1986 Topps Mini Leaders Tiffany set? Parallel, Test Issue or Variation?

15 Mar

A little while ago, I stumbled across an unusual batch of 1986 Topps Mini Leaders. Unlike the common type, these had an almost brownish tint to the card fronts, so naturally they jumped out at me.

Upon closer inspection, I discovered a few differences:

-A much thicker coat of gloss. Almost a laminate, quite like the familiar Tiffany issues from Topps’ 1980’s and early 90’s sets. The regular cards themselves have more gloss to them than say, a 1986 Topps base card, but these have a noticeably thicker coating of it.

-The card-stock they are printed on is the same type used for O-Pee-Chee sets produced during this time. This cardstock is also used for the hugely popular 1985 Topps Mini Test cards and is also referred to by collectors as ” Vanilla Bean , ” due to it’s grainy and beige colored stock. The regular issued ’86 Mini Leaders are printed on a vibrant, white card-stock, the same type used for Topps’ Traded boxed sets.

-A very notable brownish tint exists on this mystery variety.This likely due to the combination of the grainy vanilla-bean stock coupled with the thicker gloss.

The difference between the two types is striking when compared in person. Below, are scans of side-by-side examples of this variety, however, I have to emphasize how difficult it is to capture the differences (especially considering that viewing them at their sides gives the best perspective of their card stock differences) in a scan. Ive tried numerous methods, but some of the subtleties are lost no matter what.

Keep in mind that these are not simple color/inking variations in the printing quality. That was my first thought when I found the initial batch, but after a good look over, its obvious that this is a separate issue. Since, I’ve only found a portion of the set, I cannot confirm if the entire set exists in this strange variety.

I’m interested in finding out more about these. If they are more common than they appear to be based on my own investigations. When looking through current 1986 Topps Mini ebay listings, I do not see any available, and although it’s hard to tell for sure, they do stick out enough to get a good idea. If the seller has provided a scan of the back, you tell right away by looking at the white area on the reverse. I’ve tried auctioning them on ebay, noting their ambiguous origin and providing clear scans but they didn’t receive much interest, which I contribute to the lack of information on them. Hopefully, I can get the attention of the Price Guide editors one of these days and at least get a blurb in the annual regarding them, and eventually maybe even acknowledgement by PSA for the registry collectors.

3 Responses to “1986 Topps Mini Leaders Tiffany set? Parallel, Test Issue or Variation?”

  1. David March 12, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

    I was just recently looking at 1986 topps Ozzie Smith N.L. All Star card and realized I have two different backs one with thin ink printing and another with super thick dark bold ink lettering wondered if you ever came across something like this and if it is rare or considered an error?

  2. Jason Presley September 12, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

    Are these two versions just the difference between a vending box and the pack-issued cards?

    • Dylan September 26, 2014 at 11:56 am #

      I have no clue. I’m fairly certain the ones I saw back in 2004 or so came from a vending box. I need to purchase one to open and find out.

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