Guo Pei

One of the last things I did in California this summer was take a trip to the Legion of Honor to see their Guo Pei exhibition. The Legion isn’t on my usual rotation of museums* and fashion isn’t my area of expertise but as someone with a background in design I’m always interested in clothing.

*I’ve actually only been once and that was before I started blogging.

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The show is staged really well with spotlights to show off the silhouettes and mannequins which frequently add life and character to the dresses. Many of the placards offer information about how long the dress took to make (in the thousands of hours with one requiring 10,000!) and it’s always good to be reminded of the labor costs behind what we’re looking at.

For me as a craft junkie, I especially like how in the many times Pei incorporates embroidery in her work, the placards would occasionally mention the specific stitches being used. I just wish there were an embroidery sampler available so that I could identify where on the garment each stitch appeared.*

*This would’ve been a fantastic opportunity to use augmented reality.

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As for Pei’s work in general, it’s wonderfully theatrical with a real sense of how all clothing is costume. A lot of the dresses look like they’ll really move in interesting ways when worn while other pieces are so stiff that they probably appear as gliding sculptures on the runway. It’s a shame there were no videos in the exhibition since that would’ve answered a lot of my questions.

She blends influences from all over. Lots of traditional Chinese both in terms of the detailing and qipao-inspired cuts but Pei samples from everywhere with looks that reference places like Spain, Tibet, as well as the natural world. It’s a reminder of how art and fashion are global things where as much as you can be faithful to your roots you also have to be a multicultural sponge.

With some of her lines though I found myself wondering what it means politically for a Chinese designer to produce a Tibetan-inspired collection using Japanese fabrics. Or if in this context, Pei/China don’t even make a distinction between China and Tibet. I did appreciate that the Legion of Honor didn’t lump everything here into a pan-Asian framing and was very clear about what inspiration was coming from where.

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I particularly enjoyed when Pei’s dresses got kind of nerdy about the actual crafts involved. Making garments which show off the underside of embroidery is a lot of fun and acknowledges how much character and interest there is beyond just the pretty surface details.

Her architecture line is probably my favorite of the bunch in terms of the cleverness involved since she embraces the sense of architectural structure as it could be applied to fabric and ends up with dresses that work as both.*

*I had a good chuckle in the gallery when I overheard a tour guide describe some of the dresses as “gothic” since while the guide was referring to the architecture I immediately thought Hot Topic. 

She had one awesome dress which was a combination garment, theater, and play all in one. It reminded me of William Kentridge’s Preparing the Flute* but as a wearable piece of art. No idea how/if it was lit while being worn but it was all kinds of amazing.

*which really needs to be seen in movie form.

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I also just really like looking at construction details. There are a lot of things which aren’t just sewing and as a result I’m often looking closely and trying to figure out how things were put together.

Some stuff like the reeds wrapped in fabric were the kind of mystery which was really interesting the theorize about. Other stuff like the giant dresses made of essentially basketry was super rewarding to notice that it was actually zip-tied together so the model could get in and out.

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DSC_0040The bulk of the exhibition was downstairs and required a special ticket but the Legion had sprinkled various pieces throughout a dozen or so rooms in the permanent collection as well. Instead of a crowded room of mannequins there would be only one or two placed in a way where they interacted with the surrounding artwork.

And I really mean “interacted” here. The Legion of Honor did a fabulous job of putting dresses near paintings and objects which showed the many influences that Pei drew from in western art. It’s one thing to read about those downstairs. It’s another to see them side by side in the same room.

The lower density in these galleries also allowed the dresses to command the space more. As interesting as it is to see multiple selections from one line all together, it’s also pretty overwhelming to take in. Any one of the dresses is a showstopper by itself so having a half dozen next to each other dilutes the effect.

Having one dress which can occupy the center of a large gallery and refocus all the attention in that gallery through itself is a much more powerful way of showing how strong Guo Pei’s work is. Heck, there aren’t a lot of artworks in any medium with that ability.

Gartmann’s Chocolade

I’ve mentioned @prewarcards’s Twitter sales and how they’ve cost me money before. Sometimes I buy from him* but more often he just puts things on my radar that I’ve never seen before and want more of than just one card. Sometimes these are content-based desires but the usual thing is for me to see artwork that makes my jaw drop.**

*Calcio Storico, Zeenuts, Carl Hubbell, Italian soccer

**I’d link more but I forget all of them.

The latest sets in this category are chocolate cards from Germany made by the Gartmann’s Chocolade company. As with Stollwerck, Gartmann appears to still be in business. They even have a fun section of their website devoted to their trading cards. Unfortunately though I haven’t been able to locate a website that details the various sets and albums.

