Shlabotnik Surprise

Last week I found a surprise envelope from Shlabotnik Report in my mailbox. Inside were a pair of cards and some newsprint clippings.

Let’s start with the cards, in particular the classic 1985 Topps Gary Pettis error which features his younger brother. As with the 1984 Fleer Glenn Hubbard, this is one of those noteworthy cards from my youth that for whatever reason never made it into my collection.  The story behind it is pretty fun and includes the information that Pettis refuses to sign the card.

This one isn’t as obvious a keeper as the Hubbard but collectors my age all know about it and know why it’s special so I’m very happy to add it to my binder after all these years.

The other card was an extra Goggomobile that he had mistakenly ordered form COMC and which he felt would look good next to the Ferrari card I grabbed earlier. Such a weird set with super-sporty Ferraris that people still admire and whatever this with a silly name, is but if I assemble a 6-pocket page of them it’ll definitely be a fun one to look at.

I’m glad Shlabotnik included a note about how the newsprint wasn’t just packaging since it was a good read. I didn’t scan them since they came from the current Sports Collectors Digest and you can just read the article online.

Shlabotnik thought of me because the article contained printing information about the 1960s Post sets.

Rotogravure printing was accomplished by Post’s graphic designers creating 150 percent scale mockups of each box, including the back panel. The group of mockups for each cereal brand and size were then arranged in the way they would be printed. A photograph was made and used to etch six color rotogravure cylinder plates. Each set of plates printed the boxes for one particular cereal.

Rotogravure makes sense since it’s ideal for single-sided packaging. This prompted me to loupe my Post cards and I can see how the text and linework isn’t as crisp as I’d expect it to be with offset. It’s still solid but all the edges have a slight dot screen aspect to them. The real interesting thing is the 6-color information but I suspect it’s really just CMYK process plus corporate logo spot colors.

Very cool stuff. Thanks Shlabotnik report!

New York Journal American

A short post about the last card I bought in 2022. I was hoping this would arrive before the end of the year but instead it showed up on January 2nd as my first card of 2023.

Yeah I never thought I’d find a card from this set. These are, essentially, lottery tickets that you’d receive when you purchased a New York Journal American newspaper. The Journal American was a major paper which existed from 1937–1966 after the merger of the New York Evening Journal and New York American newspapers. I’m vaguely familiar with the Journal because of its prominence in both the history of comics* and yellow journalism but I was not aware that Hearst had multiple newspapers in New York.

*Specifically color-printed comics.

To be clear the two Hearst papers weren’t exactly competing but rather were a morning and evening paper. Still it’s weird to me that it took until 1937 for them to merge and just release multiple editions of one paper.

Anyway, in 1954 these lottery tickets were available at New York newstands and resulted in a 59-card “set” consisting of players from the three New York teams. 1950s New York baseball had a ton of star power and they all have cards in the set. Davey Williams is not such a star but I still couldn’t believe I’d found one for cheap on ebay.

It’s a great addition and a fun memento from the age of newspapers. Plus having the 1954 schedule is great for the Giants. For most of my life as a Giants fan that season was the one looming over everything else as the last World Series Championship.

A look at the numbers

A quick post prompted by something Greg posted last week when he updated his Dodger card count by year. One nice thing about having everything cataloged is that it can be fun to just explore the data and looking at Greg’s numbers was prey cool. So I did some quick Google Sheets calculations and came up with the resulting graph.

The graph goes all the way to 1911 because I do have one card from that year but after a couple blips in the early 1930s and 1939–1941 it really only gets going with the dawn of modern cards in 1948. The graph profile is almost exactly what I would expect with a massive peak in my childhood junk wax years that never returned to what it was before then since we never returned to the age of just one set of cards a year.

Looking more closely. The peak in 1955 is caused by the Golden Stamps set whereas the ones in 1976 and 1979 are TCMA’s fault. The absence of a big jump starting in 1981 reflects how poorly I’ve done getting the Donruss and Fleer team sets for the early 1980s.

Also, compared to Greg’s numbers my numbers in general are super small. Yes at one level getting 100 different Giants cards each year is still a lot of cards. At another though it could clearly be a whole lot worse and I’m pleased that I’ve been as disciplined as I have been.

