Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Trading Post #34: Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary

This is already the fourth trading post I've done for cards received from Brian at Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary. He is a great trader and consistently does a fantastic job of finding great cards for me.

2014 Topps Chrome Black Refractors #190 Carlos Gonzalez /100
When I tell people what I collect, I usually say something along the lines of shiny, serial numbered, or Rockies. Brian hit the trifecta with a low-numbered colored parallel from 2014 Topps Chrome. The refractor finish really pops on a black-bordered card, which is thick enough and well-coated enough to probably not chip, unlike the 1992 Pinnacles and 1971 Toppses of the world. The only thing that could make it better is if CarGo were wearing the Rockies black alternate jerseys, like Jeff Baker on my previous post.

In addition to that gorgeous rarity above, Brian sent a little bit of everything, starting with a brand that wouldn't be out of place in one of Nick's horror movies.

2014 Topps Gypsy Queen #9 Nolan Arenado
There's something unnatural about the way they process photos for this brand. It's probably some kind of HDR treatment, perhaps a bit of rotoscoping. But they make the shadows look extremely shadowy, and it just gives the card kind of a creepy feel.

I feel like these tobacco-era reproductions have gotten a bit long in the tooth, although this year's Gypsy Queen is a strong effort.

2001 Topps Heritage #147 Masato Yoshii
But when Topps Heritage first hit the shelves, it was a brilliant idea. Of course, Topps has since applied the usual gimmicks to the product, but when they repurposed the iconic 1952 design to launch the brand, I think we all knew it had staying power.

I usually find facsimile signatures completely distracting and interfering, but in the '52 set, there's a perfect little spot for them. And the first-ever Japanese player to suit up for the Rockies gives us one of the most interesting facsimile signatures of them all.

Brian was sure to include some mid-1990s cards decked out in gold foil. Of course, pretty much every card from that era had gold foil, but Topps Gold arguably kickstarted that trend.

1993 Topps Gold #606 Jayhawk Owens
Then, as now, the gold-on-gold lettering is pretty hard to read, but we can at least see that Topps elected to just use Jayhawk Owens' first initial, rather than his unusual name. I've heard a few explanations for this, ranging from Owens' own embarassment about his name, to Topps simply not believing that he went by Jayhawk.

1997 Pinnacle Inside #147 Neifi Perez
By the time Coors Field had a season or two under its belt, gold foil had taken the hobby by storm. Neifi Perez wasn't my favorite Rockie of the time, as he had a tendency to choke in the clutch, but he was a solid middle infielder.

One fun fact about Pinnacle cards that I learned quite recently is that they have an anti-counterfeit measure. We all know about the Upper Deck hologram, but Pinnacle did something similar starting in 1991. Flip almost any Pinnacle card over (or even Score, if you move a few years forward in your collection), and you'll see a small, gray rectangle with very narrow black lines.

1997 Pinnacle Inside #147 Neifi Perez (Reverse)
Assuming you are armed with an official Pinnacle Authenticator Lens, a card-sized piece of plastic that is ridged on one side, (sort of like a Fresnel lens), you'll be able to ensure that your haul from the dime box is the real deal. Picture a transparent version of a Sportflix or Opening Day Stars card, and you've got the idea. Align the ridges horizontally over the gray rectangle, and you'll see alternating rainbow colors. Do so vertically and you'll get some lettering like "Pinnacle", "Score", or on the card above, "PBI 97", for Pinnacle Brands, Inc.

I'm sure this could easily be defeated with the high-definition imaging tools we have today, but it was a clever and hopeful idea to implement as the baseball card bubble inflated.

Die cut cards may have been a bit less clever. There's really not much you can do with them besides cut a fairly boring curve or two, or just go completely nuts and give it more facets than a cut diamond. There's not a lot of middle ground.

2000 Crown Royale #45 Rolando Arrojo
My girlfriend thumbed through this stack when the envelope came. She seemed to enjoy a few of them (though wasn't so wild about '95 Fleer). When she got to this one, she said, in her best little-kid voice, "Who's the princess?!"

Seriously, Pacific.

Although, if anyone cared enough to send off a card like this for grading, finding a Gem Mint 10 with that many opportunities for flaws seems next to impossible.

2004 Ultra Gold Medallion #179 Rene Reyes
My collection of Fleer Ultra cards is heavily weighted toward the pre-strike era. After 1994, it drops off precipitously. That's why I had no idea that the gold medallion parallels from 2004 were die-cut. Yes, the upper left corner is curved, which reminds me of 1989 Topps and its related die-cut mini insert set from 2014. It's nice, but if all you're going to do is just round off one corner, why cut it at all?

Die cuts are usually interesting to look at, but they're pretty delicate, and are pretty tough to put in a 9-pocket page without dinging at least one of their many edges. Maybe I'll change my tune a bit if I complete one of those hexagonal triumvirates combos from 2014 Stadium Club.

1993 SP #153 Bret Saberhagen
Apparently I have a Bret Saberhagen player collection now.

This (literally) Super Premium set from 1993 gives you that aforementioned Upper Deck hologram in gold, as well as the usual legendary Upper Deck photography, and a bit of color-coding, to boot.

I'm guessing he wasn't pitching that day.

1995 Fleer Lumber Company #7 Fred McGriff
We'll wrap things up here with what might be the tamest card to be found in all of 1995 Fleer. I'd have been totally on board if they made this the base set, then saved the LSD-inspired craziness for an insert set.

What's extra special about this card is that it was from my Eight Men Out list! This particular card of the Crime Dog happens to be the last one I needed to complete this 10-card insert set, and it's the third time Brian spent the time and money to pick up a specific card on my behalf. The Eight Men out list has already been a huge success, and I have bloggers like Brian, as well as my family, to thank.


  1. Brian is always finding good stuff.

  2. Pinnacle Authenticator Lens? That sounds awesome! The Lumber Co. Cards I have sent all came from the same vendor at a card show in the Twin Cities - I found an Albert Belle Lumber Co. insert from a different year from him a long time ago, so when I saw you were looking for these I asked and sure enough he had some at the next show.

  3. I still think Jayhawk Owens is one of the best names ever. Great group of cards!