Thursday, June 30, 2011

1993 DiamondMarks Bookmarks

Set size: 120 cards, 2-1/2" by 5"

Front Design: A thick black border surrounds a Barry Colla photograph, with the player name at the top in white and the team name and logo in a design at the bottom. The front designs are vertical.

Back Design: Horizontally oriented and designed to look like an open book, more thick black borders surround the two pages, one of which has another photograph of the subject, while the other side lists the player's name and position and includes a brief blurb on the player.

Parallels and Similars: An eight-card prototype set is identical to this regular issue except for the words "1993 PROTOTYPE" appearing on the back-left edge.

Distribution: Although they were marketed as book marks, these cards came in foil packs, with 48 packs per box.

Thoughts: Barry Colla issued several products around this time, similar to baseball cards but licensed in other ways - postcards are the most common issues. The photography and image quality on Colla products is above-average, and this is no different. If a wax box was available at low cost, I would probably try to put together the set.

Additional LinksBaseballCardPedia has a checklist. Things Done To Cards has a review.

Additional Images:
Card back from

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

2011 Topps Heritage Advertising Panels

Set size: 28 panels of three cards

Front Design: Three cards, size by side, duplicating the 1962 Topps (and thus 2011 Topps Heritage) card design. This means the panels are 3-1/2" tall and 7-1/2" wide. The 2011 Topps Heritage design features a grainy photo, usually posed, which is made to look like a sticker or poster peeling off a wood-grain panel.

Back Design: Two-thirds of the back is an advertisement for 1962 Topps (actually, 2011 Topps Heritage), including a featured ad for Topps Stamps, while the bottom 1/3 is a sample card back from the base set.

Parallels and Similars: The original 1962 Topps ad panels looked essentially the same, since the card design was the same. The original ad panels also had blue panels advertising the product.

Distribution: Randomly inserted as box toppers in 2011 Topps Heritage hobby boxes.

Thoughts: I'm not a fan of Topps Heritage. I don't have anything against it; the set just doesn't fit my collecting interests. I think these ad panels are great, though, and if Heritage had been inserting these since 2001 I would put together a special type set for display. Alas, they have only been inserting them since 2008.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

1993 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes

Set size: 165 base cards, 10 reprint inserts, 4 previews

Front Design: These 2-1/4" x 5-1/4" cards are derived from the T-202 Hassan Triple Folders set from 1912. The first 130 cards in the base set feature a photo in the center panel, a portrait on one side panel, and the BAT logo on the other side panel. The combination subset (cards 131-165), reprints, and previews feature artwork or a photograph of multiple legend players in the center panel, while the side panels feature portraits of two players.

Back Design: The backs of the standard cards feature player biographies and career highlights, as well as a description of the BAT program. The multi-player subset, reprint, and preview cards feature biographies on the side panels, and the center panels explain the association between the two players. The bottom 1/3 of the card backs are taken up by multiple Upper Deck logos and a hologram, the BAT logo, and MLB/Cooperstown Collection logos. The reprint cards are unnumbered, while the preview cards have an "HOB" prefix before the card numbers.

Parallels and Similars: All three 1993 issues of this set by Upper Deck look identical, except for card numbering (or the lack thereof). The set pays homage to the original T-202 Triple Folders set, and as such is very similar in design. Topps issued an insert set of the same design but, in folded form, is approximately the same size as a standard card.

Distribution: The 1993 All-Time Heroes set got its start at that year's All-Star FanFest, with the four-card preview set released in a special box. The regular set was issued in 12-card foil packs and was limited to 5140 cases. The ten-card insert set appeared one in every five packs, and is distinguishable from the base set only by the lack of card number. All issues came "unfolded" in their packs or boxes, unlike the 2003 Topps design.

Thoughts: Most people shy away from sets like this due to its nonstandard size, and in 1993, sets featuring retired legends weren't as popular as today. As such, the cards can be difficult to come by, but they are generally inexpensive. I ripped a box of this set in 1993, and just completed my master set earlier this year. The unnumbered inserts are the most difficult to find. Many of the combination cards and preview cards feature attractive artwork, as do the reprints. Overall it's an interesting and fun set, and one of the first throwback sets released by a major manufacturer. I have seen at least one card show dealer selling a few "cut" cards from this set, where the side panels were detached from the center panel and sold separately. I don't believe any of those cards have actually sold, and I'm not sure the dealer is aware of the difference.

Additional Images: Here are scans of one of the reprint inserts. As you can tell, the backs are the same as the regular set.

Monday, June 27, 2011

1927 Zeenut Pacific Coast League

The last two sets have been modern era releases, although they have been throwbacks. How about we go back in time again?

Set size: Approximately 145 cards known, 1 3/4" by 3 3/8"

Front Design: Zeenut cards followed the same basic design for their entire run. The card was a full-bleed black and white photo, with the player's name and team, Zeenut labeling, and for most years, the year of issue. The cards were issued with coupons attached to the bottom which could be traded for prizes, but it is rare to see cards with the coupon still attached, and those cards command a significant premium.

