Glossary: Trading Cards Explained

Congratulations! You are on your way to becoming an expert in trading card collecting. 

With a league full of superstars, both established and in the making, and a 2023-24 rookie class loaded with promising prospects, there is an exciting buzz in the hockey world and it is generating a huge demand for NHL®️ trading cards. All in all, Upper Deck offers something for every hockey fan.

Card and Industry Terms

1-of-1 – A numbered card that is the only one in existence. These can be the most valuable cards but not necessarily the most expensive.

Acetate Card – A card printed on translucent, Plexiglass-like material.

Autographed Card – A card that has been signed by a player.

Base Card – A common card that is part of a product’s main set.

Booklet Card – A 2+ panel card that opens like a book and can feature multiple players and/or signatures.

Book Value – The perceived value of an item according to a price guide published by a third-party company.

Box – A pre-determined number of packs, packaged together in a sealed container. There can be anywhere from 1 to 36 packs in a box on average.

Box Break – When a collector opens an entire box of sealed trading cards. You can find videos of collectors sharing their box breaks online.

Case – A pre-determined number of boxes packaged together in a sealed container. Can contain anywhere from 1-18 boxes on average.

Checklist – A complete list of cards contained in a particular set created by the product’s manufacturer. Collectors use checklists to help keep track of and complete sets.

Cut Autograph – A card featuring an autograph that is not signed directly onto the card but is instead cut from another source (such as a check).

Exclusive Spokesperson – Refers to athletes whose autographs, jerseys, and memorabilia will not be available in other brands. For example, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, and Tiger Woods.

Game-Used Jersey Card – A card containing a piece of embedded jersey worn by a player during a game.

Hard-Signed Autograph Card – An autograph signed directly onto a card’s surface.

Hits – Special, non-base cards that are part of limited subsets.

Hobby Box or Hobby Products – Products created exclusively for hobby stores that contain more content, packs, and inserts than products at retail stores.

Inserts – Cards that are more difficult to obtain than the base set of cards. They are considered a “subset” within the product and will have a distinctive look and design than common cards.

Jersey Card – A card that contains a piece of embedded jersey.

Letterman Card – A card featuring a cut letter patch from a player’s jersey.

Licensed Cards – Trading cards licensed by a league and player’s association.

Logo Patch – A card featuring a team or league logo patch from a jersey.

Pack – Other than single cards, the lowest denomination of product you can buy. This contains 1-60 cards depending on the product.

Parallel – A parallel typically has the same design and photo as a base card but offers a different, higher-end color scheme with limited copies.

Patch Card – A card that features a cut patch from a player’s jersey. Common patches include jersey numbers, team names, and team logos.

Personal Collection (PC) – A collector’s favorite cards; usually the centerpieces of a collection and are not up for trade or sale.

Player Collector – A collector who focuses on specific players.

Printing Plate – A special plate used to print trading cards. These “cards” are one-of-a-kind and come in four printing colors: black, cyan, magenta, and yellow.

Redemption – Insert cards used as placeholders for cards that were not ready at the time of printing, usually an autograph card. Collectors redeem these cards online.

Rookie Cards – A card from a player’s first year in the league. These cards are highly collectible.

Sell Value – The value based on recent actual sales of an item, or a perceived value based on how much a person will pay for the card.

Serial or “Crash” Numbered – A card that is short-printed and stamped with a print run number on the card. For example, 01/25.

Set – A completed series of numbered regular cards, inserts, or hits from a particular product.

Set Collector – Someone who builds sets from each product, rather than someone who collects a certain player or team.

Short Print (SP) – Cards that have a lower print run than other cards in a set, making them rarer and more challenging to collect.

Sticker or Label Autograph Card – An autographed card featuring a certified signature on a clear label, applied to the card’s surface.

Team Collector – A collector who focuses on specific teams.

Popular Trading Card Brands

MVP – The first set of the new collecting year and offers plenty of inserts, parallels, and short prints. This product is geared towards set and team collectors.

O-Pee-Chee – This classic-style set is the largest on the hobby market and offers a low price. It is also a great product for anyone who is just starting. If you are interested in building sets that have a classic retro design with a chance to pull big autographs or unique team patches, this is the set for you.

Artifacts – For seasoned collectors, Artifacts is a household name. This product serves as an excellent mid-range product for puck fans, especially those who love premium memorabilia cards. Artifacts offers a good value for collectors who are looking for quality rookies, dazzling memorabilia, and early season autograph cards.

Upper Deck Series 1 – UD1 offers affordable price points and something for all levels of collectors. Young Guns®️ rookie cards are highly sought-after, and you may even find popular autograph and patch cards. 

Upper Deck Series 2 – UD2 picks up where UD1 leaves off, with a fresh collection of 200 base cards and even more Young Guns®️. This set also includes popular UD Canvas®️ and other great insert cards.

SPx – This product offers plenty of autographs, jersey cards, and rookie autograph jersey cards. Various inserts are exciting to collect, but the Shadowbox rookie cards and UD Black Obsidian cards are real show-stoppers. This set is great for technology fans as well as memorabilia, autograph, and rookie collectors. 

SP Authentic – This product includes a series of sought-after Future Watch®️ autographed rookie cards. Sign of the Times®️ cards feature multi-signed cards, which are a real thrill to pull. If you love rookies and autograph cards, you might consider this set.