While the ebay listing just says “early 1900s” the first set I got is actually listed in TCDB with a release date of 1907. Described as “Mood Pictures,” I thought they depicted various climates from around the world. I got them because I liked how they looked—in particular the card which seems like it depicts Monument Valley—and how they were more dramatically colored than most of the landscapes I see on prewar cards.

Turns out I was a bit mistaken since the six cards are evocatively named “in the desert,” foothills, cliffs, “grail castle,” evening, and barrow while the text on the backs is even moodier and darker than the fronts.

The backs feature verse which describes each scene. It’s interesting to me that the same rhyming schemes differ card-to-card but I was surprised at how dark the actual verses were and how often death is mentioned.

“In the Desert” talks about camping out in with Bedouins, moonlight on the Nile mountains, sands drifting past bleached skeletons, the occasional vulture’s screech, and a ghost caravan (Geisterkarawane) of spirits who previously perished on the route.

Foothills describes almost a dance between a mountain (male) and a cloud (female) as the mountain tries to catch a cloud as it passes in order to drink of its water after a day of baking in the sun.

Cliffs are as dark and moody on the back as it is on the front. Miserable pines. No joyful springtimes. Just rocks covered in moss which dulls all sounds.

What I thought was monument valley is in fact “Grail Castle” instead of being rock formations is a literal castle by the sea in late sunset red light with a moon in the sky, fog all around, and a soundscape mixing festivities from the castle with the sound of wind and waves. I don’t quite understand the last stanza but it looks like it gets kind of dark in a way that suggests the writer is dead.

Evening is about the winds blowing leaves off the trees, forests getting ready for winter, and the way a denuded willow tree reminds the author of a dead friend they’ll never see again.

Barrow—which I’m really not seeing on the card front, maybe Hünengrab means something else too?—is the weirdest verse of the bunch since it’s only concerned with a portentous sky that threatens rain before the sun breaks through.

The second batch is from Album 16 instead of Album 7 so I’m assuming it’s a (relatively) more-recent issue. That it uses the logo that Gartmann still uses today is another important sign here. I got these because mainly because the set includes a printing card and I may just be collecting those.

Anyway the whole set is is about artists and the six featured cards are a painter, silhouette cutter, wood carver, lithographer, engraver, and sculptor.

The text on the backs is not verse this time and, except for one card, offers a short history of the art form. The painter is the exception and instead of history is a vignette about the generic painter depicted on the card front. He has a fourth floor attic studio with high ceilings and clear natural light from North-facing windows. Sketches and pictures cover the walls while the smell of paint and turpentine fills the air. And he’s all dressed to go out but has one last adjustment to make to the painting.

Everything else describes the art form but I appreciate the silhouette cutter description the most because it’s not a craft I’m especially familiar with beyond its existence. I don’t see silhouettes in museums unless they’re of famous people and it occurs to me that it’s the outlier of the six arts in this set because it’s never become a “fine” art.

According to the card silhouettes appeared in 1757 and are named after the French Finance Minister at the time, Étienne de Silhouette, as a bit of snark about how cheap they were. Aside from specifically mentioning its popularity in Rococo and Biedermeier periods the card is very clear that silhouettes are now unfashionable, consigned to fairs and similar large markets. This is consistent with how it remains the kind of thing you can find in Disneyland’s Main Street but really no where else.

Woodcarving mentions how carving is universal but its German heyday occurred in churches from the Middle Ages. It also suggests that wood carving was recently regaining popularity along with other arts and crafts—which I’m assuming is referencing Art Nouveau/Jugendstil.

Lithography is about how the art was invented by Alois Senefelder in 1796 and really tries to explain how it works. The card mentions transferring drawings to porous slate*, etching the stone with acid, and making impressions on paper but misses the key element of how it’s an oil and water resist method. It does however flag how color printing has become popular and how printing in color requires multiple plates.

*note, it’s actually limestone.

Unfortunately though both of these Gartmann sets are not printed via chromolithography and are merely basic halftone screens.

The Engraver covers how it’s a German invention from the early 15th century with the earliest dated Copper plate being 1446. It names Martin Schongauer and Albrecht Dürer as the most important representatives. And it mentions the multiple ways (line, dot, stipple, etc.) that the drawing can be executed.

