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1990 Topps Frank Thomas NNOF August 1995 Beckett Write-Up: 25 Years Later

30 Apr

A quick look at two pages from the August 1995 Beckett Baseball Magazine outlining the most up-to-date info on the card at the time. The ‘Readers Write’ letter is interesting to me as it tackles the big question surrounding the legitimacy of this printing error vs. others and the generally accepted hypocrisy applied to it. Also noticeable is how their example does not contain the tiny piece of Frank’s name commonly (but not always) found on the iconic print flaw. Theo Chen’s estimation of 500 to 1000 and possibly even “less than 100” copies is laughable 25 years later. While truly a needle-in-a-haystack card, far more than 1000 copies have surfaced since.

Bonus: January 1994 NNOF Pricing

1990 Pro Set Football: What’s Rare & What’s Not – Looking Back On The Last 7 Years of Discoveries And Sales

18 Nov

It seems the nostalgia boom of Pro Set collecting has all but come to an end. Sure there are several of us out there still flipping over cards in junk lots and scouring auction sites for new and interesting oddities but nothing quite like the heyday of the late 00s, early 10s. In those years, there seemed to be so much being uncovered, an endless supply of new items to chase and an ever-growing population of collectors jumping into what are arguably the most error/variation laden products of the junk wax era. Over the last five+ years, the collector slowdown started gradually (and I blame much of this on the glut of printer’s scrap and sheet cut items hitting the market) and has pretty much come to a near stop, save the likely, few dozen collectors still pursuing the impossible idea of a “complete” set. Let’s take a look at some of the cards which have filtered out to remain truly rare and elusive, and, conversely, which previously-believed to be rare items have proven to be much more acquirable.

Below is my completely unscientific and very fallible list of Pro Set winners and losers, after watching a recording appearances for sale, realized sales and frequency of availability for purchase. Obviously this does not take into account collector to collector data.

1990 Pro Set Football Winners (included prototypes and non-pack issues):

  1. Steve Young #666 – I believe this to be toughest Pro Set issue of all. Despite information, including pics, circulating for over a decade now, I do not recall a public sale of this card. Truly the holy grail of Pro Set issues, across all sets and sports.
  2. Eric Dickerson #338FACT Cincinnati. Have any copies of this card changed hands or been offered for sale in the last seven-to-ten years? As far as I know, none have. I had received an email ca. 2010, I think, that contained an image of the card back. I do not believe I had seen it prior to or since then. Truly a worthwhile runner-up to the Steve Young card as most sought-after and elusive 1990 Pro Set issue.
  3. Paul Gruber #310Missing name, position and uni number on back. Unreal to me that only one copy has surfaced. This card is similar to the 1990 Topps Frank Thomas NNOF, where, clearly, an obstruction blocked an imperfect portion of black ink on back. Though unconfirmed, I believe that whichever Bucs player sat above his card on the 10-up sheet strips should also be missing black ink on their cards.
  4. Dexter Manley #772missing bio or “ghost bio” variation. Via emails and ebay messages ca. 2005, I was turned on to this card’s existence but did not see a copy until 2010. Since then, I know of just four copies in existence. Two of which are never likely to leave their collections. Odds are, like all other rarities in mass produced sets, there are more out there but this variation remains one of the most elusive Pro Set mistakes produced, even if categorized as a “print flaw” by most.
  5. Chris Hinton PB #343Trade snipe on front, “Has been named…” text on back. This odd transitional version appeared for sale with some regularity for a small stretch a few years ago but they have pretty much become a ghost these days.
  6. Chris Hinton PB 343Trade snipe on front, “Six-time…” text on back with white text in snipe on front. This card was allegedly updated/reworked at the same time Rison’s card #134 was, which coincidentally also can be found with white text in the snipe on front. Made more interesting by the fact that the two players happened to be swapped for one another as part of the Jeff George draft day trade! Both cards went through several changes across the life of the product and these versions pop up very, very occasionally. I do not have a proper count but I will guess no more than ten copies of each have show up for sale.

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800 copies of 1990 Upper Deck Mike Witt #702 Discovered!

11 Jul

A card previously believed to be quite rare, with under 50 copies estimated in circulation has now jumped to closer to 1000 known copies with the recent discovery of an 800 count box filled with 1990 Upper Deck card 702, featuring Mike Witt. The cards were believed to have been pulled from production and destroyed, however, it appears that at least one box made their way out of the factory.

