cycleback * jan 18 2004 Pack Secrets

Cycleback, all rights reserved

Q & A


QUESTION: What's a gold season baseball pass?

ANSWER: It's very rare ... In the old days, a person might get a regular
cardboard season pass, that allowed him or her to go to any of the games.
Rarer are silver season passes (solid metal) that were given to VIPs, like
former baseball stars or managers. The silver passes come in a variety of
designs, and are often like medallions. They often have little metal loops
so they could be worn as a necklace or on a watch fob.  Even rarer are gold
season passes (gold) that were given to super duper VIPs.  I've only seen
two gold season passes offered before.  One that was given to 19th century
boxing heavyweight champ John Sullivan and one that was given to musical
composer George M. Cohan.  Both came in custom leather holders.  One of
these was in an 'Antiques Roadshow' television show of all places.

Though I've never seen in person a gold pass, I did have the silver pass
that belonged to Edd Roush's wife.  It was in the design of a fan of bats
and had her name etched on the back.  I got it from Edd Roush's
granddaughter.  If you follow auctions and sales, you will find silver
passes around.  While not cheap, many are within the range of the avid

QUESTION: Is it hard to find original photos of Bronco Nagurski from his
playing days? ....  For the old ACME photos, what is the image quality like?

ANSWER: I don't regularly scower eBay or wherever for Nagurski photos, but
I'm confident that original 1930s photos of him at U of Minnesota or the
Chicago Bears are scarce.  A good one would be expensive, only in part
because there are some advanced Chicago Bears photograph collectors out
there.  You know the kind of collectors: if they want it, they'll win it.
To put it in perspective, I once had a 1947 photo showing him as an
assistant coach at UCLA that sold for over $100.

Original playing days photos of Red Grange and Jim Thorpe would have similar

The quality will vary for old-time news service and press photos (ACME,
International News Pictures, Associated Press, United Press, etc), but the
best ones will have perfect and crystal clear images- can count the blades
of grass and leaves on the trees.  For the original photos (as opposed to
wirephotos), the consistency of the image clarity and poses is good, as the
photographers were professionals.  Of the ones I own, a small fraction have
substantial image problems.

A few people are disdainful of news service photos, but many of the most
famous and talented photographers were for these services.  The best ACME or
United Press photo has no apologizing to do.

QUESTION: Two questions concerning your link about fashion photos.  First,
can slides and transparencies be found for sports?  Second, could I display
a slide with some sort of back lighting?

ANSWERS: Transparencies and slides (a transparency in a cardboard holder)
are a standard way of making paper photographs.  They are just like
negatives, except the image is positive.  You can hold the transparency to
the light and the image will look normal.  They are most commonly used to
make color photos.  As they will fade if exposed to light, they probably
should not be displayed so they are exposed for lengthy periods of time.
However, the collector could have a display photograph made from the
transparency for display.  This is something I have done myself.  If you
have a good scanner, you can make a high resolution  scan and print out a
decent computer print yourself.  You can even scan a negative and, with a
graphics program, print out the positive image.

Transparencies and slides can be found in all genres, including sports.  I
have seen football transparencies by the famous sports photographer Ozzie
Sweet, and Leland's recently had in auction some sharp ones of Muhammad Ali.
For some reason, Leland's called the Ali transparencies 'chromes.'  Not that
the term offends me, I'd just never heard it before

The best slides and transparencies, have stunning color and focus.

As when considering buying all photographs, the subject and quality of the
image is essential when determining a value.

QUESTION: This is a really dumb question.  In a MastroNet auction I saw some
of the original paintings for the 1953 Topps cards.  How did Topps make a
painting into a card?

ANSWER: The same way calendars have pictures of the Mona Lisa on them.
Without getting in depth, Topps hired artists to make the players'
paintings.  Topps' printers would take a photo of one of the paintings and
make a plastic negative of it.  Though a technical process, the photographic
image from the negative would be transferred to a printing plate (one
printing plate for each color), and the printing plates were used to print
the color image of the player on the front of the card.