Finally,  the sculptor card, like the woodcarving one, references the long human history of sculpture as reaching back to the Stone Age. According to this card the pinnacle of sculpture was ancient Greece and Rome (yeah no mention of the Italian Renaissance and guys like Bernini) and while it mentions there are still excellent sculptors around no example is given.

And that’s about it. Two fun sets from a new-to-me manufacturer.

So some of you may have noticed all the ſ characters…

One thing I expressly have to point out. While these cards all use Roman/Antiqua lettering, the artist cards also use the long-s (ſ) This is something that most typefaces/languages had dropped at least a century earlier and persisted mainly just in Fraktur typefaces in Germanic states.* The German Wikipedia page about the long-s ties its usage in Antiqua with the rise of the “ß” character** and how for much of the 19th century “ſs” and “ſz” were used until the spellings were standardized and, starting in 1904, the “ß” became normal in typefaces. It took a decade for “ſ” to be expressly ruled out in the 1915 Duden.

*I mentioned some of this ages ago when I got my first Sanella card and got into the Antiqua-Fraktur dispute.

**Which has its own interesting story

As a type nerd seeing “ſ” in the wild in non-intentionally-archaic 20th century printing is kind of special. Hard to read but definitely not something I’ve come across before. Some of the cards feature both “ſſ” and “ß” in their typesetting which only confirms the transitional nature of the type.

Colorwheels

As with the Colorline project, my COMC mailday last year involved fleshing out my Colorwheels project. I did a quick look through and grabbed the cheapest cards I could find for this. Not done yet but the binder is looking a lot better now and I definitely need to update the status and needs.

I have all six 1954 colors. Not sure what I’m going to do with the rest of the page or how I want to arrange these. For now they’re just organized in rainbow order when the page is viewed in portrait orientation.

Four 1955 colors. I grabbed the gradients going both directions. I did not pay attention to the color of the bars on the bottom but it’s nice that all but the blues are different.

Neither 1956 nor 1957 are a colorwheel set. I’ll have to think about what kind of project I’ll want to do to put a page together of each of those.

1958 though is perfect for the colorwheel thing. There may be more than nine colors but distinguishing those from printing variance is kind of impossible. I went with nine obvious ones since the light and dark green and blues are easily distinguished by the white or black text.

The 1959 page was covered already on this blog but it’s worth posting a second time. As with 1958 I’m letting the text color be the distinction between the different greens and blues.

Fast forwarding to 1965. 1960, 1961, 1963, and 1964 are all plenty colorful but because of all the different combinations I haven’t researched things fully to figure out how I want to make pages of them. 1962 meanwhile is not a colorwheel set.

For 1965, the only color I’m missing is grey but I’m perfectly happy having a black card in the center. One nice thing with 1965 is that it uses the purple 100% magenta, 100% cyan color and as a result is the first page that looks like an actual color wheel.

I’m oddly short of 1966 Giants duplicates (and have no Senators cards) so I have no dark green card to slot in here for now. The other nine colors fill the page nicely. I’m not sure which card I’ll replace with the dark green but it’ll probably be Rigney since the light purple doesn’t quite fit with the color progression.

Somehow I’ve not yet acquired a Phillies or Orioles card to fill that last yellow slot. The rest of the page looks fantastic though.

I’ve had this page done since the beginning. Still looks great and really shows off how the color wheel works.

I’m “missing” light pink, light blue, and brown. And while I have light purple it isn’t on this page either. The other nine colors are though and make up the same wheel as 1968.

In the 1970s there’s a possibility of color wheel stuff but it’s harder. Only six colors used in 1971 (I will eventually do this though). 1972 is a complicated one which I need to research properly. 1973 is almost better to do a wheel based on the positions than the teams. 1974 is the first year of using team colors instead of random ones. 1975 just nuts. And 1976 is like 1964 in which Topps uses team-based color combinations.

1977 though has color wheel possibility except I think there are only eight colors. for whatever reason I don’t have any Brewers cards and I think those are the only purple team. I also need to figure out what to do with the center pocket if I fill the rest with team colors.

1978 is another one that’s tough to do a wheel for because it involves color combinations. I think I’d consider doing one for the borders. I also have less desire to do a page here since I just completed the whole set.

1979 though uses the same colors as 1977 and these make up a wheel like 1977 will eventually become.

I need to research 1980 since it might work as a wheel. 1981 though is the last of the sets I think I plan to do this with. It barely makes it with the orange rookies color. The center square is a color repeat but I figured the World Series card made for a fun hub.

