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Official Error and Variation Discussion/Reference Thread

Boo Radley

New member
Jun 5, 2013
111
Cape Cod
In regard to the INC/INC.

If I had to guess, I would bet that Donruss outsourced printing to multiple printers for those years. Perhaps one of the printers had INC (no period) and just never changed it because no one ever noticed. So their cards got mixed in with all the others for those 3 years and now we have Period/No period INC cards. I would put the odds at near zero that it was discovered and corrected each year. Whatever it was, it was a case of one source had the error and was used for all 3 years without ever being discovered while other sources also banged out cards with the period.

What's odd is the varying degrees of difficulty and why some portions of the set will be found with no period in a print run where the rest of the set has a period.

The very first print runs had periods after INC on the back of the MVP cards. Then they dropped the period, then they had the period again, then they dropped it again.

There are DKs without the period on back but they're hard to find and are in packs with DKs that have the period on them.

It's a riddle wrapped in an enigma.

Arthur
 

banjar

Active member
Mar 22, 2015
1,519
Lafayette, Colorado
That could certainly be the case. But I am of a more conspiratorial mind on this one. If it was accidental, I could see it happening for one year. One source included the period, the other didn't. But this exact same thing went on for years, even into 1992 when the design of the card backs changed entirely from the standard design of previous years. I tell you there was something going on. The files must be declassified immediately! I'm going to file a FOIA request by god.

In regard to the INC/INC.

If I had to guess, I would bet that Donruss outsourced printing to multiple printers for those years. Perhaps one of the printers had INC (no period) and just never changed it because no one ever noticed. So their cards got mixed in with all the others for those 3 years and now we have Period/No period INC cards. I would put the odds at near zero that it was discovered and corrected each year. Whatever it was, it was a case of one source had the error and was used for all 3 years without ever being discovered while other sources also banged out cards with the period.

What's odd is the varying degrees of difficulty and why some portions of the set will be found with no period in a print run where the rest of the set has a period.

The very first print runs had periods after INC on the back of the MVP cards. Then they dropped the period, then they had the period again, then they dropped it again.

There are DKs without the period on back but they're hard to find and are in packs with DKs that have the period on them.

It's a riddle wrapped in an enigma.

Arthur
 

Boo Radley

New member
Jun 5, 2013
111
Cape Cod
That could certainly be the case. But I am of a more conspiratorial mind on this one. If it was accidental, I could see it happening for one year. One source included the period, the other didn't. But this exact same thing went on for years, even into 1992 when the design of the card backs changed entirely from the standard design of previous years. I tell you there was something going on. The files must be declassified immediately! I'm going to file a FOIA request by god.
I think you're giving them WAY too much credit. For one, it's got to be the stupidest variation in all of baseball cards. Secondly, the only reason to deliberately create a variation is to cause buzz about your product -- manufactured rarity to increase demand and therefore sales. If you were going to do something like that, you wouldn't do something like remove a minute piece of punctuation on the back of the cards that 99.999% of people are never going to notice. Also, you'd make them actually rare. I don't know of any premium for either version.

I think it's benign. With the exception of slight tonal differences, Donruss backs are pretty much unchanged from year to year in that period. I wouldn't be surprised if one of the outsourced printers or one of the in-house pieces of equipment just never got changed.

Arthur
 
Jan 14, 2009
567
Secondly, the only reason to deliberately create a variation is to cause buzz about your product -- manufactured rarity to increase demand and therefore sales. If you were going to do something like that, you wouldn't do something like remove a minute piece of punctuation on the back of the cards that 99.999% of people are never going to notice. Also, you'd make them actually rare. I don't know of any premium for either version.

Arthur
Just an aside but the Nolan Ryan King/5000Ks, Harold Baines Line and Brian Downing (and likely the Ruben Sierra DK) cards are definitely intentional variations in that set meant to capitalize on the E&V trend at the time. 1990 Score Sandberg HL, 1990 UD Ben McDonald are other examples. It is no coincidence that 1990 saw a glut of "star" and hot rookie cards affected by errors.
 

