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Marquis of Lorne – 140th Anniversary of The Original Trading Card

Every single day all over the world packs and boxes of trading cards are opened.  Its a hobby enjoyed by many.  To some it can be an addiction.  The idea of what could be in that next pack or box can be too tempting to ignore.  If it weren’t for the tobacco industry and their pack inserted cards, there is a good chance this hobby of ours wouldn’t exist.

What is the first pack-inserted tobacco card?

The gentleman who has the honor of being on the first pack-inserted tobacco card is John George Edward Henry Douglas Sutherland Campbell.  Good luck fitting that name on a jersey.  This dude was into a little bit of everything.  He was well traveled, well educated, and even married Princess Louise, the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria.  Titles he held included being the 9th Duke of Argyll, and Marquis of Lorne.

Between 1878-1883 the Marquis of Lorne was serving as the 4th Governor General of Canada.  Quite impressive considering he was a British nobleman.  The Thos. H. Hall cigarette manufacturer of New York at this time decided to include a tobacco card of him in their Marquis of Lorne brand of cigarettes in 1879.  Unfortunately this brand didn’t sell well, and it quickly flamed out.  Very few cards survived.  It measures 3.125″ x 1.625″, the exact size of the cigarette packet.  The American Card Catalog officially classifies it as N519.

As of this writing, only four examples are known to exist.  One is in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Another is in the British Museum in London.  The other two are in private collections.

Only one of the four known examples has popped up for sale.  The same card has been sold twice.  In 1994 it sold for $11,500, and then again in 2009 for $15,275.  I believe it would be worth even more if it were of a sports figure.

I can’t stress how important this tiny piece of cardboard is to the hobby.  Prior to the 1879 N519 Marquis of Lorne card, advertisements such as this were handed out over the counter.  Not inside cigarette packs.  Despite the Marquis of Lorne cigarette brand not making it, the idea of cardboard inserts did.

You probably wouldn’t be opening that box or pack if this card wouldn’t have been printed.  Everything pretty much snowballed from this single card.  Starting in 1880, many more tobacco inserts followed.

Flashback Product of the Week: 1991 Hot Aire Trading Cards

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In a million years you couldn’t have guessed that I’d pick this product.  The 80’s and 90’s were filled with a lot of obscure sets.  With the rise of sports cards as an investment, people were willing to put anything on cardboard hoping one day it would amount to riches.  Looking back, I think we can all agree how that went.  Overproduction set in, and many products ended up being worthless.  Needless to say, all this rush did create some funky products that manufacturers today would never even think about making.

Yes.  This is a product dedicated to hot air balloons and their pilots.  Hot Aire Trading Cards made their debut in 1991 during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.  It was the brainchild of two hot air balloon enthusiasts, Danny Edwards and Patrick O’Hea.  Edwards would collect pilot bios and take photos while O’Hea designed the cards.  Their first set consists of (100) cards.  When they were first introduced, you could purchase them by the pack for $2.50 each or in factory set form for $23.50.  Only producing 30,000 sets was thought to increase the cards’ value.  As you can probably guess, that didn’t happen.  The last complete set to sell went for $15, which is still way more than what I was expecting.  Hobby boxes range anywhere from $15 to $30.

Hot Aire Trading Cards lasted for a few years, and then fizzled out.  I’m surprised they lasted that long.  The Fiesta continues to be held each year though.  When it comes to chase cards, there really aren’t any.  No “hot” packs.  These are more of a novelty now than anything.  A modern day interpretation of a product like this would be interesting.  You could have autographs, relics, and perhaps some type of inflatable card.

Leaf Bucks Return For The 34th National

Leaf Bucks will be returning this year for the 34th National Sports Collectors Convention.  Collectors opening eligible Leaf products at their booth can earn Leaf Bucks which can be redeemed for various pieces of memorabilia, cards, etc.  Among the promos will be an exclusive Yasiel Puig set, Johnny Manziel autographed sketch cards, a never-before-released Damian Lillard Leaf Valiant autographed card, and you could win a Josh Gibson Cut Signature.

