Tuesday, October 4, 2011

1996 Assets Phone Cards $1,000 Promos Cal Ripken Jr.

Set size: 5 phone cards, approximately the same size as a credit card.

Front Design: A full-bleed color photo fills most of the card, with the Assets logo and player name in a band across the bottom. The denomination of the phone card is at the top in gold foil. The promo version is distinguished by the word "PROMO" running up the left side of the card in grey.

Back Design: The back contains information on how to use the phone card. The promo card has information about the upcoming set.

Parallels and Similars: There are several phone card denominations in 1996 Assets, all with essentially the same design. As noted above, this promo is easy to distinguish from the authentic $1,000 phone cards, especially by checking the back.

Distribution: The $1,000 phone cards were randomly inserted into packs of 1996 Assets, a Classic set.

Thoughts: Chase phone cards were all the rage back in the mid-90s, if you were a company like Classic. Although phone cards didn't make the full push into MLB sets, they were a way of adding actual value to minor league and five-sport sets as this. The $1,000 set contains one player from each of the five sports, but pulling one of these cards was almost guaranteed not to happen. As a somewhat-unique marketing tool, phone cards are a fun variation to collect, and a reminder of how people tried to avoid long distance charges fifteen years ago (remember 10-10-220, or whatever that code was?).


  1. 10-10-321! That was the one with all the marketing behind it. It really was cheaper than the mainstream long-distance carriers if you made a lot of long distance calls (what are those, these days?) There was also another similar, cheaper one, but I don't remember what it was.

    I guess the prevelance of wealth and cell phones in the U.S. was responsible for the lack of monster success of phone cards. They seem to have taken hold in pretty much EVERY other country in the world to a great degree, and even have quite the collectible market. I still see lots of phone cards being sold at gas stations, but they're all just boring, with the company logo on them. Pity. I guess licensing in the U.S. is just too complicated for them to bother with.

  2. I notice them more when I'm in Hispanic neighborhoods, most likely because they're still much cheaper for calling internationally. These days everyone has a cell phone, and as you said, long distance really isn't an issue with them, and land lines have unlimited long distance now.

    I wonder if I can find some lucha libre or soccer stars on phone cards. I'll have to check next time I'm in the neighborhood!

  3. If you browse or any of the other Central and South American auction sites, you'll find loads of baseball and soccer related phone cards.