Back Design: blank

Parallels and Similars: As mentioned above, Zeenut cards are almost identical from year to year, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between some years - the inclusion of the year on this issue (and the otherwise identical 1928, 1929, and 1930 issues) makes it easy to identify. Zeenuts were issued from 1911 through 1938.

Distribution: Zeenut cards were made by the Collins-McCarthy Candy Company of San Francisco, and inserted into boxes of Zeenuts, Ruf-Neks, and Home Run Kisses. This set run is classified as E136/137.

Thoughts: The coupon was used on this card - there's no way I can afford the super-high premiums for an example with the coupon attached right now. There are two holes punched in my card, which makes me wonder if there was an additional incentive for bringing in the card beyond the coupon. The Zeenut series serves as an important visual record of one of the greatest minor leagues to ever exist, and includes Joe DiMaggio's "rookie" card in the late 1930s. The design is simple - no stats, no borders, no artwork, just a photo with a little bit of text. My card of LA Angels player Krug shows what appears to be a hint of recently-opened Wrigley Field (the Los Angeles one), shot from foul territory in left field.

Additional Links: Old Cardboard is my go-to resource for sets such as this. All 28 years of Zeenut cards are grouped together on one page here.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

2011 Topps Heritage Triple Stamp Box Toppers

Set size: 30 cards (one per team)

Front Design: All cards from this set, which are approximately the same size as three cards put side-by-side, feature a pitcher, a large "TOPPS" logo, and the team logo on the left 1/3 of the card. The team name appears at the bottom of the card, and the set title at the top. Three players are shown in traditional Heritage-style photography as simulated stamps, complete with perforated edges. However, the cards don't actually feature stamps. The stamps themselves are copies of the 1962 Topps Stamps design.

Back Design: The backs feature the pitcher, team logo, and team name repeated from the front, and 2010 and career statistics for each of the three players shown on the card front.

Parallels and Similars: As mentioned above, the stamp design is copied from the original Topps Stamps issued in 1962. Two-stamp panels featuring modern players were inserted into packs, as were 1/1 panels with original 1962 two-stamp panels.

Distribution: These cards were inserted as toppers in 2011 Topps Heritage. One in three boxes contained one of these stamp panels, while other boxes contained Topps Bucks or advertising panels.

Thoughts: Storage is always an issue, but I am a fan of oversized box loader cards. I was disappointed with this card when I first held it in my hands, as the stamps are simply printed onto the card instead of being attached to the card. I'm not a big fan of Topps Heritage, but even ignoring that, the panel design seems a bit tired, plain, and uninspiring. I'm glad to have this card in my collection, but I won't ever be interested in putting a set together.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

2006 Topps Alen & Ginter N43 "The World's Champions"

 Set size: 15 cards

Front Design: A copy of that year's Allen & Ginter mini card design appears on top of background art including leaves, flags, and old-time baseball players relaxing on the grass.

Back Design: The set title and card subject appears at the top beneath the card number, and the entire set checklist commands the majority of the remaining space. The bottom quarter of the card back is filled with logos and legalese.

Parallels and Similars: The Rodriguez and Bonds cards have an autographed parallel (10 copies), while the Pujols and Gibson have 50-copy relic parallels. The N43 set is a minor redesign of the original N43 cards issued in 1888, and is fairly true to the original design and layout.

Distribution: One card was issued in every other hobby box of 2006 Topps Allen & Ginter.

Thoughts: The original set was more varied, including pole vaulters, hammer throwers, club swingers, and pedestrians. Because the originals didn't include a lot of text (just the subject, player, and team), they look more elegant. However, even in its redesigned release here the cards are attractive.

Additional Links: See the Old Cardboard website for additional information on the original N43 set.

Additional Images:
Card Back

Friday, June 24, 2011

1987 Astros Police

 Set size: 26 cards

Front Design: The oversized (2-5/8" x 4-1/8") cards feature a color photo surrounded by an orange border and the Astros logo, player name and position, in dark blue with a dark blue border.

Back Design: The card makes use of its larger-than-standard size by including a full "nuclear" team logo and card number at the top, player name, position, and bat/throw direction, followed by a full paragraph summary of the player's prior year. The bottom of the card has a "Tips From The Dugout" service message and an advertisement for set sponsor Deer Park Hospital.

Parallels and Similars: The 1986 and 1988 Astros Police issues feature similar designs, with border color variations.

Distribution: The first 12 cards were given away to kids at the stadium on Jul 14, 1987, while the rest of the set was distributed through the hospital.