The eligible products include:

  •  2012 Leaf Legends of Sport
  •  2013 Ace Authentics Signature Series Tennis
  •  2012-2013 Leaf Metal Basketball
  •  2012-2013 Leaf Best of Basketball
  •  2013 Leaf Best of Hockey
  •  2013 Leaf Legends of Gridiron Cut Signature
  •  2013 Leaf Legends of The Ring Cut Signature
  •  2013 Leaf Metal Draft Football
  •  2013 Leaf Valiant Draft Football
  •  2013 Leaf Trinity Football
  •  2013 Leaf Power Showcase Baseball
  •  2013 Leaf Rookie Retro
  •  2013 Leaf U.S. Army All-American Football
  •  2013 Leaf Pop Century
  •  2013 Leaf Masterpiece Cuts
  •  2013 Leaf Pride of the Pinstripes Cut Signature

Leaf will also be foil stamping cards with the National’s logo much like they did last year.

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Leaf’s 2012 NSCC Box Break Redemption Program

Leaf has unveiled their official box break redemption program for the 2012 National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore.

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Collectors opening any of the following products at the Leaf Booth #D-3 located in the corporate area will receive Leaf Bucks to spend at their redemption store.

  • 2012 Leaf Pop Century
  • 2012 Leaf Best of Baseball
  • 2012 Leaf Cut Signature Sports Icons Edition
  • 2012 Leaf Ali The Greatest
  • 2012 Leaf Ultimate Draft Football
  • 2012 Leaf Valiant Draft Football
  • 2012 Leaf Football Autographed Mini-Helmets
  • 2012 Leaf MMA Metal

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In addition to their Leaf Bucks program, anyone who opens a 2011 or 2012 Leaf branded product at the Leaf booth can have one of the cards from their box foil stamped with the National Sports Collectors Convention logo.

Some of their autograph guests include Dave Hester from Storage Wars, Bradley Beal, and Nnemkadi Ogwumike.

Virtual Trading Cards Integrated Into NBA Baller Beats

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Looks like I predicted the future once again.  About three years ago, I wrote a blog post on how I think sports cards should be integrated within video games.  Last year, Panini had Marshall Faulk sign some cards for insertion in copies of Madden 2012.  Its happening again, but this time on a bigger scale.

This fall, Majesco Entertainment Company plans to release NBA Baller Beats exclusively for Kinect on Xbox 360.  This game gets the player off the couch and lets them train along side their favorite NBA teams using a real Spalding NBA licensed game ball replica basketball that comes with the game.  In the game you get to try out your ball skills while listening to an exciting soundtrack.  The better you do, the more songs, levels, posters, and trading cards will be unlocked.  That’s right.  I said trading cards – virtual ones at least.  Panini has come to a production integration agreement that will allow players to unlock virtual trading cards based on their 2012-13 NBA Hoops product.  They will be used as in-game rewards.

I think this is a really big step into reaching potential collectors.  Video games are huge, and you have to go where the fans are.  People complain today and say the hobby isn’t doing well.  I believe the hobby is doing fine.  No, its not what it use to be, but that’s because many people lost focus and didn’t want to change.  You must integrate your business to where the customers are, not waiting for them where they use to be.  Topps is doing well with this too releasing a few mobile apps.

NBA Baller Beats will have a demo setup this year at E3 which takes place at the Los Angeles Convention Center June 5-7.  I bet this will be a hot toy come this Christmas season.

Flashback Product of the Week: 1991 Jockey Star Guild Trading Cards

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You got it.  Its an entire early 90’s set based on jockeys.  The 1991 Jockey Star Guild Trading Card set consists of 220-cards, including their spokesman, Billy Shoemaker.  Shoemaker actual has 6 cards within the set.  This set was issued mainly for two reasons.  One, it was the 50th Anniversary of the Jockeys’ Guild Board of Directors, and two, they used a portion of the money raised to help out disabled jockeys.

As you can imagine, the demand for a product like this was very low.  But this being the early 90’s, you know what that means.  They were overproduced to the max.  Complete sets can easily be found for a few dollars here and there.  This wasn’t the only issue either.  They released a steady stream of jockey cards throughout the 90’s.

Three jockeys included in this inaugural set were killed on the racetrack before the 1991 season ended – Rodney Dickens, Lute Proctor, and John Hoak.