Javascript Menu by


One of the most confusing aspects for new card collectors is the terminology. Not only are there many specialist terms, different card manufacturers may use different terms for the same type of cards.

This page provides a short definition of some of the more common terms. Example cards are taken from the Rittenhouse Stargate SG-1 sets (various seasons).

Packs, Boxes and Cases

Cards are sold in packs of between 5 and 10 cards. Historically, these packs were referred to as wax packs as the wrapping was waxed paper, but this term is no longer widely used.

Card dealers (or keen collectors) buy these packs in boxes, usually of 24 or 36 packs. These boxes double as the display in the dealer's shop. Dealers (or very keen collectors) will buy cases, which contain 6 to 12 boxes.

Base / Common cards

Base or common cards make up the bulk of the cards in any pack. They are usually numbered, with about 100 in the set. These will often show images from the television show or movie and include information on the back about the scene. For comics or artwork sets, the back of the base cards will generally give information about the character pictured.

common card

Chase / Insert cards

chase card

Chase or insert cards are found only in some packs and only one will be in the relevant pack. There are usually about 10 chase cards in each box with several levels of rarity.

For example, a low level chase set may have 9 different cards in the set with 1 card in each 10 packs. A higher level chase may have 5 cards in the set with 1 from the set in each box.

Each set of chase cards will focus on a particular theme (such as a character that left the television show). Chase cards also generally have special finishes, such as holograms or multilayered lenticular pictures.

As well as the general chase cards, there are also special chase cards such as autographs and costume cards that have their own terminology.

Jump to top

Memorabilia Cards

Memorabilia Cards are often provided in television or movie based sets. This is a generic term used for cards that contain material, papers or some other item used in production. These cards are reasonably rare and will be found approximately one per box.

Costume or pieceworks cards include small pieces of costumes (or sometimes material used to make costumes). The front of the card will often show a scene where the costume was used.

costume card
relic card

Like costume cards, relic or prop cards are made from pieces of props. Props used tend to be maps, diaries and other papers as these are relatively easy to make into cards.

Jump to top

Autograph cards

As the name suggests, autograph cards feature a picture of an actor (or key crew member) with a space where the actor has signed their name. These are individually signed, rather than printed, so often only some characters are represented. Also, for an ongoing series, some actors may sign only in some seasons and/or have some seasons where they sign relatively few cards

Note that some collectors also get actors, artists or crew to sign relevant base cards (similar to autograph collectors). This could be done by mail, or by attending a convention where that person is a guest. These are not referred to as autograph cards.

autograph card

Sketch Cards

sketch card

Sketch cards are commissioned by the card manufacturers from artists. Each card is individually drawn. For some sets, artists provide only a few different images for each set, making it possible to collect one example of each. For other sets, the artists may be unrestricted and can create one-off images as well as multiple similar images.

Sometimes one of the levels of chase cards is printed versions of a set of sketches. These are not considered sketch cards as they are not hand drawn.

Jump to top

Promotional Items

Prior to the release of a new set, the manufacturer will distribute promo cards at conventions, in magazines and to retailers to promote the set. These cards have a typical common card image on the front and release dates on the back.

Other collectible promotional material includes sell sheets, which are sent to retailers to let them know about the breakdown (eg boxes per case, chase card rarity) of the set to help them estimate how much product to buy.

sell sheet