Anyway, a big long list of the numbers follows. I’ve deleted all the zero years.

1911: 1
1933: 2
1934: 2
1935: 2
1937: 1
1939: 4
1940: 4
1941: 5
1948: 10
1949: 11
1950: 16
1951: 22
1952: 25
1953: 19
1954: 30
1955: 45
1956: 22
1957: 25
1958: 32
1959: 32
1960: 42
1961: 40
1962: 38
1963: 50
1964: 33
1965: 35
1966: 34
1967: 40
1968: 34
1969: 41
1970: 43
1971: 48
1972: 36
1973: 34
1974: 43
1975: 48
1976: 72
1977: 55
1978: 53
1979: 107
1980: 72
1981: 65
1982: 73
1983: 112
1984: 111
1985: 93
1986: 124
1987: 125
1988: 179
1989: 239
1990: 332
1991: 331
1992: 444
1993: 380
1994: 467
1995: 339
1996: 290
1997: 221
1998: 191
1999: 159
2000: 149
2001: 212
2002: 219
2003: 195
2004: 106
2005: 87
2006: 91
2007: 93
2008: 127
2009: 131
2010: 108
2011: 167
2012: 168
2013: 180
2014: 144
2015: 207
2016: 131
2017: 100
2018: 179
2019: 190
2020: 159
2021: 107
2022: 99

Pre-War Christmas Cards

A couple of late-arriving Christmas cards both showed up last Wednesday. One of those weird kismet things where both mailings worked really well together as pre-war grab bags.

The first mailing came from Anson at Pre-war Cards* and featured three cards that are perfectly tailored to my interests. The first two are a pair of aviators best known for their work with lighter-than-air flight—in part because they both lost their lives through lighter than air flight disasters.

*According to Anson it’s been en route for weeks so it must have just been waiting for just the right moment.

I’ve actually mentioned both before on this blog so this will be fast. S. A. Andrée was previously covered in my Polar Exploration post. Since this Felix Potin card dates to 1898–1908, it was printed after he and his balloon expedition had disappeared into the Arctic and entered the realm of myth and legend. Quite an amazing story to read about and a lot of fun to have a portrait of the man to go with my card of his balloon.

It is worth noting though that the Felix Potin cards appear to be photographic prints. Not cabinet cards or cartes de visite but the same mass-produced photographs that the 3D Cavanders cards are. Unlike the Cavanders though the Felix Potin has a blank back (which I’m assuming is standard rather than this being a skinned card).

Admiral Moffett is a card I actually have already. As per that previous post, I have a special attachment to him having grown up in the shadow of his eponymous naval air base. His card was printed in 1934, the year after he perished in the USS Akron crash—basically ending the United States’ lighter-than-air program and makes a fitting pair to the Andrée card as memorials of a sort.

The third card was a 1927–1932 Die Welt in Bildern card featuring a Josetti Bilder back. It’s a great image of a California Sequoia with a tunnel carved trough it. I’ve gone ahead and just included a screenshot of the Google Translate back since it seems like a straightforward translation. I’m now wondering what other cards are in this series (is it trees, USA, California?) and it kind of amazes me how there are so many sets out there with checklists that aren’t online.

The other mailing came from Marc Brubaker who stumbled into a weird cache of cards at a local store last week and proceeded to do his usual thing where when I receive one envelope from him there’s a 50% chance another is arriving very soon. He posted a photo of these in the Discord “look what I just got” channel and I immediately recognized them as being “like” the 1934 Hints on Association Football set.

Turns out they’re more than like and are in fact the same set only also released in 1934 only in China by the British American Tobacco Company. So no text and Chinese backs both otherwise basically the same aside from the decision to omit the final two cards in the British set (#49 Receiving a Penalty and #50 Goalkeeper Narrowing the Goal) and turn the Chinese set into a 48-card set.

When I looked closer though I realized that they hadn’t just removed the text, they’d modified the artwork so that all the soccer players were Chinese with rounder facial features and blacker hair. I’ve gone ahead and inserted scans of the same cards in the British set for comparison purposes. Yes here are other changes to the uniform colors and the softness of the artwork but the big change is the racial one.