Boo Radley

New member
Jun 5, 2013
111
Cape Cod
Just an aside but the Nolan Ryan King/5000Ks, Harold Baines Line and Brian Downing (and likely the Ruben Sierra DK) cards are definitely intentional variations in that set meant to capitalize on the E&V trend at the time. 1990 Score Sandberg HL, 1990 UD Ben McDonald are other examples. It is no coincidence that 1990 saw a glut of "star" and hot rookie cards affected by errors.
I can absolutely see that. They also became common knowledge immediately and caused great buzz for Donruss' release that year. They essentially did everything the No Period INC didn't do. The only one I'm torn on is the Baines Line Through. It wasn't a first run error, its window of release is so small compared to all the "major" errors from Donruss that year, and it's such an easy mistake to have had happen that I could see the Baines being a legitimate honest mistake. Especially considering how quickly they corrected it.

Arthur
 

banjar

Active member
Mar 22, 2015
1,519
Lafayette, Colorado
I think there was a reason for the period, because they did it for multiple years, even into 1992 when the format of the card back entirely changed. But I don't think it was a way to generate interest in the product. That would definitely be a stupid way to do that. My best guess is that it was an internal thing for tracking or QC purposes. Say for example they did have two different production facilities. If Donruss people open packs and find substandard cards, they know which facility the cards came from by looking for the period. Same theory could apply to the *Denotes versus *Denotes* error. This with the period could identify 4 different printing lines.

I think you're giving them WAY too much credit. For one, it's got to be the stupidest variation in all of baseball cards. Secondly, the only reason to deliberately create a variation is to cause buzz about your product -- manufactured rarity to increase demand and therefore sales. If you were going to do something like that, you wouldn't do something like remove a minute piece of punctuation on the back of the cards that 99.999% of people are never going to notice. Also, you'd make them actually rare. I don't know of any premium for either version.

I think it's benign. With the exception of slight tonal differences, Donruss backs are pretty much unchanged from year to year in that period. I wouldn't be surprised if one of the outsourced printers or one of the in-house pieces of equipment just never got changed.

Arthur
 

BBCgalaxee

Active member
Sep 9, 2011
6,385
I'm sure the companies saw all the hoopla (and extra sales) surrounding the 89 ud Murphy and several 89 Fleer errors that they figured they get in on the action.

Topps being topps back then, they were a year too late with their error filled set.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Freedom Card Board mobile app
 

cardcop05

New member
Nov 15, 2018
64
NYC
Very interesting stuff, especially the Archives/Fan Favorites cards.

I've seen the 1997 Topps with gold name cards before. The strange thing is that the foil applied is from 1996 Clear Assets (a junk Classic brand), not from Topps.

https://www.comc.com/Cards/MultiSport/1996/Clear_Assets_-_Base/35/Mike_Alstott/1752752
Yep, that can happen because Great Western Inc. (the Dallas, TX company that has printed/does print) for nearly every card company had two printing rollers running at the same time when I toured the facility in 2001: one was printing Playoff, and the other was printing Topps.
They run these ALL NIGHT LONG. When I snooped the facility at 3am, all of the employees we smoking blunts, it was like a Rolling Stones concert in the card printing area all the way in the back with a huge smoke cloud near the roof!!! So while high I guess they get "creative" and mix up cards from different companies and randomly put one CRAZY sheet into the whole product (or just one box). I've often seen boxes of post-2000 products with wrongbacks in every pack of a factory sealed box at a rate of (3) per 10-card packs???

In the early 1990's to 1998 (approximately) there was a Northern NJ company that did all of the gold foil printing and high gloss surfacing for Topps and Classic/Score Board. So the error you mention definitely was created at that location.
 
Last edited:
Jan 14, 2009
567
I can absolutely see that. They also became common knowledge immediately and caused great buzz for Donruss' release that year. They essentially did everything the No Period INC didn't do. The only one I'm torn on is the Baines Line Through. It wasn't a first run error, its window of release is so small compared to all the "major" errors from Donruss that year, and it's such an easy mistake to have had happen that I could see the Baines being a legitimate honest mistake. Especially considering how quickly they corrected it.