Many of the 1980s sets are kind of impossible due to color combinations reasons. 1984 is I think the last one I’d even consider (1986 would work but like with 1978 I have it completed) These are definitely a fun way to get a sense and feel for each set without having to build anything though. They’re also a lot more visually interesting than looking through a lot of my Giants album where each set is typically all one color.

Now it’s time for me to start working on a post which dives deep into the actual colors being printed here.  So many of these sets use the same simple ink formulas year after year.  Lots of 100% process inks for the seven simple printing colors—cyan, magenta, yellow, black, cyan/magenta (dark purple), cyan/yellow (dark green), and magenta/yellow (red)—but they’re used in so many different ways that it’s often hard to recognize that Topps is reusing the same colors year after year. But that’s another post for another day and a ton more scanning for me to do.

A couple PWEs

Catching up on a few small mailings I’ve received in the past couple weeks. I do try and blog everything but most PWEs work better in post with other PWEs.

First off, a Juan Marichal numbered parallel from Tim. Apparently someone had sent him this and since he doesn’t collect Giants cards, he figured it would be better of in my collection. This purple parallel is from 2020 Archives and is numbered 48/175. Since this is the kind of thing I don’t chase, it means there’s definitely a place for it in my collection.

I’m not a fan of colored border parallels unless they end u[ being team-color related. However, 2002’s base border color is so bad as it is that going purple is more of a lateral move. The 2002 design itself is strong but with the colored borders you lose track of how good it is.

Absolutely no complaints about that Marichal photo though.

Gio over at When Topps Had Balls is one of the best customs card guys on Twitter. He’s helped me with some photosourcing for my Stanford customs on a few guys from the 1970s who I was having problems finding photos for* and while I haven’t been able to really reciprocate material wise, I did mention something that turned out to be a great customs idea.

*Don Rose, Bob Gallagher, Bob Reece.

Gio’s collecting miscuts and I suggested online that I’d love to see a miscut card that functioned as a traded card. There are a lot of 1970s designs where this approach would work well with* and I could see the lightbulb go off and gears start turning over Twitter. This Nolan Ryan is the first of his miscuts series and it’s awesome. Looks exactly like I’d want it to look and it’s going to be great to see people’s heads explode when they see this.

*Primarily 1975 but 1972 and 1974 also have the right sort of design to be able to split the team name from the rest of the card.

Also, this post was embargoed until Gio gave the go-ahead since I didn’t want to scoop his own release. So all the other trades on here happened weeks ago. It was great to get in on the ground floor and talk to him about these. And I love that he had to triple check with his printer to confirm hat this was intentional.

Very cool stuff and my brain won’t stop thinking about other possibilities. Since I like the 1975 design for this, it’s fixating on Catfish Hunter, Bobby Bonds, and Bobby Murcer.

Thanks guys!

1936 United Tobacco Sports & Pastimes in South Africa

Pretty sure I’ve said this before one of the largest draws of pre-war cards is the actual craft that goes into the artwork and printing. They’re not all great but every once in a while I’ll see a set that takes my breath away.* Recently I became aware of the 1936 United Tobacco Sports and Pastimes of South Africa set and had a similar reaction.

*eg. the 1928 Will’s Cigarettes Romance of the Heavens set or the 1934 Garbaty Moderne Schonheitsgaleries.

Oftentimes I see such a set and when I check out the price, am able to quickly convince myself to walk away. Other times though these cards are pretty reasonable or I get lucky on ebay and find a lot that’s priced to move.

This case is the latter. As I understand things this set isn’t particularly easy to come by since it’s a South African release but I found a good partial set of 36 (out of 52) cards with domestic shipping even.

To the cards. I love the way that the artwork almost exclusively relies on solid inks in the design. The only screens show up in some of the dark browns and their use is restricted to fabrics that could very well be tweed. Everything else is solid and the resulting image just feels different than any of my other cards.

There’s a richness in having a print which is all ink and doesn’t rely on balancing the screens or even registering too tightly. The result reminds me of other 1930s work like the WPA posters and makes me want to get a silkscreen rig set up for custom cardmaking.

There’s also a richness in the amount of inks that are being used. I can’t fully tell how many are involved since I can’t quite wrap my head around how some of them interact but there’s got to be at least six. What’s awesome though is that not all colors are present on all cards. Some, like the fishing card, are super colorful while others, like wrestling, are completely missing a couple colors.

The backs are nowhere near as lush as the fronts but they manage to fit a decent amount of information in considering they’re bilingual English/Afrikaans. I also appreciate the variety of approaches. The golf card lists a series of champions and almost makes me think it depicts Lawson Little.* Rugby contains South Africa’s cumulative record against England, Australia, and New Zealand. River fishing is about how the rivers have been stocked with trout. And wrestling provides a snapshot of the current athletes in the sport.

