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> Looking at Sports Cabinet Cards

December 13, 2006

Ask This Expert   Read Answers David C. (Bio)

Art Historian
Expertise: Vintage baseball cards, photographs and art
How to identify Old Judge baseball card reprints and other authenticity notes July 19, 2007

This brief column consists of assorted short notes concerning authenticity and some answers to some questions.  If you have questions for this column, feel free to email me at column (at) cycleback.com   Thank you, David>>


Guide to Sports Photographs>>

>A free, downloadable and printable guide to sports photographs is available at the below link.  The pdf book covers all forms and years of sports photographs, 1800s to today, cabinet cards to lace>Hollywoodlace> movie stills.  It is well illustrated.



Is that World Series or Super Bowl ring real?>>

The subject was brought up on the Game Used Universe chat board, but I thought it worth repeating before.  World Series and Super Bowl rings are identified as genuine as the use real diamonds and precious metals.  Salesman samples and other copies will not have real diamonds, and not real gold.  A trip to your local jeweler can identify a World Series or Super Bowl ring as real, as the jeweler will have no trouble determining if the diamonds are real.  If the ring has been appraised by a reputable jeweler, the appraisal will have already determined if ring has real diamonds and precious metals used.>>

These rings commonly come with provenance documentation showing they came from the player or team employee.  In cases, the ring comes with an LOA from the player or family.>>


Metal Eyelets as sign of Ken Well Ad Sign Reprints>>

Ken Wel was a well known vintage baseball glove manufacturer.  They issued a number of attractive glove advertisements, the best known featuring Lou Gehrig.  Cardboard reprints of the signs are common on the market, but many are simple to identify.  The most common reprints have little metal rimmed eyelets near the top—metal rimmed holes for hanging .  The simple to remember equation is: metal eyelet = modern reprint.>>


Identifying Modern Reproductions of Old Patches>>

In an earlier column, I discussed how black light can be used to date cloth, including on sports jerseys.  I recently read that collectors of WWII military patches use black light to identify modern reproductions.   Due to the modern thread and cloth, the modern reproductions will fluoresce brightly under blacklight, where the originals don’t.>>


Most early baseball card proofs aren't proofs

The baseball hobby puts a premium in price on card proofs. Proofs were pre-production test cards used to check graphics and text before the final printing. Early proofs are often blank backed, sometimes on different stock, with hand cut borders and little crosses on the borders. The crosses where used to line up the colors during the printing.>>

There are vintage items on the market that resemble proofs but are not. Many blank back 'cards' were cut from vintage notebooks, posters and signs. As they are hand cut and have blank backs, they are often marketed as proofs. These cutouts are less valuable than proofs.>>

One occasionally finds 'printer's scraps' that are sometimes misidentified as proofs. These scraps were from a printer's rejected sheet, often with poorly printed images, bad color registration and other graphics problems (which is why it was rejected by the printer). These rejects sheets were rescued from the trash bin, and the single cards were hand cut from the sheets. The cuts are usually funky, sometimes oversized. Many of those freakish prints (ghosts prints, psychedelic color and registration problems) were printer's scraps.>>

If you aren't sure if that blank back card in auction is a proof, it's safest to assume it isn't. The majority of blank back cards are not.>>



***** Q & A>>

Question: How can you tell if an N172 Old Judge is real or reprint?>>

Issued in 1887-90, the N172 Old Judge baseball cards rank amongst the most popular and collected 19th century baseball cards.   Luckily for collectors reprints and counterfeits are almost always simple to identify if you know what to look for..  >>

The Old Judges are actual photographs, with a very thin paper photographic print pasted to a sturdy cardboard backing.  Unlike with a Topps, Bowman or Upper Deck card, the player images on the Old Judge have no dot pattern, even under high magnification.  This is because photograph images aren’t made with ink and printing press, but by the subtle exposure of photochemicals on the paper and light.  The cards were made by a photography studio.>

All to almost all reprints and counterfeits of the N172 Old Judges are mechanical prints, whether lithographs or home computer prints.  These are easily identified as they have a dot pattern in the player image.  The dots will usually be multi colors, but can be monotone (one color).  A strong magnifying class or microscope will reveal the dot pattern of a reprint.>>

The simple N172 Old Judge equation is: dot pattern = reprint.>>


Why are art prints signed in pencil and no pen?>>

Art prints are commonly signed and numbered in pencil or crayon as ink can bleed on the paper.>
Traditionally the artist’s signature was included to identify prints he or she consider the finished product.  The signature was the mark of approval, rather than an autograph like on a baseball.  With today’s collectors, some like the autograph as an autograph, while others like the autograph as it indicates the artist personally approved the print.



cycleback, cycleback.com are trade marks,>>

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