Arthur
I don't have my research/notes accessible these days but I am fairly certain there was a "tell" to the Baines that gave it away. I think it was related to the seemingly separated piece of line that is printed over the star. It isn't continuous, as if it were added on purpose. But I'm not 100% sure that is what it was. Also, I do recall it being immediately known, like the Ryans, and very expensive out of the gate.

As for printings, I have absolutely pulled the "recent major.." back with line through star error out of packs containing other first run errors. But I've also opened boxes with both INC and INC. cards, some errors, some corrections (i.e. Valdez error, Morris correction, Downing error, Baines correction, mix of Recent Major and All-Star Game, etc).
 

Boo Radley

New member
Jun 5, 2013
111
Cape Cod
I don't have my research/notes accessible these days but I am fairly certain there was a "tell" to the Baines that gave it away. I think it was related to the seemingly separated piece of line that is printed over the star. It isn't continuous, as if it were added on purpose. But I'm not 100% sure that is what it was. Also, I do recall it being immediately known, like the Ryans, and very expensive out of the gate.

As for printings, I have absolutely pulled the "recent major.." back with line through star error out of packs containing other first run errors. But I've also opened boxes with both INC and INC. cards, some errors, some corrections (i.e. Valdez error, Morris correction, Downing error, Baines correction, mix of Recent Major and All-Star Game, etc).
That's interesting. Now I've got to go over all my Baines cards with my loupe.

I've been able to identify individual print runs and have created an Excel spreadsheet documenting exactly which version of which cards came in each print run. I've done this through nine 20-box wax cases and honestly too-many-for-me-to-remember rack cases. I've literally ripped cases for the print run directly before, during, and directly after the correction of the "Recent ML" / "All-Star" back variation. I can tell you with exact precision which cards got corrected first or when an error got introduced into the production line.

When it comes to 1990 Donruss, I am "that guy" and I am not proud of it.

Arthur
 

BBCgalaxee

Active member
Sep 9, 2011
6,385
. I can tell you with exact precision which cards got corrected first or when an error got introduced into the production line.

When it comes to 1990 Donruss, I am "that guy" and I am not proud of it.

Arthur


Please do, very interested.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Freedom Card Board mobile app
 

Boo Radley

New member
Jun 5, 2013
111
Cape Cod
There are a handful of cards rarer than the Baines. The Baines isn't that tough, there are plenty on eBay right now.

One thing that can be said about all of the '90 Donruss E&Vs is that finding them in gem mint condition is very difficult and in many cases downright impossible. To put it into context, out of all the cases I've ripped I still haven't found a PSA 10 BC-12 Smoltz. Now, I think I have one at PSA right now but I've also thought that before. The card is a pop 1 and that is earned. Anyone that's opened those early print run boxes knows how shotty the QC was. They just didn't give a F. They were banging out cases as fast as they could with no concern for quality. I have a 1,600 ct box full of All-Star cards and ten PSA 10 Recent ML Performance cards.

The red borders show everything. The '90 puzzle piece is actually a hair smaller than previous years and the wrap is tighter than ever. It's a miracle to pull a card out of a pack that doesn't have a little white on a corner under a loupe. Once you see that tiniest of frosty tip, forget it, game over, move on to the next card. And as has been discussed before, the print jobs on these cards is an abomination. Print defects everywhere. If you escape with a clean front and miraculous clean corners you probably have a big white fisheye on the orange back.

And that's what you're pulling from fresh wax. Forget about what's out there that's been stored raw for the past 28 years. Everybody forgets that there was a period of time when people realized that the hobby boom of the late-'80s/early-'90s wasn't going to pay for their kids' college or let them retire early and there was a huge backlash against everything from that period. Everything that wasn't HOF got declared worthless and tons of stuff was thrown out or just abused out of spite. When I first started this project I bought tons of raw lots off eBay and let me tell you, these cards haven't been kept in penny sleeves and top loaders, or even monster boxes. Much of what survived raw was EX-MT / NM.

I realize this sort of flys in the face of typical E&V collecting. It's not so much about condition as it is finding the bizarre rarity that no one else cares about. But the disparity in rarity (I'm copyrighting that) on 90% of these between finding them and finding them in gem condition is so large that I thought it warranted mentioning.