*Not conclusive enough for me to move it to my Stanford album though.

The cards are also a mix of horizontal and vertical orientations with the horizontal cards being particularly beautiful. The Horse racing card is amazing in its sketchy detail and the way the crowd is rendered. The swimming card somehow manages to create water texture and movement without a lot of fine detail. The automobile racing has awesome speedlines which are a combination of black ink and paper left inkless. And the hurdler looks to be leaping out of the card.

I’m amazed at how different and distinct each card here is while they still manage to be graphically consistent with each other. Also it really weirds me out to see horse racing on a clockwise track.

I don’t have much more to comment on the backs except to note that I was caught by the reference to Robben island on the swimming card and how it captures the beginning of when swimming to the island became a thing and how that it’s now an event which marks the end of Apartheid.

A few more cards of note. The baseball card is neat in that it shows the worldwide spread of the game. I also like comparing it to the more dynamic batsman pose on the cricket card. I really dig the framing of the long jump card where the athlete is just hanging in the air. Cross country meanwhile is like the fishing and automobile racing cards in terms of being set in much more colorful landscapes. The red and white stripes are also a great look for the artwork.

Two comments on the backs here. first off, it appears that the cross country card features Paavo Nurmi. Second, the long jump card mentions “Jesse Owens, a young American negro.” As beautiful as these cards are, I can’t help but see them as being part of a deeply racist culture that was in the process of adopting measures which would officially become Apartheid in a dozen years.

It’s not lost on me that all the athletes depicted on the cards are white* and, from what I can tell, Jesse Owens is the only one mentioned on the backs whose race is included. I also have to point out here that these cards clearly pre-date the 1936 Berlin Olympics since none of them mention the results of those games.

*The Garbatys, while coming from Nazi Germany, are a pretty international  group though I’m not sure they feature any Black or Jewish actresses.

Definitely a fun set and I could’ve scanned all 36. I feel no desire to complete things and am perfectly content with four pages worth to enjoy. It also takes me to having trading cards from eight different countries (USA, Canada, Japan, UK, Germany, France, South Africa, and Australia) which is pretty cool too.

Bible Lessons

Continuing my trend of posting pre-war cards on Mondays, today I’m going to look at a pile of cards I found at my parents’ house last summer. We’d saved a bag of ephemera from my grandparents’ house but I’d never properly looked through it. Last summer, as I was finally clearing my stuff out of my parents’ I took a moment to look through the bag.

It was pretty cool. Lots of valentines and postcards but what caught my eye was a stack of over 50 Sunday school Bible lesson cards. The oldest of the cards are from 1902—older than both of my grandparents actually. I’m not going to scan the entire stack but this one shows off why they caught my eye. Most of them are printed in wonderful chromolithography with lush bright colors and really intricate artwork.

The more I look a old cards like these the more I appreciate the stipple patterns and the way they were designed for specific inks rather than being a generic CMYK process screen like I’m used to. Yes I love looking at my halftone rosettes too but there’s a world of difference in looking at an image being reproduced in process colors and one which is using each ink for a specific purpose.

Despite starting in 1902, there’s a decade gap in years before a good run of cards starts in 1912. These 1912 cards are printed just as nicely and the dark cards are especially nice with the amount of contrast they can hold.

What caught my eye the most with these though is that while they’re produced in the United states, the text is all in German. This fits with family history since my great-grandparents immigrated from what would eventually become Germany* and so attending a German-language church makes complete sense.

*Family lore, the timing of the immigration, and where my ancestors came from all point to them trying to escape the Prussian Army in the 1870s. All of which makes it difficult for me to say that my ancestors come from Germany.

The thing about printing these in German though is that it’s a reminder of how there have always been multiple languages in the United States. There’s a lot of ahistoric “speak American” rubbish that comes from the racist wing of our society and it’s important to remember how not only has the US always been multilingual, that there have been large institutions set up to support those languages.

This isn’t a single German church in California printing its own Sunday school lessons in the basement. This is a printing company in Rhode Island which is supplying these cards to churches across the country.

I have German-language cards from 1912 through 1915. Again not scanning everything but I’ve selected a few examples where the artwork really pops. I especially love the card of The Deluge (Die Sintflut) and how the stippling changes so much between the swirling water, solid boat, and sleeting rain. It’s kind of the perfect example of what chromolithography does best.

