Being a team collector means there will constantly be cards you want and don't have. Or don't want, don't have, but feel some irrational compulsion to purchase anyway for some demented sense of completion.
Of course budget constraints add an added wrinkle of complication to this. So it's always nice to find a lower cost alternative for a card I'm interested in.
The card industry has never exactly been known for their sterling business practices. Whether it was sheets of 1989 Upper Deck reportedly being printed off well into the 90's, or Topps more modern practice of offering autograph redemptions for players who they don't and never will have under contract (which is why I didn't come anywhere near Pedro Alvarez auto redemptions a couple years ago), no company is above some questionable business practices.
It's amazing what finds it way out the back door of a card company. Or in some cases, the front door.
When Fleer went bankrupt in mid 2005, the assets were auctioned off, sending thousands of cards into the marketplaces from all corners of the Fleer warehouse.
Most of the time, I couldn't care less. But a few weeks ago a couple Fleer Bankruptcy cards caught my eye.
Unnumbered copies of some rare Fleer issues? Yes please. Realistically, the pack inserted versions of these cards have likely already hit the market and are now in a collection. And after all, I'm really interested in the card, not necessarily the rarity or serial number.
2004 Fleer Hot Prospects White Hot /1
2005 Fleer Showcase Red /15
Classic Clippings Final Edition /1
Now, all these cards are unnumbered versions, which definitely takes away from their appeal (and value) a bit. Presumably these copies were held back in case a damaged card was sent back for replacement. The original would be destroyed, and one of the extra copies serial numbered in its place. I can't imagine there would be more than one, maybe two, sheets of replacements printed for a 1/1. For higher numbered cards, there would presumably be a few more replacement copies available. But either way, these cards are almost as rare, if not just as rare, as their numbered counterparts.
The big difference? I paid a grand total of $6 for all 3 cards with shipping. Not bad for a couple cards that technically don't even exist.