Flashback Product of the Week: 1990 Topps Glossy Rookies Foil Test Issue

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Upper Deck set a new standard for card quality after they released their first set in 1989.  Collectors got a taste of what “premium” cards were like, and they weren’t about to turn back.  Other card companies had to figure out ways to amp-up their cards.  If not, they could’ve easily lost their fan base.  Adapt or die!

Topps wasn’t completely out of the loop when it came to making “premium” cards.  Long before Upper Deck arrived, Topps made Tiffany factory sets.  These mimicked the overall design of that year’s Topps set, but were printed on higher quality card stock.  To this day, it still amazes me what some collectors are willing to spend on a high-grade Tiffany base card of a star.  Even when its not a rookie.  But just switching to better stock for their normal sets wouldn’t be enough to compete.  It was time to bring on the foil.

1990 Topps Baseball is a poster child of the overproduction era.  Unless you’re talking about it’s Tiffany counterpart, Frank Thomas no-name rookie, or George Bush card, there isn’t much value to look for.  The base design is one of my all-time favorites though – lots of color!  While browsing through the grocery store in 1990, I bet many of you can remember spotting those 100-card bricks known as jumbo packs.  Inside each of those packs was a specially made Glossy Rookies card.  The set commemorates popular rookies from the previous season.  Most, if not all, the players have rookie cards in products from 1989.

In order to step-up their game, Topps tested some new printing techniques.  They took tons of regular Glossy Rookies and printed a foil stripe across the front.  You can find them in a variety of colors – blue, purple, green, red, silver, and gold.  The stripe can be in multiple locations as well.  One card may have it straight across the player’s face, while another could be near the bottom.  Multiple colors for each player can be found in many different positions.  Occasionally you’ll see cards with two stripes, but I’ve never seen one with two different colors.  Usually if there are two, the colors match.  If that isn’t enough, the asterisk variations carry over to these foil tests.  Every player in the Glossy Rookies set has a card with one and two asterisks on the back.  For those collectors who are obsessed with variations, this could be an endless battle when you throw everything together.  Ken Griffey, Jr. is the most popular foil test.  He’s worth about $10 to $20.

Looking back at what companies tested in order to stay relevant can be interesting.  The lessons Topps learned from this foil test issue were implemented in their Desert Shield and Stadium Club sets.

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Card of the Day: Chevy Chase 2015 Leaf Q Gold Foil Auto

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Tricky Lights

Refractors and parallels are an important aspect of the hobby today.  Having a parallel numbered 1/5 versus 1/500 can have a huge affect on the price tag.  If you plan to purchase one over the internet it is strongly advised that you get a scan of the back of the card.  Many sellers try and use lights to make the card look like a different color.  For example, if you turn a card a certain way it may change from a white color to a green.  This can happen a lot with card from the Leaf Certified Materials sets.  The card below is serial numbered to 100, but when you look at the picture, it has a green tint to it making collectors think that it is a Mirror Emerald insert numbered to 5.  

This can happen with a lot of products.  The color of a card can change with any chrome like card.  Bowman Chrome cards  can really look different when they are scanned.  Sometimes regular chrome cards can look blue and gold refractors can look orange.  If your not too sure about what color a card is, always ask for a picture of the back so you can make sure what the serial number really is.

The Art of Opening a Pack of Cards

Opening a pack of cards today isn’t the same as it used to be.  First, you would have to buy a pack of cigarettes to get cards, and then a few decades later you could buy packs of cards wrapped in wax (don’t forget the gum inside that stains the cards after a few years).  In today’s hobby, cards come packaged in foil, plastic, clamshell casing, and even wood boxes.  Some packs of cards feel like it can take forever to get into, but there are still some brands of cards that are generally easy to open.  The more complicated the packaging is, usually means that the cards inside are of higher quality.  I have been watching a lot of people online breaking packs of cards and I have found it very interesting on how they get them open.  Some people break into them with their teeth, like it was their last meal on earth.  Others rip them open with their hands, use a pair of scissors, or use a knife.  Many people damage their cards while trying to get them out of the pack.  They tear apart the back of the pack and then try to pull the remaining wrapper over the edges.  By doing this, you can really damage the corners.  I use a pair of scissors to open my packs.  I cut off the top, and then tear the foil down the center which makes it really easy to remove the cards.  I never opened any boxes of Sport Kings last year but I really liked how those cards were packaged.  The cards were in a box, within a box, and then placed in sealed top loaders.  I think it will really be interesting to see how packs in the future compare to now.

The life of an unpulled baseball card

As it rolls off the press, it prepares for the dark foil dwelling. 

Bump, Bump, Bump, as it travels to the shop.

Bump, Bump, Bump as it goes to the show.

Bump, Bump, Bump, as it goes to the shop.

As time goes by, the chances go down.

I hear the collectors walking by.

We aren’t all the same.

Will anyone discover the treasure thats beneath the foil?