The backs are also in Fraktur which, as I mentioned before in my first Sanella post, is especially interesting due to the direction that German typesetting would go in the following decades.

1915 though is the last year of German language cards. The last card I have from that year is from the 4th quarter so my family appeared to attend that church through most of the year. I have no idea if they moved or if this is related to the changing political climate.

Anyway, starting in 1916 the cards are in English. More disappointingly, they’re now printed with a standard halftone screen. The art doesn’t glow the same way and they’re nowhere near as fun to look at. They’re still pretty cool though for being over a century old. As my kids are going through their catechism it’s interesting to compare their lessons and the worksheets they get in church to these cards.

Of the 50 or so cards I have from 1912 to 1917, it’s worth noting that none of them appear to duplicate the same story. Yes these are from different manufacturers but I have about a year’s worth of Sundays over enough time to cover two full liturgical cycles.

Definitely fun to look through in an album (these are roughly 3″×4″ so they‘re in 4-pocket pages). They’re currently in order chronologically but it might be fun to reorder them by the order events happen in the Bible.

Back on the TTM horse

It’s been busy whatwith the move and everything. I haven’t had a chance to write any letters since Spring but I finally got back on the horse and sent a few out before Thanksgiving. This is the first batch which includes some of the latest round of customs I designed and printed. It’s especially fun—in some cases even more fun than expected—to get those back.

Roy Face came back in 8 days. It’s always nice to see the generosity of some of these players. Face is not a Giant but I pretty much had to make a custom with this photo. This template is my adjustment to the 1956 Topps design so it can also work with vertical images. I like it a lot and really enjoy just making a card here or there as I come across a cool photo.

Face though is an interesting player in his own right since he’s sort of the first reliever who we can point to as starting us on the path toward the way modern baseball uses bullpens. It’s kind of wild for me to read the back of his 1968 card and see it gush about his saves and consecutive games played as being new and notable accomplishments. And yes they are but in 1968 no one knew what would happen with the game 50 years later.

Another custom so I have no one to blame but myself. How embarrassing. Oh well. Kaline still has a wonderful signature and something like this makes it pretty clear that he’s signing things. Also I can’t kick myself too hard since I double checked Getty’s records before making my card.

Heck this kicked of a decent discussion on Twitter (as well as a lot of people laughing at/with me) and a bunch of Tigers fans confirmed that they’d always thought this was Kaline too. Suggestions for who it might be instead? Don Demeter appears to be the Twitter hive-mind consensus. Right-handed. Similar build. Correct playing years.

Anyway it’s always nice to add a Hall of Famer and the fact that this came back in 10 days was very nice. Even with the wrong image it’s a fun piece to have. I only ever saw cards and photos of the older Kaline when I was a kid so I very much like having one of him in his youth. Maybe I’ll re-make this with a correct photo and try again.

Another 10-day return, this time from John Cumberland. He had a fantastic 1971 season with the Giants so I’m very happy to have his 1972 card signed. As a Giants fan I’ve most enjoyed learning about one-season wonders like Cumberland. I remember how important those were to my enjoyment as a fan and it’s players like this who symbolize a particular place and time in the team’s history.

And yet another 10-day return. John D’Acquisto won the Sporting News National League Rookie Pitcher of the Year award in 1974. I did not ask for the inscription but I like that it’s there. D’Acquisto was a fireballer but could never quite put it all together to become dominant. He was formidable enough though that I became aware of him while I was a Giants fan over a dozen years later.

I sort of wonder what would’ve happened if someone with his skill set had come up now and only had to throw for an inning at a time. That he stayed around in the Majors for a dozen years suggests he had the stuff.

Outfielder Frank Johnson came back in 11 days. I always wonder what stories  guys like Johnson could tell. He was stuck trying to break into a pretty crowded outfield but still got to play with Willie Mays. He’s a got a great signature which looks fantastic on that 1969 card too.

Kong! This is a fun one. Dave Kingman also came back in 11 days. I don’t particularly picture him as a Giant despite the team-specific rookie records and achievements he racked up. But I did grow up hearing about his prowess as a power hitter and his penchant for hitting balls into suspended elements of domed stadiums. It’s one thing to be known as a slugger. It’s quite another to be the guy who got a ball stuck in the Metrodome roof.

Dave Rader came back in 13 days. Rader started off his career with the Giants in impressive fashion as both the runner up to the Rookie of the Year and the winner of the Sporting News Rookie of the Year. This 1973 card reflects that rookie season and features one of those photos that could only come from this set.

