One word to describe Allen and Ginter: eclectic. The set is based on John Allen and Lewis Ginter who formed a tobacco company in the 1800s and were one of the first to issue trading cards. This design each year has the same antique feel with art instead of photography as the basis of the card front. In addition, the set logo and “BKNY” for Brooklyn, New York adorn the front. The back is a plain off-white with various statistics using an antique font.
The checklist of Allen and Ginter seems to be the sticking point with many collectors and breakers – not because of who is missing but rather because of who is in the product. Traditionalists only want baseball players, but the eclectic nature of A & G enables people in other sports, the entertainment world and other facets of life to have a presence on the checklist. The base set includes 300 cards plus 50 SP’s. (One extremely odd note on the SP’s – the base set ends at # 300 but the SP’s start at # 351 which means there are no cards in the missing 50 with no explanation for this from Topps) The majority of the checklist is baseball players with a combination of current stars, previous stars, and rookies. The non-baseball is a broad mix including such notables as hobby influencer Gary V, Mike Oz who hosts an online program opening packs with celebs, Mayumi Seto who paints the Topps Living Set, Dan Rather from TV news and a card honoring of all things, the egg, among others.
Allen and Ginter checks boxes for me as a set builder because of its 350 base set count. But parallel collectors have plenty to chase with Mini, Allen and Ginter Back Mini, Black Number Mini, Gold Number Mini, No Number Mini, Brooklyn Back Mini, Framed Mini Printing Plate, Glossy, Glossy Mini and Wood Mini. Those who want to chase hits then see the Insert and Auto/Relic sections below. Plus, with so many inserts and variations, the player and team collector have plenty to go after in their quest for completion.
Favorite Parallel/Insert Set
In addition to the parallels to the base set I already mentioned, Ginter (as many call it, sorry Allen) has plenty in the way of inserts. Ginter Greats is 50 cards focused on some of the best players ever. Baseball Star Signs fits A & G perfectly with top players and their astrological sign. In fact, each has the feel of an old circus poster featuring a performer. For those looking for non-baseball, there is Mares and Stallions (enough said), Incredible Equipment which calls out weapons of some significant fictional characters and the History of Flight which connects as a mural from all of the individual cards. The Minis are getting in the insert act with Collectible Canines (our four-legged friends), Chugging Along (always have been a train fan), Dreams of Blue Ribbons (contests like you would see at picnic), In Bloom (flowers and plants), Look Out Below (waterfalls) and Lost Languages (as described). Box Loaders are back when you go the hobby box route. According to Twitter, most people’s Ginter dilemma is whether to rip it or keep it when getting a Rip Card. As for my favorite out of all of these, give me the Baseball Star Signs.
Autos and relics are abundant in Allen (figured I would try and give him some love that has been reserved for just Ginter). The Box Loaders have autos numbered to 15. Cut Signatures are 1/1’s focused on some athletes, entertainers, and others that have passed (think Dale Earnhardt, Lucille Ball, Robin Williams). There are 98 Framed Mini Autographs. Full-Size Autographs are available for 8 cards in blue and red ink. N43 Box Loaders have autos numbered to 15. Three employees of Topps are in the set numbered to 10. Autograph Relic Book Cards are numbered to 10 and feature 45 cards. Dual Autograph Relic Book Cards are a set of 20 cards that are also numbered to 10. Framed Mini Relics have 51 cards of current and retired players. Full-Size Relics come in two checklists of 64 and 56 cards respectively. Have Ball, Will Travel Token Relics are 50 cards numbered to 5 embedded with a token. Plus, there are relics for the non-sport collectors: DNA Mini Relics (featuring teeth and bones), Full Size Arrowhead Relics, Incredible Equipment Relics and Presidential Pieces Mini Relics.
Allen and Ginter is a unique niche product that is unlike any other. It got a bad rap this year for his non-baseball checklist which did not make a lot of sense since it has that every year. The message here is to collect what you want to collect: if you want to collect the base set, buy a box and then supplement it with lots. If you want to chase hits, buy a box or buy into breaks. If you want particular players or teams, hit the secondary market and search. You are not forced to collect anything you do not want to. Embrace what you want and leave what you don’t for someone else – there is at least someone out there that wants an egg card.
Overall Score 4.1/5.0