Largely overlooked in college and at the start of his pro career with the Seattle Seahawks, Russell Wilson made quick believers of NFL fans and collectors. This, in turn, led to a surge in interest for Russell Wilson rookie cards.
Below is a list of the top Russell Wilson cards from 2012, his rookie year. We didn't limit the list to strictly the main rookie cards, though, opting for a mix of base rookie cards, inserts and NCAA cards.
While value certainly comes into play, it's not the only factor. Card quality, secondary market reception and potential were also considered. Extremely limited cards are not included and parallels were avoided. Regardless of where they might end up on your own list, we think the following cards are awesome additions for anyone considering going big on Russell Wilson rookie cards or those who might just want to pick up a few cool cards.
Top 10 Russell Wilson Rookie Cards
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This isn't the most valuable Russell Wilson card, though it does carry significant clout considering it doesn't have an autograph. Numbered to 170, it's an official rookie card, albeit one from a one-and-done standalone brand. It's also a decent card for those who might not be able to afford an autograph or extremely limited parallel.
The 2012 Topps Triple Threads Russell Wilson rookie card is a bit of a strange beast. It has two different versions, both of which are numbered to 99. The only difference is how the jersey windows are cut. Individually, this makes each card rare. However, if you don't have a preference and aren't going for both, it shouldn't take too much looking to find one. The sticker autograph is something of a turnoff. Base versions also use plain jersey pieces. Both of these factors take it down a notch, especially given Triple Threads' high-end pedigree.
Prime Signatures wasn't one of Panini's hottest sellers in 2012. However, the rookie cards are certainly worth a look. Hard signed and relatively rare, this Russell Wilson card takes a less is more approach. The look is simple, but it emphasizes the autograph. It's also very reasonably priced considering what you get. It was originally a redemption but is now live on the secondary market.
Yes. Panini Black is a brand that borrows very liberally from Upper Deck Black. That said, these cards still look very strong. This Russell Wilson card comes with an on-card autograph that's done in gold on a black background. The result is a striking signature that's about as bold as you're going to find. Combine that with a prime jersey swatch and a relatively rare but not scarce print run and you've got one of the strongest 2012 Russell Wilson cards.
Topps Chrome has a long history with collectors, offering a nice balance of pop and widespread appeal. Unlike sets like National Treasures and Five Star, Topps Chrome comes with an affordable price tag. Not all cards are huge, but big names are very well received. This autograph was a redemption. Unfortunately, it comes with a sticker, which really stands out with the Chrome stock. Distributed as a redemption, the many Refractor parallels are extremely popular.
Building off of the Shadow Box concept started several years earlier by Upper Deck, the big draw of 2012 Topps Strata Football are the one-per-box Clear Cut Autographs. Featuring a massive player-work jersey or patch swatch, the layered cards have autographed acetate on top. A neat feature of the cards is that they also have a small window so that you can feel the swatch. Basic versions have plain swatches, but once you get into the rarer parallels, there are some very nice Russell Wilson patch pieces to be found.
An on-card autograph, patch swatch and a tiny print run of just 50 copies makes this one of the top official Russell Wilson rookie cards. However, the pricey brand has yet to catch on fully like National Treasures and Contenders have. It doesn't help that many of the patch swatches are small and plain. The print run may actually work against it as it's impossible for it to gain widespread appeal. In the long-term, it could also prove to be one of the biggest bargains.
When Upper Deck was producing NFL cards, Exquisite was the go-to brand. However, collectors shouldn't overlook their college products as they're still garnering tremendous secondary market attention. The 2012 Exquisite Russell Wilson may not be an official rookie card in the traditional sense, but it still demands a ton of respect. It comes with an on-card autograph and a patch from a player-worn jersey.
Contenders has long been a popular set for rookie collectors. And that's a huge reason why this is the top-selling Russell Wilson rookie card outside of National Treasures. The card is not numbered, but Panini has confirmed the print run at 550 copies. A variation with Wilson in a white jersey is limited to only 25 copies.
The best Russell Wilson rookie card came as a redemption card in the high-end 2012 NT set. As far as value and appeal, it just beats out the Contenders card thanks to the brand power, quality swatch, on-card signature and extreme rarity.