This article will deal specifically with Etopps hockey cards. Initially the cards were purchased at the Etopps website (www.etopps.com) through an Initial Player Offering (IPO). A limited number of cards were offered on the website with different player cards each week. After the cards were offered on the Etopps site, the cards could then be bought and sold on eBay (www.ebay.com). Any cards in your collection are held in your portfolio which can be viewed at the Etopps website. You can track the current values of your cards as they either go up in value or down, much the same as you would track stocks. The card values are tracked through the sales of the cards on eBay. You must have an Etopps account, which is free, to buy and sell the cards.
Now, let’s say you actually want to have the card in your possession. This is possible by having the card delivered by Etopps to you. Naturally, you must pay the shipping fees. Similarly, the cards – which are referred to as “in hand” cards once they leave Etopps – can be bought or sold anywhere when they are in hand. At this point they cease being virtual cards and are just like any other hockey card.
The quality of these in hand cards is impeccable. With a refractor like coating and beautiful designs, they meet the highest of standards. They come from the plant in a specially designed hard plastic case with an Etopps seal to show the card has not been removed from its holder. Each card is also supplied with an individual serial number, which is placed on the card before it is shipped.
With the fact that the cards were issued in low quantities at the time of the IPO combined with the fact that very few become in hand cards, these are scarce cards to find for a physical collection. For example, the 2002 Chuck Kobasew card had a total of 2000 orders with the IPO. Thus, the highest number of cards that can be put in collectors’ hands is 2000. Since only a small percentage are shipped from the factory, the number of cards that are in hand is considerably smaller than the initial 2000. These are scarce cards that can still be found at reasonable prices.
Although Etopps is still very much in the collector card market, issuing new cards on a regular basis, hockey cards were only issued from 2001-2003. This is because Upper Deck holds the exclusive contract to produce hockey cards leaving Topps and any other card manufacturer out of the loop.
These are high quality cards that deserve the attention of hockey card collectors, whether they are in your Etopps portfolio or in hand.