The First True One-Of-One (1/1) Parallel Sports Cards

On Oct 12, 1997 Fleer released their Masterpiece cards in Flair Showcase Baseball. The first ever “true” one-of-one parallel baseball cards. 1997 was also the first year 1-of-1 basketball cards and football cards as well. The 1/1 concept was so successful that a variety of one-of-one iterations for inserts and parallels have been a sports card hobby staple ever since. Many would say that the sports card companies have abused the one-of-one concept and are now producing far too many of them. Despite this, one-of-one cards from these early years, of even the most common players, fetch thousands of dollars on the rare occasion of one hitting the open market.

1997 Flair Showcase Masterpiece One Of One First One Of One Baseball Cards First Basketball One Of One Cards 1997 Flair First One of One Football

The First Michael Jordan 1/1 Basketball Card

When the subject of basketball cards is mentioned, it’s hard to ignore the king of the basketball card hobby, Michael Jordan. The 1997 Fleer Ultra set featured his first 1/1 card with this Masterpiece Edition:

Michael Jordan First One Of One Card Michael Jordan First 1 Of 1 Card

After Fleer introduced one-of-one cards to the hobby in 1997, Pinnacle Brands, Inc. followed suit with their own unique version of a one-of-one, the Press Plate. These “cards” were aluminum plates featuring one of the four “CMYK” colors used for printing (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) the actual cards in its 1997 Pinnacle and 1997 New Pinnacle sets.

Each subsequent year after 1997 featured more one-of-one parallels, parallels of inserts, or inserts in general in an attempt by card companies to feed collector demand for these unique parallels and distinguish their product offering from competitors. This created the trend of card manufacturers in the early 2000s stocking their products with multiple one-of-one card offerings, which led to the predictable result of driving down of the aggregate value of such cards.

The contrived scarcity issue has led some collectors to personally establish a new guideline between what is and what is not a one-of-one. Thus, the term “True One-of-One” has been unofficially coined to distinguish between a card that is truly limited to only one copy from one-of-one cards in products which have multiple one-of-one parallels of the same card.

The Allure Of The One-Of-One!

The ultimate rarity and scarcity of the 1/1 card has created some incredibly high sales of baseball, basketball and football cards from the era of the dawn of the 1/1 in the last several years. This Kobe Bryant 1997 Flair Showcase Masterpieces sold for $134,400 in 2021:

Kobe Bryant One Of One Card

This 1998 Metal Universe Tim Duncan Gem Masters 1/1 sold for $120,000 in 2024:

Tim Duncan Gem Masters One Of One

This 1999 Fleer Ultra Ken Griffey Jr. Platinum Medallion Masterpiece 1/1 sold for $44,611.74 in 2023

Griffey One Of One Masterpiece

And this Tom Brady 2000 Fleer Showcase Masterpieces 1/1 rookie card sold for $396,000 in 2022!

Tom Brady Rookie One Of One Masterpiece

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