PROOF Card - P: A PROOF card is usually one that has a
fully printed obverse (front) but a completely blank reverse
(back). There is usually no design nor markings on the reverse.
There is rarely any phone time on a PROOF card. If a card
has a blank reverse or has the word PROOF printed on it
somewhere, we typically list it as a PROOF. PROOF cards
are usually created to preview the production quality as the
production continues to a final product.
PROTOTYPE Card - PT or M: A PROTOTYPE card is sometimes
called a "MODEL" card. These cards are generally a SPECIMEN
or PROOF card that never became a live issue card, other than the
few that were made. Most of the time there was never a PIN number.
These cards were made usually as an advertising idea presented by
a marketing agent to the company who either substantially changed
the design or outright rejected the promotional idea. PROTOTYPE
cards were never accepted as authorized and licensed live cards.
SAMPLE Card - S: A SAMPLE card is usually printed with
a complete obverse (front) and a complete reverse (back),
except that there is usually no PIN number. There is often just
a blank space where the PIN number would normally be printed,
but sometimes the word SAMPLE is printed there. If a card
has the word SAMPLE printed on it somewhere, we typically
list it as a SAMPLE. The term SAMPLE is usually interchangable
with the term SPECIMEN. SAMPLE cards are often created
as printer's waste, or cards printed without PIN numbers to
preview the quality before the PIN number is applied.
SPECIMEN Card - S: A SPECIMEN card is usually printed
with a complete obverse (front) and a complete reverse (back),
except that there is usually no PIN number. Usually there's just
a blank space where the PIN number would normally be printed.
Often there are fictitious markings in that same area such as all
zero's or 9's. Sometimes the word TEST or SAMPLE or
SPECIMEN might be printed there, and sometimes it is even
printed on the front . If the word TEST is printed on the card
we normally list it as a TEST card. If the word SAMPLE is
printed on the card we usually list it as a SAMPLE card. The
term SPECIMEN is usually interchangable with the word SAMPLE.
Specimen cards were usually printers overruns, or special extra cards
that were ordered without time on them. These were generally intended
to be given to the media for marketing the product, or to company
insiders, or to their friends, or for the corporate books. The main
difference is that no PIN number is on the card. This way, the company
only paid for printing, but didn't have to pay for the phone time. It was
far less expensive for them to produce. The Specimen cards (often can
also be called "Samples") are typically a lot scarcer than the 'real" ones,
because they usually printed less than 5% of the regular run, and often
far less than that. Rarely would they print more than 100 extras, even
if the regular print run was huge.
TEST Card - T: A TEST card is usually printed with a complete
front and back. TEST cards are usually live cards designed to
test equipment. Service or Maintenance cards are often called
TEST cards. If a card has the word TEST printed on it, whether
or not there is a PIN number, we will usually list it as a TEST
card. Sometimes a TEST card can be listed as a SAMPLE or
USED Card - U or u: A USED phone card is one where the
scratch-off coating over the PIN number has been removed. The
card may or may not have been used for long distance calling.
Sometimes phone cards were placed in envelopes or folders and
so there was no need for them to be issued with scratch-off coatings.
Once they are removed from the original envelope or folder they
would be considered USED.
* Why Do Some People Collect Phone Cards?
Obviously, people collect phone cards for a variety of reasons, but the
majority collect them for the same reasons others might collect stamps,
coins, and sports trading cards.
The IMAGES pictured on the phonecards are of the most interest. Disney is
the #1 collectible in the world by a wide margin. Coca-Cola (Coke) is
second and McDonald's is third. There are animals and artwork, birds and
flowers and ships and cars and space and sports players and movie stars
and comic images, and just about everything else. Phone cards are often
collected by topic or theme, but they are usually collected because of
Also of interest are Corporate names and promotions. Many workers from IBM
might Love to own an IBM card. Many AT&T workers may want to own AT&T
cards, or were given some at a special event (and those cards may now be
worth a Bunch of money if they kept them in good condition). (Hint: We Buy
Cards Too!) Or what about the people from CompuServe (cards were made with
the CompuServe logo!) So the second most popular form of collecting would
be by Company. And AT&T, the Regional Bell Operating Companies, along with
the large corporations are far in the lead in this area.