Steve Dunning also came back in 13 days. Most of his cards have astonishingly awful photographs. Thankfully his 1972 is a nice classic pitchers’ pose at Yankee stadium. It’s the only good photo of Dunning I found s0 I had to scan this card for my custom.

I modified the 1978 manager template to reflect Amateur/Professional status and have been digging through Stanford Daily and Stanford Quad archives to pull photos of guys when they played at Stanford. I’ve been enjoying sending these out and this is the first one that returned.

Frank Linzy came back in 20 days. This was a fun request to send out at the same time as Roy Face since both are part of the first generation of dedicated relief aces. As with John D’Acquisto I can’t help wondering how these sort of players both feel about today’s game and how their careers would’ve been different if they’d played during an age of bullpen reliance.

Lots of players can kind of be compared across time but the bullpen guys are different since bullpen usage has changed so much. I’m not one of those guys who professes to say that one era was better than another. Yes I miss longer starts but I also don’t miss seeing managers leave pitchers in too long. hat does excite me is that bullpen usage is one of those things where it’s clear that managers and teams haven’t settled on a by-the-book strategy and are still trying different approaches.

Bruce Robinson is the first repeat send for me. He had an awesome return the first time and I’ve owed him a response letter ever since. Between my moving and trying to put together customs it took me a long time to write back. But I finally did and sent him a bunch of customs.

He was apparently away for a bit and took 20 days to get back to me. Another nice letter and it’s especially gratifying to be thanked for the customs. It’s cool when guys keep some but getting a thank you letter back is even better.

As much as sending out these requests and doing the research to write nice letters is fun, putting together customs and pulling the stats and everything is even more enjoyable. I love adding them to the binder (yes even that Kaline).

Jim Lonborg is another repeat request. I sent him versions of both my 1956ish design and 1978ish design. He kept one of each and sent the rest back in 6 days. I really like how both of these came out and it’s fantastic to start off with so many of these customs getting signed out the gate.

Time for a break until next year. I know I’ve got at least one return waiting for me at my parents’ house still and there are a decent number just out there in general. But it’s too close to holiday season to send anything.

I’ve got more customs to try though but until then I’m just going to put all the signed one at the bottom of this post since I’m so happy about how they turned out.

Dead Nuts

Like my Pier 24 post, this is another summer visit that got caught in the backlog of move-related business.

I was sort of obligated to check out the Museum of Craft and Design’s show, Dead Nuts. Buiding a show around the concept of “The ultimate machined object”? Super up my alley and a great intellectual exercise. Do you go with something basic or complex? Beautiful or functional? I was looking forward to seeing how the museum presented the possibilities.

It was a good show with a lot of good choices I recognized such as the Curta calculator, original Bridgeport mill, Harrison‘s Marine Chronometer, and even a simple quarter-20 machine screw. And there were a lot of of cool new products I had never heard of such as a planimeter or Newbould indexer.

At it’s best this was a celebration of machining and the ability to produce highly exacting and complicated mechanisms using relatively simple machines.

Just the flourish of being able to mill a hole in a human hair and the minuscule tolerances some of the mechanisms require is a reminder to celebrate the craft of machining parts in the same we we appreciate the craft of painting or sculpting.

At the same time the exhibition also betrayed its origins in an internet forum. So many of the nominated devices were military, weapons, cars, etc. Yes I appreciate how these items are frequently the driving force of technical innovation but it’s a depressing thing to see a significant number of men insist that the pinnacle of machining is enabling us to kill people more efficiently.

Still, that the curation involved putting the forum discussions on the wall was good. For every post that ran down the path of war there were others pulling things back and focusing on small technical innovations rather than the entire mechanism. And there were other posts that intentionally went in other directions to call out more-common items like the sewing machine or typewriter that existed in everyone’s home.

It’s not just that those devices are technically fascinating from a machinist’s point of view, they also impacted everyone in a much more personal way. Are they the “ultimate” object? Who’s to say. But the reminder to appreciate the craft of things you have at your fingertips rather than gushing over technical marvels you’ll never see in person is a good one.

As a parent and a bit of a gearhead I’d much rather get my hands dirty with my kids and look into mechanical things that are more familiar. Take some old toys apart. Look at an old typewriter. Find a geared clock and see how an escapement actually works. That the show never lost this aspect is what saved it from getting fully derailed by the internet.

A Lonnie Mailday

A surprise envelope from Mark Hoyle arrived late last week. When I opened it up I found a couple non-card items that, on the heels of the Jay Publishing mailday, suggest that my collection is crossing from being just cards and is instead getting into card-adjacent areas.

