Archive | Rumored Rarities RSS feed for this section

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:

Continue reading

Cards you’ve never seen: 1990-91 Pro Set Edmonton Oilers Team Statistics

29 Jun

1990-91 Pro Set Hockey is a messy set. Many variations. Many uncorrected errors. Numerous printing flaws. My kind of set! Back in early 1991, Pro Set ran ads in a ton of magazines, showing a card that seems to have never seen production, Check out this ad, where Pro Set greets us in French, with a card no Oilers fan will ever own:

Why Pro Set chose this as the face of their new series is anyone’s guess. It was already approaching a year after the Oilers won the cup and much had happened since. A similar card was issued as part of the “team facts/logos” subset, but it went through a number of minor design changes before pack-out.

With Pro Set’s die-hard fan-base, and the amount of stuff that “escaped” into the market after their bankruptcy, I’m truly surprised that not a single copy of this card has ever surfaced for sale.

Cards you’ve never seen: 1991 Pro Set Platinum James Brooks Prototype

21 Jun

Another mysterious Pro Set prototype issue. Meant to sample their up-and-coming, premium line of card, Platinum, this promo features former Cincinnati Bengals running back, James Brooks. This one looks like it was an in-hand sample, photocopied for use in the ad, rather than just an image on a sheet sent to the dealer:

Obviously, the backs of 1991 Pro Set Platinum went through a few design changes. What you see above, is the only reference for the card I have ever been able to find. Certainly, at least that copy must exist out there somewhere, but as of 2010, not a copy has surfaced on any of the usually channels.

PS: Check out those case prices. They are extremely limited!!

Card you’ve never seen: 1990 Topps John Elway Sample / Promo

12 Jun

What’s the big deal here? It’s just a regular 1990 Topps Football card, right? Nope. It’s some kind of sample shown in a 1990 issue of Topps magazine. You can immediately tell the difference by the inclusion of “Broncos” on front, at bottom left, instead of the Topps logo.

This may never have actually been produced and was maybe just a mock-up on a piece of paper, created by a Topps designer. The hand-drawn football is a big clue for this being the case.

In 1990,¬† the NFL did not grant Topps a license to produce football cards or use team logos (look how far we’ve come…), but Topps decided to print them anyway. Two major changes occurred: 1. The omission of team names or logos from the card fronts and 2. a disclaimer notice on back of every card, stating: “Topps football player cards are not manufactured, sponsored or authorized by any team or league.” Eventually, Topps was granted a license and the late-issued cards they produced for 1990, had the disclaimer removed from the back.

Little-known-fact: all 1990 Topps Football packaging, even the box bottom cards themselves, can be found with or without the disclaimer.

Little-known-fact Part 2: Topps was deep into the development of a 1990 Bowman Football set at the same time. This was shelved for unknown reasons (likely related to their NFL issues), but how cool would it have been to have had a 1990 Bowman Emmitt Smith RC. ‘Home of the Rookie Card,’ right?

1990 Fleer Dave Martinez #353A Yellow ’90 Error

9 Jun

One of my favorite junk-era sets is Fleer’s 1990 issue, which marked their 10th Anniversary of producing regular-issue card sets. The clean design, the awesome-for-1990-prospectors rookie crop (10/10 on the nostalgia scale), the inserts (Soaring Stars are great-looking cards), and the interesting batch of errors and variations within it, are all reasons for me to continue breaking a box here and there.

But 1990 Fleer also holds one of the rarer error cards of the junk-wax era, card #353, Dave Martinez, was originally printed with the little ’90 by logo, in yellow, rather than red. Very few of these were produced, though how many remains ambiguous.

Though nothing is certain, it was my understanding that these cards were found in a specific type of retail packaging very early on in the run. Again, since such little information is out there on this card, it’s origin of distribution remains a mystery. As I touched on earlier, this card was (is still?) priced in the Beckett guide at $2.

I’ll take 50 of them, please!

Over the majority of the last 20 years of watching magazine buy/sell ads, sportsnet and ebay auctions, I was unable to find a copy for sale. Until around 2007, when a copy sold for a buy-it-now of $7 (a BIN I missed – needless to say, that was an ugly day at my house). Likely due to the seller setting the BIN based on the hilarious Beckett price of $2 at the time. It wasn’t until a year or so later, that I found a small group of these for sale on the Beckett Marketplace site and quickly grabbed them up, sight unseen. A few have popped up since then. I want to say somewhere between 2-4 copies, an unbelievably small amount in comparison to how much 1990 Fleer was produced and far fewer than the 1989 Fleer Jeff Treadway Target variation – another Fleer variety known for it’s scarcity. The few I owned sold at auction between $70-100 (roughly) a piece but the handful that sold after those, sold much lower, likely due to a number of factors, not indicative of the card’s actual scarcity.

Obviously, the price is one of those made-up-because-we-want-to-acknowledge-it-but-have-no-idea-what-it’s-worth entries into the annual guides like the 1990 Upper Deck Mike Witt. Even the most recent sale (within the last 18 months), somewhere around $25, is very conservative and most likely due to a poor market and ebay’s dwindling reputation as an auction site and it’s apparent change toward an online outlet mall.

If you have the chance to own one of these, and the price isn’t outrageous, I’d go for it. 20 years and counting, and less-than 10 known examples circulating (and yes, I’m sure several more traded hands back in 1990 and that more than 10 are out there), makes this a very difficult variation to track down – if this were a Topps issue, it would be trading at the 1980 Fred Stanley levels. Let’s hope the price guide editors take notice, give this card a little love and update the price to something that resembles the scarcity of it. Once that happens, who knows, maybe more will pop out of the woodwork?