Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

Want Lists are located here. NPB Baseball Want List is located here.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

1 Not 1/1 1/1

I've been busy! I finished my road assignment last week, and got back home on Sunday... and promptly went out to a card show and a couple card shops. I still have three piles of things to put away in different places, and three stacks of cards from the show and recent online pickups. I've been using my free time to get reorganized and settled in, inventory and scan everything I've picked up, and properly cook dinner. And yesterday, I worked across town - about a 90-minute commute each way. But now I'm working nearby, so I should have more free time. Let's get back to writing, huh?

When is a 1/1 not a 1/1?

The first, easiest argument is aftermarket 1/1s. I'm sure there's still a bunch of those out there on eBay and circulating at shows and in shops. Some guy prints up some 1/1-notated hologram stickers or comes across a foil stamper, creating their own "special" 1/1s. I'm not sure I could call them fraudulent, unless they're misrepresented in some way.

But that leads to fraudulent 1/1s - cards made to look factory-stamped as 1/1s, copying the position, style, etc of legitimate 1/1s. Some aftermarket 1/1s would fall here, as I think hiding some small print in your eBay listing is deceptive.

And since I mentioned eBay in the first two examples, the third eBay example is "eBay 1/1s" - #1/25 is not a 1/1. Jersey number-serialed cards aren't 1/1s. So on, so forth. It is highly possible that, for on-card autographs, the first serial-numbered card was the first or last card signed by the player, meaning it could have the best (or worst) signature. But that's different.

I still consider factory-stamped "event" 1/1s to be 1/1s, but with asterisks. When Topps, Donruss, Upper Deck, etc. made 1/1 cards for Nationals or other card shows, the only distinction was the 1/1 stamp, and thus aren't really any more unique than the regular base cards that they parallel.

Along those lines, any 1/1 parallel that isn't unique from its base card beyond the stamp is somewhat depressing. Parallels, overall, need to be distinctive. Topps Triple Threads has some relic sets that are impossible to distinguish from each other beyond the serial numbering, for example.

Printing plates are marketed as 1/1s, and yes, there should be only one black printing plate for Ichiro in 2003 Topps, but the three other colors are essentially the same thing. I'll take all your Buck Farmer printing plates off of your hands, but as far as my type collection goes, eight Topps Total plates (front and back, four colors each) equal one entry in my list.

Now, there are cases of accidental one-of-one markings on cards or entire sets. Those definitely don't count. Sometimes, they're supposed to be one-of-one, but they aren't.

And then there's Topps Moments & Milestones.
In 2008 Moments & Milestones, Alex Rodriguez's milestone is his 518 home runs hit through 2007. Base cards are numbered to 150 - a low number for a base card. But each home run has its own "mirror" card - the large number at the bottom of the card. So 150 x 518 = 77,700 cards for A-Rod.

The same thing happens with parallels. Each black parallel is numbered to 25; that makes 12,950 A-Rod card #1s numbered to 25. Blue? #10, so 5180 cards. A card numbered to 5000 in 2008 would be in the fifty-cent bin, but numbered to 10 adds an artificial premium.

And that means the red 1/1 cards are very rarely 1/1. In fact, only Dice-K and Ichiro have true 1/1 cards in the set. There are 518 A-Rod card #1 1/1s... again, a card actually numbered to 500 in 2008 was maybe a $1-2 card at a show.

The Albert Pujols card above is the second 1/1 card I've found from this set. I don't have two Pujols 1/1 cards from this set, I think. But there are 195 of them in all!

Is this card a legitimate 1/1? Okay, yeah. It's the only card from 2008 Moments & Milestones which features Pujols' 126th hit of the 2005 season. But there are 194 other cards which highlight his hits in the 2005 season, so it's less special to me.

That said, since I already have a red parallel from this set, I can put a 1/1 card in my Albert Pujols collection!

What do you think? Is this really a 1/1? What do you think of the other 1/1 flavors?

Until next time...


  1. It's stamped 1/1 from a major card manufacturer, so I'd call it a 1 of 1. However... I can't stand Moments & Milestones. It's one of my least favorite card products and gimmicks in the history of cards.

  2. Sets like Moments & Milestones make me hate parallels and the whole 1/1 concept. Technically the only true 1/1's are cards where the 4 printing plates (8 front & back) were only used ONCE to make ONLY 1 card. Anything else would be at least a 1 of 2 or more.

  3. I count it as a 1/1 and I have one of those Red's of Clemens. But that set, NUTS.

  4. Yeah, the Moments & Milestones gimmick really pushes the nature of serial numbered cards. I still buy them when I see them cheap, but they're really not quite what they say they are.

    Honus Bonus pulled the same trick. I did buy an Ichiro 1/1 from them, which was my first 1/1 and still my only 1/1 of a future Hall of Famer. But while it's not exactly NOT a 1/1, it's not REALLY a 1/1 either, you know?

  5. Thanks for your comments, guys. M&M is really gimmicky. The Honus Bonus 1/1s are the same concept - and the Ichiro cards are the worst - 3000 1/1s!