No much to say about the backs except to note that there’s no obvious branding and the overall design is super simple. Just text surrounded by a border with a simple card number in one corner.

Google Translate doesn’t do well here but it does enough to suggest that the text is trying to translate from the original English. So I’ve gone ahead and included the English backs along with the screenshots. I’m mainly interested here in how Google Translate handles the top-to-bottom, right-to-left text flow by just rotating the English text so it flows the same direction as the Chinese.

Very cool stuff and I get to add another country to my Around the World post now too. Thanks Anson and Marc and have a Happy New Year of collecting.

More Holiday Mail

A couple more holiday mailings trickled in after my last post so it’s time for another roundup post. These both warranted further comments so this post took a while to get up.

Gavin over at Baseball Card Breakdown is one of the custom card makers who I really enjoy. He’s been playing with intentionally fading 1991 Fleer and sent out a bunch of his experiments as a Christmas surprise to various card bloggers.

A lot of bloggers were writing about theres in the week before Christmas and I figured that I just hadn’t made the cut. I don’t trade very much and it’s been years since I traded with Gavin in particular.* It turned out that Gavin still had my old address and had sent my card to my previous apartment. I was dropping off Christmas cards locally and when I swung by my old place Gavin’s card was there waiting for me (along with a few other Christmas cards).

*Though I did inspire a couple GIFs.

The Christmas overlay is as fun as expected but I really just love the faded yellow card by itself. I’ve never hated on 1991 Fleer as much as other people do since the only problem is the yellow. Design and photographywise it’s actually a nice card and toning the yellow down eliminates the only questionable design decision.

I’ve gone ahead and included a scan of the unfaded card as a way of showing the difference. Gavin’s clearly doing more than just leaving a card out in the sun since the image isn’t faded at all.

I’ve gone ahead and put a gif together of the faded and non-faded cards. My unfaded card is actually more yellow across the board but it’s clear that Gavin has masked the image so that it didn’t get hit by the UV from the sun.* Since UV breaks down yellow pigment first.** The orange signs and yellow foul pole are both mostly untouched while the border is almost all gone.

*A discerning eye will also note the slightest of differences in the cropping and logo placement.

**Also magenta but yellow is clearly the most reactive. A combination of UV susceptibility as well as basic color physics in how blue light is higher energy and while blue pigment reflects blue light, the other colors absorb the higher energy wavelengths. 

It’s a transformative way of looking at 1991 Fleer and making the design itself more apparent. I want to try it myself once we have sun again as well as think about other junk wax sets or cards that might benefit from the same approach.

The cards will have to feature a design with prominent red or yellow elements. 1990 Donruss came to mind first but the white lettering for the player name may not work. The 1988 Topps All Star cards on the other hand might be perfect (though cutting the mask for the head will be difficult*). And heck maybe even 1987 Topps could be interesting. Plenty of time to think about it since we won’t have proper sun for a while.

*Hehe so Gavin was doing exactly this while I was drafting my post.

Plenty of time to also think about doing fun things with the mask as well as changing reds to magenta or greens to cyans. I’m interested to see what else Gavin cooks up

I also got a nice bubble mailer from Marc consisting of a combination of cards from a childhood pile he’d inherited and some unwanted cards from various boxes he’s ripped. This firs batch of Giants is clearly form the collection with a bunch of late-90s/early 00s cards. I have some of these but need to check my notes since I also don’t have many of them.

It’s interesting to see the 1981 Fleer design get remade using higher-quality graphics and how the better quality makes the cards look even more amateur. As a 1981 design I love it. As a ~2001 design it falls into the uncanny valley. I also enjoy the Pacific cards. They’re sadly no longer in Spanish but it’s always nice to see Pacific‘s unique take on cards. Also the foil stamping on the JT Snow Bowman is massively misregistered to the point where it almost changes the card design. I’m not sure if I love the mistake or if it gives me hives. Or both.

The rest of the Giants includes a pair of Rich Aurilias from set I’ve never seen before and an always-welcome Kenny Lofton card. Lofton, like Eric Davis in the first photo, only played for the Giants for one season but it’s nice to have had a chance to root for a player I always admired.

