A 20-Year-Old Redemption Fulfilled, and Why I Have Never Been a Happier Collector

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Lew Dawson 1997 LeafI started collecting cards during the late 1980s (baseball, football, and eventually basketball) and can honestly say that I have never enjoyed collecting more than I currently do.  Note, this is not equivalent to saying that I enjoy modern cards the most (my favorite era to collect is actually the late 1990s).  But before I go further into my discussion about enjoying The Hobby, let me provide a brief anecdote:

This story begins in December 2016.  I had just created LinguaSportsCards.com and was looking for topics to talk about.  To that end, I ordered a few boxes of 1990s cards from online sellers.  One of these boxes was 1997 Leaf football.  Inside one of the packs was a redemption for an autographed Len Dawson card numbered to /1948. I took a picture of the redemption card, and posted it on Twitter.  I did not get much of a reaction.  I wasn’t looking to redeem the card (it expired in 1998), I just thought that such an old redemption card might make for an interesting talking point.  I did call Panini a couple of times to make an inquiry, but never got a response back from my voice messages (I never actually reached a human to talk to).  I wasn’t too let down, however. After all, it had been nearly 20 years since the redemption expired.  I quickly moved on.

Fast forward to about a week ago.  Out of the blue Sparty Hawk Cache LLC (Twitter handle @SpartyHawkCache) responded to my year-old tweet and suggested that I tweet to Brian Gray at Leaf and/or to Panini at @PaniniCSM.  Before I even had the chance to respond, Panini tweeted to inform me that they still had an extra copy of the Len Dawson auto.  After providing my contact information, I received the card in two days.  I never had to physically submit the hardcopy of the redemption card.

I know there are different feelings towards Panini products and customer service these days.  I just wanted to point out that I had a very positive experience.  They went above and beyond, and I am very appreciative.  Also, I want to thank Sparty Hawk Cache for getting the ball rolling.  The only issue here is that Len Dawson had long retired by 1997, and as such, this card doesn’t really fit into my collection.  As I have mentioned elsewhere, I only collect cards that feature players who were active at the time manufacture.

So, why am I having more fun collecting now than ever before:

• Because I am from a small town, I grew up collecting in relative isolation.  I never had a local card shop as a kid, and never really had anybody to collect with after turning 12. But now through my website, YouTube Channel, and Twitter (and interacting with fellow collectors on their own social media projects), I feel a part of the larger collecting community.
• I am a better collector now because I am more informed than I ever have been.  There is a remarkable amount of information available to learn about The Hobby.  I rarely regret any acquisition that I make.
• I spend 90% of my collecting funds on singles.  This is the real key for me.  As I have gotten older, I have become much more disciplined.  Instead of losing out on the gamble that is associated with opening boxes, I find that going straight for singles has helped me create a stronger, more focused collection than I have ever had.

I’ve come and gone from The Hobby a couple of times during my life.  I am sure that I will never leave it again.

What is the longest expired redemption that you have ever had redeemed?

Word of the Day

refulgence – a radiant or resplendent quality or state; the refulgence of a full moon on a clear autumn night


  1. While getting to Panini’s support can be a task at times, I while say they are 2nd to none in regard to their service. Maybe slow, and as I mentioned, slow responding. But when they get into gear, their desire to make everything right is hard to complain about.


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