The Original Card Backs

The back of a card is one of the most informative places to learn more about an athlete.  When athletes first started appearing on those small pieces of cardboard in the late 1800’s, the reverse side would yield nothing more than a blank space.  As card collecting became more and more popular, manufacturers thought it would be a good idea not only to place an advertisment on the back, but also statistics on the player and a description about their history.  One of the best sets to not only describe the athlete, but to bring the sport alive in the collector’s eye would have to be 1933 Sport Kings Gum.  This 48 card set features some of the best athletes of the time.  Not only are the front of the cards great to look at, but the backs contain some of the best descriptions of the sport.  Lets take billiards great Willie Hoppe #36 for example.  Here is what the card’s back reads:

Shakespeare tells us that Cleopatra played billiards during the days of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, but probably one of the best known billiardists of all time is Willie Hoppe, who is still actively interested in the game.  He travels about the country demonstrating his marvelous ability in the interests of the game’s advancement.  Billiards are divided into several games, the most prominent being pocket billiards, 18.1 and 18.2 balk-line and three cushion billiards.  Hoppe excelled in all of these, winning the 18.1 balk-line championship in 1907, 1908, and 1910, and 18.2 championship from 1910-1920 and again 1922-1924.  He had a high run of 20 in three- cushion billiards in 1928 in American League Tournament and made a high run of 25 in an exhibition in California in 1925.

 As you can see, not only do they clearly describe the athlete, but they also touch on the history of the sport.  This isn’t something that you would normally read on the back of a modern day sports card, and is something that I’d like to see done more.  Many cards today might give you a few sentences about the player and a couple of statistics, but there aren’t too many manufacturers today that take the time to write like this.  What really surprises me is that the higher-end products contain less and less detail on the backs versus lower-end products.  I guess that will happen in an industry that loves to get “hits” and would rather read the company’s COA.


Topps Fan Favorites Autographs

Topps Fan Favorites has some really good on card autographs.  They feature a lot of reprinted cards from the past of some great players.  Topps Fan Favorites does leave some room for scammers to have some fun.  A lot of the cards from any of the Topps Fan Favorites sets look similiar to the originals.  Topps may have changed the photo for their Fan Favorites product and they added a foil logo to the card, but if you plan to buy a Fan Favorites autographed card over the internet I would double check before you place the bid.  Before placing the bid, make sure you read the description carefully.  Its very possible that the card you are looking at could just be an original card that the seller got signed in person.  Look for the foil logo on the front of the card to indicate if it is a Topps Fan Favorites Autograph.  Check the product’s checklist to see if that player has an autograph in the set.  Finally, ask to see the back of the card.  Topps should have a hologram sticker on the back to indicate that it is authentic.  Below is an example of how similiar the original card and a Topps Fan Favorites card look.

Original 1990 Topps

2003 Topps Fan Favorites Autograph


Read The Fine Print

Fonts can be fun things to use.  They can make things stand out and look really cool.  Sometimes fonts can be very tricky as well.  When you find a rare card online that is valuable and you are thinking of placing a bid, please read the fine print.  Before you even read the fine print it is even better to look at the feedback record of the seller and how long they have been selling.  The next thing that you should do is read the description carefully.  Many sellers will show you a fancy picture of a great looking card, but then you read the description and its something totally different.  Its very important that you read the fine print.  Sellers that are trying to take advantage of you may use regular font for the description but then they may slip in some line thats in very small print just so you don’t see it.  They put it in the description so you can’t come back to them saying it wasn’t there, because it was, just very small.  This happens more often than you would think, usually with higher end cards because they are worth more.  I don’t know anyone that would have a reason to scam someone by selling them a fake 1990 Topps Sammy Sosa Rookie.  Please be careful.