The 2022 cards are all from various product rips Marc’s had. Nice to get a Chrome colored parallel as well as a pair of Holiday cards. Also nice to be able to slide my first Ginters into the binder.

A few Stanford cards. Total is always appeciated. As is Donruss. Since I focus on Topps Flagship for this PC the other brands/products only make it in as I come across them. The Shawn Greens are nice too (almost all caught up on his Topps run now) and these are the firs 2023 Ginter and Chrome to make it into the Stanford album.

And finally a handful of other cards. I’m pretty sure this is one of Scott Erickson’s last cards and comes from a set that’s not well represented in the binder. And Marc sent me the three New Jersey™ cards in this year‘s Ginter set. TWO Pork Roll cards suggests that there’s a heavy New Jersey contingent working there and I’ve loved seeing how many people have zero idea WTF Pork Roll is.

Thanks so much guys! Happy New Year!

December Returns

Way more than I expected to get this month including a few very good ones plus a few semi-stragglers.

First return of the month is Dana Kiecker in 10 days. Kiecker is another one of those names from my peak childhood collecting years. He was only in the league for a couple seasons but they were the right two seasons.

This was a fun one. I sent to Mike Stenhouse last year but didn’t realize his dad also signed. In my defense I didn’t think I had a card of Dave until I saw that there was a Father & Son card in 1985 Topps so I didn’t think of him as a possible subject. I sent out the 1985 card and it came back in 11 days signed by both of them. This is my first double-signed baseball card and it’s pretty cool.

And this return makes the entire month. Evan Longoria signs a few every winter. I tried him once before to no avail but figured that getting in early with a nice “thank you for being a Giant it’s been fun rooting for you” letter was worth trying again. I’m going to miss him next year and there’s absolutely something satisfying about writing a real thank you note to a player leaving your team. I didn’t expect to get this back at all and was very surprised and pleased to receive it in 14 days.

Scott Eyre was another 14-day return. He only pitched for the Giants for a few seasons and, for a guy who did as well as he did, did not get many baseball cards as a Giant. Thankfully Topps Total existed during this time and makes for a vey nice autograph card.

A the beginning of summer I sent out a bunch of 1987 duplicates. I haven’t gotten one back in a while and was a bit surprised to find this pair from Bruce Bochte after 175 days. It’s always fun to get a pair of cards that are over a decade apart. Besides the comparison it’s an indication of having put together a decent MLB career from being good enough to stick around that long. In this case it’s nice to get another 1976 Topps card back too. I really like that set.

That area under a year but over 100 days is semi-straggler territory and I got another such return with a 303-day return from Dave Schmidt. I don’t even remember going through my 1990 Upper Deck duplicates but I apparently did. Schmidt played in the majors for 12 years in the bigs and has one of hose clear before/after splits. The first 8 seasons? Positive WAR and an ERA+ ranging from 104 to 162. The last 4? All negative WAR and an ERA+ high of 84.

A sent out a decent batch mid-month to keep the hopper full. I did not expect any back until 2023 though and was surprised to find three in my mailbox on Christmas Eve. he firs of these was Bob Priddy in 11 days. Priddy’s 1965 and 1966 Giants cards are high numbers which I didn’t feel comfortable sending out TTM so I ended up sending a 1967 where he’s technically listed as a Senator on the back.

I don’t love the autograph on facsimile thing but it is what it is. Priddy had a respectable pair of years coming out of the bullpen for the Giants but bounced around with 6 different teams over his 9-season career.

Charlie Hough was one of the first TTM requests I made. At the time I was sad I didn’t have a Marlins card to send to him. I’m happy to have rctifid that now plus adding another 1991 Studio to the binder. These also came back in 11 days.

When I was a kid, Jack McKeon was the manager of the Padres. I had no idea he’d been managing since before I was born. It’s very cool to get a signed pair of cards that are 15 years apart. He sent these back in 10 days.

I got a 13-day return from Pat Combs after mail started up again after Christmas. Combs had a brief 4-year career with the Phillies but his 1989 was very cool because he played in each level of professional baseball—6 games in single A, 19 in AA, 3 in AAA, and finally 6 in the Majors. His 1989 stats were great (171 ERA+ over 6 starts) and definitely merited him being a Rated Rookie but unfortunately he wasn’t able to maintain that level.

