3/18/2013: Another complete set has surface and has been added to the list below. I now know of six complete sets.

Earlier this week I purchased a Cal Ripken, Jr. 1992 Donruss Super DK card for $1,250 off eBay. The Super DK is exactly the same card as the regular issue Diamond King, but it is much larger. The seller sent me some information on how he acquired the card which supports the details in the price guides about these cards being produced for use as salesperson samples:

"The set came from a guy who's mother was a sales rep at Donruss.  She went to the strategy meeting where they handed these out.  They never ended up going through with the proposal they had at that meeting, and the only cards that remained were the ones handed out to the sales reps.  He kept them in their original outer packaging for 20 years prior to selling it on ebay about a month ago.  The person that I bought the set from acquired them from this person.  Unfortunately the guy I bought from did not ask a question like:  "How many sales reps were there at that meeting".  If it were like any big company I would imagine that there were probably the heads of each region there, as well as maybe their assistants.  One person I know that is a big Frank Thomas collector thinks that there were less than 10 given out, which I could see.  I think that far less were kept, as if 10 were handed out, then that means there is a total of 270 cards out there (27 cards per set).  I have seen 1 listing prior to mine of a David Justice card during the past 4 years on ebay.  I'm thinking that there may be less than 5 or 6 still out there, and even less of the common guys in the set."
 
1992 Donruss Super DK
Cal Ripken, Jr. #DK-5
[Regular card for comparison]

 


These cards are certainly some of the most rare cards from the 1990s. Typically they are found with white spots on the front where the salesperson's folder has become stuck to the front of the card. Given this fact, it is nearly impossible to find them in mint condition. The price guides are so completely off the mark on the values it's ridiculous. They are so rare they really can't be priced accurately. The Beckett information I have lists the Cal Ripken, Jr. card for $150. I would buy all I could find at that price!

This particular card comes from an original sealed set handed out at the company meeting described above. A special thanks to the seller for taking the pictures below specifically for my blog:

UPDATE (2/7/2012 11:49 PM CST): I was searching completed eBay auctions and found three 1992 Donruss Super DK sets sold for a grand total of $560 due to poor titles (Oversize versus Super DK), lack of decent starting prices or reserves, lack of rarity/origin information, and for being confused with the smaller, common versions of the cards. The third auction listed below is incredibly crazy since it simply lists the cards as "Over Sized Jumbo Lot" in the title. Since the third auction occurred later, people were probably watching the original owner for more sets at that point.

Don't be fooled by these auction results though. These cards are worth significantly more than any of these auctions would indicate, perhaps in the thousands. Sadly, these auctions are probably what Beckett would notice since my transaction was not public, only adding to the vast undervaluing of these cards in the price guide.

A sealed set was also sold to the person I bought my Ripken from, however, he wasn't the high bidder in any of the sealed set auctions since his feedback number doesn't match the winning bidder's feedback number. I'm guessing he purchased it from one of the people who won the original auctions. In addition to the Ripken he sold me, he also sold another Ripken for $1,250 in a private transaction. Where did that one come from?

It made me a little sick to my stomach to see I could have bid on the entire set, not once, but three times, for a mere fraction of what I paid for one card from the set.

I seriously hope that is all I find out about because this is getting a little ridiculous. Although rare, given these new findings, perhaps these cards may not be as rare as originally thought and another small hoard awaits us.

UPDATE (2/8/2012 10:07 AM CST): The seller I purchased my Ripken from contacted me this morning and shed some light on where he got his first Ripken as well as the series of events surrounding the sale of these sets:

"Here is the sequence of events from the original seller of those two and a half sets:
 
$30/each for two sets -------> One of the original buyers flips it for a BIN of $500 that lasted less than 3 minutes on ebay to a big time baseball card buyer on ebay, the other buyer contacts me thanks to my original Ripken listing and I make him a blind offer of $2k for the set and he accepts.  I actually offered him $1k for the Thomas or $2k for the set and he took the money for the set.
 
The original seller was contacted by the person that bought the BIN for $500 and agrees to list the remaining cards he has from a third set for $500 as a BIN.
 
My first Ripken came from a card shop in MN called Southpaw Cards.  He bought the set from a dealer back in the early 90's and sold off the cards individually over the next 15+ years, with the Ripken being the last one.
 
I bought that Ripken prior to this whole sequence of events just hoping someone had the Frank Thomas from the same set to trade for it."

I have created a table listing the sales of these cards I am aware of:

  Sale Date Buyer Seller Item
[# indicates origin sale]
Price
1. 1/?/2012 toohot1999 Southpaw Cards Cal Ripken, Jr. single Paid $500 / Asking $600? [Sat for 2 years unsold at this price!]
2. 1/8/2012 d***c edye1286 - Donruss Rep's Son Sealed Set $27.09 eBay Auction
3. 1/8/2012 o***e / ryanoceraus edye1286 - Donruss Rep's Son Sealed Set $32.00 eBay Auction
4. 1/27/2012 clarkfan edye1286 - Donruss Rep's Son Partial Set $500.00 eBay BIN
5. 1/30/2012 UNSOLD toohot1999 Cal Ripken, Jr. single [1] $1,999.99 BIN - 1 Best Offer Declined
6. ?/?/2012 toohot1999 d***c Sealed Set [2] $2,000.00 Private Transaction
7. 2/2/2012 UNKNOWN toohot1999 Cal Ripken, Jr. single [1] $0.99 Opening Bid / $999.99 BIN - Auction canceled and card sold in private transaction for $1,250.00]
8. 2/6/2012 mystorageshed (ME) toohot1999 Cal Ripken, Jr. single [2] $1,250.00 private transaction
9. 2/13/2012 UNKNOWN clarkfan Cal Ripken, Jr. single [4] $1,495.95 eBay BIN
10. 2/21/2012 UNSOLD o***e / ryanoceraus Cal Ripken, Jr. single [3] $1,999.99 eBay BIN 
11. 12/30/2012 SOLD a***k / ddamer Sealed Set [6] $1.04 + $2.50 S+H Auction


I now know of a total of five six Ripken cards:

  1. Sealed Set #1 [Available for $1,999.99 eBay BIN]
  2. Sealed Set #2 [My Ripken came from this set - Sold for $1,250.00]
  3. Partial Set [Sold for $1,495.95]
  4. Single Ripken purchased from Southpaw Cards [Sold for $500.00 and then sold for $1,250.00]
  5. There is another collector on the Collector's Universe message boards who I know has one of these Ripken cards as well
  6. Sealed Set #3 [Sold at auction 12/30/2012 for a whopping $1.04 plus shipping]

I think there are likely more than 10 of each card available. Especially given the fact that one person who worked for Donruss had three of them!

While searching eBay, I found a whole slew of 1990 Donruss Blue/White Test cards as well as 1990 Donruss Aqueous cards. However, I also found a new test card that is a hybrid of both the Blue/White and Aqueous cards. These cards are currently not cataloged anywhere and feature a glossy red front and a non-glossy red back. This is similar to the Aqueous cards in that the front is red and glossy, but they are also similar to the Blue/White cards since they feature a player on both sides with one side glossy and the other side non-glossy. I have cataloged all the cards I could find on eBay in this checklist. These test cards appear to cover roughly #350-400 in the set.

Here is an example:

1990 Donruss Red/Red Test Cards
Front [Glossy]
1990 Donruss Red/Red Test Cards
Back [Non-Glossy]




I've always wondered if a particular card in the 1990 Donruss Blue / White Test Issue could be found in both blue and white versions.  It never really mentioned in the SCD if they could be found both ways.  I no longer need to wonder.  On eBay this week someone listed Alan Trammell / Mike Stanley and Carl Yastrzemski / Willie McGee cards where each player has blue and white versions.  Currently, I've only found the Cal Ripken, Jr. card in a white version.  See the images below:

1990 Donruss Blue / White Test Issue
Alan Trammell
1990 Donruss Blue / White Test Issue
Mike Stanley
1982 Fleer Test Card
PSA Authentic
1990 Donruss Blue/White
Test Issue Reverse
PSA Authentic
I received my PSA Authenticated Test Cards in the mail today. Both 1982 Fleer Test Cards were labeled correctly. The 1990 Donruss Blue/White Test Issue was also labeled properly and was correctly placed in the holder with Ripken on the back since he is on the "White" side. They look really nice. I'm thankful they didn't use mylar sleeves on the 1982 Fleer Test Cards. I thought they might since they were cut from a sheet and the "Ripken only" card looks almost diamond-cut. All in all, it was good to move the 1982 Fleer Test Cards from SGC Authentic to PSA Authentic. BGS does grade them, but I wanted uniformity in my collection. Plus I never plan to sell them. I have added them to my "Top 10 Showcase" on the PSA website. The front of the 1990 Donruss Blue/White Test Issue is José DeLeón.

PSA has "re-agreed" to authenticate the following test cards for me:

1982 Fleer Test Cards Cal Ripken, Jr.
1982 Fleer Test Cards Dave Ford / Cal Ripken, Jr.
1990 Donruss Blue/White Test Issue José DeLeón / Cal Ripken, Jr.

Here is my order form now:

Test Card Order Form
 

Hopefully, I can get them to relabel the Dave Ford card to Dave Ford / Cal Ripken, Jr. That card was erroneously printed with Dave Ford's name on it but pictures Cal Ripken, Jr. The 1982 Fleer Test Cards are blank-backed and were hand-cut from a 132-card sheet. The sheet contained 2 sets of 66 different cards. I actually cracked my 1982 Fleer Test Cards from SGC holders before sending them to PSA. It took a bit of convincing to get PSA to agree to authenticate them. Once they received them, it took additional convincing to remind them they had agreed to authenticate them! Originally, they had them marked "N9: NO GRADE" but now they are labeled "N0: AUTHENTIC". These 1982 Fleer Test Cards will be the first PSA has authenticated. In addition, the 1990 Donruss Blue/White Test Issue will also be the first authenticated. It seems PSA only authenticates many of the proof cards and will not assign them numerical grades. I'm not entirely sure why. Perhaps it is difficult to grade them due to the fact they were never officially released to the public. In any case, I will be happy to see these cards in PSA cases and will post them here when they arrive!