Tag Archives: HeavyJ28

PWE from Jason

I know I know I said I was going on hiatus for a bit. But late last week when I was writing that quick post I received a small envelope from Jason. Inside were two very different, very cool items. Since I haven’t cut off my internet yet or packed up my scanner I’m still in business for blogging so let’s jump in.

The first was this Ross Anderberg art card of Willie Mays. The scan doesn’t do it justice as the card is matte finished but the printing has a bit of sheen to it which causes the scanner to over-contrast things. Nor can you get a sense for this as an object—it’s on super-stiff black cardboard that I want to slap onto the table like a hanafuda card Not thick, just super stiff and satisfying to hold.

I can see why people get into these kind of art cards and why Jason was so excited to receive them. In the same way that I’ve enjoyed making customs, these  cards are a way to take photos of players and turn them into something that we don’t see in the standard card universe.

Plus small production runs where you know someone did everything themselves in the creation of the piece are always fun to have and handle. This is a very cool addition to the collection and, as my first such card, I’m not sure where I’m going to store it.

The other item is, I’m assuming, Jason’s ticket stub from his recent visit to the Hall of Fame. I’m still quite pleased about Moose entering the hall so I very much enjoy seeing that he’s on the museum tickets and I love being able to add the stub to my Stanford album. I especially like that he’s depicted as an Oriole here.

Very cool Jason and thanks for giving me two items that have made me rethink my existing storage decisions. As the kid who used to love any excuse to use pages that weren’t 9-pockets I still savor the challenge of fitting odd-sized items into the binders.

Yo dawg I heard you like printing

Being sort of the resident print expert over at SABR Baseball Cards has resulted in me getting tagged into other print-related discussions online. It also meant that people like Jason have started to alert me about non-baseball-related sets that I should be interested in from a printing point of view.

The most-interesting of those sets was manufactured in 1906 by Liebig’s Extract of Meat Company. Liebig was a massive producer of trade cards around the turn of the 19th century. Most of these appear to have been printed through chromolithography. There were enough sets produced by Liebig and its ilk that in some parts of the world it appears that trading cards are still known as chromos.*

*Where trading cards are known as “barajitas” in Latin America, they’re known as “cromos” in Spain.

Liebig sets are wonderfully printed and fantastically varied in subject much in the same way that American and British Tobacco cards depict subject matter that runs the gamut from sports to geography to history to anthropology to science and nature. The key difference is that the Liebig cards are huge—much larger than the traditional baseball card size and close to four times the size of a tobacco card. As a result the artwork can be much more detailed and informative.

Jason had specifically informed me about a set which details the production of the cards themselves both through illustration and print progressives which demonstrate how the image looks as each ink is added. This set immediately became something I’d occasionally search for on ebay. It’s there but not cheap. While some pre-war cards are affordable, this did not look to be such a case. Jason however suggested he had a source where it was way cheaper and offered a trade where I’d help out with some fast graphic design expertise in exchange for him sending me the set. So I did. And he did.

The cards arrived last weekend and they’re wonderful. I received the French issue* which, while I can’t read French, I have enough experience doing tech support and QA on non-English computers that I can sort of muddle my way through a lot of romance and germanic languages now.

*There are Italian and German versions as well.

They’re in remarkably good shape for being the oldest cards in my collection* and the depth of the printing is indeed fantastic. Chromolithography looks so much different than modern offset printing. No halftone line screens although there are dot patterns in the different inks. Also there are 14 different inks used on these cards and the resulting images have much different tones than anything you’ll get with modern four-color offset printing.

*Though not the oldest cards in the household. That honor is held by a 1901 T-175 Heroes of the Spanish American War card of Albert Beveridge which is in my wife’s collection.

Anyway, because these cards themselves describe how they’re made I’ll take each card one by one.

Card number one is titled, “The artist composes the subject.” The back, rather than going into the detail of this step chooses to offer a brief description of lithography itself. It was invented in 1796 by Alois Senefelder. It’s useful in reproducing signs, designs, colors, etc. from an original artwork. Liebig works with many artists to create all kinds of chromos.

The front shows an artist whose work gives a hint at the diverse nature of Liebig’s subjects. The progressive though is what’s most interesting to me since it shows the first three inks (two colors and gold) that get printed.

I’m intrigued that the gold goes down first. Metallic inks are opaque so the order they get printed can make a big difference in how things look. In modern printing they usually go down first because they’re denser but sometimes they get thrown on last because they cover up everything else.*

*I always had to check with the pressman on how he wanted things to be trapped.

