When it comes to modern cards, “Logomans” are some of the most visually appealing, popular, and pricey. A Luka Doncic 1:1 Logoman Auto sits 6th on the list of most expensive sports trading card sales to date at $4.6M. Each card features the NBA logo from a player’s jersey (authenticity-drama notwithstanding these days), so they’re all considered 1 of 1s. A lot of modern basketball collectors might trace Panini National Treasures Logoman cards back to either the 2002-03 Upper Deck NBA Logo Mania Patches or the 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection All-NBA Access Press Patches. But their origin goes back a lot further to the “junk wax” era of the late 1980s and early 1990s when Impel Marketing launched their 1990 SkyBox set.
The basketball card market started to get some competition in 1989 when NBA Properties, Inc. released their Hoops card set to compete with Fleer. SkyBox joined those two in 1990 with a set they advertised as technology-driven, visually bold, and on the cutting edge of card production and design. To promote their set, SkyBox sent brochures with prototype cards to dealers, released a promo card at The National in Arlington, Texas, in July 1990, and used print advertising. And it was on the print ads for SkyBox Series II cards where collectors learned that they could send in for a “Special Limited Edition NBA Logo Card” via an “Exclusive Free Offer.”
Collectors who sent in for a copy got the following letter with their SkyBox Salutes the NBA logo card (pictured above) explaining that it wasn’t available in any store and that it “brings the tradition of basketball into the future” – what incredible foreshadowing!
The letter talks about SkyBox being back in action with a second series of cards. Note that the copyright on the back of the SkyBox Salutes the NBA has a 1991 copyright which coincides with the ~March 1991 release of Skybox Series II cards.
Now, despite being a mail-in card, companies printed so many cards during this time that the SkyBox Salutes the NBA card isn’t particularly hard to find and certainly not as pricey as modern Logoman cards. The last few sales on eBay have all been for between $12 and $20.
And sure, it’s not a real patch, and it’s not a 1 of 1, but I consider the 1990-91 SkyBox Salutes the NBA mail-in card to be the first “Logoman”; it definitely helped lay the foundation for the popularity and success of Logoman cards today.
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