Skinned Cards Can Be Great Low-Grade Finds

While not technically high-grade, skinned cards often look like it

As a low-grade collector for the most part, I’m accustomed to taking all sorts of cards. I’ve got low-grade cards in rotten condition that look like they’ve been through the ringer and I’ve got low-grade cards that look incredible.

A few of my more aesthetically-pleasing ones are skinned cards.

I don’t have many skinned cards. I mean, I don’t seek them out or anything. But when I’m collecting sets my plan is to always take what I can get and then, if possible or if warranted, upgrade later.

Skinned cards, if you’re unfamiliar with them, are generally cards with the back removed. Sometimes a card can be partially skinned but typically, if someone uses that term, it means all or most of the back is gone. A partially skinned card is usually one that someone will say simply has paper loss, if that makes sense.

Tim Keefe N28I’ve got three skinned cards in my collection that I can think of offhand. And each allowed me to get an otherwise more expensive card for a pretty good price.

Earlier this year, I picked up the Tim Keefe N28 Allen & Ginter card shown here. I’m slowly building the N28 and N29 sets and, while I’ve got a little more than 40 of them now, I haven’t attacked the baseball too much just yet. There are a total of 16 baseball cards in the two sets and, up until earlier this year, I hadn’t yet had any.

Now, I had some of these cards before. A few years ago, I was darn close to completing the N28 set missing only five or six cards for completion. But those were some of the cards I sold when I built my T206 set. I was really struck by the beauty of the cards and decided to start pursuing them again with The Monster tackled.

But the baseball cards are not cheap. Even the commons are usually at least $100 in low-grade condition and Hall of Famers like Keefe and others can start closer to $300-$400. I had decided to wait on the baseball ones until they came along at a steal. And that’s when I saw this Keefe that I got for significantly less.

The reason? The back is skinned.

Billy Sunday N172 Old JudgeNow the card still feels like a card. Skinned cards usually do and most are not paper thin like you might think. Some thinner issues can be but cards like the Allen & Ginter and Old Judge cards that are a little thicker still very much feel like a regular card.

Another skinned card helped me afford something I wanted for a while as well – a card of former baseball player turned Evangelist, Billy Sunday.

Sunday has several cards in the Old Judge set. And while he wasn’t a star player, because of his history as an Evangelist, his cards are highly sought after. It isn’t uncommon to pay $500 for one of his cards, even in modest condition.

But a friend in a collector group bought a bunch of cards that were scrapbook removals and skinned. He sold me the Sunday that I was able to later have slabbed to give it a better overall look. And the great thing about the card being in a slab is that, other than the skinned designation on the front, you’d never know it was skinned by looking at it.

I got back on the skinned bandwagon this week. I picked up several Allen & Ginter cards on eBay. Most are not skinned but one was — a baseball card of Jack Glasscock from the N28 set.

N28 - Jack GlasscockJack Glasscock N28 Back SkinnedGlasscock (and yes, that’s a real name) was the first Allen & Ginter baseball card I ever owned. I bought my first one probably about five years ago or so and it cost me $115.

I wasn’t particularly looking for one but got the other Allen & Ginters from the same seller, put in a modest bid, and won it.

The card is very similar to the Keefe The front looks incredible and has a lot of eye appeal. The back, shown here, is skinned and blank as a result. But it’s a card that looks great and not having the standard Allen & Ginter checklist on the back is of little consequence to me.

And on some level, I prefer a card that looks like this to one that would have a full back but have a million creases. Part of that surely depends on the front for me, too. The Allen & Ginter cards are exceptionally good looking when they are crease-free. Skinned A&Gs certainly bother me less than other cards might.

Skinned cards might not be for everyone but if you like buying low-card issues at lower prices, they’re a great alternative.

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