The first item is a 4×6 print of Jim Lonborg being interviewed after the Red Sox won the 1967 American League Pennant. I always like these kind of post-celebration photos* where athletes are still happy but the reality is setting in too.

*There’s a reason I sent the Trevor Wilson card I did.

This one is also a great look at how interviews worked before today’s much-more organized media room press conference table. One interviewer with a microphone plus another mic on a stand and two more being held by disembodied hands belies the relative calmness of the photo.

Mark’s a Lonborg supercollector. While I have a much more casual Lonborg collection due to him being just a part of my Stanford Alumni project, because I’m making customs and things* for my own usage I’m able to send Mark some Lonborg items he doesn’t have.

*This will be a post of its own someday.

This Gypsy Oak custom is an example of other Lonborg customs that Mark has acquired over the years. It’s also a 4×6 print even though it looks like it should be a linocut.* If I remember correctly there are versions of these that are more like postcards and evoke vintage Exhibit/Arcade cards instead.

*While I haven’t jumped into the world of 3D printing yet I’m keeping an eye on it for both linocut/letterpress related printing and investment casting.

I’ve kept my eye on Gypsy Oak’s work for a while* but never pulled the trigger since I’ve been a bit scared to jump down the rabbit hole of modern card-related art. As nice as the artwork looks it’s something that I can see getting out of hand. It’s hard enough to limit my scope with just cards. Including other stuff like this? Where do I draw the line?

*Well until I got blocked on Twitter and he closed his BigCartel shop.

It’s some pretty cool stuff though—especially his Helmar Stamp cards. They just don’t quite feel right for my Giants collection but they very much feel more appropriate for the Stanford one. I’m glad my first is a Lonborg since he’s sort of the first noteworthy Stanford baseball star. Thanks Mark!

Coordinates: Maps and Art

After I went to the Cantor Center I wandered over to the Stanford Library to check out the current David Rumsey show. It’s a wonderful little show which pairs maps with artwork and explores how maps and the choices mapmakers make parallel the artistic choices that artists make.

Rather than going through my notes and highlighting everything that jumped out at me like I did with my previous visit, I’m going to go through the two or three groupings I enjoyed the most both in terms of the parallels they offered as well as the maps they showed. The Rumsey webpage includes links to the excellent catalog and I totally suggest downloading the high-definition PDF.

We’ll start with two pieces that best demonstrate the spirit of the exhibition in Baron F.W. von Egloffstein’s map of Mexican mining districts and Tauba Auerbach’s Fold series. Von Egloffstein’s shaded relief maps are a great example of how maps make a two-dimensional surface look three-dimensional. This is not the first such map but it’s both an early example and von Egloffstein is apparently somewhat of an inventor in this category.

Tauba Auerbach meanwhile paints a folded canvas with spray paint that mimics raking light so hat the resulting stretched canvas maintains the image of the earlier folds and still looks wrinkled.

Both pieces look three-dimensional and just ask to be touched even though they’re actually flat. And in both cases the intent of the craft is to actually use this shading to take advantage how our eyes can mislead us in how they interpret a two-dimensional image.

My favorite grouping were a selection of maps and artworks that removed maps’ attachment to geography and replaced it with other spatial and temporal relations. Maps aren’t just about seeing where things are in relation to each other, they frequently correspond to travel time and reflect our understanding of when we’ll get someplace.

At one level, these aren’t maps anymore because they no longer feature any geography. At another level, they absolutely are since geography isn’t the point. By removing the geography we’re forced to think about the world in a different way where the specific pathway no longer matters.

I also particularly liked pairing a couple maps that worked as small multiples. Sometimes one map isn’t enough and instead you need to see a series of maps. Pairing a series of weather maps with On Kawara is brilliant. One map is boring. Even two is pretty weak. Four though? We’re starting to see how things can be interesting.

What happened this day? What happened that one? Our brains start to fill in stories and connect dots even with this small of a sample set. The map information itself ceases to be the point and instead becomes the context for the actual data that changes day-to-day. It’s a neat trick.

There are so many other great groups. A Trevor Paglen star timelapse that reveals satellite movements paired with a map of the Apollo 11 mission is fantastic. Photographs of Christo and Jeanne Claude’s Running Fence paired with maps of the US-Mexico border are similarly great. I love that they found a way to work in Ed Ruscha’s Every Building on the Sunset Strip. For such a small little show there’s so much awesome stuff.