Thanksgiving Zapping

I haven’t been doing a lot of trading recently. The thing with trading is that you need to be acquiring product which has things that you don’t need or want. And I’m barely acquiring product anymore at all let alone anything which produces the kind of bycatch needed to trade nicely.

Which means that it’s always a surprise and please when I do find a package in my mailbox. Thanksgiving weekend one such surprise package arrived from Kenny. It was a large, suspiciously-light box which turned out to be mostly packed with boxes and toploaders as Kenny is rehoming his excess storage supplies. But there was also a decent stack of cards in there too.

I went through quickly and pulled out everything that looked relevant to my collecting interests. The Jack McDowell is a new card for the Stanford album and reminds me that I don’t have a lot of 1996 Score. Matt Cain is a Giants card I didn’t have though I still have no idea what ToppsTown was.

It’s not a primary project but I’ve been slipping cards of Hall of Famers into their own album for a while now. While I don’t picture Kaat, Smith, or Pudge as Yankees it’s always nice to add cards to that album.

I’m also putting a small collection together of guys who I’ve see play at Trenton or Somerset. While this is mostly focused on Major Leaguers I’ll totally add Bowman or Panini cards if I come across them. Is very nice to get Rookie Cards of Abreu and Deivi as well.

Two African-American cards are great to have. I wish Topps had Negro League players in Allen & Ginter every year but I’ll never turn down a Moses Fleetwood Walker card. It’s also always fun to get a Japanese card—in this case a nice foil Hideki Matsui.

And finally a few 1980s oddballs from toy stores. I remember the Toys R Us cards but never saw the Kay Bee ones. A bit funny to see who was considered a “young superstar” back then.

Most of the cards though was various assorted Yankees from multiple sets. I do have to admit though that I’ll never turn down the chance to add more cards from before I began collecting. I’m mostly thin on any set before 1986.* With this batch I now have almost a page each of 1972s (all Yankees), 1973s, and 1974s. The 1972 Kekich makes me want to get a 1972 Fritz Peterson to pair with it and the 1973 Blomberg is a fun on for first DH reasons.**

*Exceptions are 1975–1979 due to an 800-count box that I found on ebay for $10 that was labeled and listed at 1991 Donruss but was actually stuffed with commons from 1975–1979 Topps. This is why I ended up building 1978.

**I TTM’d him the 1974 card which lists him as DH.

The 1980–1985 cards are also welcome as I only ever got a pack’s worth of those cards as a kid. I have more now of a few of those sets* but it’s always nice to flesh those out a bit. There’s something about those sets from before my childhood which still scratch a collecting itch.

*A decent number of 1984 and 1985 Topps.

The 1986–1988s here though are cards from when I was accumulating a lot of things. They go in the duplicate/TTM pile or might become trade packages for someone else. Yes even that 1988 Traded Jay Buhner which looks so wrong as a Yankees card.

More of the same for a lot of these cards. Though it’s worth mentioning that the 1989 Donruss cards are the Traded set and that the Deion Sanders The Rookies is one I missed as being for my oddball album. This also goes with the Melido Perez Pacific card which belongs in my Spanish-language album.

Kenny also included a bunch of Minor League cards which are starting to slip into the stream in this photo. The 1993 Pulaski Yankees design is a super-basic Minor League set whereas Classic was a more nationally-distributed production.

Into the 2000s with a bunch of cards I don’t have much to say about. Andy Brown must’ve been someone who was getting prospected a bit though. There are also three guys who I remember form the Giants here. Kenny Lofton of course needs no introduction as he’s one of those criminally-underrated players who deserved serious Hall of Fame consideration but dropped off the ballot in only a year. Brett Tomko wasn’t bad either but the less said about Sidney Ponson the better.

Late 2000s to early 2010s with more of a grab bag but it is worth commenting on the two stacks of 2011 Topps and 2011 Topps Update. A few fun cards in there and definitely nice to have a representative stack to look through from that year. I enjoy getting Thairo cards as he’s become a bit of a fan favorite in San Francisco. No idea why there are two different sizes of Bowman minis. And I do like 2014 Allen & Ginter.

Also I did not open the 2014 Staten Island Yankees team set but it appears that there are Thairo Estrada, Jordan Montgomery, and Luis Torrens cards inside.

To the last batch which is increasingly a Minor League grab bag. The random Topps Archives cards are fun and I’ll have to be on alert with the Hudson Valley teams set next season in Somerset.

The main point of interest here are the Stars and Stripes USA cards. I’m a bit weirded out that cards of kids who are on the under 15 team exist. Especially since my kids are approaching this age. I did a quick look through and most of the names are completely unknown to me. There was however one card of Charlie Saum who was a freshman at Sanford last year so I guess that’s going into that album too.

