Led by the Rookie Premiere Materials Autographs and Tools of the Trade lines, 2023 Panini Absolute Football lives up to the Absolute Memorabilia legacy.
The Absolute Memorabilia brand of trading cards was created by the Donruss Playoff Company in 2000. Originally designed as a football product, the brand was later released in other sports including baseball and basketball. Designed to capitalize on the still relatively new innovation of incorporating player worn and game used apparel into trading cards in short print runs, the brand was extremely well received in the market by collectors.
Evolution of the Brand
During the first few years of the 2000’s, with four major trading card manufacturers competing aggressively for collector’s dollars, companies were looking for ways to create extra value in their product offerings. Absolute Memorabilia was one of the first brands to utilize the concept of a box-topper, which consisted of a value added collectible item included in the product in addition to the trading cards promised. In 2002, the company created one such item and called it Signing Bonus. This piece was a framed 8”x10” piece of jersey material cloth displaying the featured players jersey numerals and an autograph. Packaged one per hobby box and produced in varying quantities, the pieces were serial numbered to create the concept of scarcity. Collectors went absolutely crazy for these bonus pieces and prices for unopened boxes and the pieces themselves escalated quickly on the secondary market.
The following year, in 2003, the brand was once again released with the value added piece, this time in the form of a glass etched plaque. These truly stunning pieces were also designed with embedded pieces of player worn memorabilia swatches within the wood base used to house the plaque. Limited numbers of each plaque were also distributed with player autographs. These items surpassed the previous year’s Signing Bonus in collector popularity and set off a 2-year window where manufacturers went to war attempting to one up each other in the value added box-topper game.
Since that time, the surviving manufacturers have significantly scaled back the use of value added items to sell products as a result of the obvious need to cut costs and increase individual brand margins. The Absolute Memorabilia brand will always be remembered for those cutting edge display pieces. The brand utilized its own name equity in the future by relying on memorabilia in ever increasing sizes, types of equipment and self-created rarity to bolster the product. The Tools of the Trade insert set was born from the Absolute brand and has incorporated as many as half a dozen pieces of unique player worn and game used apparel including jerseys, pants, shoes, gloves, caps, balls and more.
With the decline in popularity of memorabilia pieces in trading cards, it will be interesting to see how this legendary brand evolves in its next stage if it is to survive. Recent releases have seen the “Memorabilia” portion of the moniker dropped. One of the product configuration components that the current license holder (Panini America) of the name may look to is to revert back to one of the things that made the brand unique above and beyond the value added pieces. At one time, the Donruss Playoff Company, showed pictures of the actual apparel the containing swatches were taken from with details on the specific year or game the item(s) were worn or used. A commitment by the company to reintroduce these notes of authentication could go a long way to creating value in the bloated memorabilia card market.
Absolute Memorabilia Card Sets
Browse our database of Absolute and Absolute Memorabilia card sets, which features product reviews, set checklists, expert analysis, price comparisons, and more.
Featuring rookie autographs and Kaboom inserts, 2022 Panini Absolute Football has plenty to chase. Hobby boxes average three signed cards and two relics.
2022 Panini Absolute Baseball is back in action for another year and hits remain a focal point for the seasoned brand.
Past, present and future NFL stars are covered in 2021 Panini Absolute Football. Hobby boxes have five hits with three being autographs.
2021 Panini Absolute Baseball changes the Hobby formula to deliver two autographs and two relics per box, on average.
Uncover four hits in every Hobby box of 2020-21 Panini Absolute Memorabilia Basketball. The NBA set again features a variety of autographs and relics.
Track down several autographs and relics for incoming rookies and top NFL stars in 2020 Panini Absolute Football. Each Hobby box averages five hits.
2020 Panini Absolute Baseball is a debut release for MLBPA collectors. Each Hobby box averages six hits, with four autographs expected.
Rolling out a new format, 2019-20 Panini Absolute Memorabilia Basketball highlights some of the biggest NBA rookies and stars. Hobby boxes should have two autographs and two relics.
Find one Rookie Premiere Materials Autograph in each box of 2019 Panini Absolute Football. Overall, the relic-based NFL brand averages three autographs and two memorabilia cards per Hobby box.
Celebrating a decade of NBA trading cards, 2018-19 Panini Absolute Memorabilia Basketball includes a pair of autographs, relics and uncirculated base cards per Hobby box.
Known for its memorabilia, 2018 Panini Absolute Football delivers five NFL hits per box. This includes one Rookie Premiere autograph relic.
2017-18 Panini Absolute Basketball gives collectors plenty of NBA hits to chase! Every hobby box includes autographs, relics, and uncirculated cards.
Join the chase with 2017 Panini Absolute Racing! The NASCAR debut features two autographs and two relics per hobby box.
The hit-filled 2017 Panini Absolute Football is again heavy on memorabilia with three autographs and two relics in every hobby box.
Still heavy on memorabilia along with some hard-signed content, 2016-17 Panini Absolute Basketball includes four hits in every hobby box.
2016 Panini Absolute Football brings the hits with five total in every hobby box. This includes three autographs and two memorabilia cards.
2015-16 Panini Absolute Basketball returns to the collecting world with one hit per pack. Each hobby box includes four total autograph or memorabilia cards.
2014 Panini Absolute Football marks the brand’s 20th anniversary. The release focuses heavily on autographs and memorabilia cards with five hits in every ten-card box.
2013 Absolute Memorabilia Football includes a hit in every pack with boxes delivering a pair of autographs and two memorabilia cards. Other box highlights include two rookies, two parallels and four Hogg Heaven inserts.
2012-13 Panini Absolute Basketball delivers three autographs in every four-pack box. The set has 100 autographed rookie cards, all of which are signed on-card.
2012 Absolute Football promises either an autograph or memorabilia card in every pack. Highlights of the set include on-card rookie autographs and low-numbered autographed patch cards from football’s veterans and Hall of Famers.
2011 Absolute Memorabilia Football promises an autograph or memorabilia card in every pack. Signatures will be numbered to 299 or less while memorabilia hits will be numbered to 100 or less. New to the brand are on-card rookie autographs.
2010-11 Absolute Memorabilia returns to the hobby hardwood this March, bringing with it a plethora of autographs and hearty patches featuring players like John Wall, “The Durantula”, “The Black Mamba”, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and other stars past present and future. Each 4-pack hobby box of Absolute will deliver 4 hits, 4 inserts and 1 numbered retired great.
2010 Absolute Memorabilia Football’s design has taken a few steps back since the days of Donruss but it still remains true to form, boasting fantastic multi-colored memorabilia patches and their always popular trademark Rookie Premiere Materials inserts.
2009-10 Absolute Memorabilia Basketball is a relic driven middle to high end basketball card product that showcases sharp card design, the popular RPM Rookie Card, and plenty of interesting pieces of basketball memorabilia from players past and present.