Thoughts: I'm not sure how I ended up with this particular card, but it is the key card of the set and the only one with a premium value over the others. Most likely, I found it in a discount box, a great place to find oddballs like this. Mike Scott and Yogi Berra (as a coach) also appear in the set. The police issues are great examples of how cards can be produced and distributed inexpensively. The designs are fairly basic, but the detailed history on the back is a welcome change to a simple one or two sentence summary or basic stats.

Additional Links: The checklist is available at Old Baseball.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

1947 Smiths Oakland Oaks

Card Front

Set size: 25 cards, all featuring the minor league Oakland Oaks.

Front Design: 2"x3" cards feature a full-bleed black and white posed photo; the bottom of the card fronts are white with the player's name, team name, position, and card number in black ink.

Back Design: The top 2/3 of the card backs contain a short paragraph on the player, containing occasional stats and career anecdotes. The bottom third of the card is an advertisement for Smiths Clothing stores in Oakland.

Parallels and Similars: A nearly-identical set was issued the next year with the same design. The 1948 set was issued on heavier, glossy card stock.

Card Back
Distribution: Unknown, though it is most likely the cards were given away at the stadium or store over a period of time - one card is extremely rare.

Thoughts: One of the first post-war issues, especially for minor league releases, any set older than Topps has a story of its own. Unfortunately, the story of this set is mostly untold. Smiths Clothing no longer exists, and neither does the building or even the intersection mentioned on the card, lost to high-rise development. The Oaks haven't existed for more than half a century. The 1947 Oaks were the home to manager Casey Stengel before he managed the Yankees, but not much else as far as important players. I'm a fan of oddball sets, and this one fits the bill quite well - issued by a clothing store and featuring a now-extinct local minor league team. The design is simple, as expected for a minor issue from that time period.

Additional Links: Fellow type set blog Number 5 Type Collection really me to this set, and I didn't realize it until I started researching for this post. There are about 2400 cards issued before 1980, and one of Matthew's first posts was on this set. What are the odds? Old Cardboard, a site I use extensively when dealing with, well, old cardboard, also has a page on this set.

Additional Images:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

1989 Topps

1989 Topps #382 John Smoltz
There's no better place for me to start this blog than with the set that started my collecting career. 1989 Topps holds a special place in my heart. My background on collecting is already written here, so feel free to read it if you haven't already.

Unlike my other blog, which contains a varied source of material, I plan for this one to focus on one card set per post. I'm not sure if I'll be able to write a meaningful post every day, but that's the plan anyway. You'll see card sets from today, twenty years ago, and one hundred years ago, though the focus will generally be on modern cards. Cards featured in this blog will generally be the ones used in my type set collection which I've been referring to lately as my Sampler Collection.

Yes, I realize there is at least one more Type Set blog, and it is fantastic. Be sure to check it out!

If I were to show one card from every set ever made to this point, per day, I would be posting for the next 85 years, so I think I'll be set on content. I'll combine some sets together, such as I'll be doing today, which will certainly help!

Now, on to the show.

Set size: The 1989 Topps set was issued with 792 cards in one series.

Front Design: The vertical card fronts have white borders with a picture framed in a team color. The top-left frame corner is curved and the Topps logo generally appears in that corner of the photo. When the logo interferes with the photo, it appears in the lower left corner. The bottom right corner of the card front contains the team name in script format, while a curved banner beneath the team name contains the player name. The card stock is brown/gray.

I borrowed the card back image. 1989 Topps
Back Design: Backs are horizontal and symmetric in design, using black printing on varied shades of red. The player's name, position, vital stats, and complete career statistics are found; if space allows, a short blurb and monthly scoreboard fill up the bottom of the card. Card numbers are easy to read in the upper-left corner.

Parallels and Similars: The design was duplicated (with baby blue borders) for a small series (16) of cards that appeared on the bottom of wax boxes. The design was also used for the 132-card Traded factory set, as is standard procedure for these sets. Full parallels of the base and traded sets were issued called "Tiffany" sets, limited to 15,000 copies, and printed on glossy white card stock. A partial (396-card) parallel set of the base set was issued in Canada called O-Pee-Chee. O-Pee-Chee sets differ from the regular Topps cards by the use of the O-Pee-Chee logo instead of Topps, a lighter card stock, and bilingual (English and French) on the back. The box bottoms were also paralleled on the O-Pee-Chee boxes.

Distribution: Cards were issued in 15-card wax packs, 28-card cello packs, 43-card rack packs, and 101-card jumbo and blister packs. Cards were packed with gum. A factory set was also released.

Thoughts: Being the first cards I ever had the joy of opening from a pack, the set is near and dear to my heart. However, the cards don't feature team logos and the design, while clean and unobstructive, is uninspired. Photographs generally lack action, though image quality is generally acceptable for a non-premium set.

Additional Links: Wikipedia has a surprisingly detailed list of Topps products released that year. The Lifetime Topps Project 1989 Topps Overview page breaks the base set down by components.

Additional Images:
 Box Bottom
 Box Bottom Back
 O-Pee-Chee Back