Why Mint Numbers Matter
Mint numbers have been a part of the physical collecting hobby for generations, but with the emergence of digital collectibles, they’ve taken on a whole new level of significance.
Often referred to as serials, mint numbers can be found on all types of collectibles including trading cards, limited edition art prints, comics, coins, watches, and more! These numbers indicate scarcity, prove uniqueness within a series, and add to the authenticity of an item. Most importantly, however, they are a key way of differentiating value between otherwise similar or identical collectibles.
Physical Mint Numbers
Sports cards are probably the most prominent example of mint numbers in physical collecting today. If you ever watch pack break videos, you’ve probably noticed that the breakers get really excited when they land a numbered card, which is limited to a certain quantity and assigned a unique number (e.g. 10/100). Collectors generally value first, last and jersey match serials the most for sports cards. In April 2021, two LaMelo Ball 2020 Prizm Blue Shimmer cards numbered to 35 were sold. One of the cards was numbered 14/35 and was sold for $12,800, whereas the other card numbered 2/35 (LaMelo’s jersey number) sold for $18,311. That’s a 43% premium paid for the jersey match card!
Another great example of where mint numbers really matter is in numismatics. Numismatics, the hobby of collecting coins, bills, and other currencies, is a massive $8.8B market (just for coins alone) and is expected to grow to an estimated $17.3B by 2029. The only time you may have paid attention to the serial number on your bills was during a heated game of Liar’s Poker, but did you know that collector’s pay top dollar (pun intended) for what are known as “fancy serials”?
Paper Money Guarantee (PMG), CGC’s paper money grading service, actually recognizes numerous types of fancy serial numbers on their labels. Some of these fancy serial types include ascending and descending ladders (e.g. 12345678 or 76543210), binary (e.g. 11010010), radar (palindrome, eg. 12344321), solid (e.g. 77777777), and low numbers (one of first 10 printed). To highlight some sales, Heritage Auctions sold an 1899 $1 Silver Certificate bill with an ascending ladder serial of “N12345678N” for $8225 in January 2014. A 2013 United States $1 bill with Serial Number “00000001” also sold on Heritage in August 2015 for $8,225. Without its fancy serial, this bill would be worth its face value of just $1!
Digital Mint Numbers
In physical collecting, serial numbers are an important way to differentiate value, but the condition of the item also plays a huge factor. Grading companies created scales to assign values based on condition, which allowed collectors to distinguish between otherwise very similar items and assign values accordingly. With digital collecting, however, there is no degradation in condition, so collectibles with multiple editions are all completely identical save for their mint numbers. Thus, mint numbers are really the ONLY way to differentiate value between identical digital collectibles.
In the digital space, mint numbers often refer to the order in which a collectible was minted. As such, some collectors are most interested in those earliest numbers. But as we’ve seen on digital collectibles platforms such as VeVe, collectors are also willing to spend a premium for other special mint numbers like last mints, palindromes, publishing years (e.g. 1977 for Star Wars collectibles), and even the number 616 for Marvel collectibles, referring to the MCU’s Earth-616.
A Legendary rarity Batman #1 digital comic with edition #0/223 (first mint number of the collection) recently sold on Candy’s marketplace for a whopping $15,000, which is almost 5 times higher than the 30-day average of about $3,100 for this comic. And in November, a Walt Disney Partners Statue with mint #1901 (the year Walt Disney was born) sold on VeVe for $14,999, which is about 6 times higher than its current floor price of about $2,500. As you can see, collectors consider these low and special mint numbers as one-of-a-kind and are willing to pay a serious premium to get their hands on them.
The Hunt for Special Mints
Let's say you really want the physical jersey match card for your favorite basketball player, like a Michael Jordan card numbered 23/100. If that card is never listed for sale or posted on social media, you'd likely never be able to find it. You'd have no way of knowing if that card is still inside a pack somewhere on a shelf in a hobby shop or has been torn apart by someone's pet dog. You may be able to verify the existence of a special mint through a grading company's census, but unfortunately, you likely will not have a way of contacting the owner. The process of finding owners of physical items can be time-consuming and extremely frustrating.
But in the digital collecting space, hunting for these desirable mint numbers has become much easier. It's now possible to find out immediately if a specific digital collectible has been minted, is still in a digital pack yet to be ripped, or has been burned. You can make an offer to the owner of the digital collectible and have it delivered to your wallet in seconds without needing to track them down. This seamless experience is already transforming the way collectors go about building their collections, and we expect that it will get even better as the technology progresses and more people take their collecting digital.