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Exquisite Makes a Second Appearance

by Paul Angilly
July 11, 2005

Just when you thought the card collecting hobby couldn't get any more insane, Upper Deck came along last year and introduced its $500-per-pack (suggested retail price) Exquisite Collection basketball card brand.

Even more bewildering than the idea of spending a month's rent on a single pack of cards was the brand's intense popularity. Recent eBay sales of 2003-04 Exquisite boxes (which contain just a single pack) have been in the $1,100-$1,300 range - more than double the initial price.

Now, just like a summer blockbuster movie that spawns an inevitable sequel, Upper Deck is bringing back the brand for a second season, again with a $500 SRP per pack, with its release due this week. Already, cases of three boxes/packs are selling for $2,000 to $2,300, or about $670 to $770 per pack.

According to a report by Beckett Media (at www.beckett.com), the LeBron James rookie card from 2003-04 Exquisite is the most valuable basketball RC of all time at $2,900. The Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony RCs from the same set are the third and fourth most valuable RCs in history, valued at $2,000 and $1,200 respectively. The only other card that ranks higher in value is the 1948 Bowman George Mikan RC at $2,500.

This year's 90-card set features 42 NBA stars and 48 rookies, with all but six cards in the regular set numbered to 225. The final six cards in the base set are numbered to 99. Platinum parallels of the base set are numbered to 25 and black parallels numbered as 1/1.

The 48-card rookie subset features autographed and autographed patch cards from this year's draft class, including Ben Gordon, Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala, Dwight Howard, and Sebastian Telfair. Rookie of the Year Emeka Okafor is included among the first 42 base cards, but could not be included as part of any autograph or jersey card subset (or insert cards) due to an exclusive deal with Topps.

Each pack of 2004-05 Exquisite will come packaged in a dark cherry wood box and contain five cards, including one regular card numbered to 225, a signed rookie card numbered to 225 and three patch and/or autographed insert cards.

The set will once again offer hundreds of different autographed and memorabilia cards, many numbered as 1/1. Inserts include such themes as Extra Exquisite, Extra Exquisite Duals, Exquisite Triple Patches, Exquisite Quad Patches, Exquisite Foursome, Autograph Exquisite Patches, Limited Logos and Dual Scripted Swatches.

Variations of the inserts sets are sequentially numbered to various levels. The collection also includes All-NBA Access Pass Triple Logoman Patches insert cards. These one-of-one combination cards feature the NBA logo patches from the jerseys of superstars such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.

According to Beckett Media, last season's Exquisite Collection All-NBA Access Press Patches (serially numbered 1/1 and featuring the NBA logo patch off a game-worn jersey) made national headlines when the Kobe Bryant/LeBron James sold for $62,100 and the Michael Jordan/Kobe Bryant sold for $27,000. The $62,100 sale is the second highest modern era (1986-87-present) sale of all time, according to Beckett, falling behind the first BGS 9.5 Gem Mint 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan RC at $77,600.

Fleer to liquidate assets: According to a Beckett Media report, Fleer/Skybox International and Fleer Collectibles have announced they have each executed Assignments for the Benefit of Creditors under New Jersey law, conveying all of their respective assets to an attorney specializing in bankruptcy and insolvency matters.

The attorney will oversee the assets of the two companies and will be required to preserve and protect assets, maximize asset values through public or private sales approved by the court, and distribute the proceeds of asset sales to creditors, who will be provided with an opportunity to file claims.

It is expected that the Fleer/Skybox trade names and numerous game-used and autographed cards will be sold - which will likely be used as an opportunity for another card company (Donruss/Playoff leads the speculation) to purchase the rights to Fleer's brand names without having to take on the former company's reportedly large debt.

The fate of unfulfilled redemption cards is still undecided, but collectors are being advised not to return any redemption cards to Fleer at this time.

Fleer's web site was shut down last week.

UConn stars return in 2005-06 SAGE Hit: SAGE Collectibles has posted a preliminary checklist for its 2005-06 Hit basketball draft picks set, and it again prominently features former University of Connecticut players.

Due out in early July, the Hit set includes Charlie Villanueva, who declared his eligibility for the draft after playing this past season with the Huskies.

Also returning in this year's set are NBA Rookie of the Year Emeka Okafor, Sixth Man award winner Ben Gordon and 2004 WNBA Rookie of the Year Diana Taurasi. Those 'sophomore' stars (which also include players such as Luol Deng, Sebastian Telfair and Josh Childress) will have "Reflect Gold" autographed cards numbered to just 25 copies - the only autographed cards available for those players from this year's issue.

The 2005-06 Hit basketball set will also feature potential top draft picks such as Andrew Bogut, Marvin Williams, Raymond Felton, Deron Williams and Hakim Warrick, with an average of six authentic autographed cards found per box.

Also back is the "Write Stuff" insert set, featuring handwriting analysis of the top players, including Villanueva. Autographed versions are also randomly inserted, with each card sequentially numbered to 25 copies. The "Reflect" parallel set also returns, offering new photos and personal comments not found on the base cards.

About the author
Paul Angilly is a sports reporter for The Bristol Press in Connecticut, and has been collecting sports cards and memorabilia for 30 years. He is not a dealer, nor does he make a profit from buying and selling cards. His weekly sports card and memorabilia collecting column appears each week in The Bristol Press and several other daily newspapers in Connecticut.

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