Placing It In Context: It’s no small feat to understand the structure of the 1999-2000 Topps Gold Label set. First, you have to make sure you’re not confusing it with the regular Topps set from that year, or the Topps Chrome set, or the Topps Gallery set, or the Topps Tipoff set… The Topps 1999-00 Gold Label set has a sprawling hierarchy. Class 1 Gold Label cards are considered the base. The stadium background, although slightly blurred is in color. One in every two packs yielded a Class 2 Gold Label with an entirely different image. Class 2 backgrounds show the stadium, but are monochrome. One in every four packs yielded a Class 3 Gold Label with another different set of images. The stadium background is barely visible through the bright yellow background on these cards. All three classes show the same 100 players (15 of which are rookies). If this isn’t complicated enough, each of the three classes is also available in “Red Label” and “Black Label” versions which show a color change on the “Topps Gold Label” in the corner. Yes, it is that silly…you would see the words “Topps Gold Label” in red and refer to the set as “Red Label.” Who else longs for the days when there was a single base set with a few inserts?
Topps was obviously trying to make a variety of cards that would keep collector’s buying, but it quickly becomes overwhelming, thus they don’t usually command prices worthy of the quality and design. The cards are simple and attractive. Borderless, with a small image of the player in the foreground overlayed on a larger image in the background. They are thicker than usual. When viewed in limited light, the front appears like a normal image, but once hit by light has a metallic sheen, known as Topps’ “Refractor” technology.
The Card: The Steve Francis rookie, #87 in the set is an attractive card that can be picked up for a low price. It’s value was affected by the issues outlined above. The 2001 Standard Catalog of Basketball Cards listed it as the highest value card in the set at $12. This value didn’t hold. It nevertheless remains a classy looking card for a Steve Francis collector. The market isn’t saturated with them, but they can be found without too much of a wait.