32a Nelson Liriano Face clearly visible, no shadowing effect
32b Nelson Liriano Face airbrushed/edited almost solid black
100a Checklist 28-137
100b Checklist 28-247
108a Ray Knight black “scar” on neck, ends at jaw line
108b Ray Knight black “scar” on neck, extends further up neck
108c Ray Knight white airbrushed “scar” line on neck
108d Ray Knight no scar on neck
Pictured below is a card that had eluded me for a few years. In fact, the first time I saw it, I figured it was just a short-run (or “one-time”) printing flaw, but a few of them recently found their way into my collection via a thrift store junk box of 1988 Donruss commons. As of today, I can confirm 4 different versions of this odd printing flaw/plate error.
1. Blue, ballpoint-pen-looking “scar” along throat, curls into jaw line (pictured).
2. Blue, ballpoint-pen-looking “scar” along throat, stops at jaw line (pictured).
3. White, edited or airbrushed “scar” along throat, stops at jaw line (not pictured).
4. No visible trace of “scar” on neck (pictured).
Here’s a variation (read: printing flaw) that you don’t see too often. Several cards from 1988 Topps can be found without the black ink on reverse of their cards, because of this, these are not “blank backs” which are more common flaws. In my time collecting, I have only seen about 3-dozen examples pop up. A handful of stars (Clemens, etc.) but otherwise all commons. While they don’t receive the publicity or fanfare of their 1982 cousins, these oddities are an interesting branch of the Topps ‘blackless’ family tree!
1988 Topps #405, Doc Gooden’s All-Star subset card, can be found in 3 distinct varieties:
-Missing blue ink at tip of R on front
-Partially filled-in tip of R on front
-Complete R on front
Not the most spectacular Topps set, not even a top contender for best Topps set of the 1980’s due to it’s drab design and lack of a strong rookie crop. But it is loaded with variations of all types. Many, many minor ones that have only recently been discovered, well-known errors as well as several early-corrected cards that have proven to be difficult to locate today. As with all unlisted variations, a market price cannot be established until we start seeing them for sale, so while I can’t pinpoint a dollar value for these cards, I can share what I know and how it backs their rarity.
Let’s take a look at some of the toughest 1988 Topps cards to pull:
1. #51 Baltimore Orioles Team Leaders featuring Cal Ripken Jr and Eddie Murray. The error on this toughie is the single-toned back. All the Team Leader cards have a 2-tone orange colored back. A handful of the O’s card received just a solid, darker orange color. At one point, these used to sell for $20-30 but I can’t say I’ve seen one offered for sale in at least 4 years now. Not a single one among my 50+ copies!
1950’s nostalgia was running rampant in the 1980’s and Topps, the trading card company we all know and love, was not unaffected by this epidemic of nostalgia. In 1988, Topps launched Topps BIG, based in design off their 1956 issue including the slightly larger-than-standard size. Not only is this set an underappreciated ‘gem’ for it’s design, they look almost designed for TTM or in person autographs.
This set, in all it’s beauty and bountiful selection of players (330 in all), is full of variations, albeit minor ones, but for the obsessive-compulsive master set builder or variation collector, true variations they remain, nonetheless. Each of the 330 subjects can be found in at least 2 different printer’s designation variations: for the new readers, that is the little letter code before Topps copyrights (A*, B*, C*…for example). Some players, a lot in fact, have as many as 4 different at last count.