Royal Rainbow Flush

Rainbow, in card collecting, is the term used by collectors that acquire every parallel of a base card. A parallel is a card that has a similar look and design to a card from a base set but is distinguished by a unique physical quality, according to Topps. Color variations are, typically, one of the most common types of parallels. The hardest possible type of rainbow for any collector to acquire is, in my opinion, the “royal rainbow flush”. While I’m not certain that’s the term used to describe it if there is one, it contains every numbered parallel with the number 1 (first print run), every version that’s 1 of 1, and any versions that are unnumbered. Given the existence of 1 of 1 cards, numbered parallels with number 1 is appropriate and, anyway, collectors pay significantly more for cards, especially on a percentage basis, with that number than any other number on average. It’s the equivalent of a royal flush in poker but, unlike poker, there can only be one.

Claiming to have a royal rainbow flush becomes exponentially more difficult as the number of parallels increases. The popularity of the depicted personality can also increase the challenge by many orders of magnitude. I don’t know of anyone that has achieved the feat, but I’m also not involved in the card collecting community. Even though money talks, there’s also an element of luck involved. Locating each card requires dedication. It’s a job in itself.

The 2022 Allen & Ginter sets, Base, X and Chrome, have 20 (or more) parallels between them. Baseball players were given extra parallels that non-baseball player personalities weren’t given and some non-baseball player personalities were also given extra parallels that other non-baseball player personalities weren’t given. Collectors, comparatively, with regard to Allen & Ginter, seem to have a stronger emotional tie to the non-baseball player personalities and, as a result, attempt the royal rainbow flush challenge. Ian Grushka, Charlie Berens, B-Real, Chris Plys, Rachel Balkovec, Drew Rosenhaus, and Frank Thomas appear to be the current (2022) targets. Blake Grice is a candidate, but his mother made a futile effort. On a side note, that kid made some cool custom variations.

Of them, I suspect that Ian Grushka, the bassist for a band called New Found Glory, and Charlie Berens, an Emmy award winning journalist and comedian, are seeking out the cards made of them. But, not just any cards, they specifically want the first print run parallels and 1 of 1s. If you take a look at what cards made of them are still available relative to other personalities, notice that there aren’t any first print runs. Concerning Grushka, I’ve also been made aware of messages and seen first-hand posts in support of my claim.

Berens has made a respectable effort to get his royal rainbow flush, but the same cannot be said for Grushka. Unlike Berens who competed for the elusive cards made of him in traditional auctions, Grushka guilt tripped sellers into selling them to him directly. I was the front runner in some of the auctions for those cards up until they were abruptly cancelled.

It wasn’t my objective to stop Gruska’s attempt at achieving that feat, initially. There was a card I wanted for my own collection. Although my suspicions were raised after the first auction was cancelled, I still wasn’t aware of his effort despite his public pleas. After seeing auctions for the non-first print run cards of him have few, if any, takers whereas the auctions for the first and limited print run cards of his that weren’t cancelled have many takers, I realized what was happening the second time my bid was cancelled. Further, Grushka even replied to comments from people asking him if he wanted to buy inconsequential numbered cards of him with, “I’ll give you a guitar pick for it,” rather than, “I’ve sent you a dm.” He really only cares about 1s. Cards numbered from 2 to, say, 199, are all the same.

So, blocking Grushka’s royal rainbow flush became my objective unbeknownst to him. Given that he made his collection more important than those of other collectors, including mine, and his ego trips on social media, I sought after whatever elusive cards of him that remain. And sometime this year or last, I got my hands on one of them. While it’s not what I wanted, it’s good enough.

Better luck next time.


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