As promised in my previous article Parallel Cards Series Part One: Michael Jordan Refractors this article will take a look at the varying flavors of Michael Jordan parallel cards which were (officially and unofficially!) part of the 1997-98 Topps Finest set. Apologies for the delay in getting this article online – time hasn’t been too available lately to add to the site but hopefully more updates will be forth coming in the near future.
First off I highly recommend you read the article linked above if you haven’t already. It will give you a good understanding of the goals I have for the parallel cards series and make sure you know from which point this article is intended as a continuation.
So now that we’ve got the background and introduction out of the way let’s get into the good stuff and check out some awesome Jordans! We’ll start with the base cards of this set on which the parallels we are discussing are based.
1997-98 Finest Michael Jordan Base Cards
Within the 1997-98 Topps Finest base set there were four Michael Jordan cards. These were:
- #39 Bronze ‘Finishers’ base card
- #154 Gold ‘Masters’ base card
- #227 Bronze ‘Show Stoppers’ base card
- #287 Silver ‘Creators’ base card
These cards feature Topps Finest’s highly reflective surface and bright coloring along with the protective plastic coating that we have enjoyed since the brand’s second basketball set in the 1994-95 season. A key point here is that these are the base cards of the set. Although they are termed bronze, silver and gold they are not parallels themselves – the terms are simply used to help differentiate between the four cards. (Note though that the gold card is rarer than the others having been inserted at a rate of one in 24 packs.)
These cards are commonly available for sale on eBay at fairly inexpensive prices (approximately $30 for the gold and less then $5 for the others) so if you’re interested in checking them out have a look at the link below:
1997-98 Topps Finest Michael Jordan Embossed Cards
The first of the parallel inserts of this set we will look at are the embossed cards. These are not refractors themselves but as you’ll see below need to be discussed to help you understand the cards available in this series.
The 1997-98 Topps Finest Embossed cards are parallel inserts inserted into packs at a rate of one in 96 packs. The cards are:
- #154 Gold ‘Masters’ Embossed Die Cut card
- #287 Silver ‘Creators’ Embossed card
There are several key points to note about the 1997-98 Finest Embossed parallel cards:
- As above, the embossed parallel cards where only produced for the gold and silver base cards.
- These cards featured an embossed imprint (similar to that of a basketball) which leaves a reverse indentation on the back of the card.
- The gold embossed card additionally features a very nice die cut around the shape of the basketball in the background. Note how much smaller the basketball is compared to the standard card to allow for this die cut feature.
- Unlike other cards in the 1997-98 Topps Finest series, the embossed cards do not feature a protective coating. This is due to the raised embossing on the front of the card.
These cards a fairly commonly available for sale – the gold embossed card sells for around $50 and the silver embossed card for $5. If you’re interested in adding these to your collection check out:
1997-98 Topps Finest Michael Jordan Refractors – Standard
As always Topps Finest produced a parallel series of refractor cards for each and every base card in the 1997-98 set. These are:
- #39 Bronze ‘Finishers’ Refractor
- #154 Gold ‘Masters’ Refractor
- #227 Bronze ‘Show Stoppers’ Refractor
- #287 Silver ‘Creators’ Refractor
These four Michael Jordan refractors parallel the base cards exactly with the addition of the spectacular Topps Finest light refracting coating on the surface which can only be truly appreciated in person – viewing the card at angles refracts the light back beautifully.
Two of these cards are serial numbered:
- #154 Gold ‘Masters’ Refractor is numbered to 289
- #287 Silver ‘Creators’ Refractor is numbered to 1090
These cards are a must to add to your collection – they are absolutely spectacular! Prices for ungraded near mint / mint copies are approximately:
- #39 Bronze ‘Finishers’ Refractor – $25
- #154 Gold ‘Masters’ Refractor – $250
- #227 Bronze ‘Show Stoppers’ Refractor – $20
- #287 Silver ‘Creators’ Refractor – $60
If you’d like to add these refractors to your collection check out the cards for sale right now on eBay:
1997-98 Finest Michael Jordan Refractors – Embossed
Can you see how these cards can start to get confusing – we now have a parallel of a parallel! Topps Finest released atomic refractor versions of the two very nice Embossed cards as the (intended) flagship inserts of this series. The cards are:
- #154 Gold ‘Masters’ Embossed Die Cut Refractor card
- #287 Silver ‘Creators’ Embossed Refractor card
These cards differ from standard refractors in that they feature the atomic refractor pattern which is absolutely amazing. They retain the embossed front of the original embossed insert and as a result do not feature a protective coating. The Embossed Refractors were inserted at a rate of one in 1152 packs and serial numbered to 74 for the gold and 263 for the silver.
They are not commonly available for sale on eBay and when they do turn up they attact a good amount of attention:
- #154 Gold ‘Masters’ Embossed Die Cut Refractor card – over $1000 (too few sales to be sure)
- #287 Silver ‘Creators’ Embossed Refractor card – $300
If you’re lucky you might find an embossed refractor up for sale on eBay through the link below:
1997-98 Topps Finest Michael Jordan Test Refractor
As I mentioned in the section above, Topps Finest had intended the flagship insert of this series to be the Embossed Refractor. However in the scoping and product development phase Topps did a sample run of another refractor card which is pictured to the left below.
(Note: I have placed the standard refractor and embossed die cut versions to the right to aid comparison.)
This card is an uncut, unembossed atomic refractor version of the #154 Gold ‘Masters’ card. The basketball in the background is considerably smaller (more like the embossed card) and the back of the card is also different to the regular set featuring different placement of the text. Additionally the card does not feature a protective coating and is not serial numbered.
It is assumed these ‘test’ cards were intended to be destoryed once Topps decided not to feature them in the set however an unknown number of them have made it into the marketplace.
This card is referred to as the 1997-98 Topps Finest Michael Jordan Test Refractor. To my knowledge Topps has never commented on this card or its print run however it is assumed to be less than 50 by many collectors.
So there you have the assortment of awesome Jordans available in the 1997-98 Finest set. With all the parallels (and parallels of parallels) it is no wonder that collectors can get confused about which is which! I hope this article has helped you in this area and you’re able to add some of these must have Michael Jordan cards to your collection soon.