Finally securing a 'White Whale' for one's collection is a feeling like no other.
This week, one of my 10+ year hobby whales, arguably my most wanted card, came home... and then some.
I don't know what it was, but I knew I would someday track down the elusive 2009-2010 Upper Deck Fleer Ultra Rookie Ice Medallion Parallel #/25, but the way in which I did truly surprised me.
Earlier in my card collecting "career", I had heard numorous whispers of this card never being made, despite seeing countless other players in the set, ranging in popularity at the time. Whether it was Enroth collectors or not, there was a general agreement on how rare these cards were, which lead to the assumption that they were never made, even despite the relatively large print run on a modern rookie-year card.
In 2009-2010 Upper Deck Fleer Ultra, the main rookie cards, along with the Gold and Ice Medallion parallels /25 were inserted into packs, while an additional 20 players' Ultra Rookies (and parallels) were packed out as redemption cards to be claimed at a later date, since they had yet to reach the NHL level yet (Gustavsson, Tavares, Karlsson, etc). This is where the mystery begins.
As a player collector since 2010, I have only heard of one of these Jhonas Enroth Ice Medallion parallels sell. A lone eBay auction in November of 2011, selling for a whopping $70 USD + Shipping, which was standard pricing for Enroth's cards at the time.
Since then? ....Nothing. Not a picture of another copy, not a completed sale, not a rumbling of anyone having one. The existance of this card had essentially dropped off the face of the earth, slighty being kept alive by the old, wrinkled up paper that is my wantlist. I was stumped. Surely somebody would have a copy of one, no? I mean, a card numbered #/25 couldn't be that rare, can it?
As of last week, that mystery had finally been solved! After hitting eBay one night, a huge bulk seller on eBay had listed multiple lots of 2009-2010 Ultra Rookie Ice Medallion parallels for sale, including 21 Enroth's....... yes, 21 of the 25 had been listed in a single auction. After bidding on the lot like my life depended on it, I had secured the win.... the card is coming home.
So what's the deal with these Ice Medallion rookie cards? During the late 2000's, there was a lot of fun stuff going on in the hobby and Upper Deck had also been known to occassionaly distribute bonus items (old cards from the warehouse, complete sets of proofs, promo cards, etc) with damaged card cases or redemption replacements.
My suspicion is that the Jhonas Enroth's Ultra Ice Medallion's #/25, along with a few other players, were held back from the initial pack-out, accidentally being mistaken for one of the redemption rookie paralles. After Upper Deck realized that a few of the players were not being redeemed, thinking their redemption cards were inserted in packs and realizing they weren't, these rare cards were "dumped" onto the secondary market as 'random' redemption replacements in order to make things right and to honor the checklist that had been released. I suspect they gave away these cards straight into the hands of an unsuspecting collector(s) around late 2009, early 2010, or even as late as 2011.
There is also the possibility that these grouping of Ice Medallion rookie cards were taken by an employee at the time to hang onto, and they later distributed them on their own, otherwise known as "back-doored" cards. This would not be the first time this has happened in the sports card industry.
That may not be the case of course, but seeing how these Ice Medallion parallel cards were kept it large groupings over the years, with all the cards having a similar pristine condition, I am sure that is what could've happened. Large (almost) complete print runs don't just fall out of the clear blue sky like that, plus I have heard stories from collectors over the years, verifying that these things have happened in the past when they have fulfilled their redemptions or replacement cards, or later seeing cards finding a channel onto the secondary market like eBay, COMC, etc.
Nevertheless, these cards arrived today and what a sight they are to behold. I'm no bulk buyer, and the only duplicates I keep are cards that hold some significance or were given to me, but I just couldn't help but try and knock off a 11-year-old card and own 84% of the print run in one shot. These chances don't come along for anyone, let alone a player collector chasing a 'old' set like I am.
I had originally thought of selling these and keeping one for my collection, but how cool would it be to track down the remaining 4 copies (#2, #3, #4, #5) to own all 25 copies of a single card? I'm not sure about you guys, but that is something I've never seen done before. I've seen 5, 10 before, but 25 is something that I had always thought was outside the realm of possibility.
I doubt I'll ever complete this 25-card Ice Medallion run, but who knows. I'm going to try my best to do just that.
21 of The 25 copies of this Ice Medallion Parallel:
Pretty cool, isn't it? 21 of the 25 Enroth Ice Medallion parallels are now in my collection. So insane.
Do you have a White Whale story for me? A card that you never thought you'd ever find? Drop a comment in the comment section below!
- Aaron / Creasecollctor
Also, if you haven't heard, we talked about those White Whale cards on Episode 6 of the Center Ice Card Cast, a hockey card podcast I also co-host. Feel free to give us a listen!
(Availible on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, YouTube, or wherever you get your podcasts).
Author - Aaron
I've been collecting Hockey cards since the late 90's. Mainly the goalies since 2005. I also Co-Host a Hockey Card Podcast.
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