Combs included a business card for his book. The whole Manhood Journey site and framing gives me hives but I thoroughly agree with focusing on how youth sports can foster a growth mindset and that focusing on winning is a poisonous mindset.

I got a nice spring raining return from Tommy La Stella. Not a straggler but at 292 days definitely one I wasn’t expecting to get back. La Stella was a key part of that 2021 team which won 107 games but had  disappointing 2022. Always fun to get another custom and this is also my first signed 2021 Topps card as well.

One of the fun things I keep track of on the autograph tracking site is my eighteen oldest signed cards. Why 18? Because that’s what I have the page set to load in a single batch.* But it’s also a nice round number representing two binder pages.  Anyway it’s always a good day when I add another card to that list since it represents an area of the hobby that I’m still amazed to be collecting in now.

*It’s actually 16 right now due to having more than two signed 1964 Topps cards so the list gets cut off after 1963.

A 16-day return from Eddie Fisher made it onto the list. Fisher was a knuckleballer who is more notable for his time with the White Sox (during which he worked out of the bullpen with Hoyt Wilhelm) and being a member of the 1965 Champion Orioles. I did find myself wondering how Candlestick’s winds would’ve worked with his knuckler. I also found the back of his card to be amusing because knuckleballs and pinpoint control do not typically go hand-in-hand.

Over on my page where I keep track of which Giants players from 1989 whose autographs I have, Terry Kennedy was the only  starter and prominent player whose autograph I didn’t have on a Giants card. I’m very happy to have fixed that with this 15 day return which brought another signed Mother’s Cookies card to the collection.

That flurry of late returns means my hopper is emptier than I expected it to be and means that next month may be lighter than I was expecting. I do however have a ton of customs to send out now so hopefully things will pick up in the new year.

Non-sport fun

While most of my non-sport cards are pre-war I’ve been quietly grabbing a few post-war cards as well over the past year or so. Very much following my same instincts of trusting my gut. These are a bit more random than the cards I featured in my Cold War Cards post and don’t have the same historical interest that those do. At the same time they’re very much an extension of the kinds of things I like in my pre-war cards.

I have one 1951 Bowman Jets Rockets Spacemen card because I just love the artwork. The space-age architecture in the background and the vivid flames from the rocket are fantastic. The framing with the rocket leaving the card is also great. And I like that this set tries to tell a story. The idea of cards being a narrative medium is one which doesn’t get explored enough.

A pair of 1952 Topps Look and See cards because I realized that I should have the George Eastman for hobby intersectionality reasons. As a photographer, I know of Eastman and Kodak as legends for their integral role in the technological history of the medium. When I was looking a the cards though I saw the P.T. Barnum card for cheap and couldn’t pass it up.

The backs of these do the red-filter thing where the answer to the trivia question is only revealed if you make everything orange. I’ve gone ahead and done it digitally*

*For anyone who cares. Eyedropper the background orange color. Add a new layer. Fill it with the orange. Set it to “multiply.”

A handful are from Topps’s 1955 Rails and Sails set. In many ways this is similar to the pre-war Wills Speed set in terms of is appeal. It’s not about the fastest vehicles but is instead key innovations in the design of the technology.

As a train lover I’m very much interested in the Rails portion of the set. The Southern Pacific Daylight Streamliner is the same engine pictured on the playing cards Anson sent me but it’s also a route which I’ve travelled on and photographed. The Union Pacific card, besides being a beauty of a card (though not as dynamic an image as the Santa Fe card in the Wills set) reminds me of climbing all over the Union Pacific rolling stock at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum.

The Trolley card though I especially like because it’s a New York trolley which reminds me of how the Dodgers got their nickname. Yes this trolley is a couple decades more recent but still close enough in terms of the type to be the kind of a thing a Dodgers team collector might want (or avoid for nemesis reasons).

And finally how could I pass up a Junk card. We talk about “junk wax” so much in this hobby that I had to have a literal Junk card just for laughs. If I didn’t know these were the same set though I’d’ve sworn that this came from something completely different. Vastly different type. Full bleed instead of borders. And of course a completely different subject matter.