Another interest is for the purpose of "investment". Cards can go up in
value (The 1st AT&T card issued in 1992 now sells for over $1000., but
cards can also decrease in value (The NYNEX $1. Democratic Convention
complimentary card at one time reached $1700.00 but now sells for under
$500.00 The Sprint Coca-Cola Monsters of the Gridiron card was once worth
$45. and now sells for less than $5.00).
But our advice has always been to collect for enjoyment. Sure ...if you
want to buy two of an item so that you might someday trade the extra for a
different issue that you want, then that's okay. But be extremely careful
if you decide to speculate, because this is a very new hobby within the
USA and as such, has a very limited (illiquid) market. The Japanese and
European markets are well established (since 1976) and have an enormous
collector base. The first USA collectors started about 1990.
* What Determines The Collector's Value of A Phone Card?
1) AGE: Many older cards have disappeared, have been lost, or have not been
collected. Even the early AT&T cards (that have only been produced since
1992) have been difficult to locate in any quantity to satisfy early
collector's demands. The first U.S. card (IntelExpo) was used from an
Exposition phone booth in Washington, DC in 1985 and is listed for about
$1000. under the heading of Landis & Gyr. The First AT&T Phone Card is
worth a bit more...
2) MINTAGE: The quantity produced is a major factor. First-rate
telecommunications companies will sometimes print very limited runs of a
card for a variety of legitimate reasons. Many of these cards were unknown
until the promotion was over and they are simply not available. It can be
expensive to track these down.
3) AVAILABILITY: Some phone companies have cards left over from promotions,
and the prudent thing to do would be to destroy the remaining cards.
However, some companies who had little concern for the collector, were
greedy and sold their leftovers at very cheap prices to under-capitalized
dealers with business ethics that allowed them to resell these cards well
below the established market value.
Some dealers sold them "by the pound"... even the very same cards where
they had been the original distributor (at higher prices)! This practice
made the cards very available, and consequently their values dropped
substantially. Such was the case with Omnitel, NAT (North American
Telecom), STS (Strategic Telecom Systems), HT Technologies, many issues
produced by The Score Board, some ACMI and Sprint issues, and some others.
Most of these phone companies have gone out-of-business, but the damage to
collectors was already firmly in place. It will take considerable time for
the market to absorb the extra cards, and for collectors to regain their
confidence in collecting.
4) ATTRACTIVENESS & TOPIC: Collector demand is increased by the design
on a card. Collectors generally prefer to collect by theme or topic, but their
second choice is by phone company. The most internationally collected
themes are Disney (#1 by far), Coca-Cola (#2) and McDonalds (#3). Other
popular themes include: Space, corporate logos, or really any other subject
that strikes your fancy such as Art, Animals, Birds, Cats & Dogs, Santa,
Garfield, Presidents, Sea Life, Snoopy, Transportation, Marilyn Monroe,
James Dean, or Elvis. People collect AT&T or the Regional Bell Operating
Companies (RBOC's), or IBM, etc. Sports-related telecards are a strong
market segment. Price increases (and drops) are related to demand and
5) MISCELLANEOUS: Additional determining price factors include the phone
carrier, dealers' stock levels, competition, issue price, condition,
distribution, trendiness, uniqueness, origin, technology, and whether there
is a bull or bear market.
* Who's Promoting Phone Cards & Why We Feel That They Will Be Collectible?
The biggest phone card promoters were the phone companies! Why would AT&T
and Ameritech and the other major Regional Bell companies along with LDDS
(MCI-Worldcom) & Sprint & GTE and others promote - of all things - Phone
Well ... for NYNEX & Bell Atlantic ... they had tens of thousands of pay
phones vandalized. But with prepaid phone cards the damage to their
equipment dropped dramatically. (There is no longer as much cash - money
in the pay phones).
