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Topps Admits To Issuing Topps “First Card” 1/1s Without Stamping Them

first card missing in 2024 topps series 1

Topps Series 1 is the most important baseball release of the year. They call that and Series 2 and Update flagship. That makes the first release literally the flagship of the flagship.

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And the 2024 Topps Series 1 release is a nice one. It is very well-designed and has some remarkable parallels and inserts. However, once again, Fanatics seem to have screwed up the 1/1 cards in the release.

With much fanfare, the company announced that there would be a “First Card” 1/1 of every one of the base cards in the release. But when the boxes dropped, no one could find them.

After a few days of confusion and accusation, Topps finally admitted their mistake. How big a deal is this, and what happens to people with these cards now? Read on for all the answers you seek.

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What are the “First Card” designations in 2024 Topps Series 1?

As an excellent new part of the Series 1 flagship release, Topps has announced that it will designate the first copy that it prints as the “First Card.” That would make these cards a unique 1/1 card, and in a hobby where scarcity is now everything, that was a welcome move.

Indeed, Topps introduced this innovation with pride as one of the major selling points for 2024 Topps Series 1 Baseball.

The design was supposed to feature a clear logo with “First Card” in white lettering above the team logo.

It was one of four 1/1 parallels in the 2024 Topps Series 1 release. The others were Birds (in holiday blasters only), the Platinum parallel and the Printing Plates series (with Black, Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow versions).

Many people were happy to see this cool innovation. However, there were some complaints. One Instagram account went off: “Yup. Keep the gimmicks coming! That way, every card across all parallels can already have 30 different 1/1s….enough.”

Topps also announced that they would spend an entire day printing only those cards, which would be how they launched the awaited flagship product. There is no question this is a fantastic initiative.

Therefore, it is pretty embarrassing for Topps and Fanatics that this designation they promoted was not included in any of the cards.

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People realize the “First Card” Stamps are missing

2024 Topps Series 1 was released on February 14th, before Valentine’s Day. As you would expect, the company robustly promoted it on social media and elsewhere.

On February 16th, they put a post on Instagram (which Topps has bravely not removed now), saying, “Wondering what that stamp means? 🤔 We’ve got you covered! #ToppsSeriesOne.” With a picture of a card with that “First Card” designation.

People happily ripped the cards for a few days, but then an unclear 1/1 parallel started turning up. One that was not marked.

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The plot thickens

Our hobby has some sharp people in it, and when cards are missing from the checklist, they don’t miss it for long.

A week later, on February 20th, a user on Blowout Forums first raised questions about these inserts, wondering why none had been seen yet: “Are the “First Card” stamps real? Bunch of platinum 1/1s on eBay but zero of these.”

It was on page 92 of a long-assed thread on 2024 Series 1 Baseball. But after that, the issue started to dominate the conversation. Another user pulled a 1/1 Mookie Betts All-Star patch and noted that it was weirdly marked.

“I know Topps gets creative with their premium products, making lots of slightly different 1/1s, but this is new territory. Identical 1/1’s except for the patch.” Soon, eBay was advertising 1/1s, speculating that the “First Card” logo was missing.

By February 25th, the first YouTube videos on the issue started coming out. Streamers noted that they had not seen the hide or hair of any of the 1/1 “First Cards” on social media or eBay.

But instead, mysterious 1/1s with no designation were being seen all over. And by then, it seemed every rare designation in the checkbox had been seen for one card or another. So that raised a lot of questions.

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YouTube video

Topps customers start to complain

On February 21st, an X account with the handle @jefftalkingcards Tweeted,” Hey @Topps, are these 1/1 base cards the “first card” stamps that are first base card off the press?”

He was among many to receive these weird cards that did not fall into any of the four 1/1 designations in the release. Indeed, aside from the 1/1 on the back, they looked like every other card of its kind.

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The next day, a post appeared on Reddit about the issue. A user posted a picture of one of the cards in question. They alerted everyone that they should “check the backs of your Series 1s. Another mess up. No “First Card” stamp on the front. Just 1/1 on the back of base cards.”

Some customers thought it was a regular base card with a mistake. Others wondered if it was the Platinum parallel. However, that has a very distinctive look and cannot be confused with these normal-looking base cards.

When the first bemused customers approached Topps, they were met with either confusion or incredulity.

One customer told Cardlines he sent in the complaint and received the following message: “I apologize for the confusion with the Series 1 cards. I was unable to find a reference to a “First Card” stamp in any of our checklists. My colleagues and I are unfamiliar with this term, and the eBay auction did not provide more details.”

That is an embarrassing reaction, considering that the term appears in the Topps checklists, was referenced on their social media, and played a fairly central role in the promotional campaign.

Adding to this, other hobby enthusiasts noticed issues with the 2024 Topps Series 1 Baseball. Embarrassingly, they were also related to 1/1s. Some of the Platinum 1/1s were reportedly missing the platinum-colored border.

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Topps responds to the “First Card” controversy

As more collectors began to complain directly to Topps about the missing “First Card” designation, they took a few days to take action. However, the Fanatics-owned company announced the mistake on its social media on February 27, 2024.

 The statement read: “Collecting community, we know that Topps Series 1 Baseball’s first cards were inadvertently released without the “First Card” designation. These cards are identifiable by the 1/1 numbering in the lower right-hand corner of the back of the card. For those who may have pulled these cards, we would like to offer to stamp these cards with “First Card” as well as provide you with Topps credit. To initiate a request for the stamp and Topps credit, please go to your Topps.com account to file a claim.

Should you have any further questions or require support, please contact Topps Customer Service at Support@Topps.com.”