A collector named Gilbert claims to have found the box at a flea market in California. After corresponding privately with collectors he found via commenting on this blog, he took to posting at FreedomCardboard.com for more information on the Witt card. Here is a link to that discussion, which provides so very interesting information: Mike Witt 800ct Discovery Freedom Cardboard Forums Discussion

Below is the initial emails I received upon their discovery:

Gilbert writes:
“Hey Guys,just wanted to update everyone on these cards,ive sold a total of 10 cards so far,some less then $100,my intentions was and will try to get them out to all collectors who would want one for their collection,I’ve made a lot more money from these then I can imagine for something I spend $10 on,talked to a lot of cool people from all over the U.S…made some friends and had a few who tried to take advantage,lol..but it has been an experience,its gotten me into the collection world,the guy I got them from continues to have a huge collection and I’m there every Saturday and Sunday looking thru them,And my “Gem Mint 10″ is now on eBay,so I’m excited about that,i just want that card to be sold for a little higher then the most expensive one sold for(1300)…only time will tell,after that,i might sell a total of maybe 10 after that,but I won’t give them away,lol…so after that,the will be put away…there might be over 800 cards,but not a lot out in the market,what hopefully they keep some value…I admire all you guys,maybe some day I can be a master collector like you all…have a great day people!��”

For Sale: Rare (and Interesting) 1980s and 1990s Error & Variation items

13 Oct

My last batch as an eBay seller is up right now and I’m hoping to move some of this over the next week before I stop selling on the site. A recent 60-day review showed me $600 in sales, netted me $140 in pocket and this has been going on this way for over a year with no sign of changing for the better!  So, unfortunately, this current batch of stuff will be my last for the foreseeable future. The good news is, it’s some of the best I have had in a long time. You can check it all out here.

Currently taking lower-than-usual offers on this stuff, after this next week, I will be revamping the “For Sale” page on this site to include a large run-down of available merchandise and will most likely only sell through this site. An occasional “must-auction” item may hit eBay here and again, but my days of selling on their site in any kind of volume are over.

So, please do, check ’em out and make offers, mention JunkWaxGems for free, combined shipping!

Thanks!

1994 Topps Sheet Code Variations…An Ongoing Mystery

8 Oct

Continuing on with my recent spotlighting of post-prime era variations (mid 90s and on), here is a look at a recently discovered (2007-ish) variation affecting an unknown number of 1994 Topps subjects. Several of the base cards are commonly found without a print code on back – very common for this set, however, a handful of these subject have shown up in extremely limited quantities with a print code.

Brought to my attention from a fellow collector, so far, only Mark McGwire, Pedro Martinez, Mel Rojas and an already-forgotten Montreal Expos common have been confirmed. This is most-likely due to the fact that by 1994, the error and variation craze had died down considerably and collectors weren’t pouring over the issue like they had in the late 80s. My own research has been pretty limited as far as this set goes, I’ve poured over half a dozen factory sets and twice as many 3200ct boxes but have never found a with code and without pair.

I’d be interested to hear what the player collectors out there turn up. If anyone has any more info on these variations or other 1994 Topps errors, I’d like to get an ‘Ongoing Checklist’ for 1994 Topps going soon. I am fairly certain there is a lot more to be discovered in 1994 Topps.

Record Sale For 1990 Topps Frank Thomas No Name On Front Error

17 Aug

Not mine, but I sure wish it was…

http://cgi.ebay.com/FRANK-THOMAS-1990-TOPPS-RC-NNOF-NONAME-FRONT-BGS-8-5-/360385899834?pt=US_Baseball&hash=item53e8ac6d3a

A benchmark sale for the Junk Wax Gem of Gems!

Truly an ode to the power of the catalog’s recognition coupled with star factor. How many unlisted printing flaws could $2K get you?

 

 

New Blog Feature: Ongoing Checklists

20 Jun

One feature I’ve been meaning to work into the blog for at least a year now, is an ongoing checklist category. Essentially, it will be a “living” checklist of featured sets that will be added to as new variations are found. I will continue to update the posts in the same way I continue to add to the 1990 Pro Set Master Set Checklist post. This will hopefully function as a valuable source of information for junk era set completion.

Suggestions, new info and comments are very welcome with this, but keep in mind that wrong backs, blank backs/fronts and missing foil errors will not make the cut beyond an occasional note of “such and such printing flaws are very common in this issue” etc.

Also, I may note when a particular variation is exceptionally rare or seldom (or never) offered for sale, but I would rather not receive a bunch of “value” or “worth” requests of such cards or “how much will you pay for this” type comments. Mainly because the E&V market tends to fluctuate dramatically on a weekly basis. The lack of catalog info on many variations tends to create a hesitant buying market. One of the key goals of this blog is to provide and share information on variations and to eventually get many of these variations properly cataloged in future annual guides.