And what about AT&T and WorldCom & Sprint & Qwest? Well ... they have LOTS
of inventory to sell (minutes) and they know that phone cards will do a few
1) Establishing a loyal user who will "recharge" their phone cards over &
2) Getting paid in advance for all the phone time they sell (whether it's
used or not),
3) In many cases they get to keep the revenue from the UNUSED phone time.
(Rarely would people use a phonecard with only 2 minutes of phone time
4) Often they will charge connection fees, a monthly decrement "service"
charge, they will round up to the next minute or two or three, and they may
have a minimum usage per connection, or a short expiration date. If the
user gets an answer machine, the windfall profit goes to the phone company
who may realize 80 cents for a 30 second call!
5) And then there's the collector market. Collectors buy unused stamps from
the post office that are never used for mailing! We give the Postal Service
37 cents for what costs the USPS less than 1 cent to produce!
Well ... frequently the phone company (Southwestern Bell's Stan Musial's
series or Ameritech's Frank Thomas cards for example) will issue a
"collectible" and KNOW that very few people will use the phone time. They,
similar to the post office, can sell a phone card for $10. for which they
paid less than 50 cents, and they'll never have to deliver the long
Well ... WE promote phone cards too, and we offer many different
topics/themes and companies for the collector:
We have topics covering everything from Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, to
George Washington, Jimi Hendrix, Dick Tracy, Coke, McDonald's, Disney,
Microsoft Windows '95, Santa Claus, Gillette, Ryder Trucking, Elvis,
Kennedy, stuffed animals, Star Trek, and Wildlife!
There's Red Dog Beer, and Heineken. There's Snoopy and Garfield, and The
Pink Panther. There's the beautiful NBC Peacock, and there are automobiles
and cats and dogs and NASA space photos. And lots of sports-related
telecards with athletes from baseball, football, basketball, soccer,
hockey, and other sports pictured!
There are motion vision cards, die-cut cards, JUMBO sized cards, and a card
with a cow beaming up toward an alien spaceship... virtually every theme is
represented. Click Here To See
Our Topic List! And if you CAN'T find the theme you want, then get a
license from the Company and produce it yourself (or convince Joe's Pizza
down the street to issue their own phone cards as a great advertising and
So, in conclusion ... the multi-billion dollar telecommunications industry
had the wherewithal, and the motive to support (and push) pre-paid
phonecards on the public. (And since phonecards offer the user more
privacy, more convenience, and a lower cost per long-distance minute ...
it's a win-win situation.) Every user is happy, and the collectors have
their enjoyment too!
More recently, promotional phone cards have become less popular because of
cellphones. If people have a large number of minutes to use each month on
their cellphone plan, then why would they use a promotional phone card? But
there's still some demand for companies who wish to put their own logo on the
cards, or to design a marketing survey, or provide their employees with
free calling time, as a handout for a new product, or as a business card,
or to commemorative an event.
* Who Runs The CollectorMagic.com Phone Card Department?
Steve Schwartz is the former manager of the Sears Phone Card Department.
He's been in the collectibles industry since 1970, has an extensive
background in stamps, coins, precious metals, coin jewelry, and managed a
Sears retail department for 18 years.
In November 1977 he became a licensee with Sears, Roebuck & Company. Early
in 1994 he saw a new collectibles industry emerging, and decided to focus
most of his efforts and studies toward PrePaid Telephone Cards for
Mr. Schwartz has written articles for Moneycard Collector Magazine
(considered to have been the most respected magazine in the USA
specializing in the phone card for collectors market).
He is also listed as a contributor to the Hiscocks & Garibaldi Catalog
that, until mid-1997, was considered to be the most acclaimed and
comprehensive reference book for phonecards of the USA (400 color pages
and thousands of listings).
After that, Mr. Schwartz was listed on the Title Page as the Editorial
Consultant for the 872 page, full-color Moneycard Collector Reference
Catalog issued in September, 1997. This book has become the industry
standard. In 1999, he purchased the URL CollectorMagic.com that now boasts
the world's most comprehensive listing of USA phone cards for collectors.
CollectorMagic.com continues to actively update their reference collection for
future catalog purposes.
