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Iconic Inserts: Topps Stadium Club Triumvirate

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Welcome everyone to an all new series here at HND: Iconic Inserts! Each month we will take a look at a particular insert set that has made a lasting impression in the hobby! We will be focusing solely on inserts, not parallels or subsets. Without further ado, let’s dive in to the debut of HND’s Iconic Inserts!

In 1997, inserts were all the rage in the hobby. At a time when innovation was running rampant, inserts became a safe way for companies to test new technology & designs, while also providing a new “chase” for collectors. Most would end up flopping like LeBron down by 2 late, but in early ‘97 Topps Stadium Club introduced an insert set across MLB, NBA & the NFL that was not only ahead of its time, but remains a staple of TSC to this day: the unique and daring Triumvirate insert.

Upon release, the Triumvirate line instantly set itself apart from its competitors, employing a dual-focus to collecting rarely seen before. Hobbyists could chase the individual cards, or go after each teams three card “set”, which would fit together like puzzle pieces to craft one large design. Now, die-cut technology wasn’t new in ‘97, but Triumvirates took it to a whole new level. To this day, you’ll be hard-pressed to find more detailed and unique die-cut designs.

Triumvirates didn’t stop there, as they also included multiple parallels in the line: the Illuminator, Luminescent and Luminous parallels. Luminous was the most common, utilizing a smooth foil finish. Luminescent was the next rarest, employing a refractor finish much like refractors of today. Then came the Illuminator, the hardest of the parallels to hit at around 1:1000 packs. These utilized acetate, and in some releases, a refractor finish as well, creating an absolutely stunning version of the insert set.

25+ years later and the original Triumvirates (specifically 97-early 2000’s) have become iconic, a must have for many a collector. With star-studded checklists boasting MJ, Griffey Jr, Brett Favre and tons of other legends, it’s easy to see how the Triumvirate became so iconic. However, if you’re looking to pick them up now they won’t be so cheap, as many copies are selling for hundreds, if not thousands of dollars (especially graded copies). Even low-grade copies of stars can fetch thousands, as the die-cut process made grading nearly impossible with most early releases. Even the “commons” hold strong value, likely due to the puzzle aspect of the line, but is a testament to the early releases popularity.

Additional parallels made appearances in certain releases, such as the Refractor & Atomic Refractor in the 1997-98 Football release. As of 2022, there are four parallels, and the puzzle-esque designs remain, however TSC dropped the classic Luminescent/Luminous/Illuminator setup that made the early releases so popular. The demand followed suit.

Only time will tell if Topps can revamp the Triumvirate line for the products of today. But in 1997, Topps introduced a line that will go down as one of the most daring inserts of its era. The risk absolutely paid off, as the Triumvirate has cemented itself as one of THE Iconic Inserts of the hobby.


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