I Love the 90’s (Inserts)

Unless you were collecting in the early 90’s when Donruss Elite first hit the scene as a super-rare (at the time) insert, you will never truly appreciate the beauty of the card and its impact on this now crazy Hobby of ours. Back in 1991, there was no game-used relics, 1 of 1 anything, or even Refractors. Upper Deck had already squashed Topps in popularity and introduced collectors to the first ever “autograph in a pack”. Donruss really needed something special to compete with the big boys and so with the help of Dick Perez, ‘The Elite Series’ was born.

By today’s standards, ’90 & ’91 Donruss Elite is about as rare as a wax box of 1990 Topps. Any “Joe Collector” would be quick to discard these inserts but the truth is, without these cards there would likely be no Joe Collector. Think of how disappointed you become when you pay $100 dollars for a box of trading cards and then find out your “no name” autograph isn’t numbered. Well, thank The Elite Series for that.

By 1993, the “Elite” magic began to wear off but Donruss, never one to use restraint eventually made Donruss Elite an entire release on its own with some amazing inserts included but it wasn’t until 1998 that Donruss once again struck insert magic with the now legendary (and bigger than Elite) Donruss Crusades.

That of course, is another editon of ‘I Love the 90’s (Inserts)’…


32 thoughts on “I Love the 90’s (Inserts)

  1. Ah, my most beloved set of the 90’s. When elite came out in 1991 I had no idea what it was. All I remember is I picked up a beckett and saw these cards going for hundreds of dollars. I went to my 9 1000 count boxes of these and looked through each and every card, no luck. I remember my local card shop was selling these at outragous prices. But I was determined at the time to get at least one. My first one you guessed it Jose Canseco paid 125.00 in 1992. I love this set from 1991-1998. I never pulled one from a pack until 1998 Tony Gywnn. I have pondered the thought of getting each card produced as the subset, but it would go into the thousands. Donruss made history with this set, I think this set revolutionized the hobby, these truly were the first chase cards. I would rather have the entire 1991 set than a rare 1/1 card.

  2. Holy cow….$125.

    You could probably get the entire set (minus the Sandberg auto) for much less than that today. Have you considered it?

  3. Its scary (cheap Halloween reference) how 10,000 sets of Elite inserts were made, and I’ve NEVER pulled one from a Donruss pack!! I can’t even imagine how many boxes of 91 and 92 Donruss I’ve busted over the years (all the thrills of busting packs without the cost!)… which all makes me think that there’s a warehouse somewhere with millions of old Donruss sets and boxed lying around, because I don’t think I’ve ever even seen an Elite card at a show or anything. Crazy.

  4. @Joe,
    With HUGE overproduction numbers, it’s not that surprising how hard it is to pull the Elite inserts. Remember, in ’91, #/10,000 was rare and which is why the Canseco, as noted above, sold for $125 at one time. Add on top of that no eBay or internet in the early ’90s, and you’ve got a formula for scarcity 🙂

  5. I remember the day I pulled my first Elite Series card. It was 1993 Donruss and I got it from a pack I bought at Target. My mother paid for three packs and I grabbed them immediately as she paid for the rest of the items. In the second pack there was shiny goodness — a Eddie Murray Elite card! I was 13 at the time, but I let a big profanity rip and about half a dozen people stopped to see what the hell happened. I think I ended up trading the card for a dozen Shaquille O’Neal rookies, including four from my beloved Stadium Club, then the colelcting world was buzzing about Shaq Attack.

  6. I can definitely remember when I was finally able to get the 1991 and 1992 Rickey Elite cards, well after they had ceased to become popular. They were just too expensive at the time. My neighbor growing up actually pulled a Will Clark Elite in 1991, but didn’t even know the goldmine that he’d stumbled upon (even though he was strictly a “by Beckett” trader, he somehow missed the Elite memo). He offered to trade it too me for a couple of Nolan Ryan cards, but I couldn’t let him do it, it just wouldn’t have been right.

  7. I have opened at least 11 or 12 boxes of 1991 Donruss, not to mention countless packs of both series.

    And I could probably wallpaper my kitchen in Bobby Thigpen Diamond Kings.

    But I have never pulled a 1991 Donruss Elite Series card!

    For those who HAVE pulled them, how many packs did you have to go through? These cards are harder to get than I could possibly imagine.

    I managed to pull two 1994 Elite Series cards, and I think my brother pulled another mid-90’s Elite Series, but the 1991 Elite Series remain the elusive gem.

  8. I busted TONS of this stuff in ’92 looking for some Elite’s. Finally pulled a Kirby Puckett (which I still have).

  9. If these 10,000 cards were so difficult to pull imagine trying to get one of the autographs numbered to just 5,000 copies.

  10. I only opened a handful of packs of this product, complete luck.

    The elite cards became easier to get through the year. 1994 seemed pretty common, eventhough they too were numbered to about 10,000. I think Donruss finally cut back on production a bit. Onemore note on 1994 Elite Series, they did not look that special. Just had silver borders.

  11. I often wonder if there are some of these cards lurking in packs. I mean how many people still by boxes of 1991 Donruss just for the heck of it.

  12. Out of all the Donruss product I’ve opened over the years, I never pulled an Elite card either. I’ve never even seen one in person. For a 10,000 print run item, they’re pretty tough to come by.

    I wonder how many of them are still waiting to be found in all the junk wax that’s still out there?

