2015 Murphy sparkle

A few weeks back I bowed out of an online auction for this card when the price hit $10. By the time the virtual hammer fell, the price stood at just over $25 with shipping.

So why is a 2015 Daniel Murphy card going for the price of a well-worn T206 Danny Murphy?

One magic word: sparkle.

Back in 2011, Topps celebrated its 60th anniversary in the baseball-card business by producing all manner of diamond-themed cards. The offerings ranged from Hope diamond and cognac diamond parallels, to die-cut diamond redemption cards, from diamond-embedded cards (which contained actual diamond chips), to a diamond-anniversary ring (which contained no actual diamonds, natch).

Topps had a few more tricks up its sleeve that year, and one that took collectors by surprise was the inclusion of 60 diamond “sparkle” cards in both series 1 and series 2. These cards were identical to their base-set counterparts, except for a prominent glint of light that was added digitally to the obverse photo.

No one knew how many of each card had been produced, although those who were paying attention ventured that 60 was a smart guess.

The company revived this variant in 2014, and brought it back again this year. Which brings us back to this Daniel Murphy card.

If you look closely at the back of his helmet, you will see a little burst of light, which is absent from the regular version of the card.

And it is this discreet sparkle that pushes the price of the card two decimals to the right of where you might expect it to be in the natural order of things…

5 comments on “Mets Card of the Week: 2015 Daniel Murphy

  • James Preller

    I feel like the baseball card industry lost its way with the “game-used” proliferation back in the 90s — is that the right time frame? — and it has never really recovered. All bells and whistles.

    If I were collecting today, I don’t think I’d touch a card that was made after 1975.

  • Brian Joura

    It’s amazing that a 1950s (or earlier) business model was successful all the way to the early 90s with virtually no change whatsoever. Even after Upper Deck, Topps and the others still sold base sets relatively cheap for a few years.

    I think your ’75 cutoff is a little odd. I can see ’73 (the last year they were issued in series) or ’80 (last year of Topps monopoly). It’s probably strange to me, also, in that I really like the ’76 and ’77 cards.

    • James Preller

      It used to be — I haven’t followed the prices in a while — that ’75 was the last Complete Set NRMT collection before values plummeted. ’75 has Brett & Yount RC, if I recall correctly.

      I’m not a collector, just picked up some random facts along the way.

      For looks, I love the garish quality of the ’75 set. I also like the black border of the 71 set. And, sure, I’ll take the classic ’52 set, thank you very much.

  • Doug Parker

    My initial wave of collecting went from 1970-1979, and I think my fondness for the sets probably follows along with the chronology of the decade.

    I remember the wide-eyed wonder with which I viewed the 1970-1973 sets. (For some reason, a 1971 Von Joshua strikes a particularly resonant chord. I’ve often wondered if there’s a specific buried event that I associate with that card…) The creeping cynicism of pre-teen years bleed into my feelings about the 1974-1977 sets, and 1978/1979 feel like a long goodbye.

  • Patrick Albanesius

    That’s an expensive glint. Who put out the series in the early 80’s that had a thick black top border, and the print on them were in color? I remember the Red print was pretty hard to see. I had a Sparky Anderson where I think he’s looking over his right shoulder. From my very limited research, it doesn’t look like Topps did anything like that around that time.

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