In this case, the imagery of Julio Jones without the “Riddell” across the top of his facemask is a shorter-print variation.
The average hobbyist might miss a detail like that, but now that you’re armed with checklists, you might be able to spot shorter-print cards available for similar prices as their non-SP counterparts and get a deal.
Another use for checklists is to look across sets and years of a particular player to answer questions like:
- How many dual Kobe Bryant / Lebron James autos are there available?
- How many on-card autographed cards are available for Tom Brady?
- What is the first year of the Signature Gloves cards in Panini Flawless?
Checklists allow you to go deep.
It’s also important that you understand demand and desirability, as well. For example, there may only be 5 issued copies of the 2005 Upper Deck Exquisite Dual Jersey Autograph of Lebron James and Larry Hughes, but not many collectors are chasing a Lebron card featuring Larry Hughes.
In some ways, the complexity of the hobby has given way to the Prizm Silver and National Treasures Rookie Patch Autographs numbered to 99 as “true rookies” because there’s just so much to choose from.
Hobbyists who spend a lot of time with checklists can see why it’s easier to have widely-accepted key rookies as the core cards of a player to collect. The general market doesn’t understand the detail and nuance of sets, their variations, their limited runs, etc.
However, this is where you can spot your opportunity. If you understand demand for particular players and sets, you can find rare cards that many others likely haven’t yet discovered. It’s always a risk that you’ve gone too deep, but it makes collecting that much more fun.
And if you don’t have the time to go deep, now you know where to find the resources that can double-check before purchasing some wax or a card of a particular player to make sure you understand what you're buying and how scarce it truly is.