We are glad to see that Topps has taken responsibility for the problem and is willing to take concrete steps to make it up to collectors. I reached out to Fanatics and Topps for comment on the issue, but they have not responded as of the time of writing.

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What does this mean for the value of “First Card” items?

This story doesn’t make Fanatics look particularly good. But it isn’t necessarily going to be very harmful to the owners of these 1/1 cards.

The story is making waves throughout the hobby. That is, again, not good news for Topps. However, it does bring attention to these 1/1 cards that they would not otherwise have.

We checked to see if any had sold so far on eBay. We saw two. A Jose Fremin, which sold for $400, and a Miami Marlins card that went for $250. These seem like good prices for those unspectacular 1/1s. The increased fame given to this will probably help prices somewhat, since now everyone is aware of this parallel.

One thing we are not sure about is whether the cards will be worth more if you stamp them or not. Time will tell. There is always a chance that these cards will become well-known error cards.

If so, stamping them may lower the value somewhat. But either way, I am guessing this will raise the value of the cards in the long term. However, that value could be undercut by possible forgeries. More on that below.

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Some small questions that remain open

With the retroactive stamps, it is unclear what that replacement stamp would look like. Would it be identical to the mock up, with the white lettering as previously promised by Fanatics?

Or would they put a manual stamp on the cards, which would look different? In addition, Topps has not yet informed collectors of the turnaround time for the stamping process.

Then, there is another thought I find painful. Breakers open a lot of these products. An increasing amount of the money spent on this hobby now goes through these outfits. As we all know, most breakers throw the base cards in the trash.

Sadly, an increasing number of collectors now follow suit. Therefore, we have to wonder: how many people just threw these 1/1 cards into the garbage without doing due diligence and checking the back?  Others may shove them in a box with all of their base cards, never to be seen again. What a waste.

Then there is the question of forgeries. Creating fake versions of these is far easier than most valuable cards. All you need to do is get a stamp with a 1/1 and go to town on the regular base cards. That is why we caution you to be very careful when buying these off eBay.

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Some big questions that remain open

But these are merely small details. The real question is, why have there been so many quality control issues involving Topps recently?

And more specifically, there seem to be repeated problems with their 1/1 printing. Back in October, we discovered that Topps had printed at least three versions of some of its 2023 Bowman Chrome Superfractors cards of Cleveland Guardians up-and-coming prospect Juan Benjamin.

At the time, Topps assured collectors, “We take these matters seriously. We have identified and addressed the issue and implemented new procedures to prevent this from happening again. Rest assured that we are focused on delivering great products for collectors. We have made and will continue to invest significantly in improving our manufacturing and operational processes. We hold ourselves accountable to the hobby and will continue to work tirelessly to improve the experience of collectors.”

We now must wonder. What measures has Topps taken to prevent this sort of thing from happening again? There seems to be something faulty in the way the company is printing its 1/1s. It is worth remembering that Fanatics came into this hobby promising a higher standard of service and production than we had ever seen before.

Furthermore, they had also counter-sued Fanatics and accused them of shoddy printing practices and mistakes, among other things. Their lawsuit even quoted articles I wrote citing errors made by Panini. However, in their short time in charge of Topps, they have made no shortage of mistakes and missteps themselves.

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How the hobby has been reacting

The mistake that Topps made is, of course, not a huge deal. There are more significant problems in the hobby than this kind of oversight. But that hasn’t stopped people from expressing concerns over how common these Topps mistakes are becoming.

Because the solution Topps has offered involves sending the cards to be stamped, some collectors are concerned that it will take too long to receive the cards back.

For example, one Reddit user joked, “Idk if I’d be willing to send my 1/1 back to Topps, lol. I can imagine waiting for it to come back 6 months later.”

Then another replied, “Sorry we damaged/lost your card, here’s a Wander Franco to make up for it!” referring, of course, to the recent scandals that have brought down the value of Wander Franco cards. Another humorous individual exclaimed, “I’m going to buy a stamper and start making all of my cards 1 of 1s.”

Others were surprised that this element was bungled because it had gotten so much attention previously.

One Reddit user wrote, “I am surprised they fucked this up. This was supposed to be a new feature. They even advertised about it. I can’t believe they didn’t want to see the result after it was printed out and see it with their own eyes before the first one was packaged. You would think they would say let’s take a look at this thing before it gets sent out.


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Final word on the missing “First Card” stamp

Topps seems to have a recurring problem with 1/1s. Considering that there are often the most valuable cards in the product, that can be a fairly serious problem. Part of it seems to stem from having too many 1/1 cards in many of these products.

Indeed, that was one of the hobby enthusiasts’ concerns when this project was announced, and it cheapened the whole concept.

Then, there is also a quality control problem. What is so difficult for many of us to wrap our heads around is how this happened with such high-profile cards. The “First Card” 1/1 items were among the product’s main selling points, at least in the Topps media campaign.

They even claimed to have set a day aside to print those. Couldn’t they have checked that they were done correctly? That is especially puzzling after promising to pay more attention following the Bowman Chrome 1/1 issue.

Of course, this is not a terrible mistake, and the owners of these cards will probably not experience a significant loss in value. Maybe the opposite. We are also happy that Topps responded to this issue within a few days with a clear plan on what to do.

All we ask is that more care be taken with 1/1s in the future, as Fanatics takes over the rights to all the major sports in America.

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Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim is the emeritus editor of Cardlines. He continues to write for several hobby outlets, including this one and Cardbase. He collects primarily vintage baseball and soccer and has a weird obsession with 1971 Topps.

In his spare time, Shaiel is sobbing into his bourbon when the Mets lose and playing Dungeons and Dragons. In a past life, Dr. Ben-Ephraim was a political science professor, journalist, and diplomat. But cards are more fun.
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