Forget the plastic sheets. When collecting some issues of this year's baseball cards, it might be best to pick up a bottle of Vidal Sassoon.
Topps and Upper Deck are waging war over the latest phenomenon--cards with historic strands of hair.
What did people collect before baseball cards? Well, some truly passionate collectors would sometimes write to their heroes asking for a lock of hair. Frequently locks of hair were garnered from famous U.S. Presidents, war heroes and other personalities throughout history and passed on through their families.
After acquiring locks of hair from a variety of famous personalities along with accompanying cut signatures, Upper Deck has brought “Hair Cuts” cards to the market beginning with 2008 SP Legendary Cuts Baseball. Ten cards that include a cut autograph and strand of the celebrity’s hair will be randomly inserted into the product. Each of these cards will be limited to only one and they will include personalities like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Geronimo, Andrew Jackson and Babe Ruth. Upper Deck has plans to insert more hair cards into its 2008 Piece of History Baseball release as well.
“We are consistently looking to push the envelope by creating innovative new card sets,” said Tim Muret, Upper Deck’s vice president of Sports Cards and Memorabilia. “When one of our vendors approached us with these items and we heard the stories behind them, it was a natural decision to meld what collecting was with what collecting is today. These one-of-a-kind pieces celebrate some of the most important historical figures of our time and we are excited about bringing collectors so much closer to them with this very special insert set.”
Upper Deck has partnered with John Reznikoff of University Archives in Westport, Connecticut for the Hair Cuts set. According to Upper Deck, Reznikoff has been called the “Indiana Jones of Paper” for his company’s outstanding history of procuring extremely rare collectible items. Whether it was documentation from the barber of a President or from a long history of handoffs in a specific family, Reznikoff and University Archives were able to provide Upper Deck the authenticity it says it needed to move forward with this program. University Archives even does microscopic analysis on the hair to "further solidify its authenticity".
“One hundred years ago, if someone famous came to town, you didn’t ask for an autograph, you asked for a snippet of their hair and this is something that is steeped in Victorian tradition,” said Reznikoff. “Most major institutions like the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution have locks of hair from famous historic personalities. I have been in this category for more than two decades and have been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as having the largest collection of famous people’s hair in the world. It is very exciting for me to see the amazing collectible cards Upper Deck developed and I’m sure they will be a hit with collectors.”
Collectors will have their first shot to find these new “Hair Cuts” cards in 2008 SP Legendary Baseball which releases June 11. Additional hair cards will also be inserted in 2008 Piece of History Baseball which is scheduled for release on June 25.
Upper Deck will have competition in the Abe Lincoln hair market. Topps says it's 2008 Allen & Ginter set will include "DNA cards" featuring pieces of hair from Lincoln as well as John F. Kennedy and former first lady Jackie Kennedy-Onassis and even Beethoven (as well as a dinosaur bone DNA card).
Last year, Topps caused a mild stir with its inclusion of the first Washington hair card in its A&G product, with debate breaking out thanks to eBay's refusal to consider the item a baseball card.
Legendary Cuts on eBay