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cycleback * February 1 2003




QUESTION: Were the Allen and Ginter cards made before half-tone printing?  Shouldn't this make it easy to identify reprints, or am I wrong?


ANSWER: While your history is off, you are correct in your guess that reprints of Allen & Ginter cards should not be difficult to identify.


---> IMAGE OF 1886 N28 ALLEN & GINTER TOBACCO CARDS, picturing star baseball players, boxing champion Jack Dempsy and ‘Wild West’ personalities Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill Codey.  The attractive and bright images should indicate why they are popular with collectors.


In the 1880s Allen & Ginter made a variety of colorful little sport and non-sport cards sold with their tobacco products.  While halftone printing had been invented at the time, the Allen & Ginter cards were not made with half-tone printing.  This makes the identification of reprints straight foreword.


These cards are ‘handmade lithographs.’  Allen & Ginter’s artist used special lithographic pens and brushes to draw or ‘paint’ the art directly onto the printing plate used to print the cards.   This means that, even under a magnifying glass, the cards resemble little paintings.  The ink will be solid like a painting, with no half-tone dot pattern.  If  one of these cards has the fine haltone dot pattern throughout the front and/or back, it’s a reprint.  This type of half-tone pattern is seen on Topps cards, modern postcards and magazine pictures.  Sometimes a magnifying glass is needed to see the halftone dot pattern.


It is important to note that the Allen & Ginters often have dots in isolated parts of the image.  These ‘stipple’ dots were added by hand for artistic effect.  The artist added these to shade parts of the image or give texture.  He added them by either poking a lithographic pen onto the printing plate, just like you would add dots to a sketch you made, or by adding them with a special spike roller.  These dots are found in isolated areas of the image (such as to give a little shading to a shadow) and are large and irregular.  They shouldn't be confused for the saturated half-tone dot pattern.  In other words, on an Allen & Ginter there may be a few dots here or there, but the rest of the image will be solid, as if it was painted by hand.


No catalogued (listed in the price guides) Pre-1890 baseball card was made with halftone printing.  So if you ever find an Old Judge, Gypsy Queen, Goodwin Champions, Tobin Lithograph or Four Base Hits with a halftone pattern like a 1995 Score Baseball card, it’s a reprint.


QUESTION: In photographs, is there a Rookie designation as there are with baseball and football cards? 


There is not official ‘rookie’  designation, but I make a prominent ‘rookie year’ note as it applies to a photograph I am selling.  There is a major premium placed on a rookie year photograph of a popular Hall of Famer, whether it’s Mickey Mantle or Johnny Unitas.  In football, it’s not difficult to find photographs of players from their college days.  A premium is often placed on these as well, as they are early. 


A rule of thumb is that, all other photographic qualities equivalent, the earlier a player’s photograph the rarer and more expensive.  So, in that sense, the pricing is a lot like vintage sports cards.


QUESTION: I notice that CDVs don’t have as much back damage as old cards and trade cards.  Were they not pasted in albums?


ANSWER: In the 19th century there were available special albums for cartes de visite (CDV photographs: small card photographs popular in the 1800s).  The album pages had pockets that the photographs were slipped into.  The page had appropriate holes so the photographic images could be viewed like photos in an a modern photo album.  While some cartes were pasted into albums, creating the typical paper loss and glue residue found on many Victorian cards, scraps and momentos, these pocket albums offered a glueless alternative to store and display family photographs.







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