And finally Kenny’s calling cards. I have sent him a Torrens custom before so getting his “you’ve been Zippy Zapped” custom back makes perfect sense. And the Power Puff and anime girls are also on brand.

Very cool. That was a fun way to unwind after hosting Thanksgiving. Thanks Kenny!

Johnny’s Trading Spot

Johnny’s Trading Spot has been one of those fun bogs to follow for many years now. I was never able to commit to being available to his Big Fun Game series* that he was running every Friday but I enjoyed reading the recaps. He also manages to both collect really a interesting range of items so I frequently see things I’ve not seen elsewhere.

*basically a mini Secret Santa slash White Elephant sort of game of picking a freebie or stealing someone else’s freebie.

Recently he’s been giving 9 cards away to a random reader who comments on the day’s post before midnight. Since my blog reader often doesn’t catch new posts until like 12 hours after the post I often miss the midnight deadline.* Plus I only comment when I have something to say so sometimes I don’t even enter even if I do see the post in time.

*This happens with most contests and giveaways in the card blogosphere. This is a little frustrating but I also am not in this just to be a prize hound.

Anyway, a couple weeks ago I not only commented in time but also won the random drawing so earlier this week I found a PWE with 9 cards inside.

A fun mix of cards. Six Giants and another three stars. The middle row are all cards which count as “needs” of which the Fleer Cloth Sticker is the most interesting to me. First off, I totally mis-identified it as being an early 1990s insert since I was completely unaware  of Fleer releasing these from the late 1960s to early 1970s.* But it’s in really good shape and I didn’t catch that it was missing the ® or ™ symbols that such logos would have in the 1990s. Anyway it’s I really like it since it’s one of those things that was completely off my radar and those are always fun to be surprised by.

*The Fleer Sticker Project blog of course is the go-to here with posts about the 1972 and 1974 uncut sheets as well as a comparison of different Giants stickers.

The 2004 Donruss Barry Bonds is the first 2004 base Donruss card I have. I have a few Super Estrellas Spanish-language cards which look very similar but yeah none of the base flagship sets. It’s a nice-looking design even if not particularly memorable. Very cool to add a new set and especially cool to have the Bonds as my first sample.

The 2008 Heritage Lincecum is the last new one for me. It’s always nice to see the 1959 design in use even though Topps kind of messed things up by using photos which use clearly-modern materials. This is another set which I have very few samples of so a Giants card featuring one of the key players from those teams is always welcome.

Of the other cards the Donruss Learning Series Kevin Mitchell does deserve special comment. It’s one of those things which perfectly demonstrates how embedded baseball cards were in everyday life when I was a kid. I’m kind of annoyed that I never saw these when I was in school—how cool would that have been—but it’s great to have them now.

Thanks Johnny!

Mailday from Bru

About a week ago I received a small bubble mailer from Marc with the usual assortment of Giants, Stanford, and other cards that he thinks I’d be interested in. Marc has a good track record here both in terms of having a lot of cards from products that I’ve never actively acquired and being one of the only guys out there who keeps track of a lot of the players in my Stanford checklist.

I’ll start with the oldest Giants cards. This first batch is mostly cards I could have collected as a kid and as such are definitely the years where I could conceivably have everything covered. As it turns out though the only ones I had are the ones from after I stopped collecting. I only have O Pee Chees that work as Traded  cards so these are both new and welcome. I only have a handful of 1992 Leaf Black Gold cards. And I didn’t have any Giants from 1992 Bowman or 1993 SP.

Also the 1963 Al Dark buyback deserves a special mention. The 50th Anniversary stamp says this is from 2012 and suggests that Topps is up to its usual shenanigans where 2012 is the 50th Anniversary of something that happens in 1963 while 1951–2001 is “50 years of Topps.” Anyway while I have this card already, buybacks are definitely one of those things which are interesting to add to the binder even though the only way I’d seek one out is if it were cheaper than the non-buyback version.

The next group of cards are the more-recent Giants. Victory is definitely a set I don’t see much and the Bill Mueller is the kind of card that sneaks past any checklist checking since it’s not technically a Giants card. It is fun to add cards of guys still in the uniform to the binder though.

The Matt Cain relic is very cool. I’m not the hugest Ginter fan but I appreciate that their relics are thin enough to binder. Also the construction of the framed cards is pretty neat. A couple shiny Logan Webbs are also appreciated. He was a revelation last year and had another good season this year. Hes been a lot of fun to watch him emerge as a legit pitcher.

