Every collector has at least one card in their collection that they own more than one copy of. Maybe it’s an extra or three of their favorite player’s rookie card, or duplicates of their hometown team’s players. Personally, I have nine Mario Lemieux rookie cards and more Jeremy Roenick rookie cards than I will ever admit to owning. Heck, I even had an expensive obsession with nabbing as many Pro Set Stanley Cup Hologram cards that I could get my mitts on. All of those cards were purchased because I genuinely liked them.
But over the years, I’ve collected multiple copies of one card — 2010-11 Artifacts #49 Rene Bourque Emerald Parallel — purely for ironic reasons.
It all started in the 2010-11 season. I used to visit a card shop in my neighborhood on a regular basis. One day, the owner handed me a stack of cards from the 2010-11 Artifacts Hockey set.
Well, the guy didn’t take all of the hits; he left behind this mighty fine Rene Bourque parallel, numbered 30/50 and embossed with green foil instead of gold. Either way, $2 for a bunch of cards from a set I was building was a deal. So I snapped them up; even the useless parallel.
About a week or so later, the same thing happened. Someone bought a box of 2010-11 Artifacts, took what he wanted, and left the rest behind. Again, the dealer offered me the stack for $2, and again I purchased it. I did not realize that there was a second copy of the Rene Bourque Emerald parallel card — this one numbered 29/50 — in the stack.
Well, eventually I ended up a third copy of the card. I don’t remember exactly how. I purchased it from the same dealer, probably under similar circumstances as the last two times. But I also remember the Bourque parallel being in a toploader this time, picking it up, looking at it, and saying “Hmmm. Poor Rene. I’ll give him a home.” Not out loud, of course.
(And yes, it is possible to get similar or the same inserts in boxes from the same shop. I used to buy a lot of boxes from DA Card World — located in Buffalo — and would always pull Sabres inserts, parallels and autographs. I have no idea why boxes of Artifacts sold in a Chicago store kept landing this Rene Bourque card).
When I finally sorted all the Artifacts cards I bought, I realized that I had unwittingly purchased three copies of this Rene Bourque card.
So over the next seven years, I made a conscious effort to buy every copy of this card that I could find, purely out of irony. The very existence of this card in of itself is ironic: it’s a serial-numbered copy of a useless parallel of a forgettable player. Yes, Bourque was on the 2018 “NHL-Free” Canadian Olympic Team that recently won a bronze medal; but otherwise, you probably have no idea if or where he is currently playing. (Also somewhat ironic is that I bought six boxes of 2010-11 Artifacts Hockey and did not pull one copy of this card; probably because I really wanted to.)
I now have seven copies of this card. The serial numbers are:
• 02 / 50
• 16 / 50
• 24 / 50
• 29 / 50
• 30 / 50
• 36 / 50
• 39 / 50
That means I own 14% of the total print run of this card. I will probably never get all 50 copies, as there are probably a few Calgary Flames and/or Rene Bourque fans (wife? mom?) who have this card and won’t give it up it. Maybe one day, I will corner the market on 2010-11 Artifacts Rene Bourque Emerald Parallel. Hey, it’s good to have collecting goals, even if they are silly. It’s supposed to be a fun hobby after all.
So now I ask you, dear readers: have you ever collected a card, from any sport, for ironic reasons? Maybe it was a bad card of a great player, or a great card of a bad player, or just something downright ridiculous. I can’t be the only one who does this, can I? Leave a comment and give me some reassurance.
Oh, and if you have this card, I’ll buy it off of you. Seriously. ■
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.