PSA Glossary

Sports Lingo

Like all collectibles, the sports memorabilia market has its own terms and slang. The following is a brief definition and explanation of the most frequently used sports collecting terms.

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A classic set of over 500 small tobacco premium cards issued in various brands of cigarettes from 1909-1912. This set contains dozens of cards depicting Hall-Of-Fame players of the day. Widely recognized as one of the three most important sports card sets ever produced.
A portion of a card, usually perforated, which can be removed from the card without damaging the central part of the card.
Transferable images that depict a player or a team logo. These are not highly collectable and carry little value. Also, commonly found on Dennis Rodman’s body.
team ball
A ball autographed by the majority of the members of a particular team.
team card
A card that pictures an entire sports team.
team set
A complete run of players from a given team from a larger set.
telephone auction
An auction where bidding is conducted over the phone. Most telephone auctions are held over a one or two day period and end either at a specific time or “after the phone doesn’t ring for 15 minutes.” Those telephone auctions that end at a specific time usually are followed by a “call back” session where bidders who are still interested in a specific item can battle it out, one on one, over the phone. Telephone auctions are extremely popular in the sports collectibles market.
test issue
A set or sampling of cards that is issued by a manufacturer in limited supply, in order to test its marketability.
A small piece of paper enabling the possessor to attend an event.
Tiffany set
A high end set of cards, issued by Topps. These sets were identical to the regular issue set, except for the higher quality white cardboard stock and the addition of a protective UV coating.
tobacco card
A card that was issued in a tobacco product as a premium. The most well known issue is the T-206 set, which includes the Honus Wagner card, the most expensive card in the industry. A majority of the cards were produced around the turn of the century, although there were Red Man tobacco sets issued in the 1950s.
The most recognized sports card manufacturer. They are most well known for the 1952 Topps set, the king of post-war issues. Today, Topps still dominates the market, with Topps Chrome, Topps Finest, and Bowman Chrome issues.
trade paper
A periodical, usually in newspaper form, that specializes in a specific collectible. The main trade paper for the sports collectibles market is Sports Collectors Digest (SCD), begun in 1981 and is now published weekly by Krause Publications. Beckett Publications publishes a family of sports card price guides and Landmark Publications publishes the monthly "Tuff Stuff."
traded set
A set of cards, usually factory packaged, that features players who switched teams during the season, as well as those who made their debuts. Topps, who started this trend in 1981, is most well known for traded sets. Other companies also produce traded sets, although they refer to them by different names such as “Update” (Fleer) and “Rookie/Traded” (Score) sets.
A card that has been altered by cutting or shaving the edges. The most obvious reason for this is to improve the condition of corners, by removing the worn areas. Cards are also trimmed to correct centering problems. Cards that have been trimmed have very little value.
Triple Crown
A term that is most commonly used for a baseball player who leads his league in batting average, home runs, and RBIs. It may also be used for pitchers who lead the league in ERA, wins, and strikeouts.
Triple Folder
An important set of cards, widely praised for their tremendous artistic design, issued in 1912.