A good mix of Stanford guys including some early-career Shawn Greens to supplement all the Dodgers that I got from Night Owl. Also a few Jeffrey Hammonds cards I needed in here. While most of my Topps searchlist is complete* there are a lot of non-Topps cards from the 1990s and 2000s which I don’t have and haven’t even looked up.

*Aside from current year cards and grey areas like Green I think I’m just missing the 1962 Doug Camilli Rookie Parade card which I’ll never be able to justify the expense for and the 2013 Tampa Bay Rays Sam Fuld card which is impossible to find as a single and which I haven’t felt like spending $10 on the team set for.

And finally a pair of Scott Ericksons as well as a cool photo of Orel Hershiser and one of Marc’s customs. I should probably put an Erickson checklist together at some point but I’ve only been super passively collecting him recently. The Hershiser is indeed a fun photo; you only get light like this at rare moments during the season. And Marc’s custom is a menko design he’s been working on which I may consider stealing at some point.

Very cool, stuff thanks Marc!

 

Vacation PWEs

While I was on vacation, in addition to the sixteen TTM returns I was also pleasantly surprised to find a handful of PWE trade packages waiting for me as well. Always nice when it’s not just bills and junk mail waiting.

The first package is from Greg/Night Owl and includes a page’s worth of fun. I missed out on his giveaway* and apparently these are the only remaining 1985 Fleers he had to get rid of. I’ll gladly take them though and remind myself to put a need list together.**

*Relying on an RSS reader means I miss out on any timed contests.

**Though I also don’t have enough cards to feel like a needlist is necessary yet. Who puts a set needlist up with over 600 cards?

The two 2009 O Pee Chee black borders are great. The more I look at the last 25 years of baseball cards the more sets like this one stand out for being distinct in both feeling like a traditional set while also not directly copying an old design. It would’ve been nice to see what Upper Deck did with this brand had Topps not grabbed an exclusive license in 2010.

Not much to say about the rest of the cards though I do appreciate the 2022 2021 Big League Crawford since I’m not hitting that set hard at all. Also I’m super curious how Greg, as a Dodgers fan who doesn’t go for all the fancy shmancy new stuff, ended up with a 2019 Montgomery Club Giants team card.

A PWE from Jeff Katz almost works as a TTM return. Years ago I was playing around with photoshop and throwing together some Ginter-like cards. Jeff was one of the first I ran through the Ginterizer since his moment wearing the Mayor Quimby sash for the Simpsons day was brilliant. Yeah I couldn’t get all of “Mayor” to fit without making Jeff look like Kingpin.

When Marc printed these all up he sent them to everyone. I got my copies but when Jeff got his I asked for a signed one. He signed small so it would fit on the paper. I’m curious how a silver sharpie would’ve worked instead but not everyone has those lying around.

Another PWE had two packs of John Racanelli’s Literal Cards. This has been an ongoing thing on Twitter where John posts often awful but also often hilarious tweaks on existing cards. I never expected him to actually produce these but I’m glad he did.

There’s something about making them real cards that takes the joke to the next level. My kids also enjoyed them—especially Les Rohr and Willie Mays—which surprised me a little because they always groan when I make these kinds of jokes.

And finally a mini-zapping from Kenny who came into a nice lot of Card Gens and generously decided to spread the wealth. These are always welcome in part because it gives me an excuse to link to Kenny’s You Tube video again but because the actual use of these cards is so far outside how we’ve thought of using cards in the US.

The few Card Gens I have have all come from Kenny and to-date, have been from the 2010 set. This is the first 2012 I have and the fact that it’s a Giant is even cooler. I still hold out hope that I’ll run into the 2012 Sam Fuld on of these days since it’s the only card he got that year.

Very cool guys and thanks for livening up my post-vacation mail pile.

A big pile of photos

A couple of years ago* Marc Brubaker came across a huge pile of 8×10 photos. For a while he was using some for TTMs and posting scans of a few others but aside from a couple randoms that showed up in trade packages they kind of disappeared from his feed.

*Yeah I know at some point “a couple” turned into five and I don’t know how 2020 feels a decade ago while 2017 feels much more recent.

Then a few weeks ago* it seems like he realized that he should offering lots to team collectors, etc. and clear out the storage space that the photos were taking up. I don’t normally pursue photos but for the right lot and the right price (in this case basically just covering shipping) I’ll happily slip them into the binder. Early last week the package arrived and I got to see them in person.

We’ll start with the New York photos. The one that caught my eye is the aerial photo of the Polo Grounds. Turns out that it’s a photo of a halftoned image but you can only tell if you look closely. I like the image because it puts the Polo Grounds in location among buildings that are still there today.

