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1990 Pro Set Playbook Points Instant Winner 1:10 Cases!

8 Nov

I recently completed sorting through my 5000ct box of 1990 Pro Set series one inserts: those folded booklets that come with two scratch-off areas, one for “points” redeemable through the Gazette and one for the chance to instantly win one of several prizes ranging from a trip to the Pro Bowl to a Collector’s Game Program.

While hunting and successfully discovering several variations, I also stumbled upon an actual, unscratched “5th Prize” instant winner. Holding up each copy from the monster box to a desk lamp, I was able to see what was printed beneath the silver scratch-off ink. An amazing feat, considering the stated odds for this prize was 1:7200 packs! With a stated print run of 10,000 “5th Prize” instant winner cards, that places production equal to the pack-issued Lombardi holograms! And when you consider how many were mailed in (maybe few, maybe most) and how often these find their way into the trash, this becomes one of the rarest items among the 1990 Pro Set issue.

 

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1990 Topps Jeff King “No White On Back” and Why it Doesn’t Belong in the Big Books!

4 Nov

For less than a decade now, the Sports Collectors Digest has listed a major variation within the 1990 Topps set. Just recently, it’s catalog price has jumped up near Frank Thomas NNOF range, funny, considering zero copies have ever come up for sale! In fact, only one or two copies have been confirmed to even exist. Rare right?

I’m talking about card number 454 Jeff King. Yeah, the former #1 overall pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates and later, Kansas City Royals fame. Jeff’s card can be found with a solid, yellow and black cardback, meaning the cardboard colored areas (bio, border design, etc) typical on the reverses of 1990 Topps are inked over in yellow. Below is the only-known pic out there (as of today!) and the only confirmed copy I know of, however, Bob Lemke of SCD stands by them having recieved more than one submitted to them while editor of the big book.

This card, rather it’s catalog-worthy status is irksome to say the least. Collectors, especially those with error and variation focused collections as well as the powers-that-be of the industry, Beckett and SCD, have long held the “rule” that most printing flaws, especially ink-run types, are not considered true variations. This rule of course, has it’s many, many exceptions (Frank Thomas NNOF or 1986 Topps Roger Clemens “Blue Streak” for fresh examples), which is frustrating enough because by cataloging these entries as variations, they become must-have for the completists out there. These books lend a lot of legitimacy to which variations they decide to recognize.

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The Mysterious 1990 Topps Debut ‘X’ Cards

16 Oct

I’ve been meaning to post about this bizarre card for a couple years now but couldn’t locate the scans I saved. In fact, these images are the only I’ve ever seen and were poached from a message board in 2009. Since I am in the mood to do a little bit of detective work, I feel now is the time to shed some light on this very unusual card:

 

 

Not much is known about this card, in fact, I’ve yet to hear any mention of it since it was posted in the legendary Frank Thomas NNOF thread on the Collectors Universe boards.

Here is what we do know:

  • Pulled from a 20-set case of 1990 Topps Debut ’89 sets.
  • 1990 Topps Debut ’89 features 152 subjects.
  • Topps likes to print cards in multiples of 11 (33 Glossy All-Stars, 132 O-Pee-Chees, 792 base set, etc…)

Here is what I think:

152 subjects doesn’t work with Topps’ multiples of 11 sheet orientation, however, 154 does. This leads me to believe that on a single uncut 154 card sheet, you will find all 152 cards plus two of these “corner” cards. Obviously, the same formula can be applied to a theoretical 77 card sheet, but one X card per.

I believe that these cards were intended to be thrown out as printer’s waste but some, apparently very few, made their way into sets.

I do not believe that the X cards were intended to depict a player. Although I did not do the research, Topps claims that this set features every major league debut of the 1989 season, which would explain it’s unusual subject number (152) , which varied each of the subsequent years lending some truth to the claim.

What’s especially odd is that given Topps’ high production run during this era, those two “wasted” spots would seem like something of loss financially. Given how often Topps put advertisements and offer cards in products, why didn’t they use those spots for something useful? Food for thought.

Obviously, all of this could be simply explained with an image of an uncut sheet but until I get a hold of one, where’s the fun in that?

Quick Look: 1990-91 Pro Set Paul Gillis “Bloody Nose” Variation

5 Oct

Thanks to one of JunkWaxGems’ contributors, we finally get to shine a spotlight on one of the most elusive Pro Set error cards not mentioning drug abuse or depicting adult content.

The 1990-91 Pro Set NHL release is full of errors, many more than the outstanding amount listed in the price guides. One card has been floating around on want-lists for the last eight or so years, yet still remains uncataloged in the big guides is card number 246 depicting then Quebec Nordiques center Paul Gillis.

Sharp-eyed collectors will notice that the error version lists Gillis’ jersey number as 37, as he clearly wears 23. But another, more interesting change shows Gillis’ nose bleeding on the error version while the stream of blood has been airbrushed away on the correction.

This card is truly under-the-radar for most variation and Pro Set collectors but once it gets the proper exposure and eventual recognition in the guides, I can see this extremely scarce “bloody nose” variety reach levels similar to the Fred Marion “Belt” error and potentially to the Manley “Substance Abuse” error. Until proven otherwise, this is a truly rare Pro Set issue and most-certainly the rarest of it’s hockey issues.

