- Investment potential.
- As a surprise to their child or children when they reach a certain age (most parents will start buying Topps factory sets the year their child was born, and I've actually met some moms who do this...been rejected many times when I asked if they could adopt me...that's another story)
- Habit. Many people will still buy a set, even long after their child stopped being interested.
- Quick way to get a complete set without having to break open boxes of cards.
- Etc. Etc. Etc.
All are good reasons. And if you bought packs and boxes of these cards to build your collection, and already have all the cards anyway, keeping a sealed set was a good idea. Until 1992. That was the year that the factory set game changed. This was the first year that Topps included extra cards in the factory sets that you wouldn't normally find in the base set. They were insert cards. In the case of 1992 Topps, Topps Gold cards (and a few Topps BlackGold cards). Okay, not too bad. But they also included preview cards for 1993 Topps. And unless you had Topps Magazine, the only way to see these cards was to...gasp...open the factory set.
Now the debate...whether we as collectors should open these sets so we can add these cards in the collection or leave them in the sealed box. Some people dared open them, and did get to see what these bonus cards looked like. Many others however, left the cards in the box. Sealed, never opened, these bonus cards would never see the light of day...EVER!!! Hence the name.
While there have been full insert sets included in factory sets prior to 2000 (see 1995 Topps Opening Day, and the seven-card Cyberstats End of Year set), it was not until 2001 that collecting factory sets took on a whole new meaning, not just in the number of different sets, but what was to be included in them.
Topps used the year 2001 to celebrate their 50th year in the baseball card business. Their base set brought back a number of special cards that had not been seen in a long time. Manager cards and team cards returned to the base set for the first time in a number of years. There was a number of insert sets honoring baseball players from the past 50 years included in the Topps set. Topps also brought back the Archives name in 2001. Topps Archives prior to 2001 were created to honor the company's first few baseball card sets. The famous 1952 set was reprinted in 1983, and the 1953, 1954, and Brooklyn Dodgers sets were introduced the following decade. The 2001 effort brought back the reprint concept, but instead of reprinting a full set of cards, the company reprinted the first and last Topps cards of more than 200 players and managers.
If you haven't already clicked onto another person's link on my blog roll and given up reading, you're probably wondering why I'm explaining all this. Well it's because when the 2001 Topps factory sets appeared in hobby shops and retail stores, each set contained a five card pack of "Future Archives" cards. In every factory set was a five card pack of cards that had the 2001 Topps Archives logo, and the cards were reprints of the players' first Topps cards. But these reprints were of "current" players, not retired ones. The packs included superstars with names like Bonds, and Thomas, and Sosa, and Henderson, and Sheffield. And it did not seem to matter which factory set you bought, any one of these cards could have been in them.
The 20 card checklist included (players and the year of the card reprinted):
- Barry Bonds, 1987
- Chipper Jones, 1991
- Cal Ripken Jr, 1982 (without Bonner and Schneider)
- Shawn Green, 1992
- Frank Thomas, 1990
- Derek Jeter, 1993
- Geoff Jenkins, 1996
- Jim Edmonds, 1993
- Bernie Williams, 1990
- Sammy Sosa, 1990
- Rickey Henderson, 1980
- Tony Gwynn, 1983
- Randy Johnson, 1989
- Juan Gonzalez, 1990
- Gary Sheffield, 1989
- Manny Ramirez, 1992
- Calvin "Pokey" Reese, 1992
- Preston Wilson, 1993
- Jay Payton, 1995
- Rafael Palmeiro, 1987
Again, while it didn't matter which set you bought (Hobby or retail sets), you got a five pack of any of the above 20 cards. However, if you bought a 2001 Topps factory set in a gold box, you may receive these cards in gold foil lettering and borders. I say may because I've never seen an example of a gold-foiled reprint.
Friend of the blog the drizz commented "...I'm assuming these cards are extremely rare to find outside of a factory sealed set..." and he's right. I was extremely lucky to be able to acquire all 20 of these cards. I got cards 16-20 by buying a factory set as a present for my brother-in-law, and then bought the five off him, and then found the rest on eBay where one buyer was selling off about ten of them (the Ripken was won in a frantic bidding war). I don't remember how the other five were acquired. All I know is that you never see these cards on the market anymore. And as the years go on, it will be harder and harder to do so.
If you thought explaining the 2001 light of day cards was easy, wait until we discuss 2002.