Hobby Jargon

Whether you are new to the collecting game or have been a hobbyist for a decade + there are different terms and abbreviations used by some manufactures and collectors alike to describe certain aspects of the hobby.

Learning all the vocabulary that is associated with collecting can be daunting for a novice and even still with the new terms that change over the years can be a hard lesson to learn. We are still learning. We have offered a glossary with words we are using quite frequently. It will be updated often as words Veronica finds and needs explanation of will be researched. She has a knack for getting an answer when needed.


Learning all the vocabulary that is associated with collecting can be daunting for a novice and even still with the new terms that change over the years can be a hard lesson to learn. We are still learning. We have offered a glossary with words we are using quite frequently. It will be updated often as words Veronica finds and needs explanation of will be researched. She has a knack for getting an answer when needed.


This item will have some sort of certificate of authenticity (COA) from a third party, being in the form of an accompanying certificate, encased verification, or printed on the item itself. Verifying the originality or genuineness of a sports collectibles item. For sports cards, the two most respected third-party authentication (or grading) are Beckett Grading Service (BGS) and Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA).

Autographed Card

As the title suggests, it’s a card with a signature on it. But! There are different types you need to be aware of:

·       On Card- this is where the card has had the autograph signed directly on to the card itself.

·       Sticker Auto- These autos have been signed by the person, on to stickers. The company will the use these stickers to create autographed cards.

·       Printed auto- these are a manufactured copy of a person’s autograph.

·       Autopen-  A machine that is programmed to duplicate a signature. Autopens are often used by celebrities who receive numerous requests for their autographs. Very frowned upon by the collecting community.

·       IP Autos- These are autographed items that have been acquired In Person (IP). Most people will get a picture of the person signing the item as proof, or just send away for authentication. Chances are, if you case IP Autos you are not to concerned about selling them.

·       Personalised Auto- Like an IP only it will be made out to someone. (Example; To my biggest fan Donald, best wishes singed Joe Bloggs)

·       Cut Auto- A signature that has been literally "cut" away from a check, card, letter or notebook on which it was originally signed, and used in new way.


It is the most well-known sports card price guide. The one-time bible for any sports card collector it is still in use today but is no longer the power house it once was.

·       Book Value- People will still use this term, in reference to the Beckett guides listed prices for items.


Stands for Beckett Grading Services. BGS provides a thorough, consistent and accurate grading system. They would be my go to for getting cards graded with PSA 2nd

They use a grading scale of 1 to 10. You really want a 9 9.5 or the GOLD card 10, or if you are lucky enough, A Black label- This is considered Pristine and is the highest Grade possible.


Typically used in reference to a packaging of a specific trading card product. Cases contain multiple boxes depending on the product and can range between 2-20 boxes.

Case Hit

In an effort to encourage the purchase of cases of trading cards, some manufactures guarantee a specific type of high-value or short-printed card in every case. These cards are referred to as “case hits”.

Certificate of Authenticity (COA)

A statement that the item (often an autograph) is genuine. The COA is printed on paper, thin cardboard, or plastic. The validity of the certificate of authenticity does depend on the integrity and knowledge of the seller or authentication service. There are many websites that offer confirmation of authenticity but again you must look for those with integrity.


A word that describes the condition of the edges of a card. Chipping may occur from ageing, handling, or even dull blades at the productions factory.

Common/Base card

A term used to describe a card that is not a rookie, semi-star, or star card. These are usually the least expensive cards in a set. The set can be built by collating the cards by number.

"Singles" is also a term used for common cards.


An acronym for the website Check Out My Cards, which is an online marketplace where collectors can buy and sell cards.

Condition scale

 A series of terms used to describe an item’s condition in a decreasing scale of quality.

·       Mint (M), Near Mint (NM), Near-Mint Mint (NM-M), Excellent (EX), Very Good (VG), Good (G), Fair (F), Poor (P) (These terms have evolved through the years creating hybrid combinations and new terms altogether.