The other four photos—Bobby Thomson, Eddie Stanky, Al Dark, and Hoyt Wilhelm—are all very nice photo prints from, I’m guessing, the Photofile/TCMA archives since I recognize a lot of the images from the various all-time greats cards I grew up with in the 80s and 90s. Nice to see them big and nice to have some good prints showing the details of both the home and road New York Giants uniforms.

There were also eight San Francisco photos. The first four are photo prints of a much more mixed bag of quality. Matty Alou and Mike Aldrete are great-looking portraits of players who you don’t expect to see prints of.* Vida Blue and Juan Marichal meanwhile are the kind of stars you expect to see but the prints are of much lesser quality with Marichal fading badly and Blue looking like it was enlarged too much from a copy negative.

*I was seriously surprised by the Aldrete and have slipped that into my Stanford album.

One of the reasons why I don’t normally grab photos like this is because I have no idea how to account for the fact that they’re modern prints of old photos. They’re a great option for autographing when you can’t get a card* but never feel like they’re part of anything bigger.

*Something I did when I was a kid with Jim Davenport since I couldn’t find a card of him. No not even his 1985 Topps Traded.

I’ve decided to sort these all by about when the photo would’ve been taken and mix them in with the res of the cards. But I can also see yanking them all out and keeping undated photos like this in a separate album too.

The four 8×10 “set” though is not photo prints and as such I actually like more. I have a set of these from 1989* and 1990** so I’m guessing these are from 1991. These came as photo packs from team souvenir stores and while they aren’t cards™ they function in a way that feels much more similar to that world than the individually-ordered 8x10s do.

*Will Clark, Kevin Mitchell, Robby Thompson, and Rick Reuschel.

**Robby Thompson, Jose Uribe, Matt Williams, and Will Clark & Kevin Mitchell

They give me a sense of who the fan favorite players at the time were and I immediately relate to them better as objects. I also have zero problems mixing these with cards and they offer a fun alternate timeline in how they connect to Ticketmasters and Jays Publishing photos from the past.

Marc being Marc slipped a bunch of other cards into the envelope even though he’d just sent me a package. The first batch were a small stack of well-loved 1985 Fleers and a large stack of well-loved 1989 Donruss. 1985 Fleer is a set I’ve decided to build. Why? Because that’s what my first baseball card ever was. Do I have a searchlist yet? Not at all because I have maybe three dozen cards total so far.

1989 Donruss I’m closing in on. Under 100 cards left. I haven’t updated the need list yet since I need to do a good look through for condition/photo upgrades. 1989 Donruss has probably the single most variance in printing of any set I’ve seen. I can have four copies of a card, one will be great, one will look sunburned, one will look 4 stops underexposed, and one will be miscut. It’s wild. Anyway I’m happy to have the slots full but suspect I’ll be working on this one for a while despite being close.

A handful of Giants cards. I actually already have a 1979 OPC Halicki already but it’s an even worse miscut than this so I appreciate the upgrade. Marc also continued his streak of sending my my first copy of a card from every non-flagship set. In this case these are both my first 2022 Bowman and my first 2022 GQ.

The Bowman is a Bowman card and looks like every other Bowman card I’ve seen in the past decade. I swear Topps has an AI designing these because they’ve got too much going on to be this boringly generic.

GQ* meanwhile sure is something. The HDR tonemapping look has bothered me for a long time** but I appreciate that it went full steampunk this year. Not convinced about the 3D effect for the team punch card but having designs go over the top weird is much better than playing it safe all the time. A version of these with black borders, foil-stamped photo corners, and a sepia duotoned image would be something amazing.

*I’m honestly shocked that no one’s given Topps shit about using a racist slur in this product name.

**A shame since the photos are often better than Flagship’s.

Some random craziness. I love the Xavi card since at times he’s my favorite player of all time. It’s always nice to add a Stanford card as well. But the real story here are the customs. Marc made a great set of Houston Manager cards based on the 1960 Topps manager design. I’m jealous of his local print shop and the paper he’s able to use since these feel wonderful in hand especially when compared to the flimsy stuff I get from Magcloud.

The Shawn Chacon got to me just in time for the Thunder game last week and I’m very happy to have been able to contribute to his Astrograph project. Dave Trembley meanwhile is a coach with State College so these cards would’ve had to have gotten to me almost a month ago when they were in town. Hopefully he signs TTM there.

And finally. Marc sent me a couple 1990 Donruss factory set variations. I didn’t scan all of them but I did scan the two Stanford guys and combine them into gifs with their pack-pulled cards. The speckle changes are a little too subtle for me to really care about* but it’s nice to have a couple pairs and see how different the entire lockup can be.

*My line appears to be between this and the 1991 Donruss variants which are similarly subtle but feel more intentional than just being a background speckle pattern. 