  13. Mario, I have looked on ebay mid range cards for the 1991 elite cards is 25.00 to 50.00, and the set was continued through 1998 until the sets were produced. there is roughly 10 cards per year maybe more at say he min 10.00 pre card 800.00 give or take, not including autographs and the one other 5000 copy. Even if you try to trade with someone they still want alot because they are hard to obtain.

  14. I saw a 1991 Barry Bonds going for 125.00, Canseco is always 50.00 to 75.00, 1994 Thomas 25.00 to 40.00, and griffey jr easy 75.00

  15. Mario, do you own that Canseco? If you do, it’s a shame some of those serial numbers are not switched around to create “05150/10,000.” This being funny because “5150” is police code for a person with mental issues. Fitting for Canseco.

  16. “I often wonder if there are some of these cards lurking in packs. I mean how many people still by boxes of 1991 Donruss just for the heck of it.”

    I know of at least one person…

    “I wonder how many of them are still waiting to be found in all the junk wax that’s still out there?”

    I’m hoping they’re still out there. But it sure doesn’t feel that way, busting sealed box after sealed box with no Elite Series yet!

  17. My parents used to own a convenience store when I was between the ages of 7 and 13 (1987-93). I got them to order box after box of ’91 Donruss to “sell” in the store–I ended up with most of the packs, of course. Anyway, I had never heard of the elite cards, but one day I pulled a Ricky Henderson Elite. I was dumbfounded, but unfortunately the card was factory damaged. It had a bum corner. Luckily, I got about $50 in trade value from a local card shop despite the ding. That was the only ’91 elite I ever pulled. I did manage to pull several over the next few years.

  18. I am still holding onto a beautiful Doug Drabek (5 of 8) 1991 Donruss Elite #6100. I was so excited when I packed it, but realized quickly that I pulled the least desirable card in the bloody set. This topic is right on…the card industry changed because of this 1991 set. It took awhile before they got it right, but this was a leap into uncharted territory at the time.

  19. I remember my sister and I both got mini-donruss packs at McDonalds in 1991 and both got a Canseco Elite card. Ebay is offering about $0.99 for someone else’s…

  20. I bought a single pack when i was 9 opened it, 3rd card in was Cecil Fielder 1991 elite 02369/10000. I was happy as could be that I am from MI and he was the big thing in baseball in Detroit. Still have it now 19 years later.

  21. I know this sounds crazy. But I pulled 2 from the 1991 set. Ken Griffey #13/18 (01348/10,000) and Frank Thomas #18/18 (08264/10,000) within minutes of each other. They were pulled from the Jumbo packs. Ahhhh the memories. I love holofoil

  22. For Easter of 1991 my uncle bought my cousins (2) a box of packs to split, I had spent the night at their house so they gave me 1 or 2 packs each, and wouldn’t you know it but I pulled a Barry Bonds Elite. My cousin that gave me the pack about died. I still have it today. maybe I just might give it back to him as a gift.

  23. Would anyone know what the box looks like that have these cards? I’ve got a few boxes of Donruss 1991’s. They are green boxes, but they also came in red boxes. Wondering if they’re the same….

  24. I pulled a Nolan Ryan Legend Series from 91′ Donruss. My friends and I called the shop we got it from cause we were friends with his son and he said in the 2 cases he went through that day that customers pulled 3, Matt Willams, George Brett and Rickey Henderson. He than asked me to bring it in when I said it was called Legend Series, when we got there he offered me $250 cash and an 86′ Fleer Jordan at the time that was worth $250. At first I said no but after a few days he was persistent and added a few wax boxes too so i parted with it.

    Then 3 yrs later in 94′ I am doing a card show and what walks up a kid selling a Nolan Ryan Legend, I ask what he wants for it and tells me $100 at that time it booked for $250. I said I’ll give you $75 and some Juan Gonzalez card he wanted. To this day I still have it and also purchased a complete set of 91′ ELites with another Ryan and Sandberg for $170 on ebay a few yrs ago.

  25. Lets put this into perspective. In 1992, Donruss consistantly inserted 4 Diamond King cards per wax box (36 packs). During that time my friend and I had a system for finding those Inserts out of the wax boxes at local stores and only bought those packs. Again 4 packs per box had a Diamond King Insert. Over that time we probably got about 150 single Diamond King cards. And also over that time we found 1 Frank Thomas Elite Insert. From that sample, thats 1 Elite per 150 Diamond Kings and 1 Diamond King per every 9 packs. That comes to about one Elite Insert per 1350 packs!…….Pretty rare.

  26. ive got a sealed box (36 packs) of 91 donruss in my closet , just now found out about these cards hsould i bust it?

    i got the box in a collection i bought off of my dads friend

  27. LoL. Last week I spent $40 on 4 boxes of series one 1991 Donruss Elite. I wanted the Canseco. One missing from my Canseco collection. Instead of buying the card from sketchy no pics purchase outright. I gambled and purchased packs. Out of the four boxes I drew the Canseco! I also was curious how many Elite were still out there. Also feel like I won the lottery, not only the Elite series I drew but got the card I wanted! Awesome! Agree with the post though. This series caused the insert chase! Hence 20 years post I still was excited finding this card as if I won a lottery!

  28. Actually nice cards never pulled any found 4 in a box I bought recently posted on ebay and tony gwynn sold quickly 3 more left so they are at least appreciated

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