Donruss-Panini Sports Cards

Between 1981 and 2005, Donruss was considered one of the ‘big three’ of sports cards companies, and competed fiercely with rivals Topps and Fleer. In 2005, Donruss lost its license with Major League Baseball, essentially removing it from the baseball card business. Today, they company manufactures football and basketball cards. The company has changed ownership many times during its history, being sold to Leaf in 1983, followed by Pinnacle in 1996, and most recently by the Italian company Panini in 2009.

Best known for their Diamond Kings baseball inserts; Donruss-Panini sports cards also released a number of smaller sets, including the Signature, Classics, and Champions lines.  The Diamond King line began as individual inserts and later evolved into a separate set in its own right. The designs changed substantially over the years, but always included the game’s biggest stars.  Donruss-Panini’s football and basketball cards also feature an Elite line, as well as a Rookies and Stars series, featuring younger players in both leagues. While many of the Donruss-Panini inserts and special sets can be very valuable, the base sets are generally considered a cut below some of the other major brands. The early Donruss baseball sets were printed on low quality cardboard and drastically overproduced, resulting in substantially reduced collectability. Modern Donruss-Panini sets are better designed, but are still collectible primarily for the special inserts.

Donruss did release a limited baseball series in 2008, called Donruss Threads. The cards featured players in either their high school or college uniforms, and made no reference to their current major league team. The set also features cards of both Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose. Special inserts in the set featured game-used bat cards for Jackson and autographed cards for Rose.

Panini sports cards signed an exclusive agreement to become the officially licensed maker of NBA basketball cards prior to the 2009-10 season.  They followed suit with an NFL football card license in 2010.  The company's product lines for football are especially popular with collectors. Brands such as Threads, Totally Certified, Gold Standard, Luxury Suite and others are known for being collector friendly.

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