One of the interesting things about 1990 Donruss is that the script names are not fonts and each card has different letterforms and a different angle to the text. Donruss clearly left things loose as can be seen on the Buechele text jumping all over the place.

This is a reminder about how this kind of thing was all done by hand back in the day and as much as the lack of consistency sort of drives me nuts I also enjoy seeing the printer’s hand in the final product.

Cool stuff Marc. Your Chacon should be arriving any day now.

Mailday from Bru

Found a nice PWE from Marc in my mailbox last week. School is over and summer has officially begun so it’s nice to start it off with some cards in the mail.

This isn’t the usual fare but as we’ve all stopped ripping new cards and sort of filled in the obvious collection items, I think we’re all casting about for other stuff to send each other. In this case, Marc has come into a good-sized lot of 1979 Topps cards and remembered that I had’t put together my Candlestick page for that set.

Being an Astros collector means that Marc has a decent number of cards feature The Stick in the background. These seven 1979s definitely complete my page and the 1980 Andujar doubles the 1980 Candlestick cards I own. Og these I like how the Lemongello shows off the black hole in center and how Cabell captures the left field bleachers and scoreboard.

All seven didn’t make my 1979 page but four of them definitely did. Once I get more than nine cards I try and spread things out to get different views and I definitely like how that page looks now.

The early-1980s needs work but I’ve not yet gone looking for cards here. It’s nice to have a complete page though even if it spans 1980–1985.

Marc also included two 1979 cards form the Jean-Michel Basquiat checklist. I enjoy the connection to the “real” art world and it’s a fun mini-PC to put together. Rather than digging through the comments of my SABR post I’ll list the checklist here.

  • Joe: Steve Henderson
  • Jerk: Bob Randall
  • Hot Dog: Steve Kemp
  • Wally: John Matlack
  • Bus Pass: Ed Glynn

These are the first two I own from that theme (I had a Steve Henderson but sent it out TTM a couple years ago and it never returned)

And yes even though we’re not ripping product Marc apparently is still. A handful of Donruss cards is very much appreciated, especially the Camilo Doval card since for whatever reason Topps isn’t featuring him. I’m not keen on this design but a least it’s very Donruss™ without being derivative.

Oh and the Diamond Kings card looks like a Diamond Kings card. I’m assuming it’s this year but I can never tell.

For a while I was considering only buying Donruss cards this year since boycotting MLB-licensed stuff is about the only way I can make a statement as a fan. But then I don’t buy anything anyway so it doesn’t really matter.

A couple Match Attax Barça cards. No idea where these are sold or if anyone plays the game but they’re a fun add to the non-baseball sports album. Ansu Fati in particular is on the cusp of becoming something great and I hop he realizes his potential. That #10 shirt is really heavy and, while I think they gave it to him too soon, the fact he wears it now says a ton about how he’s perceived in the team.

And lastly a Safe Hit Texas Vegetables crate label. Marc got a big batch of these and has been selling/distributing them. Not the kind of thing I actively collect but with Marc being in Texas I totally understand why he jumped on this.* It’s a cool image with a local angle and even the concept of “Texas Vegetables” evokes a weird combination of the Texas Leaguer with a Can of Corn.

*I’d be much more tempted if I came across a Best Strike Apple label since Watsonville is borderline Bay Area. But even then I try really hard to to get sucked into too many different collecting interests. 

I also had the weirdest reaction to this piece as a physical object in that my gut felt that it was fake but there’s jut enough going on that I can’t trust that gut reaction plus I don’t know a thing about how labels like these were typically printed. The thing is that my gut wants the text to be nice and crisp and it’s not. No crisp edges anywhere. The blacks and reds are screen mixes. All of these things are frequently tells that something has been photographed and reprinted.

But if the entire label including the text was painted as a single piece, this is exactly how it would look. Especially if printed slightly out out register the way this one is. Plus the small vertical “INC” in the bottom right corner is printed as linework which suggests it was added in after the original artwork was photographed for press. And there’s no sign of being rescreened anywhere on here.

Also, the paper, while slicker than I expected, is only slick on one side. Definitely doesn’t feel like paper you’d get today and is probably way cheaper than what you’d get from Vintagraph.*

*Worth noting that this version of the label has been restored and I suspect has had all the type re-set as linework so it prints crisply. 

Very cool stuff Marc. I was half expecting a Shawn Chacon custom for Trenton but it’s great to fill out more Candlestick pages.

Around the World

So I just got my first Venezuelan cards. I’ve avoided them for years because they tend to be way too expensive, poorly-printed, and really beat up. Plus most of them don’t offer anything substantially new (let alone  better) to the standard US Topps cards.