Looking at the backs confirms how different the boat cards are from the train cards. I really like the train designs with all the train graphics and the technical information about the locomotives. The little trivia panel in the top right corner is great and the card numbering is fantastic.

The 1961 Topps Sports Cars Ferrari card was just too cool to pass up. It’s a bit of a Ferris Bueller reference though the car in that was a 250GT California not a Spyder. There is a California card as well but it’s not red.

Anyway this is a fun set which I can see trying to put a page’s worth together from. Lots of classic cards in there plus as oversize tallboy cards I’d only need 6 for a page.

I couldn’t believe that this was only a couple bucks. I’d’ve thought that 1960s Bruce Lee cards would be in much higher demand but maybe they’re just not well known. This is from the 1966 Donruss Green Hornet set which has a lot of fun photos and a nice simple design. The back is a puzzle so I didn’t scan it.

And finally, a handful of 1969–70 Topps/O Pee Chee Man on the Moon cards. These are also hobby intersectionality in that three of them are explicitly photo references. The card of the camera is pretty straightforward but the Earthrise and Earthset cards are in the mix for most influential photographs ever.

Really wonderful to have them in the trading card album whatwith how I treat baseball cards and trading cards as an integral part of photographic history.

Holiday PWEs

Every holiday season I’m surprised by a few PWEs from other card bloggers and people out there. Sometimes these can be kind of amazing but most of the time they’re assorted randomness which consists of people getting surplus cards out of their house and into the hands of people who’ll appreciate them. This year’s examples fall into that category.

The first PWE was nine John Elway cards from Johnny’s Trading Spot—basically the Elway version of the Giants I got in my first batch. I have a few Elway cards in the Stanford binder but it’s a pretty random selection or whatever was cheapest. These don’t make it less random but do flesh things out a bit. I especially like the Pinnacle Idols card as well as the 2013 Topps Archives using the 1976 design.

My two favorite cards though were the Spanish Pro Set card and the Game Dated highlight. I love Spanish-language cards released in the United States. They’re one of the things I collect casually and it’s great to add them to the Stanford album. I also just like the wider-angle horizontal photo on the highlight card. I’m not used to seeing images like this on cards and it’s a nice change of pace.

I also got a pair of 1989 Donruss cards from HayMay who’s no longer on Twitter but is part of our Discord “Card Twitter in Exile” community. As one of those sets where I’m at the point where buying lots makes zero sense (due to duplication issues) and buying singles makes even less sense (due to just not being worth it financially), every bit of progress toward set completion is fully appreciated.

The Bo is admittedly a bit weird. A bit larger than it’s supposed to be and for whatever reason it wasn’t trimmed fully on the bottom so the corners got torn off. The Eck is nice though. Always fun when the A’s cards are in the team color gradient too.

And finally a Christmas trade with Clearush, a new trading partner who’s also on the Discord. He had a bunch of off-grade 1953 Bowmans including one I needed. I had a handful of 1974 Topps cards he needed for his set build. PWEs were dispatched on the weekend and by the following Wednesday I had card #1 Davey Williams in hand.

Yes there’s some tape. And yes I was advised of this beforehand. It doesn’t matter though. A lot of the Williams cards I’ve seen are misregistered and this one is sharp. Plus most of my 1953s have some kind of major damage whether it’s tape, creasing, or a hole punch. It takes a lot to detract from the quality of this set though. Only two more left for the team set now!*

*Leo Durocher and Whitey Lockman (plus Bill Rigney and Hoyt Wilhelm for the Black and White set)

Thanks guys and Happy Holidays! It’s always fun to get this kind of Christmas card instead.

Dimebox Anniversary PWE

First off. A big congratulations to Dimebox Nick for making it to eleven years blogging. He celebrated by offering a bunch of cards to pick from from his website. Usually I only see these offers by the time they’re thoroughly picked over but when I read his post I was pleased to discover that a couple of cards I wanted hadn’t been grabbed yet. So I had a claim and a week or so later I found a PWE stuffed with stuff in my mailbox.