Arthur
 
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diwhite

Member
Oct 14, 2012
74
Has anyone ever heard of 1988 Topps UV Glow back variations? Someone just posted 6 different color variations on ebay, ranging from $2 to $100 per card.

s-l1600.jpg
 

Boo Radley

New member
Jun 5, 2013
111
Cape Cod
I've spent an embarrassing amount of time and money opening cases, cataloging print runs, louping cards, all the things that I'm sure many of you are familiar with. When all of my bases are covered I'll be happy to share information that would pertain to their (barely-existing?) market. I'm not in this for the money. I'm not out hoarding copies of any 1990 Donruss cards. I'm just trying to find a single copy that suits my needs for each variation. After I've tackled that I'll be more than happy to open the books on what is and isn't difficult to find. I think that's fair.

In the meantime, I'm happy to share any other information about all of these cards.

Arthur
 

Boo Radley

New member
Jun 5, 2013
111
Cape Cod
Fresh meat.

The Ryan King of Kings has a color variation on the front. The banner and name box can be found in tan (most common) and copper (least common). So far, I've only found the copper with the corrected 665 back.

Ryan DKs 1 and 3.jpg

Arthur
 
Last edited:
Jan 14, 2009
567
I've spent an embarrassing amount of time and money opening cases, cataloging print runs, louping cards, all the things that I'm sure many of you are familiar with. When all of my bases are covered I'll be happy to share information that would pertain to their (barely-existing?) market. I'm not in this for the money. I'm not out hoarding copies of any 1990 Donruss cards. I'm just trying to find a single copy that suits my needs for each variation. After I've tackled that I'll be more than happy to open the books on what is and isn't difficult to find. I think that's fair.

In the meantime, I'm happy to share any other information about all of these cards.

Arthur
I sure know what you mean. My unsolicited two cents on this subject:

I've devoted an extraordinary amount of time and work to discovering, cataloging and discussing junk era discoveries. And like your Donruss project, I have spent large sums of money in the pursuit of information on the most tedious of "worthless" sets. My post history on these hobby boards along with my blog are a testament to that. And as much as I've made money on my work (an embarrassing sold/unsold ratio), I've watched others make even more from it over the last fourteen years or so. Most of the people seeking info are player and set collectors who find uncatalogued stuff fascinating and an interesting part of their collections and I find that aspect of it very rewarding. For me, it feels silly to do all this work and keep it to myself, which is why I choose to offer it freely. I may be wrong but it was you who messaged me on ebay for the 1990 Bo Jackson DK info, right? Even if you hadn't, by listing these things as I do, I am sharing the info openly.

The other side of the to share/to not share info thing that makes a lot of sense to me is that eventually it shakes out what is or isn't rare. If I share a batch of variation info online with a bunch of guys who run to their shops/boxes, find them easily and list it all on ebay, it helps to determine the true scarcity of those variations. There are tons of variations I have discovered that have turned out to be truly scarce by lack of showing up post-info-dispersal (?) and many, many more that turned up in droves, seemingly just needing someone to point them out. There are variations that sold in 2008-2009 for decent prices that sellers have been auto-relisting ever since (and long past the demand) because of this. Just as there are variations from years back I sold hastily and wish I'd held onto as no other copies have turned up since. Such is a product of the era without big books covering this stuff and it being in the hands of bloggers and message board posters (tons to say about this topic alone). Personally, I encourage high sales on rare "junk" and love to see rarities garner attention and high ending prices. A huge amount of my "hobby" is research on this.

Anyway, all that said, my previous comment was out of curiosity, try as I might with my own finds, you're absolutely right about the non-existent market for 1990 Donruss variations. If you do not wish to share any more info on this set, that's definitely fair.
 