Some spectacular recent finds in 1990 Pro Set variations

19 May

To say April 2011 was a good stretch for me, Pro Set-wise, would be an understatement.

I recently purchased a 5 box lot of 1990 series 1 on ebay. Found 2 Fred Marion errors. This was especially significant to me because I had previously never pulled a copy myself, not to mention, they were both pretty decent looking copies. And though the rest of the boxes yielded corrections and the more common varieties of each variation-affected player, a second glance at the backs of my Fred Marion corrections, revealed a new variety, which starts off this blog entry:

1990 Pro Set Fred Marion with P. over bio data

Not quite sure what is going on with this card but it looks like a handwritten P. except that it is definitely printed on the card. Similar to the 1978 Topps Bump Wills with black circle, in person, it looks like a proofer took a marker or sharpie to a plate or a negative and made a note in the form of ‘P.’ A search through nearly a hundred other copies did not produce another!


Another recent discovery, also revealed to me through my recent box breaks, was a new variation on Roger Craig’s card #287. Roger’s card has seen a few different printing varieties on it’s reverse but this was new to me:

1990 Pro Set Roger Craig with “Blood” on pants

While examining the Craig cards from my break, I noticed that they all had a slanted top stat line on back, so I dug into my inventory of Pro Set commons and pulled out all my Craigs. Immediately I caught a copy that had what appeared to be blood stains on his leg on front, very likely that they are printing flaws, but since they so strongly resemble that, and how appropriate that is considering the sport, I decided the moniker fits best. A search through the remaining (almost a hundred) copies turned up four more.

And last but certainly not least, a huge discovery for me and for 1990 Pro Set, here is a new addition to the ever-growing family of Dexter Manley variations:

1990 Pro Set Dexter Manley with “No Bio” on back

This exciting variety had been whispered of first back in 2005-ish. Like many other Pro Set collectors out there, I have bought my fair share of sealed final update sets in hopes of the elusive “substance abuse” variety, failing to find one every single time. Even the less-rare “backwards t” version has only crossed my path a handful of times. But a recent trip to Hoopla sportscards in Beaverton, OR yielded this:

I usually visit this shop every couple of weeks and scoop up their junk boxes, typical late 80s to early 90s stuff and a great source of the bulk of my 1990 Pro Set inventory, not to mention, a slew of unmarked promos and other oddball goodies. On this trip, they had several 800ct boxes for $1 each, some including a bunch of 1990 Pro Set commons, a stack of mixed 3200ct and 5000ct boxes at $5 a piece – I grabbed them all. Interestingly enough, Dexter was just one of three final update subjects (Fred Washington and Brad Baxter were the others) among mostly series one and two commons found in this lot. The funny thing too, is that I didn’t even notice the bio area immediately, hoping for a long shot chance at a “substance abuse” variation. I reviewed the card over and over and finally decided to add it into my PSA submission, unfortunately, they do not recognize the variety on the label but still graded it an NM-MT 8. Not bad, really!

One other interesting note: Like the John Fourcade stats variation, if you squint hard enough, it almost looks as if the presses did go down over the bio area and faintly printed the info in a yellowish color. It really is tough to see, so until a better description pops up, “No Bio” works for me.

As usual, it’s safe to say that this is not the end of new Pro Set variation discoveries, but it was a great month full of cool finds allover, from this to the recent sales of the scarce Jeff George Gold promos on ebay, to the flood of interest in the 1990 set that  I’ve been picking up on across message boards. Great to see so much happening with such a complex and fun set!

Confirm or Debunk: 1990 Upper Deck Ben McDonald #54C with White Circle on Front

26 Jan

Another long-running mystery variation, first cataloged by Dick Gilkeson in his 1990 Error & Variation guide, the possible third variety of one of the most iconic error cards from the error craze days: 1990 Upper Deck Ben McDonald #54 with “White Circle” on front.

I say ‘possible’ because not only have so few examples shown up in the last 5-10 years, it’s a very likely candidate for counterfeiting due to the astronomical sales that the Orioles variation saw upon it’s release ($50-100). Add to that, the 1989-1991 Upper Deck cards were often erased by unethical dealers looking to cash in the error craze. I can personally recall being warned specifically about the erased McDonald card back in 1990-91. With little effort, these cards can be erased to show a blank white area on just about any section of the cards, this makes it extremely important to be able to hold a copy and tilt it under a good light source to see if the gloss has been dulled, before purchasing.

(copy owned by e.v. of the freedomcardboard.com forums)

The above copy is just the third I have seen. The previous two were found on ebay with $100 buy-it-now’s during 2007-2008.

Some things worth noting:

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Quick Look: 1992 Topps 1000 Yard Club GOLD Variations

16 Jan

Check out this rare look at one of the scarcer early-90’s insert sets produced; 1992 Topps 1000 Yard Club Gold was an unannounced parallel to the rack-issued insert. To this day, very little info is known about them such as how many were made and what their method of distribution was (though random rack insertion seems the most obvious).

The Barry Sanders card pictured below is the only copy of this parallel that I have ever seen in person: