Upper Deck’s Artifacts hockey set is known for cards with jersey swatches and jersey patch pieces. Artifacts is not really for autograph collectors or set-builders, as you get only one autograph per box, while building a set — especially with short prints — will take a good deal of money and effort.
Instead, Artifacts is intended for those who love jersey cards. Fifteen years ago, I was not a fan of such cards, but over time I have gradually learned to appreciate some of the great-looking game-used cards in sets like Artifacts.
A hobby box of 2021-22 Artifacts costs about $100, and contains eight four-card packs. I recently got a box of 2021-22 Artifacts. Here is what I got.
22 Base Cards
My box had 22 base cards, and none of them were doubles of each other. Cards 1-100 make up the base set. After that, the cards are serial-numbered. More on those in a moment.
Card fronts for 2021-22 Artifacts are what you’d expect: bright, crisp photos, superimposed over a beige-colored background meant to evoke the feeling of a bygone era. Honestly, I’m not sure what the background is supposed to be. Maybe its an old, weathered, piece of fabric? Or a fingerprint? No matter, I like it. The background works well for pictures of players in their colorful home uniforms or white road uniforms.
Silver foil accents are used around the player’s name, team name, and for the “ARTIFACTS” wordmark at the top.
Card backs have up to five years of stats, as well as career totals, as well as player vitals (height, weight, etc.) and a short biographical blurb.
As I mentioned before, the first 100 cards in 2021-22 Artifact are base cards of star players and fan favorites. The next 60 cards (101-160) are short-printed cards of “Base Set Stars” (101-145) and “Base Set Legends” (146-160). These cards are serial-numbered to 599 copies each. Getting the first 100 cards will not be too difficult, but obtaining the next 60 cards will be a challenge, as you may or may not get one of these cards in your box. You will get some serial-numbered cards in a box of Artifacts, but they may be parallels instead of the “high-numbered” base cards.
1 Artifacts Rookie
Cards 161 to 230 are of “Artifacts Rookies.” You get one rookie card per box. Rookie cards are serial-numbered out of 999 copies. Cards 181 to 230 have a “RED” prefix, such as the Mortiz Seider RC above, which is numbered RED213. Presumably, these would have been the “Redemption Rookies” that you would get a redemption card for. That wasn’t necessary this year, as Artifacts came out nearly a year later than it should.
1 AutoFacts Autographed Card
Justin Schultz was my “AutoFacts” autographed card, signed on a sticker in Blue Sharpie marker. Schultz was with the Capitals during the 2021-22 season, but has since signed as a free agent with the Seattle Kraken.
1 Materials Gold Memorabilia Card
This Wade Allison Artifacts Rookie “Martials Gold” memorabilia card is numbered 515/799. As you can see, it contains the dreaded white jersey swatch. No wait, make that TWO white jersey swatches.
Look, I get that collectors would prefer a jersey swatch with color than a white one. But half the jerseys worn by NHL players are predominantly white, Upper Deck has to do SOMETHING with these. But why not use two different colors of jersey swatches — like one white and one orange, or one white and one black? That would make the card look more attractive. Besides, I’d expect something a little nicer than this from a product like Artifacts.
1 Horizontal Materials Memorabilia Card
Horizontal Materials cards take the the design and flip it sideways. This Sidney Crosby Horizontal Materials memorabilia card is numbered 111/149. This one is nicer because it uses yellow jersey pieces instead of white. Oh, and because it is of Sidney Crosby.
2 Ruby Parallels /499
Of course there are a plethora of parallels. First up are Ruby Parallels of Thomas Greiss and Nathan MacKinnon
Ruby Parallels are numbered out of 499 copies and replace the silver foil with red foil.
The “red” look also carries over to the back. That is great when you are sorting a bunch of these cards and the parallels stand out from the regular cards.
1 Silver Spectrum Parallel /299
The Silver Spectrum Parallels are numbered out of 299 and look NICE! The silver foil is replaced with a rainbow-y foil, similar to what Upper Deck uses on it’s O-Pee-Chee Platinum Rainbow inserts. Artemi Panarin was the sole Silver Spectrum Parallel that I got.
1 Light Blue Steel Parallel /85
Not “Blue Steel” from Zoolander, but Light Blue Steel! These parallels are numbered out of 85, and — as you have probably guessed — use a light blue foil instead of silver foil. These do not look as good as the Silver Spectrum parallels.
By the way, there are a TON of parallels, cuz Deck gonna deck. In addition to the aforementioned Ruby (#/499), Silver Spectrum (#/299), and Light Blue Steel (#/85), Artifacts has the following parallels: Royal Blue (#/199), Autumn (#/75), Rose (#/65), Yellow (#/50), Pink (#/30), Purple (#/25), Indigo (#/10), and Black (#/5). There are also Neon Green (via Target blasters), Turquoise (via Walmart blasters), and Rose Gold (via mass retail blasters), which give us a total of 15 different parallel versions of the same card! And that isn’t even including autographed or memorabilia parallel versions of certain base cards.
My biggest problem with 2021-22 Artifacts is the lackluster jersey cards that I got. Yes, they all can’t be Connor McDavid 1/1 patch cards, but again look at the two jersey cards that I pulled:
Now then take a look at some of the jersey cards I’ve gotten from Artifacts in years past:
As you can see, Upper Deck has put some great-looking cards in its Artifacts product over the years. Some feature jersey and swatch pieces, while others use different-colored pieces of jerseys.
And no, I did not just cherry pick the best game-used cards that I pulled from prior boxes I’ve opened. Otherwise, I would have included the greatest card I ever got in a box of hockey cards, which happened to be from 2010-11 Artifacts.
But when comparing this year’s Artifacts jersey cards to cards I’ve gotten in prior years, the 2021-22 Artifacts set feels like a step backwards.
Maybe I pulled the dullest-looking jersey cards in this set? But with a name like “Artifacts,” I’ve grown to expect eye-catching jersey cards. The two I pulled feel barely a step above jersey cards you’d find in Upper Deck Series One or MVP. On the other hand, a $100 box of Artifacts gets you three hits — that is, memorabilia, autographed, or limited-edition Aurum cards — per box, as well as either a rookie card numbered to 999 copies or a Clear Cut card. So, you have the potential to get four great cards in at an affordable price point.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■