The shiny card you see here is from the 1996-97 Donruss Elite Hart to Hart insert set. I purchased it from a dealer recently. However, there is good reason to believe that this card may have “escaped” from the Donruss facility in 1997 and was never circulated in packs.
The first thing that tips me off to this is that the card is supposed to be autographed by both Eric Lindros and Mario Lemieux. However, it is only autographed by Lindros.
The second indicator that this card was probably uncirculated is that it lacks a serial number on the back.
My theory is that the Donruss company had Lindros autograph the cards first, and had him sign a few more than 500. Someone’s got to sign them first, right? Plus, it would be wise to get whoever was signing first to autograph a few extras, just in case the other player signed a card in a fading marker, smudged one of his signatures, etc., on some of the cards.
The extra copies were apparently not needed, not signed by Lemieux and not stamped with a serial number. The corners on this card are dinged up, so I’m guessing someone smuggled it out of the company and it found its way on secondary market. ■