Only the 1962s with their Spanish-language backs (also 1967 though those have the non-licensed feel to them as well) have called my name as an extension to my barajitas series of posts on SABR.

But a couple weeks ago a deal on eBay that was too good to pass up came by and so I picked up my first three Venezuelans. Was waiting for a while for them to come in but they arrived over Easter weekend.

I figured that while getting team sets of Venezuelans was neither cost nor time effective, starting a type collection made a certain amount of sense. So I have one each from 1962, 1964, and 1966. There are also sets from 1959, 1960, 1967, and 1968 but I’m in no rush.

Holding these in hand is sort of the opposite feeling I had when I encountered O Pee Chee cards in the 1980s. Where the 1980s OPCs were bright white card stock instead of the brown Topps stock the Venezuelans are duller and greyer than the bright white Topps stock.

“Sort of” because while this sounds underwhelming it’s actually not. The paper just doesn’t match what I’m expecting any printed material form the 1960s to look like. It feels either decades older or like it should be fragile newsprint and adds something evocative to the photos because it feels like they’re in danger of slipping away. As much as the Cepeda is the highlight of the three I think the Jim Ray Hart card is my favorite looking with the way the photograph still glows.

Back to the Cepeda. While it’s mighty beat up* the back is completely readable. One of the reasons I’ve avoided Venezuelans is that since my interest is the Spanish-language backs and so many Venezuelans have paper loss three. Cepeda has glue marks and is a bit off-register but I can totally read the Spanish.

*Recalling my suggestion years ago that card conditions should be like the Mohs hardness scale. If Zeenuts exemplify 1. Venezuelans would be 2s.

Despite all the extra empty space, the text is basically the same only (and surprisingly for Spanish) much less wordy. Stats are still using the English abbreviations but a careful reader will pick up the translations for rookie (novato), home run (jonrón), and RBIs (carreras impulsadas). Interestingly, outfield is left untranslated instead of becoming jardinero.

1964 and 1966 are essentially unchanged from the US releases. The only difference is the inks used. To my eyes it almost looks like they made the decision to print them using process inks—1964 going from spot orange to process black and 1966 from a spot pink to process magenta.

As with the Cepeda, no paper loss is very nice here and I can totally put up with the glue spots. Venezuelans are supposed to look used and well-loved and these certainly fit the bill.

All in all very cool. Plus this addition takes the number of countries I have cards from to nine (and the number of continents to six). In addition to Venezuela I have cards from the USA, Canada, Japan, South Africa, Australia, Germany, France, and the UK.  I figured it would be fun to end this post with a call back to the oldest card I have from each of those countries.

USA

My oldest US card (and card in general) is this 1887 Allen and Ginter card of Hawaii.

Germany

A set of 1899 Stollwerck cards would be my oldest German cards.

UK

I’ve a ton of pre-war UK releases but my oldest are these 1901 Ogdens.

France

Not sure if Liebigs were released in France or just published in French but for a 1906 set I’m treating it as being a French set.

South Africa

A gorgeous set United Tobacco made in 1936.

Canada

Only showing the back since the front is identical to Topps. But it’s never a bad thing to show off 1971 O Pee Chee’s backs. I have a decent amount of OPC from 1977 to 1992 as it functions a bit as a Traded set for my Giants team sets but not much more.

I might pick up more 1978s as part of my 1978 build. And I’m now considering doing a type collection for other years for the Giants album since I’ve opened that door with the Venezuelans.

Japan

While I have a 1960s playing card of Sadaharu Oh, my oldest proper trading card are some 1975 Calbees. I do however have a 1949 menko headed my way so that’ll be fun.

Australia

Modern, well 1996, cards for the Australian League.

Sort of surprising to me that I have no cards from Spain since finding Barcelona soccer cards is something I totally would do. I’ve definitely had my eye on a few Xocolata Amatller cards before. I’m sure there are Panini stickers from Italy that would catch my eye as well. Plus some of the Dutch Gum cards. I’d also love to find cards from Mexico or elsewhere in Latinamerica but as always, I’d have to be caught by the cards not just the country of origin.

Addendum/edit April 26, 2022

Italy

So SanJoseFuji commented and reminded me about Panini Stickers. Unlike the other cards on here, these are intended for worldwide release and have back text in English, German, French, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, and Turkish. They are however manufactured in Italy so I’ll count them here. I don’t have many of these but I do have a couple Spain ones from 2010 when they won their first World Cup.

And this takes me to a nice round 10 countries worth of cards. Two North America (USA and Canada), one South America (Venezuela), four Europe (UK, France, Germany, Italy), one Africa (South Africa), one Asia (Japan), and Australia.

Addendum/Edit May 16, 2022

A pair of updates for my oldest cards.

