“Hey, man. That’s not an SP. It’s a Parallel.” – Knowing the Difference and Actually Separating the Two Terms.

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You finally pulled that Brian Bosworth Tie-Dyed auto /25 that you’ve been chasing for a month. You check eBay comps and see that it’s been selling for $4 more than you had thought! Get that thing listed! Like so many other eBay sellers, you’re about to do it wrong. Again.

Not All Numbered Cards Are Short Prints

Two little letters of the alphabet – S and P. When put together, (SP) they abbreviate the words “Short Print“. That sweet, sweet auto /25 of the Boz and his golden mullet of awesomeness, unfortunately, is not one. I hear you already, “But Jason, there’s only 25 of those EVER made! Of course it’s a short print! You’re dumb!” Nope. Still wrong.

You see, Topps and Panini will designate certain cards in their checklists as SP’s, SSP’s (Super Short Prints), and even SSSP’s (Super Super Short Prints). These cards hardly ever have parallels, or a different version of the same photo, such as a colored background, surface treatment, or graphic design tweaks. They are not serial numbered (usually, exceptions exist, but very rare, not the model here). They have the same kind of checklist number that the base cards have, and may be a photo variation of an existing card in the set sharing the same checklist number entirely, or they can be a standalone card in the set that is just extremely hard to pull. They can be easy to skip over if you don’t know what you’re looking for, hence the no parallels or serial numbers.

How To Identify a Short Print (SP) or Super Short Print (SSP) Card

Here are a few easy ways to ensure you don’t miss out on an SP, SSP, or SSSP when ripping packs:

  • Look up the list of short prints in a set. SP’s will be noted as such in the official checklists for any particular set. This is your most reliable option.
  • Unique images – SP cards often have a unique photo on them, whereas parallels often feature the same photo with minor border color changes or other minor differences.
  • Special Identifiers – Some companies or sets will use specific identifiers on the cards. For example, Donruss often uses their old throwback logo on SP cards.
  • Take Note Of Card Direction – Sometimes when opening packs the SP, SSP, and SSSP cards will be facing the opposite way.

What Are Parallels?

Parallels are a lot more common to pull or find for sale, and almost ALL of them listed for sale are erroneously labeled as an SP, or the smaller the serial number is, the more (S)’s they put before the “P”. If the card has the same image of the athlete, basic card design, front and back, the same spot on the checklist, but the border is blue and it’s numbered to 150, or /3, or anything at all, or not numbered at all, it’s still just a parallel.

Same image, but die-cut, scratch-n-sniff, purple and green foil cracked ice and it’s non-numbered? Still not an SP, SSP or BBD or SBD. It’s a non-numbered parallel. This goes for the vast majority of the cards released and floating around the internet today. Let’s try to keep them away from each other on the playground. They might seem to get along at first, but there’s a reason for their separation. Two completely different types of cards, and two different rarities/values. I have found that trying to explain this to someone that labels EVERYTHING that’s not a base card as an SP, is one of the hardest things to do in this hobby. Most “collectors” that have not been taught the correct usage of the terms early on in their cardboard journies, will fight tooth and nail about this.

Join The Club Of Collectors Who Actually Know The Difference!

People hate to be told they’re wrong about anything, let alone accept it. It’s an uphill battle, but I’ll eventually get one to concede and convert. Maybe. It’s right up there with me pulling a Trout auto. A feat I have yet to achieve…

That’s it for my first post on here. Shout out to Ryan for providing the opportunity to rant & inform. Let me know in the comments what I left out, why you (wrongly) disagree, or not.

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