Why aren’t printing plates worth more money? They’re a certified one-of-one collectible, and you’d think they’d sell for a premium price tag. Here’s everything you need to know.
If you’ve found a printing plate in a pack, you might be disappointed when checking out comparable sales from the set. Despite being a one-of-one, printing plates aren’t worth much, and many collectors ignore them entirely.
We’ve come up with a guide looking at printing plate prices, explaining why values are lower than you might have expected.
What is a printing plate?
A printing plate is a thin metal sheet which is used in the production of cards. They typically come in four different colors (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black), with four individual plates used to create a card. The Sven Botman plate seen above is the Black version. They’re one-of-one collectibles, but since there are usually four, they’re not as unique as a true one-of-one.
Plates will have a different look depending on the color. The yellow plates tend to have the worst appearance, as it can be tough to make out the subject. For example, check out this Yellow George Russell printing plate, in which the driver is almost invisible:
Older plates were often made available at auction, while newer plates are inserted directly into packs at random.
You’ll know straight away if you’ve found a printing plate. The pack itself will be heavier than usual, and the metal is likely to slide out.
Why are printing plates less valuable?
One of the main reasons why they’re less valuable is that they don’t look as good as the real thing. Many lack color, and the metal scratches easily. It’s not really a card, it’s a plate that was used to create the cards. That’s a key difference for many collectors.
Of course, some printing plates are still valuable, depending on the player and the card in question. For example, rookie printing plates tend to be popular for bigger stars:
This Ferrari logo from 2020 Topps Chrome F1 sold for over $6,100 in November 2022:
You will be able to find PSA graded printing plates, which may increase the asking price. However, it’s already a certified one-of-one, so authentication isn’t necessarily that important. As it’s a sheet of metal, the plates are pretty durable, and will fit in a toploader.
Printing plates are a notable collectible, and a cheaper way to get your hands on many one-of-ones. That’s not the best news if you’re aiming to sell, but they still have a place within the hobby.
Only the most unique printing plates are going to be worth major money, especially as there are technically four of each card. The color of the printing plate is also likely to come into play.