How Many Cards Aren’t Actually Produced?

This article started ever so innocently.  I purchased a few packs of Topps Heritage at Walmart and pulled a Kyle Schwarber Clubhouse Collection Gold Relic #/99.  Right away, I knew I was going to flip this card because I’m not a Cubs fan and Schwarber is a good seller.  When I looked at completed sales on eBay, I was quite surprised at the selling prices that others had finished at.  But, I just chalked it up to Schwarber being popular and nothing more.  I also thought it was odd that the non-gold version wasn’t anywhere to be found in the completed sales, but again, didn’t think too much about it.

Well, here’s where it gets good!

I listed my copy for sale on eBay recently and the bids poured in and the price kept rising. It rose to a price I couldn’t believe, finishing at $91. The previous eBay listing of this card ended at slightly less than $39 in late May. So, if you can read between the lines here, this card is not easy to come by as it’s limited to 99 copies and only two showed up for sale in about 45 days.

A few hours before my auction ended, a fellow eBay member sent me a message informing me why this card was fetching so many bids. He explained that the regular version, the non-serial numbered/non-gold Schwarber relic, had not been produced by Topps due to a lack of materials. He instantly had my attention and I requested more information such as proof of this conversation he had with someone from Topps. Luckily, he still had the email correspondence (shown below) from Joe Kellachan, Vice President of Supply Chain at Topps.

What I don’t know is what preceded this conversation. But, from this email, I feel as if I have almost all of the information I need. 

The missing piece of information is was this information public knowledge prior to this email? If so, where does Topps report this kind of news? If it wasn’t public knowledge, why not? This is a prime example of why all of the “industry haters” bad mouth companies like Topps, Panini, etc. 

What if I was trying to put the Topps Heritage Clubhouse Collection set together and the only one I needed was Schwarber? How long would I have gone not knowing that the card was never produced even though it was part of the checklist? Would Topps have ever made this public knowledge without being prompted? 

I know, too many unanswered questions. But, the biggest question is “how many times has this happened before without anyone knowing?” There’s no way you can convince me that this has never happened before. The scary part is that it probably happened more times than they’d like to or ever will admit and collectors are none the wiser. 

When instances like these occur, I’d like to think that collectors would be forgiving if Topps had been more forthcoming and made it known without being asked. Each company should have a weekly news update reporting these types of occurrences the same way that Panini has their Weekly Redemption Report. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It’s news. But, it should exist. 

Maybe this will make its way onto an executive’s desk at Topps or Panini or the like and a change will be made. I doubt it will happen but we can all dream, can’t we?


  1. Famously, there were 4 “missing” cards in the 1955 Topps set. Topps and Bowman were in competition at the time so some players would sign exclusivity deals with one or the other. Topps ran into contractual issues after they’d prepared their checklist and didn’t print them (double printing others instead). No internet (or anything like it) back then, so you’d have to guess that kids were buying tons of packs looking to complete their sets that, technically, were already complete.

    Then there’s the whole Alex Gordon fiasco, but that’s another story for another day.

  2. It seems like memorabilia cards are more problematic to complete than I would have thought. Topps failed to produce a 2012 Five Star Tim Hudson/Tommy Hanson relic auto booklet to 10 that I had 2 redemptions in for and gave me basically the same reasoning. The process to exchange was excruciating and took 5 months. I have sworn off their products baser on this experience and caution others before purchasing that this is a possibility, their customer service is deplorable and getting worse. Excellent article!

Leave a Reply