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Super Bowl XLVII Match-Up Set: Collecting the Baltimore Ravens

by Rob Bertrand (01/24/13).

A Baltimore Ravens team-signed helmet. It’s best to have 22 offensive and defensive starters, as well as the coach, to sign the ball to be considered a
“team-signed.”

In a recent article we talked about collecting Super Bowl memorabilia that commemorates the actual event itself. However, now that the teams to face off in the big game have been determined, let’s examine some of the available collectibles from the Baltimore Ravens and their star players.

Since relocating the franchise from Cleveland in 1996, the Baltimore Ravens have appeared in the playoffs nine times, winning the AFC Conference Championship in the year 2000 in route to their first Super Bowl win against the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV. Twelve years later, the team makes a return trip after their recent victory over the New England Patriots.

Transformed from a defensive-oriented team, the Raven’s offense, led by quarterback Joe Flacco, has provided much-needed scoring consistency on that side of the football. The passing attack of Flacco and wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith is complimented by a balanced running game from Ray Rice. Here is a look at some of their key rookie cards:

Quarterback Joe Flacco’s (38) rookie cards were released in 2008 products and come from a wide variety of manufactures and brands, ranging in price from $1 to $2,000. We’ll highlight a few of the more popular ones at each collectible level.

Joe Flacco’s Presitige Rookie Card in his University of Delaware uniform.

Joe Flacco’s Exquisite Rookie Card with autograph and a swatch of his uniform.

Joe Flacco’s Topps Chrome Rookie Card.

Entry-level: Bowman #170, Upper Deck #251, Playoff Prestige #151;
Mid-range: Bowman Chrome #BC61, Topps Finest #105, Topps Chrome #TC170;
High-end: Absolute Memorabilia #270 Autographed Jersey #/299; Playoff National Treasures #112 Autographed Patch #/99; Topps Triple Threads #104 Autographed Jersey #/89; SP Authentic #295 Autographed Jersey #/999; Upper Deck Exquisite #170 Autographed Patch #/99.

Wide Receiver Anquan Boldin’s several dozen rookie cards were released in 2003 products and range in value from $1 to $300.

Anquan Boldin’s Topps Rookie Card.

Anquan Boldin’s Playoff Contenders Rookie Card with his autograph.

Anquan Boldin’s Bowman Chrom Rookie Card.

Entry-level: Upper Deck RC Star Rookie # 226; Bowman RC #155, Topps #348;
Mid-range: Bowman Chrome #136; Topps Finest #64;
High-end: SP Authentic Patch #/850; Playoff Contenders #146 Autographed #/524; SPx #191 Autographed/Jersey #/25.

Wide Receiver Torrey Smith also has dozens of rookie cards that were released in 2011 products and range in value from $1 to $400.

Torrey Smith’s Topps Supremes Rookie Card witih signature and a swatch of uniform.

Torrey Smith’s Topps Chrome Rookie Card.

Torrey Smith’s National Treasures Rookie Card with an autograph and a swatch of his uniform.

Entry-level: Topps Chrome #97 Certified #34 Jersey #/50;
Mid-range: Topps Supreme Autographed/Jersey #/50; Playoff Contenders #230 Autographed;
High-end: National Treasures Autographed/Patch #/49; Topps Precision Autographed/Patch #/25.

The stout and powerful running back for the Ravens, Ray Rice’s rookie cards debuted in 2008 and range from $1 to $800.

Ray Rice’s Bowman Sterling Rookie Card with a swatch of uniform.

Ray Rice’s Exquisite Rookie Card with autograph and a swatch of his uniform.

Ray Rice’s Topps Chrome Rookie Card with autograph.

Entry-level: Bowman Sterling #153 Jersey #/399; Bowman Chrome #BC73;
Mid-range: Topps Chrome #187 Autographed; SPx Autographed/Jersey #/199;
High-end: Upper Deck Exquisite #162 Autographed/Patch #/ 199; National Treasures #107 Autographed/Patch #/10.

Ray Lewis’ Bowman’s Best Rookie Card.

While the offense is electric and fun to watch, there is no denying the fact that the heart, soul and face of the franchise is middle linebacker, Ray Lewis. A 14-year veteran of the league, Lewis announced his planned retirement at the beginning of the season and has the opportunity to go out a champion. Lewis’ rookie cards suffer from having been produced in an era when the industry was going through a transformation. As a result, he has just seven rookie cards, his most popular card being his Bowman’s Best card #164. Because his rookie cards were produced before manufactures started making cards with game-used material and autographs, the value of his cards are strictly dependent on condition and can command four figures for high-grade examples.

When it comes to team signed memorabilia, full-size helmets and official footballs are the preferred collectible of choice. To be considered a “team-signed,” items need to have all starting roster players, as well as the head coach Jim Harbaugh. While that equation defines the ideal, signed pieces with fewer names are still desirable from a collectability standpoint. However, it is important that all the key players be present to maximize the pieces value. The must have names would be: Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Brendon Ayanbadejo, Courtney Upshaw, Michael Oher, Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin, Justin Tucker, Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Bernard Pollard, Dennis Pitta and Jim Harbaugh. While this list only includes 14 signatures, a team-signed item with these players would represent all the key stars on both sides of the ball.

A Baltimore Ravens team-signed ball. It’s best to have 22 offensive and defensive starters, as well as the coach, to sign the ball to be considered a
“team-signed.”

When it comes to any autographed memorabilia item, proof of authenticity is a must. The increased demand for Super Bowl team-signed items creates the ideal marketplace for forgers. Items issued directly from the team or the NFL will be accompanied with their own tamper-proof certificates and are the strongest form of authentication. Third-party authenticators like PSA/DNA are acceptable alternatives, but even third-party companies make mistakes. As with everything collectible, buyer-beware.

We’ll take a look at rookie cards and collectibles from the San Francisco 49ers in an upcoming article.

Rob Bertrand has been an active collector of sports cards and memorabilia for more than 20 years. His involvement in the hobby community is well documented, having been the content manager for the Card Corner Club website before the company’s merger with CardboardConnection in 2011, where he is now a staff writer and multimedia content producer. Rob is also the co-host of the sports collectibles hobby’s only live and nationally broadcast radio show, Cardboard Connection Radio. He is the author of the highly respected and trafficked blog, Voice of the Collector and you can follow him on Twitter @VOTC. A dealer himself, Rob runs an online business through eBay, and is frequently asked to consign collections.

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