Boo Radley

New member
Jun 5, 2013
111
Cape Cod
I sure know what you mean. My unsolicited two cents on this subject:

I've devoted an extraordinary amount of time and work to discovering, cataloging and discussing junk era discoveries. And like your Donruss project, I have spent large sums of money in the pursuit of information on the most tedious of "worthless" sets. My post history on these hobby boards along with my blog are a testament to that. And as much as I've made money on my work (an embarrassing sold/unsold ratio), I've watched others make even more from it over the last fourteen years or so. Most of the people seeking info are player and set collectors who find uncatalogued stuff fascinating and an interesting part of their collections and I find that aspect of it very rewarding. For me, it feels silly to do all this work and keep it to myself, which is why I choose to offer it freely. I may be wrong but it was you who messaged me on ebay for the 1990 Bo Jackson DK info, right? Even if you hadn't, by listing these things as I do, I am sharing the info openly.

The other side of the to share/to not share info thing that makes a lot of sense to me is that eventually it shakes out what is or isn't rare. If I share a batch of variation info online with a bunch of guys who run to their shops/boxes, find them easily and list it all on ebay, it helps to determine the true scarcity of those variations. There are tons of variations I have discovered that have turned out to be truly scarce by lack of showing up post-info-dispersal (?) and many, many more that turned up in droves, seemingly just needing someone to point them out. There are variations that sold in 2008-2009 for decent prices that sellers have been auto-relisting ever since (and long past the demand) because of this. Just as there are variations from years back I sold hastily and wish I'd held onto as no other copies have turned up since. Such is a product of the era without big books covering this stuff and it being in the hands of bloggers and message board posters (tons to say about this topic alone). Personally, I encourage high sales on rare "junk" and love to see rarities garner attention and high ending prices. A huge amount of my "hobby" is research on this.

Anyway, all that said, my previous comment was out of curiosity, try as I might with my own finds, you're absolutely right about the non-existent market for 1990 Donruss variations. If you do not wish to share any more info on this set, that's definitely fair.
Jackson, you're beyond reproach. The work you've done in this area is second to none. Your website is a unique resource for thousands of cards that otherwise would go unknown. I admire both the work you've done and the openness with which you've shared it. You are correct, I was the one who messaged you on eBay.

I agree that when it comes to rarity, one's work is only as good as how repeatable it is. What I mean is, I can say that Card A is extremely rare because I've only found one example in all of my searching but if 100 examples immediately come to light after I mention it then the card obviously isn't that rare. Like I said, I'm not in this for the money and I'm not out hoarding cards. At some point, I'm going to have put together some sort of rarity report and see what others come back with in order to test it.

However, I feel like I've been very generous with all of my information. Any player collector is obviously aware of any variations in the set. My current checklist is complete and up to date; I'm not withholding any cards. I've offered to share pictures so people will know exactly what they're looking for as well as information regarding the chronology of all of this so people would know when certain E&Vs started and stopped. I'm happy to share any and all information I have with the lone exception being what my current opinion on rarity is. I don't believe this hampers a player collector in any way. No one is on eBay listing these individually. The player collector still needs to go out and find them, whether I think they're rare or not. When they do, they'll probably pay next to nothing for them either way so I don't see how me withholding my opinion on rarity hurts them. In fact, I think it might help them. The vast majority of these are not difficult to find. Naming the small amount that are can only serve to possibly raise the prices on those cards.

I think the important information is the error or variation itself -- it's existence, description, etc. That allows interested collectors to put them on their watchlist and add them to their collection. There's plenty of time down the road for what I think (which may or may not be accurate) about rarity. Perhaps I'm missing something and if I am I certainly welcome others to provide me with the perspective. It's not my goal to make acquiring these more difficult for another collector. But I think I've been fairly open and fair with my information.

Arthur
 

Onions

Member
Dec 8, 2014
54
North Dakota
Anyone heard tell of this as a legitimate 1989 Donruss variation? There's definitely a notch in the line as printed - but does it count as anything? As a player collector, would you add one to your collection?

1989 Donruss DK "chipped" or "broken" vertical line variation

I flipped a few over on COMC. Looks to me that this occurs on copies that are off center t/b and even more exaggerated on copies that are also off l/r. Odd that it only occurs on the bottom line (that I noticed anyway), and not on every card. I looked at the Gwynn cards, several were way oc, with none that had this print issue. Maybe it has more to do with the placement on the sheet as it was printed. Almost seems like a miscut or something.
 

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