask? Well, the multicolored patches on these cards are stunning. They are beautiful and unique, like a piece of fine art.
I saw recently that a 2010 National Treasures Football Sam Bradford autographed patch card went for over $2000! Now I get the stature of Bradford in our collecting world, but when I saw the card I realized the true value wasn't in Sam's autograph. It was indeed the patch, a huge piece of the “Rams" head. Wow! The card was numbered to 99, but it truly was one-of-a-kind.
I now find myself carefully critiquing any card with a patch on it. It's no longer about the number of colors that are represented or if there's stitching. It's about the patch that creates a uniqueness and represents character. I hear all the time that “short prints" are killing the hobby, so when it comes to the patch card, I no longer pay attention to that gold-foiled numbered stamped on the back. Because the patches are already unique, serial numbering these cards is, in a lot of ways, irrelevant. I want creativity, not a number, and the closest I have found is the patch.