I realized last weekend that my oldest Canadian card is actually this 1962 Jim Davenport Post Canadian card. Post already does a great job at packing everything you want on a card on just one side. That they manage to do this in two languages is even more impressive.

And I’ll add an image of the 1949 Menko to update the Japan selection since I mentioned it was in transit in my original post.

Addendum/Edit October 17, 2022

An eleventh country as my 1935 Liebig set depicting Lhassa is from Belgium.

Unexpected connections

A couple days ago I published a bit of a rant on SABR about 2022 Topps Heritage and how lazy its greenscreen photography was. While I try not to go too negative in any of my blog posts sometimes I can’t help myself. Anyway that post was in many ways a lot of words padding an animated GIF that could have been posted by itself and made the exact same point.

After I made my SABR post I realized that 2020 Topps Heritage used the exact same background on a dozen cards as 2022 Heritage did and have expanded the GIF to include all 24 cards. It’s worth noting that the 2020 cards have much more variance in the zoom and cropping of the backdrop (even removing the light standard in one of them) which goes a long way in making the backdrop not nearly as obvious.

Anyway, one of the best things about Twitter is  the way that it encourages people to respond to tweets with things that my observation reminded them of. In this case, Ross/@design_on_deck pointed me toward a fantastic video about post cards which all use the same sky.

While I don’t at all think that Topps did any of this with the level of intent that Dexter Press did, the video reminded me about why I got interested in cards and how they interact with my more-professional interests in photography and print production.

Photography and the way it has been distributed as mass media and informed our visual literacy is indistinguishable from trading card and post card history. Looking through those items and seeing them together in sets or collections is a way of seeing how we used to see and learn about the world. This is the reason why I collect the pre-war cards that I do and I absolutely love digging through piles of postcards and arcade cards at antique shops.

That the Bechers were brought up in the video is perfect. I’ve long admired their work but hadn’t made the connection to their typology grids and the way that I organize trading cards in binder pages. In many ways, the very act of collecting cards and other printed ephemera is an exercise in typologies—especially the further I get away from organizing by number, team, or player.

While I usually bias toward having pages of variety, there’s something wonderful in a clean grid of images all featuring the same sky or red shirt photography. My Candlestick Pages are one such typography which I collect. As are my multi-image action images. I’ve seen other people collect cards which feature catchers, bubble gum, double plays, broken bats, cameras, kids, etc. In many ways all of us trading card collectors are making our own typologies and seeing the different ones is one of the best things about Card Twitter and the way people share their collections.

That’s not the only connection that happened though. After two different artificial cloud discussions I remembered Eadweard Muybridge and his particular skill at artificially adding clouds to his landscapes before he became the animal in motion guy.* Because early photographic emulsions were primarily sensitive to blue light, skies ended up being completely white in the prints.** It was commonplace to add them back in when printing and Muybridge excelled at this.

*Bringing us right back the grids of small prints.

**Blue sensitivity means that there’s no difference between something being white because it has lots of blue or being white because it’s actually white. As a result, clouds disappear.

There’s a fantastic article by Byron Wolfe about both Muybridge’s clouds and how his different prints were often different composites. Wolfe is a frequent collaborator with Mark Klett in rephotographing and putting old photographs into a larger context so seeing his approach to Muybridge’s work is great.

It’s also a reminder that compositing is as old as photography itself. As long as we’ve been using cameras we’ve been messing with the images to improve upon the scenes or create things that aren’t actually there.

Set building and set completion

Spring cleaning seems to be a hobby thing as well. This year I’ve seen a bunch of guys express a desire to streamline their collections and offload sets and set builds which are eating up storage space but provide them no joy. This is a good thing. A lot of us have a lot of cards in storage that would make someone else much more happier and routing those cards to the correct person makes everyone happy.

Steve/Cardboard Jones was one such cleaner and when he mentioned what he was getting rid of I pinged him on 2014 Topps since I’ve been trying to build that set for a while. I was half expecting just a pile of cards to go with my existing pile of 2014 cards but Steve actually went through my search lists and sent me only cards that I needed.

No I’m not going to scan them all but I continue o enjoy this set. he design is a bit of a mess but it’s also mostly ignorable. Photo is big. Names are readable. And the photo selections do a good job providing the splash of color which the design is missing.

There are also a lot of photos, especially of celebrations, which look like the kind of thing Topps would short print nowadays. It’s really nice to see these as just regular base cards and serves as yet another reminder how the optimization around variant images has really hurt the quality of the base product.

Anyway I’m down to needing only 10 cards on this set build now (current status is on my search list page).