With this century-old printing, the ink order appears to generally be reversed. Where on modern multi-ink printing presses the dark colors go down first for density reasons, back when colors were printed one at a time you printed the lightest colors first so you could register them while you could still see them on the press sheet. Starting with the yellows and light tans produces a faint image but one where you can still distinguish the inks from each other.

Card two, “Extraction of the lithographic stones.” Lithography requires a specific kind of fine-grained limestone.* As this card specifies, the stones are from a Jurassic deposit found in Solnhofen, Bavaria** but can also be found in France in Le Vigan, Gard. They can also be found in America and England albeit of a lesser quality than the Solnhofen stone. The stones are cut to be 5 to 10 centimeters thick and ground flat. They’re colored yellow-grey and on occasion blue-grey—which indicates a stone that’s especially suited for printing fine details.

*Hence the “lith” portion of the name of the medium. This is literally writing with stones.

**Non-printing nerds may know of this deposit and quarry as the location where Archaeopteryx was discovered and as the single source of all Archaeopteryx fossils. And yes this is why one Archaeopteryx species’s scientific name is Archaeopteryx lithographica.

The image on the front presumably shows a picture of the Solnhofen quarry and shows how the limestone in the quarry guides the thickness of the slabs that get cut. To print these cards you’d need fourteen different slabs.

The progressive has added light cyan and a darker tan. Already Mr Liebig’s face is starting to look real with the blue providing a decent amount of shadow detail. The gold is no longer showing up on the list but we’re at five inks used now.

Card three, “Lithographic reproduction,” contains a bunch of details about how lithography actually works. A reversed image has to be drawn using special oils on a polished stone. With colored subjects, the design has to be drawn on multiple stones, one stone for each color although when inks overlap even more colors can be produced. Nothing I can make sense of as for how the different color components are determined though.

This description finally starts to get into the actual process of how lithography actually works. At it’s heart it’s just the oil and water principle. The design gets drawn on the stone in oil or grease. The stone is wetted. Water doesn’t stick to the design. The stone is then inked. Ink is oil based, sticks to the design, but doesn’t stick to the water. Then the paper is pressed against the stone and takes the ink.

The image shows a room with multiple artisans each drawing on a lithographic stone. Note that everyone’s working on a large-scale lithograph rather than something card sized.

The progressive meanwhile has added a brown and a light magenta ink, taking our total to 7 inks used and giving Mr. Liebig a little flush in his cheeks.

Card 4, “Printing proofs.” After the stones have the grease drawing on them they’re cleaned with Nitric Acid.* This cleaning allows the non-oily parts of the stone to accept and hold water so only the oily parts attract the ink. Before the final printing, progressive color proofs (which will look very much like the progressive portraits of Mr. Liebig) are run beginning witt the lightest colors and ending with the darkest.

*Diluted since limestone aka Calcium Carbonate and concentrated acid will react.

It’s nice to see my observation about the progressive proofs being explicitly mentioned. We’ve now got a pair of darker cyan and magenta inks added to the mix as well.

And the image shows a number of printers all working single sheet hand presses that squeeze the paper against the stone in order to produce the print. This is a pretty labor-intensive process where the wetting, inking and paper pressing is all done by hand.

Card 5, “Final printing.” When the proofs are sufficiently close to the original artwork, the rotary pressman can follow them. The original artwork is transferred multiple times to a new, larger stone which undergoes the same polishing, drawing, and acid wash as before only this time it’s wetted, inked, and printed via automated cylinders.

I wish this described how the images are transferred from the small stones to be printed multiple times on the large ones. It’s very interesting however to see a depiction of the automatic press. I’ve only seen lithography done as art prints now so hand-presses are the only surviving production method.

The automatic press shows why offset printing is a commercially more viable process. Instead of a stone which has to be inked by rollers moving across the entire surface, modern offset lithography uses metal plates that have the same oil/water surface but can also be wrapped around a cylinder. The water can get applied via rollers. Same with the ink. A rubber blanket cylinder transfers* the ink from the plate to the paper (also on a cylinder) and, since it’s softer than stone allows for a more-even print while also protecting the stone image from being degraded by paper.

*Hence the term “offset” being used since there’s no longer a direct contact between the plate and the paper.

The printing industry just needed photography to catch up to its needs. We used photography to convert images to halftone screens. We used it to expose plates. And we used to create multiples of a single piece of artwork.

Also I can’t help but point out that a woman makes her first appearance on the cards as the press operator.

Meanwhile Mr Liebig now features dark brown and dark cyan inks and is looking nearly human in his 10 inks plus gold frame.

Card 6, “Cutting and packing.” The sheets are cut mechanically. They’re then counted and packaged for shipping. The rest of the text describes the progressive proofs in twelve colors plus gold and calls out the new colors that result in the completed image.

