Spring 2017 Major League Baseball "Set Registry Masters" Premium Auction
One of Derek Jeter's most coveted and least encountered, pack-pulled, certified autograph issues from the 1990s is the 1997 Bowman's Best Refractor parallel, offered here in near perfect PSA Mint 9 condition with a pristine 10 signature. Inserted at a stated rate of 1 in every 20,036 packs, total production guesstimates range anywhere from 50 to 60 copies produced, yet the offered example is one of only six to ever surface at PSA. With our reputation as the go-to depot for the hobby's best Jeter cards, Small Traditions has handled four of those six, the most recent of which was also a PSA 9 and fetched over $1,500 back in April of 2013, well before the recent baseball card boom.
The offered card easily ranks as one of the top five or ten most significant Derek Jeter cards produced in the year following his grand entrance into the game, and also a centerpiece of the late 90s period of Derek Jeter cards we like to call "The Dynasty Years," that is, those cards produced from 1997 to 2000, as distinguished from his "Rookie Years" of 1992 to 1996. To the delight of collectors, this period also happened to coincide with the height of the insert card craze of the late 1990s, and so the offered 1997 Bowman's Best Derek Jeter Refractor Autograph is significant for several reasons, as it epitomizes the very best of the period.
As you can tell from the images, the card features The Topps Company's special Refractor technology, which reflects all the colors of the rainbow when held at different angles, but in a very subtle way. (Please note: most scanners completely wash out the Refractor effect on this and other similar cards). This is the epitome of the flashy foil card detested by some vintage collectors, but at Small Traditions we absolutely love the flash, and we also appreciate its correlation to advances in both digital and printing technologies during the period. Truth is, if you spend any time at all with cards like this, they tend to make even high-grade T206 tobacco cards, colorful as they are, appear drab, so consider this a warning to the vintage collector looking to make his or her first significant foray into modern cards!
One other word of caution, and on a more serious note: please observe that this card bears Bowman's official "Certified Autograph Issue" graphic, so don't be fooled into buying a regular Refractor example of this card, which looks exactly the same except for this graphic and could have been signed in person during the same period, or even counterfeited. As you can plainly see from Derek's iconic script here, it clearly matches his early signing style, and it appears to be absolutely perfect, the first to receive a "10" mark from PSA.
Rarely Offered 1997 Bowman's Best Refractor Autograph #82 Derek Jeter PSA 9/10 Mint Pop 3 Only 1 Graded Higher From Approximately 50 Made
Click above for larger image.