Cycleback’s The Vintage Collector

 

Cycleback's THE VINTAGE COLLECTOR

by David Rudd

email: cycleback@cycleback.com

www.cycleback.com

June 8th 2002 issue

 

** The Vintage Collector is an occasional email/online newsletter.  Questions, comments and submissions are encouraged and welcome.

 

CONTENTS

* Random Drawing: Win an Autograph

* Q & A

 

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RANDOM DRAWING: WIN A KELLEN WINSLOW AUTOGRAPH

 

I remembered that when I first started this newsletter I had random drawings and quizzes with the winner winning a prize.  This issue offers a free, random drawing to win an autographed.

 

THE PRIZE: National Football League Hall of Famer, Kellen Winslow, Autographed 1992 ProLine Portraits Trading Card.  Sharp, full-bleed picture with a mint silver ink signature.  Winslow, who spent his career with the San Diego Chargers, is regarded as one of the best all-time tight ends.

 

HOW TO ENTER: To enter, simply email me that you would like to enter.  The winner will be randomly (I know true randomness is not possible, get off my back) picked from the emails.  The winner will be notified after the drawing.  I'll wait three or four days to allow for entries.

 

THE ONE CONDITION (There's always a catch, isn't there):  A minimum 30 people must enter.  Meaning, if there is not interest in the drawing, I'll keep the autograph myself.

 

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Q & A

 

 

QUESTION: I inherited from my uncle one of the original 1985 Andy Warhol Prints of Pete Rose.  I never lnew my uncle real well, and I think he gave it to me because I'm the only other collector and sports fan in the family.   It has the same design as Pete Rose's Topps baseball card.  I believe that that these prints were made by Warhol to help for a fundraising drive for a museum in Cincinnati.  I'm fairly sure that the print is original, but I have a few questions.  It is autographed by Andy Warhol and hand numbered out of 30 including the letters 'TP.'  You said before that the total number of prints made is usually larger than the number written one print, so I am wondering how to find out how made were made total.  What does the 'TP' indicate?  The print is also autographed by Rose.  At least it appears to be.  I compared to other Rose autographs I have and it looks real.  Is the Rose autograph on this rare and raise the value, or did he sign all the prints?  Sorry, for the long email.  Any help would be appreciated.

 

ANSWER:  It appears to be a unique and valuable gift.  I don't offer a final verdict without seeing items in person, but from the scans you sent and the other information you provided, it appears that your print is genuine.  Make sure to keep all the related papers/documentation.  As you noted, the prints were made, and authorized by Pete Rose, to raise funds for the Cincinnati Art Museum.

 

 The 'TP' indicates that yours is a 'Trial Proof,' which was a proof, or test print, made before the final printing.  The trial proofs differ from the final edition in coloring and often design.  Each of the 30 trial proofs for this print is unique.  In other words, yours is a one of a kind.  There were a total of 50 prints made, including the 30 trial proofs. 

 

From the literature and other information I have, it does not appear that Rose formally signed the prints and I'm only aware of yours and another that are signed by Rose.  Which doesn't mean there aren't others out there.  The other Rose signed print was owned by the well known baseball collector Barry Halper.  Halper knew Rose and, apparently, had everything but the family dog signed by Rose or Joe DiMaggio (Only a slight exaggeration).

 

As far as value goes, it probably raises the value somewhat.  Rose is an active signer and his signature is common.  While the non-sport fine art collector may wish that it was left in the original state, I'm sure may sports collectors would like the addition.  .

 

QUESTION:  Do wire photos always have a stamp on the back?  Also, how does the picture quality of wire photos compare to regular photos?  I ask this because I've ever bought one before.

 

ANSWER: Most, but not all, wire photos have the stamp of the news service (UPI, AP, ACME, other).  Sometimes, the stamp disappeared due to aging.  In some cases the stamp was never put on.  I recently bought a collection wire photos from the Chicago Tribune and some were stamped, but many were not.

 

This means that it is not always possible to tell whether or not a photo is a wire photo.  I've had photos that I guessed were wire photos, but was not positive.   This fact may affect the sell price, because collectors usually want to be sure what they are buying.

 

The image quality (focus, tone, etc) varies widely in wire photos, both old and new.  Some are rough and some are perfect.  So you should take look at the quality on a case by case basis.

 

QUESTION: I read in an old magazine how museums use equipment to see the writing behind a painting.  Could this be done with T206 Nodgrass?