The bindery is a basic hand bindery with a mechanical paper cutter and lots of desk space for people to count and sort and package everything. This is still a pretty common thing. While super-advanced automated systems do exist, for small jobs doing it all by hand is the way to go. Cutters are safer and counting is usually done by weighing the finished product but otherwise yeah, lots of hand work at this point.

Also, while the progressives specific 12 colors plus gold, the last two inks added on the list are dark magenta and medium grey. Black never gets mentioned despite being clearly in the image not only as his name plate but also the final detail work in Mr. Liebig’s irises.

This isn’t an oversight but instead reflects how Black doesn’t show up much in the images. Black objects usually get there because of mixing the other inks. You only need to generate the black component to save ink or prevent too much getting put on the paper. Black typically only shows up on it’s own Key* plate and is used for text and border colors and so.

*Why it’s assigned K in the CMYK model.

So yeah. Where modern printing would print this in five inks (CMYK plus metallic gold) in 1906 this used fourteen. Lots more work. Lots more effort. All for something that was being given away. Still, super duper cool and I love having these in my collection both as a explanation of how chromolithography works and as a demonstration of what they actually look like. Thanks Jason!

Surprise from Jason

So a couple weeks ago I found a surprise package from Jason in my mailbox. This package functioned as a bit of a thank you for introducing his to Card Twitter and the SABR Baseball Cards guys. Since he first popped up on Twitter last fall he’s become a big part of the community in general as well as a new SABR member who’s been blogging up a storm.

We’ll start with the requisite Giants cards. Do I have these? Yes…though I’ll have to double check with my current collection for condition since quite a few of my early-80s cards are printed badly.

But extras are always welcome here since I’m setting aside duplicates for my kids. They’ll each have very fun Giants albums soon and while I’m mainly setting aside two sets of identical cards so there’s no fighting we’ll probably have to have a draft of some sort for the rest.

The majority of the package though was, appropriately, all referencing various blog posts I’ve made for SABR over the years. I’ll go through these in the order I posted about them.

The first was this great Babe Ruth action photo. Not a Conlon card but rather part of the identically-designed 1992 Megacards Babe Ruth set. I’m a little sad to learn that this design turns out to have been used for a bunch of different sets but it’s still a nice look for all these old black and white photos.

I love multi-exposure action cards but was completely unaware of this one. A shame since the 1942 photos would’s been the oldest set of photos on that post.

There were a bunch of 1973 Topps cards which I’ll get to later but the Horacio Pina featured the Latino double last name on the back. I was wondering whether Topps would keep this detail in 2019 Heritage since it’s also part of the 1970 design but alas they did not.

Jason is a Dwight Gooden collector so he’d acquired a 1985 and 1986 Mets fan club card sheet just for the Doc cards. He then proceeded to tear them apart like an animal. Seriously, check out those edges. He kept the Doc but the rest found their way my direction. I like these because they’re oddballs but also because the typesetting on the back is very cool.

Jason did a better job tearing apart the 1986 cards. The Mets didn’t change the designs much these years but this is one of the stronger team-issue sets. Photography is mostly good and the design on the fronts is simple but effective. It would be fun to see sheets of these done for each team and, in an age of white-bordered cards, seeing team-color borders is especially fun.

The 1973 Topps Traded cards rounds out the references to my SABR posts. This kind of kid-generated modification is one of my favorite things. I love seeing evidence of kids using cards and really following the game.

Also, for a set with notoriously bad photography the selection here is mostly good. Just the Tommy Agee at the top of this post shows the all-too-common “who is this card of” photo selection. The Jim Hart card is also a bit awkward in that his face is completely in shadow. My only other comment is that it’s really really weird to see Dick Dietz as a Dodger.

Last card in the pile is a trimmed 1954 Jim Greengrass which is a bit of a reference to a SABR post I did not write. 1954 is a design I love despite its weirdnesses (the way the fronts and back only bleed on one, albeit different, edge means that half the backs are upside down). Seeing a card with full bleeds like this kind of freaks me out even after I get past the trimming thing. It’s just a completely different look.

Thinking about full-bleed brightly-colored cards brings us to the last item in the package. Jason included a pack of 1988 Score for me to rip. I wasn’t used to color full-bleed cards when I started collecting. Even colorful sets had borders or, in the case of 1975 Topps, multiple colors so you could get lots of different colors per press sheet.

I’ve touched on this before but Score was different. 6 different color designs were unlike anything I’d seen. Plus the photography was frequently better than anything I’d see on a card. No truly awesome photos in this pack—though the Steinbach is pretty good— but just selecting a card or two of each color shows how this set still jumps off the page. Yes it’s a very of-its-time design but it really showed what cards could be.

