One of the things we get used to seeing in the hobby these days is team tags. Team tags are great. They give us a good idea of the year the jersey was worn and a starting place to look for which games it was used in. Team tags are the different variations of set tags that are issued by teams. Not to be confused with the MeiGray tagging system, which tracks jerseys down to the game they were used in to, team tagging systems have room for error.
Some collectors want to know the full story on the jerseys they collect while others are satisfied with the tags sewn into the hem. The team’s main objective is to win, not track jerseys. As a collector, we need to keep this in mind. Some teams can be very good at providing us with the info we seek, carefully contained in their team tag, like the San Jose Sharks. Other teams apply that information to the LOAs they issue with the jersey, like the Vancouver Canucks.
Sometimes a player will use multiple jerseys a game. Other times you may see that player carry over his regular season jersey into the playoffs or begin to use his playoff jersey in the regular season. If this is not documented well, like MeiGray and select other teams do, the research is on you, if you care to know the information.
This is where photo matching comes in to play. There are the obvious things you can match to, such as repairs and slash marks on a jersey. The higher the resolution photo you are attempting to match to, the smaller the artifact you can find. Loose threads, color of stitching, location of numbers in relation to fight straps, and name letter locations can all be viable artifacts to match to.
As you explore, you may find that your regular season jersey was used in in the playoffs, or that one of your jerseys had a patch that was later removed for continued use of the jersey. This can be very helpful when you are trying to identify milestone achievement jerseys, such as first goals, hat tricks, and career point marks. Carefully identifying artifacts and matching them to photographs may give you more history on the jersey that you may not have known for the teams that have a more vague identifying system.