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Card You’ve Never Seen: 2002 Topps Mark Loretta Corrected Photo

13 Sep

Several players in the 2002 Topps set were affected by odd, almost vintage-Topps style mistakes: Albert Pujols, Craig Counsell and Mark Loretta had other players’ photos appear on their cards; Craig Wilson, John Vander Wal and Timo Perez had bizarre (and unrealistic) individual feats hidden in their stats on back. And while most collectors don’t believe that Albert Pujols’ card famously depicting Placido Polonco on back was ever corrected for the base issue set (read, not-HTA or Limited Edition parallel sets), there exists scattered evidence through the years that corrected copies do exist but in extremely limited quantities. To date, I have personally only heard of two. Allegedly these cards were corrected very late in last run of factory sets.

Up until recently, Loretta’s card, picturing Curtis Leskanic on front, has been understood to be a classic Topps UER (uncorrected error), documented in the annual ‘big books’ as such but clearly that is not the case. As with the Pujols (and to a lesser degree, Craig Counsell), this correction was only a rumor for the last twenty years. Here is a look at the likely very rare and very late correction to Mark Loretta’s card:

And while not quite junk wax by most collector’s standards, it is an otherwise noteworthy addition to Topps master sets as one of the last, true, unintentional variations produced by Topps. It raises another question: how many exist out there and how many are still trapped in sealed factory sets, almost certainly fused with the cards surrounding it?

Quick Look: 1991 Topps Desert Storm #186 Variation

7 Sep

Another seemingly rare variation to turn up from the Topps Desert Storm set, this time from the relatively variation-light series three. I reached out to the few remaining DS master set collectors that I know for info such as origin source and potential ownership but all denied knowing anything about it.

Previously sold on COMC, a copy of card #186 King Fahd, showing his named spelled incorrectly on front. Some collector out there is the lucky recipient of a King Faht.

1990 Action Packed All-Madden Team Roger Craig #32 Prototype or Withdrawn Variation?

2 May

Here’s a bizarre item I stumbled across a few years back. A set that for the most part I have zero interest in diving into, but like many other new entries into the market at the time, it’s a set prone to mistakes and likely preceded by a number of proof and prototype cards in it’s efforts to secure a license. And as many collectors already know, this often leads to new variations and oddities for the collection.

Card 32 in the base set is reserved for Ronnie Lott but either early on in the run or prior to production, a card of Roger Craig was issued as 32. Take a look at the pics below. Feel free to comment with any info on the source or history of the card.

Quick Look: 1991 Pro Set ‘Special Promotional Sample’ Stamped Promo Cards

28 Apr

My memory may be off but I am fairly certain that I was given one of these stamped 1991 Pro Set cards upon visiting their booth at the 1991 National Collector’s Convention in Anaheim. I want to say it was Randall Cunningham’s base card. Or maybe Jeff George. All I know is that I was disappointed it wasn’t Emmitt or something more “valuable.” In the years since I have only seen a handful of these cards pop up. The image below of Rocket Ismail’s card was one I found in a box of various early 90s “hot” cards in sleeves, picked up at a thrift store in Van Nuys, CA. As of now, it is impossible to say whether Pro Set stamped the entire series one set or just certain players and exactly how many of each were issued. I do not believe that any more than two copies of any player have been confirmed. Because of their non-descript fronts, I turn over every 1991 Pro Set single I find mixed with other promo/oddball/hot cards of the time.

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Quick Look: 1991 Topps Desert Storm Norman Schwarzkopf “Smiling” Photo Variation

25 Apr

This card was only recently checked off my list after nearly 15 years of sporadic hunting for it. For an image of it even! For me, this niche corner of the hobby is like fishing: I find out about, learn about, hear whispers of a variation and I chase after it but I have no intention of keeping. This card is a perfect example. Easily in my top-10 most elusive Topps variations, I just don’t feel the need to own it despite the fact that it is an unbelievably scarce junk era item. One reason being is that it is a withdrawn card. Another is that it comes from the second series of a product that was already experiencing a drop in collectors/collecting activity after three (3!!) printings of series one (excluding the deluxe/tiffany factory set issues). And it is a drastic change from 1st to 2nd printing: the image, its tone and size of subject are very different from one another, something not seen very often in post-1960s Topps issues.

There are four other very short printed errors changed early in the second series set and three confirmed in the third series set. I will update with info as it comes in.

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?

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!

1989-90 Topps Jose Canseco Magazine Ad Insert Variations

16 Jul

Another product of my 1990 Topps research that I found fascinating was the enormous amount of “offer” or “ad” cards that Topps packed into their products. Every pack got a “Spring Training Fever” sweepstakes card or a offer for one of many different Topps clothing items, sometimes an offer for cards,¬† sheets or a binder instead. But 1990 also marked the debut of Topps’ quarterly magazine and the company chose A’s slugger Jose Canseco as the face of it’s promotion as well as the cover subject for the first issue.

In every 1990 Topps Holiday factory set, an oversized (about postcard sized) yellow card with ordering information was included, that depicted Canseco. Each of these cards has a “code” at the bottom (presumably for printing purposes) and this is where variations come into play:

The type on the left, with the larger print, printed horizontally, seems to be the “common” type as I pulled 9 of them out of 11 sets. The remaining two were of the smaller print, diagonally-printed type shown at right.

Another Canseco-featured ad/insert comes from the 1990 Topps Debut ’89 and 1989 Topps Traded boxed sets. This time, all the Topps Magazine order info is squeezed on to a mini card (the size of Topps’ 1986-1990 Mini Leaders). This card, again, can be found with a couple different “codes” on the back:

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Quick Look: 1990-91 Bowman Hockey Hat Tricks Variations

3 Jul

A little-known variety exist on 90-91 Bowman NHL Hat Tricks subset cards. Each of the 22 subject comes in two varieties: Single asterisk * before copyright on back or Double asterisk * * before copyright on back. Some versions are tougher than others depending on the player. Building a master set can be a real challenge!

1990 Topps Football Checklist #498 – New Variation

21 Jun

Did you know that the 1990 Topps Football Master Set has over 1200 cards to it? Each of the 528 cards comes either with or without an “unlicensed disclaimer” on back. That’s 1056 cards right there.

Then each of the 30 1000 Yard Club Cards have those variations. Plus an asterisk variation for each. That’s 120 more cards.

Then you factor in the box bottoms, those have the disclaimer variations….and so on…

Freshly discovered is yet another variation in the 1990 set, card #498 Checklist 1-132. One version has a gap in the border just before it touches the “hashmarks” at bottom-right on front.

A handful of other cards also contain some pretty noticeable variations: All of the Record Breakers subset cards have letter-code variations, Al Baker’s card has a logo color variation, Bruce Hill’s card has a similar border variation to this one. The master checklist on 1990 Topps Football is growing – which makes it one of the most challenging sets to build for the variation collector.