Is Panini Still A Top Sports Card Company? Six Reasons Why, Despite Losing Licensing Deals

Panini is the go-to for highly valuable basketball and football cards. The company changed the game with its Logoman and NFL Shield one-of-one autograph cards. Patrick Mahomes’ 2017 National Treasures NFL Shield autographed rookie card sold for $4.3 million in July 2021, while Steph Curry’s 2009 National Treasures Logoman rookie autograph card went for a staggering $5.9 million, making them the most expensive football and basketball cards of all-time, respectively.

2017 National Treasures NFL Shield Mahomes Rookie Auto
2017 National Treasures NFL Shield Mahomes Rookie Auto (credit: PWCC Marketplace)

Panini has stood tall as a beacon of innovation, quality, and passion. With its roots in Modena, Italy, and a journey spanning over six decades, Panini has revolutionized the sports card industry, winning the hearts and minds of collectors worldwide.

However, Panini has recently taken a massive hit. The company lost its licensing deals with the NFL and NBA to Fanatics, which owns Topps. However, Panini is still able to produce NBA cards through 2025.

Is Panini still a top sports card trading company? HobbyListings explores the history of the company and the key factors that make it a leader in the sports card market.

The Story of Panini: From Humble Beginnings to Global Dominance

Panini Soccer Stickers
Lot of Panini soccer stickers. (credit: eBay)
  • The Early Days: Panini’s story began in 1961 when the Panini brothers opened a newsstand in Modena, Italy. Their foray into sports memorabilia started with football (soccer) stickers, a venture that quickly captured the imagination of fans across Europe.
  • Expanding Beyond Stickers: By the 1980s, Panini had ventured into the realm of trading cards, an expansion that broadened its appeal and solidified its position in the collectibles market.
  • Embracing Global Markets: Over the years, Panini has successfully tapped into international markets, catering to diverse audiences and adapting to changing trends in sports memorabilia.

Six Reasons Why Panini Reigns Supreme

Tom Brady 2015 Panini Immaculate Collection Game Used Number Patch Auto True 1/1
Tom Brady 2015 Panini Immaculate Collection Game Used Number Patch Auto True 1/1. (credit: eBay)
  • Innovation and Adaptability: Panini has consistently stayed ahead of the curve, embracing digital platforms and innovative technologies to enhance the collecting experience.
  • Unmatched Quality: Known for high-quality card stock and detailed imagery, Panini’s products are a blend of durability and aesthetic appeal, including the vaunted one-of-one NFL Shields and NBA Logoman cards.
  • Diversity in Product Range: From high-end collections to more accessible packs, Panini caters to a wide range of collectors, ensuring there’s something for everyone.
  • Strong Focus on Collector Engagement: Panini actively engages with the collector community through events, promotions, and digital platforms, building a strong bond with its audience.
  • Global Reach and Influence: With a presence in numerous countries, Panini’s global footprint allows it to capture diverse tastes and preferences in sports memorabilia.
  • Commitment to Authenticity and Historical Preservation:  Panini cards are not just collectibles; they are pieces of sports history, capturing moments and legends for posterity.

A Look At Panini High-End Products

As Panini continues to innovate and expand, its commitment to quality, authenticity, and collector engagement remains unwavering. The company’s journey from a small Italian newsstand to a global leader in sports cards is a testament to its vision, resilience, and passion for sports memorabilia. Here’s a look at Panini’s high-end cards.

2016 NATIONAL TREASURES KOBE BRYANT NBA LOGOMAN GAME WORN 1/2
2016 NATIONAL TREASURES KOBE BRYANT NBA LOGOMAN GAME WORN 1/2. (credit: eBay)
  • Panini National Treasures: Known for its luxurious design, National Treasures includes on-card autographs, premium memorabilia pieces like jersey patches and bat fragments, and is highly sought after for its rarity and the inclusion of legendary and current players.
  • Panini Flawless: Flawless is one of the most exclusive lines in the market, featuring cards encased with diamonds or other precious stones, and on-card autographs from top-tier players. Its incorporation of precious gems adds to its luxury status.
  • Panini Immaculate Collection: This collection is known for high-quality card stock, autographs, unique card designs, and player memorabilia. The unique materials and artistic card design appeal to high-end collectors.
  • Panini Prizm: Prizm cards are known for their reflective surfaces and colorful parallels. The series includes autographs, rookie cards, and inserts that are highly prized for their aesthetic and value.
  • Panini Obsidian: Obsidian features a sleek, black design with on-card autographs, jersey patches, and unique die-cut cards. It is popular for its modern, elegant aesthetic and limited print runs.
  • Panini Spectra: Spectra is known for its bright, colorful designs and array of parallels. The product typically includes on-card autographs, multi-colored patch cards, and is a favorite for those who appreciate vibrant card designs.
  • Panini One and One: This basketball line, known for its on-card autographs and memorabilia cards, is encased in a one-touch case. Each box contains one autographed card and one base or parallel card, emphasizing quality over quantity.
  • Panini Contenders Optic: Combining the popular Contenders brand with the high-end, chrome-style Optic finish, this product includes on-card autographs, shiny cardstock, and is popular for both its design and the potential for valuable hits.
  • Panini Noir: Noir is characterized by its artistic and cinematic design. It includes on-card autographs, memorabilia cards, and is known for its visually striking black-and-white theme.
  • Panini Crown Royale: This product is famous for its unique die-cut designs and includes on-card autographs, memorabilia cards, and the coveted Kaboom! insert cards.

Matt Higgins contributed to this report.

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