1992 Topps Blackless (Missing Ink) Variations

29 Mar

A recent trip to the card shop in search of some junk boxes yielded one1992 Topps Wax Box and one 1997 Score Hobby Reserve Box (complete waste of money). The Topps box was quite a score because almost every other pack had two Match The Stats game cards, which were the primary reason for the purchase. But in the last quarter of packs, these two cards popped out:

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1989 Fleer Randy Johnson #381 Marlbroro Variations (Updated 5/8/2020)

10 Aug

THERE ARE WAY MORE THAN 3 DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF THIS CARD.

There are at least 8 different versions of this card. (I’d say at least 13 now)

Here we are, some 10+ years after it’s discovery (if you take the word of Beckett’s Annual Price Guide editors), 20+ years after it’s release and this card is still causing confusion and trouble. It’s origin remains murky as no former Fleer reps have gone on record to explain why this card was changed or why it took Fleer so many different tries to get it right. Even stranger is that this is not a legend’s brother’s second-year card or a journeyman reliever’s card, this is the rookie card of one of the game’s greatest pitchers and yet very little info exists on it. And what little info that does is severely in need of an update. (It seems that collectors have settled on “Randy didn’t like the sign…” as reason for the changes, however, I am not convinced due to production timeline)

I can’t tell you for certain how many variations exist on this card, because just like it’s more famous relative, 1989 Fleer Bill Ripken #616, new varieties are being discovered all of the time. But it’s safe to say that Fleer altered this card at least 8 (12) different times! I’ve spent more time than you can imagine, squinting at poor-quality scans of this card on ebay over the last 8-9 years now. I know a lot about the different varieties, or I should say, I thought I knew a lot, but then I met, and began discussing this card, with an avid collector of them named Kevin, who has compiled an impressive collection of the varieties, including the only known copy featuring a completely-clear Marlboro sign (another copy turned up in late 2019, PSA graded) Kevin’s knowledge and collection have helped reignite my interest in this variation, specifically it’s proper cataloging in the “big books” and with PSA’s registry, in turn (all these years later and still the cataloging and labeling of them is a huge mess full of inconsistent and incorrect information).

Let’s take a look a some of the many, many different varieties available. This article will not cover every version, especially considering how many distinct varieties do not scan well.  Plus, I will be updating it with new images and notes on versions not listed here, as they become available. For now, here are the basics:

This is typically what get’s labeled, bought and sold as the “Marlboro” version. Long thought that this was among the clearest types out there. Sign is pretty visible, no green or red tinting (we’ll talk about that later).

As you can see on this “Red Tint” version, the sign has received a darkening effect of some kind. As if a reddish filter was placed over just the sign area. Certain features of the sign, such as the cowboy and lettering appear to be muddled with an even darker red coloring.

This looks very similar to the previous card but there are a handful of subtle differences. I’m not 100% sold that this is a completely separate variety than the one listed above but something about the tinting, specifically around the lettering on the sign stands out to me when compared to the above card (especially in person).

And now, things start to get weirder. At some point – or possibly a result of Fleer using multiple printing facilities, Fleer proofers added a very green tint to the sign (note the bubble by the cowboy, especially how you can see the white of the logo – you’ll see the bubble again later…). Like the muddled red versions above, there are varying versions that are similar enough to not warrant their separate cataloging but an understandable challenge for the completest. It should be noted that the green tint varieties are among the tougher to acquire. This type is commonly referred to as the “Green Tint” version.

Again, like the Billy Ripken card, this proves so frustrating that that Fleer decides to crudely scribble over the offending sign:

Probably the toughest of the varieties outside of the “Clear Sign” version, this appropriately-labeled “Black Scribble” version can be a bear to track down. I’ve seen fewer than 10 copies of this type, though I am certain many more are out there, but due to how seldom they show up, I would guess that this is a short-run, transitional type, much like the “White Scribble” Billy Ripken variation.

One of Fleer’s other tricks was to place a “box” around just the Marlboro logo in the background. I have found that these vary in size and in some cases, you can see the word ‘Marlboro’ through the box with a good light source. This card pictured is a “Green Box” version. The overall tint or color to the box is greenish.

“Red Box” without bubble. Pretty much the same idea as above but using a reddish tone to cover the offending portion of the background. These come in several shades with many minor varieties to them leaving it up to the collector as to whether or not they should be cataloged separately. These are fairly common among the non “Blacked-Out” types.