These were the two cards I wanted. For some reason I was able to put together the three cards in Mother’s Cookies 1991 Father & Son set which featured Ken Griffey Jr. but never tracked down the card featuring Senior by himself (well Junior is in the background). Very happy to finally finish that set 30 years later. The Nomo meanwhile is a fantastic action image which captures a bit of his tornado windup. I may not root for the Dodgers but Nomo was indeed something else to watch.

I also grabbed a few other oddballs of guys who represented the best of the best when I was a kid. Eric Davis in 1988 was arguably the top player in the game* and Dave Stewart in 1990 was definitely one of the top pitchers. Rickey of course was Rickey and remains probably the most exciting player I’ve ever seen play. Lots of fun to have cards of all of them from sets which I didn’t have in my oddballs binder.** And it’s nice that each of these oddballs designs works reasonably well with the team colors.

*A few years ago my eldest received a pack of 1987 Topps which he proceeded to hand to me after he opened it because “there was no one good inside.” Only the top card was Eric Davis so I had to do a bit of explaining that day. 

**In the Giants binder? Absolutely. 

Nick managed to stuff another half-dozen cards into that envelope though. While I had the two Heritage cards, having a duplicate Krizan is nice so I can send to him next spring. For once Topps did something clearly good by getting him a few proper cards after 11 years in the minors.

The other four cards I did not have. I somehow didn’t hit any of those Stars of MLB cards on my breaks and Chrome and Archives are both sets I don’t buy. As always I very much appreciate getting samples of those sets in the mail. It’s impossible and impractical to stay on top of every Topps release but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy having some of the variety in the binder.

Thanks Nick! Congrats again on eleven years blogging.

Johnson Johnston!

While I’m not hitting my Metacards collection particularly hard, one of the cards I’ve had my eye out for are the Ernie or Ben Johnson Johnston Cookies cards. As early-1950s oddballs these don’t pop up very often and when they do they’re always more than I want to pay.

A couple weeks ago a nice low-grade lot popped up on Twitter for a very reasonable price. I almost jumped on it until I reminded myself that spending twice as much money as I had previously refused to spend on an individual card was stupid—even if it was technically a deal. So I pinged a bunch of Milwaukee and Braves collectors on Twitter who would be interested in such a lot and called it a night.

The next morning I saw that Matt had jumped on the lot even after confirming that the seller wasn’t interested in breaking it up. When I saw that he had been interested in breaking the lot up I shot him a note asking him if he’d sell me the Ernie Johnson for the five bucks average card price of the lot. Done and done and the card is now in my hands.

Aside from the metacard aspect I’ve wanted one of these for a long time because of the printing and design. The front is clearly inspired by 1952 Topps* and I really love the back design and how it incorporates the silhouette of the tomahawk for the team name and card number.

*Dan-Dee Potato Chips would basically return to this design in 1954 too.

I also wanted to get a good look at the printing to see how they had colorized the black and white photos. Seeing photos online gave me a bit of a 1949 Bowman feel where solid colors are printed underneath the black screens.* These are a little different in that while they definitely share some of that approach—especially in the red details on the uniform—they also have some shading in the dark blue as well. Johnson’s face is also full process ink** and the background is basically a four-color grey. A lot more going on than in 1949 Bowman but very good to see. Way too subtle to do high-resolution scans though.

*Except for the facial details which are a proper duotone.

**Well, no Cyan.

I was also surprised by the card size. Looking at these online I just assumed they were “regulation” 2.5″×3.5″ cards even though with even the minimum of thought I’d’ve realized that that was highly unlikely for someone to arrive at the now-typical card size years before Topps standardized on it. In 1953 Topps cards were 2.625″×3.75″ while Bowmans were 2.5″×3.75″. The Johnstons in typical oddball fashion come in someplace in between at 2.5625″×3.625″—just close enough to look like a regular card and probably small enough to fit in a 9-pocket sheet if I didn’t have to worry about it bending or ripping.*

*I promptly looked up the 1954 Dan Dee cards to see that they’re 2.5″×3.625″

Anyway I’ve gone ahead and put together a Metacards page to track this mini collection. Thanks for the quick and easy deal Matt!