For the past few years beginning with the 2008 Heritage set, Topps has bought back cards of the year they were honoring in that series, stamped them with gold foil and put them in packs.
Now, I do realize it may be a bit sacrilegious to say those cards are a good thing (many don’t like them at all) but I believe they truly are. There are a couple of reasons I feel this way.
First, even if Topps bought 200 copies of a specific card, the odds are those cards are still readily available in the secondary market so they’re not really impacting vintage set collectors that much. The second is that for many modern collectors, it’s a way of getting a vintage card from a more modern pack and introduces many younger collectors to older cards, which is always a good thing. For those collectors who don’t like stamped cards like these, well, you can always trade them to me.
But in all seriousness, I still remember way back in 1991 when Topps came to the Beckett offices and we were discussing their 40thanniversary plans. Topps put random vintage cards into boxes then, too, without adding any gold foil.
Unfortunately, they chose to honor their entire history to that point and didn’t buy enough truly vintage cards so sometimes what you pulled was a ‘vintage’ card that was only a couple of years old. I remember one of my friends pulling a beat up 1989 common out of a box and sending that to me. That was the perfect example of why stamping would have been a benefit. I understood the Topps logic because you did not really want to stamp an expensive card in those packs but doing it to a 1989 card would have at least created some sort of insert that some might have considered a part of that year’s ‘master’ set rather than an unwanted common that sat in a box for years.
In addition, Topps has been able to get a nice mix of players to autograph cards for Heritage including guys who appeared in the original sets. It would be great to see more of those names from the past while they can still sign. Their autographs usually beat the scribbles of today’s players. If you can get them to sign for a reasonable fee, the likes of Wally Moon, Danny Cater, Jim Wynn or other better commons/semi-stars/minor stars seems like a win-win.
And here’s a dilemma for 2015 Heritage that will be interesting to watch unfold.
Don Landrum, you’ll recall, had a few variations of his card back in 1966 (the year Topps will honor with this year’s Heritage set). The reason was that the original photo showed the fly on his uniform pants was open. Topps tried some early graphic design magic to try to cover it up. Claude Raymond’s 1966 high number also shows him with an open fly. Will Topps try to have some fun with those same numbers in Heritage?
And how about the Dick Ellsworth card which unfortunately was actually a photo of Kenny Hubbs, who had died in a plane crash two years earlier?
I’m guessing the answer may be no, but Heritage loves to mimic the original set when it comes to honoring the errors and variations of the original set and those cards are definitely part of 1966 Topps lore.
And more note:
We were very honored when Ryan Christoff posted a nice comment on my Facebook page about the love I have for the hobby which he sees through this column. It makes me feel great when readers see the real reason behind many of these old stories we tell. If you have never dealt with Ryan, he is one of the leading experts on Cuban baseball cards which is a fascinating specialty that includes many rare cards of Negro League stars.