“Red Box” with “bubble.” There are a handful of differences between this and the card pictured above, most notably the bubble by where the cowboy should be. This bubble shows up on a few of the different correction attempts and is always in the same place. This would suggest that something was obstructing that spot of one of the printing plates even throughout changes to the background! A mysterious little fingerprint left to aid in the unraveling of this card’s production origins.

This card. Not sure what it should labeled. Maybe “Dark Red Box?” I’ve seen fewer of these than either of the above-mentioned “box” varieties. In person, this card looks almost like the final, “Blacked Out” version but it isn’t. An exceptional light source will reveal that it has an triangular black shape over the lettering that looks almost identical to the “Green Scribble.” This version seems to have also cleaned up all those little edges, bubbles and bright spots on the other “box” varieties. A bizarre version that needs further study.

This is the most common type found. In fact, these have been pulled out of boxes that contain the Bill Ripken “Fuck Face” error, a testament to how quickly all these changes were made to this card. This is the “Blacked Out” version, the final version, using a similar method of correction as card #616 – a full black-out of the offensive area. This is the version most frequently found for sale and it’s also the version that comes out of factory sets (they were produced last).

Sadly, I do not have a larger image of the holy grail of Marlboro varieties, but here is a rare glimpse of the only known copy of the “Clear Sign” version:

Hopefully you’ve found this tutorial useful. It is my goal to get these recognized by the big guides and one day come to a final tally on the different variations.

FYI, all images in this blog are scans of variations owned by me with the exception of Kevin’s amazing “Clear Sign” copy (shown above). I look forward to posting more varieties as they come into my possession so keep checking back to this article periodically.

Remember, even though this card comes from a massively overproduced set, it’s still the rookie card of a future Hall-of-Famer, with 5 Cy Young Awards, a perfect game, a no-hitter, 300+ wins, 4800+ Ks, 10-time All-Star and World Series MVP! I think given the rarity of some of these variations, it’s a no-brainer that Randy’s scarcest RC is found within the 1989 Marlboro varieties. Imagine if Nolan Ryan or even Roger Clemens had 10+ variations of varying rarity affecting their rookie?

UPDATE 8/13:

Just received this today:

This looks especially “blacked-out” around just the lettering of “Marlboro.” At this point, I am unsure if this qualifies for a new, unique variation, but check out this comparison shot next to the 1st version mentioned above, aka, the Marlboro version:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UPDATE 5/8/2020:

At this point, I think it is safe to say that the order of rarity goes something like this, keep in mind that this list are my 13 categories that the thousands of copies I have reviewed fall into with acceptance for some degree of variance in ink and color. I do not count stray dots, fisheyes or any of the print flaw cards that weren’t a result of editors attempting to cover the area:

1.) Clear sign (two known copies to date)

2.) Green scribble A (shorter, wider scribble area)

3.) Green scribble B (taller, narrower scribble area)

4.) Green tint, black bar through MARLBORO only

5.) No tint, solid black bar through MARLBORO only

5.) Blackened sign, gap between Randy’s head and top of sign (typically these cards have a fully blacked out background without a gap between Randy’s head and the top of the sign, this version has recently appeared and is not to be confused with a darkened, red or green box version)

6.) Green Tint A (light tinting, letters visible)

7.) Green Tint B (dark tinting, letters muddled)

8.) Standard marlboro version (no red or green tint but visible letters – variations within this variation exist)

9). Red tint (variations exist within this variation)

10.) Red box

11.) Green box

11.) Red box with bubble

12.) Green box with bubble

13.) Blackened sign, no gap between Randy’s head and top of sign (common correction)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1985 Topps Philadelphia Phillies Color Variations aka “Black Box” Versions

24 Jun

1985 Topps is no stranger to radical printing/inking varieties. Vibrant or dull colored fronts, dark and light green backs…each card can be found in every degree along the printing spectrum if you look through enough of them. That said, one team’s cards seem to be affected by a major “darkening” and on a more-frequent basis than any other cards in the 1985 set: the Philadelphia Phillies.

Now, don’t get me wrong, these qualify for the “printing flaw” label, but an argument could be made that they are actual variations in that: 1.) This type of inking extremity really only affects the Phillies cards. No other team in the 1985 Topps set has an extra shade of black inking over the team/name box/logo area. 2.) It was fixed at some point by Topps. Suggesting the possibility that it was even a design change to more accurately reflect the Phillies’ actual colors 3.) Holding the two examples in person provides a look at just how striking of a difference the “black box” versions (as they’ve come to be called in auction titles over the years) really are.

Even if they don’t fit into your variation collection, they are a neat little oddity in the 1985 set, a junk-era Topps set that’s, surprisingly, lacking in major variations.