Topps Allen & Ginter: When History Gets Weird

Surveying Some of the Best Topps Allen & Ginter Inserts of All Time

Date: Mar 1, 2023
Topics: Allen & Ginter, Collecting, Insert Cards
Length: 1144 Words
Reading Time: ~6 Minutes

Topps Allen & Ginter has become an annual staple on the trading card release calendar, bringing collectors back to the pure youthful amusement of their earliest hobby memories. And on Wednesday, March 1st, the 2022 Topps Allen & Ginter Chrome is set to drop.  

Based on the first promotional cigarette trading cards from the Allen & Ginter Tobacco company in the 1880s, Topps’ spin on the classic pays homage to the early days by tackling not only baseball but also some of the greatest champions in other sports, cultural phenomena, and every once in a while random everyday artifacts like an egg or a guy in a hat. Simply put, Allen & Ginter celebrates the best, the strangest, and some of the most quotidian instances of the human experience. 

Topps’ take on Allen & Ginter has been around since 2006, and after nearly two decades, the set has brought some of the most talked about cards in the modern hobby. Here’s a look at some of the most entertaining inserts that have ever been pulled from an A&G pack.

Allen & Ginter Rip Cards (2006-Present)

Since its inception, the Topps Allen & Ginter set has held a collection of rip cards (and even double rip cards) which dare collectors to destroy their most recent pull by ripping it open to reveal a mini card inside. Every rip card is a gamble, which is why hobbyists have loved them ever since their introduction. While there is no specific rip card that we are highlighting here, we had to discuss this innovation from Allen & Ginter as rip cards hold a special place in hobby history, being the only type of trading card to date to hold a U.S. patent.

John F. Kennedy Relic Card (2006)

Several of the most powerful men in the world have made their cardboard debut in A&G throughout the set’s history. One of the earliest occurrences surfaced with the 2006 release when JFK was featured in a relic card containing a “game-worn” swatch of one of the 35th president’s sweaters. With Kennedy being known as one of the most stylish heads of state, this card captures an authentic moment in political and fashion history.

Bigfoot Cabinet Boxloader Autographs (2008)

Allen & Ginter is one of the premier platforms for documenting popular cultural history in innovative ways. In 2008, the set gave us one of the most talked about autos ever to be pulled from a pack. The set included 200 autos from the world’s first-ever monster truck, Bigfoot. Lacking opposable thumbs, the awe-inspiring automobile used the tools it was blessed with to leave its mark: the John Hancock on the card is a skidmark left by the vehicle’s tire. 

Napoleon Bonaparte DNA Relics (2009)

What Napoleon Bonaparte lacked in size, he made up for in ruthless ambition – some would even call it a complex. No person in history has come closer to conquering all of continental Europe than the 5-foot-6 French military phenom that reigned during the 19th century. The 2009 set featured a one-of-one cardboard collectible of Napoleon with an actual strand of the Little Corporal’s hair encapsulated in the card. It’s almost like Napoleon is your slob of a roommate who never cleans the bathroom.

Mythological Relics (2013)

Since man developed language, we have been telling stories as a way to exercise our creative muscles and explain the world around us. In 2013, Allen & Ginter paid tribute to some of humanity’s most acclaimed mythological characters with the Mythological Relics inserts. The set incorporated four familiar fairytale friends: Phoenix, Leprechaun, Dragon, and Fairy. Each produced card is nearly as rare as the characters they depict, being serially numbered to ten.

Vince Gilligan Full-Sized Jumbo Set (2014)

From 2008-2013, Vince Gilligan blessed television screens with one of the most celebrated dramas in the medium’s history — Breaking Bad. After the series finale, the renowned creator was kind enough to share some of his handwritten notes and scripts from the series’ final season with Topps, which manufactured these relics into oversized cards, immortalizing everybody’s favorite manufacturer of methamphetamine, Walter White.

Relic Coffee Cup (2015)

As noted, no topic is off limits for the creative minds behind Topps Allen & Ginter as the team looks to commemorate every corner of our culture, even the one that houses the Topps design team. While Topps staff autographs have regularly shown up throughout Allen & Ginter’s run, 2015 saw the addition of staff relic cards. These ten cards housed pieces of memorabilia that were byproducts of the team’s creative process. You could find relics from product descriptions, subject lists, invoices, and even a “game-used” piece of a coffee cup from a member of the Topps team.

Ancient Rome Relics – The Colosseum (2016)

In the tradition of capturing the history of humanity, the 2016 edition of Allen & Ginter included relics from some of humanity’s earliest architectural feats with its Ancient Rome Relics subset. Fittingly, the set included a relic card from one of sports’ earliest and most iconic sites, The Colosseum. Next to an image of the recognizable ring’s ruins, you will find a small swatch from the structure that housed everything from gladiator contests to famous mythological dramas. 

Cryptocurrency #83 (Base Set) (2018)

In the spirit of covering all corners of culture, the 2018 Topps Allen & Ginter incorporated one of the most well-known base cards in the set’s tenure in the form of the 2018 Cryptocurrency #83. Granted, this card is not technically an insert, but given how it was the headline of so many forum posts in 2018, it deserves inclusion on this list – we’ll chalk it up as an honorable mention. This card’s volatility accurately represents the history of crypto as the price of a PSA 10 ballooned to as high as $850 in February of 2021 but has since come back down to earth – much like crypto itself – trading for just north of $100. Maybe now is a good time to buy the dip?

In Bloom Plant Me Variation Minis (2019)

While Rip Cards may be the most well-known Allen & Ginter innovations, the 2019 In Bloom Plant Me Variation Minis are a close second. This subset held six breathtaking botanicals, including Black-Eyed Susans, Spurred Snap-Dragons, and Shirley Poppies. But what made these inserts such a fun find for collectors was the fact that you could actually plant the card and turn the collectible into a statement bloom of your home garden.

With a focus on the wacky, wild, and off-the-wall instances of popular culture and history, Topps Allen & Ginter has worked its way into the hearts of collectors as it pushes to the outermost boundaries of the hobby. On March 1st, grab a box of 2022 Topps Allen & Ginter Chrome, celebrate the hits, and enjoy the bona fide weirdness that Allen & Ginter will bring to your collection. 


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