In 1999 Mr. Schwartz taught a workshop on collectibles for Intele-Card News
Magazine. He is well known and respected in this field. He left Sears on
January 31, 2000 after 22 years.
In September 2000 and again in July 2001, CollectorMagic.com was one of the
sponsors of the North American Collectibles PhoneCard Expo. In 2000 -
CollectorMagic.com issued 4 different, limited edition co-logo cards with AT&T
(250 printed each). From 2001 - 2006, CollectorMagic.com produced 50 more
AT&T promotional "QuarterBear" cards (250-325 issued of each) and printed
photo pages for their inventory. Now, however, this website is more current and
with far greater content.
Click here if you want to see a photo page!
In May 2003 CollectorMagic.com issued another 18 limited edition AT&T
promotional cards that included 4 designs with artwork by James "Kingneon"
Gucwa. These Gucwa designs included the Coca-Cola logo.
* Our Code of Ethics
To be worthy of the confidence and respect reposed in us by those with whom
we have contact, we recognize our obligation to the public and to other
dealers as follows:
1) To give advice to our clientele to the best of our ability;
2) To buy and sell at prices commensurate with a reasonable return on our
investment, and at prevailing market prices, and with due allowances for
our potential risk ;
3) To be truthful in our advertising, and refrain from disseminating
statements that would tend to lead to a false or incorrect conclusion with
respect to our own goods or services or those of our competitors, and to
make no false claims to policies or practices of generally underselling
4) To assist the legal Authorities to the best of our ability in the
prosecution of violators of the law relating to our industry;
5) To refrain from dealing in stolen, counterfeit, or otherwise fraudulent
6) To refrain from misleading a buyer as to description, quality, or
quantity in the sale of merchandise;
7) To honor and fulfill our own contracts in a timely and professional
8) To make no known false statements or representations in our relations
with customers or competitors, and to cooperate to the best of our ability
in all matters that tend to the betterment of our hobby and industry.
* Payment & Shipping Information
PAYMENT TERMS: Full payment is due with your order. We accept MC, VISA,
Discover, American Express and other credit/debit cards through our processing
agent PayPal, and you do NOT need a PayPal account. We also accept
PayPal payments directly (send money to paypal@CollectorMagic.com). Payment by
Cash or Postal Money Order usually allows us to ship within 24-48 hours of
receipt. Please allow 3 weeks for personal checks or cashiers checks to reach
us and clear, and make checks payable to "CollectorMagic".
If ordering less than $60. we add $3. postage as ALL orders are sent
insured or certified. WE pay the postage for U.S. delivered packages on orders
of $60.or more, except for supplies orders for which we will add $7.00
for shipping within the USA and more for international shipping. Customers
outside the USA who order supplies should confirm the shipping price.
International Orders: Orders below $60. shipped Outside the USA will be charged
$6.50 USD for shipping. They will NOT be sent insured (at Customer's Risk).
For orders of $60. or more Outside the U.S.A. we can usually send your package
by Registered Airmail for an extra $18.00 USD. For the quickest delivery, Priority
Mail Express (EMS) please add $45.00 USD. Customers outside the USA
who order supplies should confirm the shipping price in advance.
All orders should include your name, address, and Telephone number. Florida
residents please add 6.5% sales tax. Refund if sold out ... No Credit
All phone cards are mint, unused (unless described otherwise) and most of
the listings are IN STOCK and for sale. Those out-of-stock are designated
by an "N/A" (Not Available) in place of the "order" link. NOTE: if you
have some of these "N/A" cards for sale - we're interested in buying them!
All phone cards on this website are genuine, they are sold as collectibles,
and most no longer have usable calling time; almost ALL are expired.
PRICES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE; You may want to call us to confirm prices
and availability. We reserve the right to limit quantities. Satisfaction
Guaranteed. 14 days no-questions-asked return policy. Phone, FAX, and
E-mail orders are given priority over mail orders. We Buy/Sell/Trade.
Special Offers may be withdrawn at any time and without notice. Thank You
For Shopping at CollectorMagic.com!