42 Mariano Rivera
123 James Paxton
133 Xander Bogaerts
342 Brad Miller
358 Christian Yelich
401 Felix Hernandez
424 Jose Ramirez
496 Jose Abreu
657 Corey Hart
659 Ervin Santana

Paxton, Bogaerts, Ramirez, and Abreu are all rookie cards.  Yelich is a first flagship. I don’t expect any of them to be expensive but the market can definitely be stupid here.

I also went though and put together a list of cards which are currently in a different binder (mostly Giants or Stanford). I don’t need these to feel complete on a set build but it’s always nice when there are no holes anywhere.

8 Coco Crisp
399 Hector Sanchez
423 Marco Scutaro
442 Angel Pagan
446 Tim Hudson
537 Madison Bumgarner
607 Jed Lowrie
615 Drew Storen

Actively looking for these? Not really. But they’re nice to have in hand if I’m looking to gang a few cards on to a Sportlots order.

Steve also noticed on my set building search list that I was one common card away from completing 1994 Topps. The bulk of this build was actually another spring cleaning pick up a couple years ago. Despite dropping 1994 cold turkey I decided that completing the set would make a nice bookend on my 1986 set as a way marking my childhood collecting years. Plus it’s got a lot of fun photos.

Joey Cora is a weird one to end up with as the last card but sometimes that’s the way things break.

As with 2014, there are a couple of cards which I’d kind of like to get doubles of so that I can have them in different binders. One of these is Stanford, the other is a Giant.

237 Curtis Pride / Shawn Green / Mark Sweeney / Eddie Davis
433 Dave Burba

Thanks so much Steve! I’m glad I could put these into a good home.

A surprise from Pre War Cards

Last fall I finally started watching Cowboy Bebop. As much as I like anime and animation Bebop had never really appealed to me. Space ships and guns weren’t my thing and it seemed like one of those shows which was designed to appeal to the worst kind of anime fanboys. But with the live action remake providing a handy excuse, enough people whose taste I respect were able to convince me to give the show a shot.

I’m very glad I did. For whatever reason no one had properly explained the brilliance of the music and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed savoring my way through the series. No I’m not done yet. I can only watch late at night after the kids have gone to bed and as a result I’m not able to get through episodes very quickly.

Anyway, as is my wont, once I have a good template set up I’m incapable of letting it sit around unused. So I went to my Carreras Famous Airmen template and created three more cards to go with the four Miyazaki cards I had previously created.

At first these were just for fun and I had no real desire to print them. Then Pre War Cards started tweeting about ripping boxes of Cowboy Bebop collectible card game packs. So I piggybacked the cards on to my most recent Magcloud order* and cut them out.

*Not currently impressed with Magcloud’s support since they screwed up two of my items and it’s approaching two weeks now without getting to the correct support desk. 

They look like a lot of fun in my album but I went ahead and sent Anson copies for his albums too. A week or so later he sent me a nice thank you package.

First off. 6 duplicates from his Bebop collectible card game. We’ve got cards featuring the five members of the Bebop crew plus one which depicts the first episode of the show. Looking at the cards I have no idea how the game is intended to be played. And truth be told, the idea of making a game based on Bebop seems incredibly stupid unless the point is that at the end of each game you haven’t accomplished any of your planned objectives.

It’s cool to have a sample though, especially since these don’t seem to circulate too much. Every time Anson tweets about them it seems that other Bebop fans jump in with “WTF are those!” excitement.

That of course wasn’t the only stuff in the envelope. There were also these two playing cards. The 8♣️ depicts Memorial Church at Stanford while the 4♠️ shows San Francisco Chinatown. Obviously Memorial Church will slide into my Stanford album while the Chinatown one will go with my pre-war postcards and things.

One thing to note about the printing here is that the colored ovals are a solid ink color. Yes there’s a black halftone on top from the photos since in neither of them is the sky pure white, but all the color is a solid spot color. I’m sort of curious how many different colors here are and if they correspond to each suit.

These cards come from a deck which looks to have been distributed on the Southern Pacific Coast Daylight route. Based on the design of the locomotive it looks like either a GS-2 or GS-3 which dates the deck to 1940 plus or minus a couple years.

Having ridden the route as part of Amtrak’s Coast Starlight service. I can easily see why it was considered America’s most beautiful train when it was running in the height of the streamliner age. Whether enjoying the coastal views from the train or just seeing that streamlined red and orange livery pass by the train is an obvious looker.

I’m assuming the deck consists of landmarks that are roughly served by the route. So a lot of Bay Area and LA scenes and probably some stuff from Santa Barbara as well. The back of the deck definitely looks like it’s included one of Mission Santa Barbara’s bell towers along with the Santa Ynez Mountains in a made-up scene for the train to speed through.

Very cool stuff. Thanks Anson!