Thanks Jason! Glad to have you on-board with SABR and as part of the hobby community.

Merry Christmas from Jason

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Last Friday I found four packages in my mailbox. People are getting their holiday mailings out and are reminding me that I should do the same. I’ll start off with a small envelope from Jason.

These Galasso Greats cards from 1977 are 11fun. I came across a number of TCMA releases in repacks when I was a kid but never saw one of these until this year when I found a Joe DiMaggio in a Dollartree repack. It’s nice to have a Giant and I enjoy having a Sal Maglie. I don’t have any vintage cards of him and I really should rectify that since he features so prominently in Ball Four.

Two Fleer Greats of players whose numbers the Giants have retired. Many modern cards of pre-war players really don’t seem to know what to do with the black and white photos. Either they try and colorize things or the card designs themselves end up showing how much they rely on color photos for that punch. These though work pretty well with the foil finish on the card stock adding a nice tone to the photo background while not messing with the black and white photo itself. It’s also nice to see photos that haven’t been beaten into the ground through over use.

And the Action Packed Monte Irvin is just a ton of fun. There’s no way to scan or photograph this and capture the embossed 3D effect but I love these cards and how they’re made by folding the sheet back over itself so that the embossing doesn’t show through to the other side.

Thanks Jason and Merry Christmas!

1978 NST Giants

Veteran’s Day always coincides with a two-day education conference in New Jersey. As a result all the kids in New Jersey have a nice four-day weekend and all the parents have to figure out what to do.* As the primary parent I was pretty relieved to send the kids back to school and get a bit of rest again. When I checked the mail that afternoon it was wonderful to find a plain white envelope in my mail from Jason.

*Apparently Disneyworld is full of New Jersey families this weekend.

Opening and engaging with a small batch of cards is one of my favorite ways to relax and a PWE often contains the perfect amount. In this case, I opened the envelope to find a pack of Japanese cards with Shigeo Nagashima’s photo on the front. I mentioned him in my post on my first Calbee cards, and seeing him here looking about the same age allowed me to put some google searches together to figure out that this was a pack of 1978 NST Yomiuri Giants cards.

The Japanese Baseball Cards blog has a nice rundown of NST’s offerings during the 1970s and includes the information that these were intended to be pasted into an album.* All the player identification information is in the album and the cards themselves are clean and simple—basic photos and a thin white border.

*There’s also a post featuring the 1983 album which provides a sense of how these cards were intended to be displayed.

The card backs are all identical except for the card number which tells you where to paste the photo. Do I know what the cards say? No.* But given how the backs are basically the same year-to-year it doesn’t seem like the text is particularly important and is probably something along the lines of exhorting fans to collect all the cards, trade with their friends, and buy the official album.

*I’d love for translation assistance on the card and packaging backs.

Thankfully however, someone’s translated the album and put the checklist together so I can use the numbers to figure out (or confirm) who the player on the card is.

Of course this leaves me at a loss in terms of identifying who the coach (I’m assuming) on the menko-like parallel card is. He doesn’t look like Nagashima to me and with no name on the front, no number on the back, and not even a uniform number to provide a hint I’m kind of stuck.

Which is a shame since as far as coaching cards go this is kind of a great card with the blue milkcrate full of balls and the scattered equipment in the background. Coach cards don’t lend themselves well to action shots—let alone action shots that look like coaching. This one though clearly features coaching action and represents a photography type I’ve never seen before. Very cool.

Moving on the the regular cards, the first part of the checklist appears to have a lot of cards featuring players out of uniform—or, well, game uniform, The first one, number 46, features three players wearing what looks like school uniforms. The checklist identifies them as “ Suzuki, Kinoshita, and Nakazawa” but as far as I can tell there are no players for the Giants with those names in the years around 1978.

I don’t know that much about how Japanese baseball is organized but I can’t help but think that these must be young/new members to the organization and none of them managed to break into the big league club.

Two more non-uniform cards. Number 50 features Shigeru Takada, the Giants 3rd Baseman, getting off of an airplane. Not a great baseball card but kind of a wonderful photo showing a more civilized age of air travel as well as some wonderfully 70s power neckties. I can’t find an english-language bio of him but I am intrigued by his conversion from outfielder to third baseman. That switch isn’t particularly common in baseball anymore as 3rd base has increasingly become a power position so I’m just not used to seeing it.

Card number 54 meanwhile shows manager Shigeo Nagashima washing his hands at a Chōzuya. I almost didn’t recognize Nagashima out of uniform and I wish I knew the baseball significance of the shrine he’s at.


