Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Diminished Attraction of Refraction

1993 Topps Finest Refractor #73
I was looking through an old Beckett Baseball Card Monthly I still have from my younger collecting days and noticed an article titled, "The Attraction of Refraction", by Tol Broome. The article discussed the popularity of Refractors in the mid to late 90's, starting with the groundbreaking initial release. With the glut of Refractors in the hobby today and the additional emphasis placed on memorabilia cards and autographs, it is easy for collectors to forget how rare and popular these cards once were.

I remember the hype surrounding the 1993 Finest Refractors and even for other later issues (At the time of this article the 1996 Finest Refractors were extremely popular with their bronze, silver and gold tiered format, so were the Micky Mantle reprint Refractors). I wanted one of these cards and it did not matter who the player was, but even the common players were expensive. As a teenager in high school, I had a limited budget that prohibited me from trying to pick one up. I had never heard of the set in 1993 and by the time I knew of it's existence, people had realized how scarce these cards were, placing them altogether out of my price range .

My chance to own a 1993 Finest Refractor came at a card show in 1996. A dealer had opened a box and was selling packs for ten dollars. This was the first time I had ever seen packs of the product and I decided to buy two. Ultimately, I did not pull a Refractor. I was never able to own a 1993 Finest Refractor and still today do not have one in my collection, but I do have about a dozen Finest base cards that I now (more than in 96') appreciate for their high quality and unique design and can understand why collectors in the Fall of 1993 went crazy for the issue.

Through the years I have always liked Refractors and as far as parallels go, they have always been my favorite. Even today a well designed card with the Refractor technology can really make a card pop and stand out. Since that card show I managed to acquire a few other Refractors issued in the late 1990's( I did pull a 96' Finest Refractor of Chuck Knoblauch, that I still have) and will end with one of my favorite examples from my collection. This card came from a Topps hobby pack in 1997.

1997 Topps Mickey Mantle Refractor Reprint #23
Still one of my favorite cards, even the appeal of this image seems somewhat diminished due to the over saturation of Micky Mantle cards since 1996. In the coming years maybe the concept of, "less is more" would benefit both the Mick and Refractors.

1 comment:

  1. If you have any Refractors in your collection that still have that protective coating you gotta do yourself a favor and peel those suckers off. The true beauty of the card lies beneath.

    I agree with you. With all of the parallels in the hobby through the history and today Refractors still stand out as some of the best.