By Kevin Lee aka gosens151911

For those who don’t know what parallel cards are; they are simply different versions of the regular base set (usually including rookie cards), autos, and game used cards. Some versions are numbered while others aren’t. They have slowly crept into practically every single set now, and one would wonder if that was a good thing?

The Good:
Parallel cards definitely have many upsides. They offer extra value to any set that has them. It offers additional pulls along with the usual inserts, autos, game-used etc. Some sets have a parallel card guaranteed in each pack such as Fleer Ultra’s gold medallion cards. Most card sets also have the chance of pulling parallel cards numbered to #100 such as Fleer Ultra’s Ice Medallions or Upper Deck Exclusives. They are common enough to find but still limited enough to make them collectible. They are also affordable at a few bucks apiece offering team collectors a challenge at a reasonable cost. Some higher end sets also have parallel cards numbered to 1, which are definitely worth pulling, as player collectors will usually trade or pay a fair amount for them. Recently, Upper Deck did a fantastic job with the 2008-09 OPC’s 1979-80 Retro parallel cards.


They featured the entire base set and rookies in the style of OPC cards in 1979-80. On top of this cool addition, they used different photographs of all the players adding an additional touch to an already very creative idea.

The Bad:
How much is too much? Some sets have way too many parallel cards, Artifacts is a perfect example. It has parallel versions of the base numbered to #100, #75, #50, #25, #10, #5 and #1. Now that is simply ridiculous as a parallel is considered a hit.


With that many parallels available, the demand becomes lower, and thus their book value decreases. Additionally most people aren’t happy pulling a parallel card of a common player, and would sometimes prefer an insert to them. Furthermore, Artifacts also has several different parallel versions of all their jersey cards. The problem with this is that it leads to a surplus of each jersey card, and most people will not put that much value on a lower numbered version compared to a higher numbered version. The end result is the value of the lowered numbered cards isn’t as high as it would have been had there been less parallel versions. Another pain about parallel sets is that having too many makes it impossible for set collectors. For example in the Upper Deck release, the exclusives are possible to find with 100 copies of each. However, for a set collector, they would have to locate all the versions of high gloss which are only numbered to 10. This would be extremely difficult, especially considering the fact that the big name players would book fairly high. Overall, it seems the market has become overwhelmed with parallel cards, with people less enthusiastic when they pull them.

The Ugly:
This year Upper Deck displayed how ugly parallel cards can get by introducing the 08-09 OPC Update set. Combined, the entire 08-09 OPC set features seven different parallel cards (Metal, Metal-X, Rainbow Parallel, Retro, Retro Parallel, Retro Blank Backs and Gold)! When there is an insert ration 7:4 for Metal, you know it’s getting ugly.