Placing it in Context: The 1998-1999 SP Authentic set was skillfully designed to appeal to collectors. The set can be characterized in one word: limited. The set is limited to only 120 cards. Subsets are limited to three: a Michael Jordan subset honoring his second retirement the previous season (cards 1-10), an 80 card base set and finally, 30 “rookie F/X” cards limited in production to 3,500 each. These final cards make completing sets a challenge. The design is “limited” as well, a white background that eliminates the majority of the photograph, forcing the eye towards the player alone. It is this concise, simple nature that has allowed these cards to remain popular with collectors who know a classy set when they see one.
The Card: The Vince Carter rookie card, #95 is clearly the gem of this set. Price guides printed near the date of the card’s production show a huge price discrepancy between the Vince Carter rookie and the rest of the set. The 2001 Standard Catalog of Basketball Cards listed it at $800 with the next most valuable card in the set being $150. In your search for the card, you might find some that are hand-numbered (as opposed to having a printed serial number). These were damaged card replacements from Upper Deck and are legitimate. Some collectors are turned off by the appearance of handwriting on the card, others view it as a curious variation.
Interesting Price and Sales Details:
- Although recent sales have yet to reach the $800 mentioned above, prices are climbing. A BGS 10 sold on June 8, 2016 for $650 (eBay item number 381568870602).
- Card 1711/3500, a PSA 10, auctioned on eBay as item 351898069910 used to be a BGS 9 when it sold for $76 plus $3 shipping on July 12, 2016. Evidence of using easier grading companies to achieve that elusive perfect score. But the regraded PSA 10 sold for over $160!
- Need more evidence of how this card increases in value? Card 1843/3500 , a PSA 10, was sold for $89 in July of 2016. The selling price when it reappeared on the market in December? $174.99.
In Short: The card is a worthwhile investment not only because of the personality depicted, but because of its limited production and the amount of people attempting to complete the set. The eBay sales history demonstrates this.