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One-of-One: A card, usually a parallel, that is (literally) a one-of-a-kind item.
The gimmick was introduced in 1997 by Fleer with their Masterpiece cards in Flair Showcase Baseball and Basketball. The concept was so successful that variety of one-of-one iterations for inserts and parallels have been a Hobby staple ever since.
After Fleer introduced one-of-one cards to the Hobby, Pinnacle Brands, Inc. followed suit with their own unique version of a one-of-one, the Press Plate. These "cards" were aluminum plates featuring one of the four "CMYK" colors used for printing (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) the actual cards in its 1997 Pinnacle and 1997 New Pinnacle sets.
Each subsequent year after 1997 featured more one-of-one parallels, parallels of inserts, or inserts in general in an attempt by card companies to feed collector demand for these unique parallels and distinguish their product offering from competitors. This created the trend of card manufacturers in the early 2000s stocking their products with multiple one-of-one card offerings, which led to predictable result of driving down of the aggregate value of such cards. The textbook example of this proliferation of contrived scarcity is the 2004 Diamond Kings baseball set.
With a dizzying array of parallels, 2004 Diamond Kings was a product unlike any The Hobby had seen before at the time. Among the 79 different parallel sets (some of which had featured articles of game-used equipment, autographs, and/or combinations thereof), there were 20 parallel sets limited to only one copy. The only distinguishing characteristic between the 20 different one-of-one parallel sets was either the color of a foil stamp or a matted frame on the card. For some collectors, this "stretched" the definition of the one-of-one concept as each individual card in this base set had 20 different one-of-one parallels, thus leading them question the veracity of referring to cards like these as "true" one-of-ones.
The contrived scarcity issue has led some collectors to personally establish a new guideline between what is and what is not a one-of-one. Thus, the term "True One-of-One" has been unofficially coined to distinguish between a card that is truly limited to only one copy from one-of-one cards in products like 2004 Diamond Kings which have multiple one-of-one parallels of the same card.