Card number 98 features Sadaharu Oh speaking at a press conference. I really really want to connect the flowers in front of him, this set being a 1978 release, and the fact that Oh passed Hank Aaron’s home run record on September 3 the previous year into guessing that this is celebrating him being the home run king. But that’s only a guess and for all I know all the press conferences have flowers.

Anyway it’s always nice to add another Oh card to the collection and I love that this one is so different from the other ones I own.


Card number 94 features a dynamic photo of Kazumi Takahashi. It’s oddly cropped but I dig it since he’s striding so strongly into the frame. I was surprised to discover had last played for the Giants in 1975. I saw some other all-time greats on the checklist* but wasn’t expecting a card of a player who was still playing in 1978 only not for the Giants.

*Victor Starffin and Wally Yonamine for example are both on the checklist and I’d’ve been ecstatic to have found either of those cards in the pack.**

**Yes as with Oh and Hisao Niura, I apparently have a soft spot for Japanese ballplayers who push the definition of what it means to be Japanese. I wonder why that could be?

But maybe Takahashi’s service to the club really stood out. His 1973 looks amazing where he completed 24 of 37 starts with a 23–13 record and 2.20 ERA. That’s a career year in any league. Unfortunately it looks like he must’ve ruined his arm that year since in 1974 he only completed 2 of his 22 starts with a 2–11 record and 5.12 ERA. and never really recovered his form after that.

Card number 102 meanwhile shows career-Giant and Hall of Famer Tsuneo Horiuchi who by 1978 was in the decline portion of his career—still eating up innings and starts but not with the same effectiveness as he had in the late 60s and early 70s. His 1972 season for example is a monster of a year where he completed 26 of 34 starts and went 26–9 with a 2.91 ERA.

And yes the math for the number of decisions doesn’t add up to the number of starts for both Takahashi and Horiuchi. Both of them also came out of the bullpen between starts—a fact that blows my mind since 1960s/70s starting pitcher usage is already so far removed from the way pitchers are used today.

Card number 242 features Teruyoshi Matsuo whose single season with the Giants occurred in 1973 (5 games, 2 starts, no decisions, 4.91 ERA) but appears to have been retained as a coach or at least a batting practice pitcher.

Card number 246 also features a coach or batting practice pitcher. Checklist identifies him as Tomio Yamaguchi but the only guy with that name I can find was an infielder for Daiei in 1950. Daiei did play in the same stadium as the Giants though so maybe it’s the same guy. If it is he’d be just over 50 in this photo (he does look older than I’d expect a player to look).

Supercool Jason! This was a lot of fun and I always love being able to see cards and photography from other parts of the world. Thanks!

Satchell Paige

About a week and a half ago I got a random notification from my blog* from Jason (@HeavyJ28) saying that he wanted to send me a card that I’d mentioned I should make a note to look for. Late last week the plain white envelope arrived.

*Though to be fair, ALL notifications from my blog are random and unexpected.

Jason’s relatively new to Twitter but was a blogger before then. He’s a Dodgers fan but we won’t hold that against him. Heck, living out here in Yankeesland now means I’ll take any National League or West Coast support I can find.

The card in question was a 1993 Topps Archives Satchell Paige. The real-deal 1953 card is one of my favorites. Artwork is nice. St. Louis Browns satisfies my desire to have cards from non-existent teams. And Paige is one of the singularly most-interesting baseball characters ever—which makes this card one of those that’ll always be out of my price range.

The Archives card though is a perfectly acceptable substitute. Sure it’s not vintage but it also means I don’t have to freak out about it being protected. And I’m sure my kids will love to see it since the eldest is a huge fan of Dan Gutman’s Baseball Card Adventures and so is fully invested in Satchell’s mythology.

Jason also included a handful of Giants cards from the set. The Willie Mays is another beauty which I’ll never own. The Hoyt Wilhelm is great too as he’s a player with a big cult following. Monte Irvin is a personal favorite of mine (along with Hank Thompson for integration reasons). I actually have Irvin’s 1953 card as well and it’s fun to compare the two and see what’s lost or gained in the reproductions.

And there were a couple other randoms in the envelope. The 1973 Kingman is a nice classic 1970s look. The Bobby Bonds Jr, while technically a Padres card, is fun for a couple reasons. First, as a Bay Area native, it’s fun to see the Cañada College uniform on a baseball card. Also, I have fond memories of watching Bonds Jr play at San José later on in the 1990s. There was always lots of buzz whenever he was announced though even then I felt sorry for the guy for having to try and follow in both is father’s and brother’s footsteps.

Thanks for the mailing Jason!