In cards, RPA stands for “Rookie Patch Auto” and is a term to describe a particular type of rookie cards that include both a patch and signature of the featured player. Some collectors will argue there is only one main RPA, as is the case with Justin Herbert and National Treasures, while others will use the term freely to describe any card that fits the criteria.
Typically, a player’s most sought after baseball card is their Bowman Chrome auto. But in sports like Football and Basketball, and with products like National Treasures, Immaculate, Flawless, and others, it’s the RPA carries the torch. Do RPAs carry value in baseball? Sure, but they aren’t nearly has popular as they are in football and basketball.
While beautiful cards complete with “chunky” patches and on-card autos, cards sans logos typically play second fiddle to their licensed-brand counterparts.
Just how popular and sought after are football and basketball RPAs? Here is a cool tweet showcasing the most expensive trading cards ever sold, by sport/category. We have the usual suspects including baseball’s 1952 Mickey Mantle SGC 9.5, and a 1979 Wayne Gretzky Rookie as a PSA 10.
But for basketball, while you’d probably expect a Michael Jordan RC of sorts, you get a Lebron James 2003 Upper Deck RPA. Not to mention a 2017 Patrick Mahomes NFL Shield auto as well. Cool stuff!
Most expensive card ever sold, by category:— The Collectibles Guru 🧠 (@ericwhiteback) October 11, 2022
⚾️: $12.6M (1952 Topps Mantle)
⚡️: $5.3M (1998 Pikachu Illustrator)
🏀: $5.2M (2003 LeBron RPA /23)
🏈: $4.3M (2017 Mahomes NT Shield)
🏒: $3.75M (1979 O-Pee-Chee Gretzky)
⚽️: $1.33M (1958 Alifa Pele) pic.twitter.com/kJq5HBupsO
And speaking of hockey, while I didn’t mention the sport above with football and basketball, it’s still a great source for RPAs, thanks to Upper Deck and their licensing.
One of the best hockey players in the world is about to be back on the ice.— Goldin (@GoldinCo) October 13, 2022
Connor McDavid: 2015-16 Upper Deck The Cup RPA Graded GEM MINT 9.5 by BGS, with signature graded “10” by Beckett
Bid now: https://t.co/cNDfPzesFX pic.twitter.com/xAOH6gmoRr
So, really, while many things can make a card attractive – rookie, patch, auto – you can see just how much the presence of a logo and team name can really elevate or hold back a card from gaining true momentum with the masses.