A card that has been cut or perforated by the manufacturer. Likely to change design or create new interest. These die cut cards can often add value to a set or are limited or rare.

Error Card

A card that contains a mistake. An error card that has no corrected version usually has no additional value. Error cards that have a corrected version are usually more valuable.


Short for Excellent.


Short for Excellent - Mint


A grading term. A card that is in excellent condition may have light rounding of the corners, very light creasing, minor wear on the surface.


A card that has minor wear on the corners, no major flaws.


Not genuine. A forgery or counterfeit. No collector ever wants a fake piece.


A manufacturer of sports cards. Company no longer exists. Property now belongs to Upper Deck.

Game Used/Worn

A piece of equipment/memorabilia that has been used or worn by an athlete during a game.

Gem Mint/ Gem MT

A card that is virtually perfect. Corners must be razor sharp, centring must be no worse than 55-45, and the cards colour and gloss must be original.

Grading Service

A company that charges a fee to grade cards or memorabilia they are a third party, independent service. Companies that provide these services: Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA), Beckett Grading Services (BGS)

Group Break

Group breaks (or box/case breaks) have grown in popularity over the past few years. The box or case of product is split between numerous hobbyists. Having the box split offers “SPOTS’ usually in the number of teams per sport/type of cards being sold (i.e. Pokémon). The best part of being in a group break means someone that bought a spot in the break is going to get lucky (Hit a rad card).

·       Team Break this is where you purchase a specific team and you receive all the HITS from that team. With the team break you are paying for team (i.e.IE Lakers @ $200 or Raptors @ $40)

·       Random Break this is where you purchase a spot in the break and teams are randomly allocated to each spot. These can be great if you’re lucky enough to be allocated one of the top 5 teams.

(i.e. getting the Lakers for the $50 random spot price)

·       Draft Break This can be done as a team draft or a hit draft. The participants names will be randomised, and a draft order determined. Once this has taken place participants will select their team in accordance with the draft order. For a hit draft after the break is completed participants will select hits in accordance with the draft order.  Spot prices are subject to change with each break.

Hall of Famer/ HOF

A player that is a member of the Hall of Fame. These player's cards are almost always the most desirable cards in a set. This player has been inducted respectively into their sports hall of fame.

High End

A term applied to any card that would be in a high price range or rarity.


A card of higher value or herder to find, most likely to be an autographed card a patch card, short print or game worn memorabilia. BIG HIT/BOOM A hit that will make you jump out of your seat and go all Jerry Maguire, usually very sort after, low print run and of and superstar player of highly prized rookie. Highly valuable $$$$.


Inserts have evolved to the point where almost every new issue available contains some type of insert. Insert cards can be themed, numbered, coloured.

Jersey Card

A trading card that contains a piece of jersey material, often referred to as a swatch.


Well known for its production of its modern-day sets, Leaf is also well known for several sets produced right after World War II. In 1948 and 1949, they produced crude sets of baseball, football, and boxing stars. Over time, these issues have become very popular, especially tough-to-find, high-grade examples.


A trading card that carries with it the official endorsement and authorized usage rights from a respective sports licensing body like the NBA, NFL, AFL, NRL, SSN.         

Low Ball

Is when someone makes an offer on a card which is far below its current value.

Memorabilia Card

A trading card that contains a piece of event or game worn or manufactured memorabilia from a specific player or team. Mementos from a sports event or belonging to or used by an athlete or sports figure. Examples of sports memorabilia include autographs, photos, programs, team yearbooks, trophies, game tickets, equipment, balls, uniforms, books, and magazines. The market for collectible sports memorabilia is huge. In fact, it is one of the largest of all collectibles markets.


A grading term for an item that is in its original, like-new state. A card in mint condition will have sharp corners, no major flaws

Near Mint

A card that has very few flaws. The corners may show some light wear, and no major flaws should be apparent.

Near Mint-Mint

A card in this condition may appear to be mint at first glance but may have slight wear on the corners.


Short for Near Mint.


Short for Near Mint - Mint.


Short for "non-sport card."