It's not too far different from if you took a digital image of a painting on
your wall and printed the digital image out on your computer printer.  When
done, you'd have both the computer print and the original painting.

QUESTION: How come you never seem to see original printing plates for
Pre-War baseball cards, like the T206s?

ANSWER: The printers had no use for the finished printing plates (after all,
they were only for silly baseball cards), and would clean off the surface,
throw away and/or melt down the plates for other purposes.  The printing
plate necessary for cards like the 1915 Sporting News were large, heavy and
bulky and I'm sure the printers were in a position to let these types of
plate pile of in a backroom.

QUESTION: What's the most bizarre piece of memorabilia you've ever owned?

ANSWER: Ted William's World War II era half full shampoo bottle and half
used chapstick.  I tried to convince a neighborhood 10 year old baseball fan
to wash his hair with the shampoo, but his mom didn't think that was a swell
idea.  One would have to be mentally unbalanced to apply the chapstick.
Examining it closely is like watching 'Jaws': you'll be scared to open the
bathroom cabinet for a week.

QUESTION: What does a 'drystamp' mean on a photograph.

ANSWER: It is an embossed stamp without ink.  You can rub your finger across
and feel it.  Some photographer's 'sign' their photos that way.  For
collectors, the photographer's drystamp is a strong sign that the photo is

For example, say you paid a couple hundred dollars for what was advertised
as a 1930 Greta Garbo photo by Ruth Harriett Louise (MGM's official
photographer).  If the photo looks genuine and the lower corner has Louise's
drystamp, you're in good shape.


QUESTION: I read your article on collecting fashion photos
(  How does a collector tell who is the
photographer for a photo?  Will it be marked on back?

ANSWER: Often times the photographer's name is on the photograph- whether by stamp or handwriting.  Many photos have no indication.  However, as many of the photographs were intended for publication in a magazine or fashion
catalog, legwork can find the answer.  Some experts in the area can tell you
who is the photographer and issuer even when there is no marking.

If applicable to the photographs I own, I try and get a copy of the original
publication in which it was published.  The pairing is both neat and I feel
enhances the value.  This is often easier said than done, especially when I
don't know where or where the image was published.

QUESTION:  I collect Exhibit Supply Company Wrestling cards and you said on
your site that the 1930 Bronco Nagurski was never issued
(  Are there other wrestlers also
not actually made like that?

ANSWER: Including the Nagurski, there are eleven 'ghost' cards from the
1930s Exhibit Supply Company wrestling sets.   For these only the original
art exists.  The corresponding finished cards have never been found. They
are as follows:

Jim Browning, American
Abe Coleman, Poland
Abie Coleman [no country listed]
John Freberg, Sweden
William 'Scotty' McDougal, Scotland
Bonny Muir, Australia
Bronco Nagurski [no country listed]
John Richthoff, Sweden
Karl Sarpolis, Lithuanian
Oki Shikina, Japan
Jagot Sing, Hindu

On the art, the wrestler's origin (as listed above) is below the wrestler's
name.  Some of the above wrestlers may be a second different card that does
exist, as some wrestler's hand different cards.  When there are two cards
for a wrestler, the images are completely different and usually also the

The recommended resource for wrestling card checklists is the 'Vintage
Wrestling Cards Archive' at

QUESTION: What sells better original football photographs or original
baseball photographs?

ANSWER: Both baseball and football photographs have healthy collecting
markets.  With highest end items, Major League Baseball will fetch higher
prices than pro football.  With quality but middle range items (1950s AMCE
photos, for instance) the market and prices is about the same.

Currently there is a healthy market for nice vintage college football photos
(Notre Dame to Yale).  With a particularly nice example, both football fans
and college collectors will be interested (Each college collector typically
specializing in a particular school).  I've found that, on average, a nice
college football photo will sell about the same as a similar NFL photo.