Non-sport card

A card that pictures a topic other than sports. Entertainers, movies, and TV shows are among the more popular.

One Touch/Mag Cast

              A hard-acrylic case to protect your cards, easily opened and closed via a magnetic seal.


A group of cards that are sealed by the manufacturer for retail sale.

Penny Sleeve

A thin plastic pocket used as the first level of card protection. Before being inserted in to a Top Loader.

PC/Personal Collection

A term used in the modern hobby to describe cards that a collector is typically not willing to sell or trade. These cards are the main focus of a person’s collection. PC’s are not always the most valuable cards but are certainly the most treasured.


A term that describes a special note, next to a signature, such as: "Dear…", "To my pal…" or "Best wishes…" In autograph collecting circles this is also known as an "inscription". Often this decreases the value of the card.


Refers to any card that is not encapsulated by a grading service.


Abbreviation/short for rookie card.


A card that is a reproduction of an original, usually iconic sets get reprinted, like 1986 Fleer.


Rookie of the Year.

Rookie Card (RC)

 Designates a player’s first officially licensed trading card after making the roster.

Serial Number

A card produced in a specific quantity and numbered with the notation 00/000. This indicates that the cards are numbered 00 of 000 this is the only amount of cards/collectables produced. The serial number creates more value to the item.


            RPA stands for Rookie Patch Auto, these are highly sort after in today’s market.

Search or Pack Searching

When a case or box is searched for a big hit and the remaining product is on sold or sold. This practice in most part is frowned upon by the collecting community. Some consider it as a loop hole, but integrity can be lost to the honest genuine collector. Each has their own opinion on pack searching. We will end it there.

Short Print

Is a card printed in lesser quantity than the other cards in the same set. Generally, short prints have a print run of half that of the other cards, they were once used to fill the printing sheets. Short print now spur on a collector to complete a set.


Short for short print.


Slabbed is used to describe a professionally graded card. It happens after a card has been graded/authenticated which offers protection, piece of mind that the card keeps its value.


The process of encapsulating a card in a sonically sealed holder.


Short for Trading Card Game, it is a trading card product designed for use in playing games.

(i.e. Magic the Gathering).


A hard-plastic holder for storing single trading cards. They are available a multitude of thicknesses to accommodate different types of memorabilia. (i.e. patch cards). A great way to show your cards yet keep them protected.


Once the most recognized sports card manufacturer. They also produce Non-Sport trading cards. i.e.: WWE and Dr Who. 


A manufacturer of trading card and collectibles storage supplies and items used to display sand protect items.

Upper Deck

A major sports card manufacturer that started in 1989 with a premium issue. The 1989 Upper Deck set is very well known for its inclusion of the extremely popular Ken Griffey rookie card. The company produces sets for all sports, as well as other lines of cards such as SP, SPX, SP Authentic, UD3, and Collector's Choice.

Upper Deck Authenticated (UDA)

The sister company of The Upper Deck Co., which produces authentic autographed memorabilia items under contracts with star athletes including Michael Jordan.


A card that is different, usually subtly, from its more common counterpart in any set. Usually different variations come in different colours and print runs. Like base, silver, red numbered to 199, blue to 99,

Purple to 49, orange wave to 25, gold to 10, green to 5 and Black to 1. 1 of 1? To try to chase down one of each colour is referred to as CHASING THE RAINBOW.


Short for Very Good.


Short for Very Good to Excellent.


A term usually intended to indicate an item was issued or produced quite some time ago. For example, a "vintage" baseball card versus a "modern" baseball card

Want List

A collector's or dealer's list of items he is wishing to buy. Often, a collector will send a dealer a "want list," and the dealer will try to locate the items on the list.


A loose term that describes unopened packs of cards, referring to the old wax packets containing gum. If you are lucky enough to find some old packs, we suggest you do not they the gum.

White-Whale/Holy Grail 

A collector created term used to describe an always elusive card on their personal want list (see above). The card is often very rare or very expensive. Just like the white whale himself.