 

ANSWER: That can be and is done.  I believe what you are talking about is infrared reflectography which involves various kinds of equipment that view the emission of infrared light from different materials.  As different materials, like inks and paints and even things like plants and animals, absorb and emit infrared light differently, they can look different in tone (dark, medium, invisible) when viewed through an infrared lens.  Infrared light cannot be seen with the human eyes, but the infrared viewing equipment coverts it to visible range.  Infrared light is on the opposite end of the light spectrum from ultraviolet light (aka black light), which is also invisible.

 

In simple words, the infrared viewer allows one to see through some kinds of paint to view the artist's original pencil sketch or outline.  This works if the background sketch is in pencil (which appears dark) and was on white or light paper or canvas.  The success also depends on what kind and colors of paint were used. For example, black or blue are harder to see though, but yellow and red are easy.

 

Similarly, the infrared viewer has proves successful in some cases in seeing through the alteration on trading cards and similar items.  For those unfamiliar with the T206 Nodgrass that the reader mentioned, the T206 was an early 1900s baseball tobacco card set and the Nodgrass card is a scarce and fairly valuable variation.  On most of his cards, Fred Snodgrass's name was spelled correctly, but in a few printing errors nearly all of the first 'S' was left out. 

 

In some cases, a forger has altered the normal 'Snodgrass' card by painting over the 'S.'  Luckily, as the lettering is black on white, and the overpainting is white, it not difficult to see the 'S' through the overpainting.

 

Despite any possible scientific intimidation, the infrared viewer is simple to use-- the normal handheld model is about as easy as a black light.  The problem is that they and the related equipment are dang expensive (I had to get a second job at McDonalds).  Unless someone is a real high roller, I don't recommend getting one.

 

For the vast majority of potentially altered items, like the T206 Nodgrass card, inexpensive methods are effective.  This includes using a black light and eye-examination-checking gloss, color, opacity, etc.

 

In case the general subject interests you, the below linked website, at Harvard, has a nice illustrated overview of the different ways they examine paintings, including using the infrared viewer.

 

http://www.artmuseums.harvard.edu/Renaissance/

 

QUESTION: What is a glicee print?  I've seen a lot of them recently.  Do they have artistic value?

 

ANSWER: I thought I answered the question in the newsletter before, but perhaps my minds been playing tricks on me.  A glicee is a fancified computer print, similar to a laser printer.  They are commonly used to reproduce artists' paintings, photographs and other original art.  They are often officially licensed by the artist, including being artist signed and numbered and all that jazz.  I have seen a few in person, and the reproduction quality seems to be good, with bright colors.

 

I'll pass on giving judgment on the artistic value, as your opinion is probably as good as mine on that type of subject.  I do point out that a glicee shouldn't be confused with an original (handmade) print or the original art that the glicee reproduced.

 

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That's it

 

 

 

 

 

Cycleback's THE VINTAGE COLLECTOR

by David Rudd

www.cycleback.com

issue: May 28 2002

 

** The Vintage Collector is an occasional newsletter concerning the authentication and realated issues in the fine and collectable arts.  Comments, questions and submissions are always welcome.

 

 

Q & A

 

QUESTION: I have noticed, and I'm sure that others have noticed, that the exact same picture of Honus Wagner on the 1909 T206 (tobacco card) was used in other areas.  I saw the same picture of him used on an old board game from about 1906 I think, and also in a 1911 magazine.  How did this work out?

 

ANSWER: Basically, there were companies whose business was, at least partially, to gather and distribute photographs to whomever needed and would pay for them.  It's much like Associated Press gathering and distributing news stories to paying subscribers (in fact, Associated Press also distributed photographs), or a local talent agent providing musical to weddings and proms.  A company would have on file pictures of Honus Wagner they commissioned from famous photographers like Charles Conlon and Carl Horner.  If a board game, newspaper or tobacco company needed a photograph of Wagner or Ty Cobb for their upcoming product, they would go to the photograph distributing company.  I'm sure that the photograph distributor had a wide variety of Wagner images from which to choose, but as the particular image of Wagner became well known, that's the one a company's marketers wanted.

 

You will find that other baseball card images are often used over on a variety of products.  Mickey Mantle's batting portrait on his 1951 Bowman Rookie Card and Ted Williams' portrait on his 1954 Bowman are two examples.

 

QUESTION: You wrote that with intaglio prints that you can sometimes feel the ink with your fingers.  Is this the common in practice or not?

 

ANSWER: I would guess that about half or slightly more than half of the intaglio prints (engraving, etching, drypoint, photogravure, etc) I examine I can distinctly feel the ink by running by finger tips across the print.  The better the condition of the paper (lack of creasing, wrinkling, roughness) the more likely you will be able to feel it.  I find this test helpful in identifying these prints.

 

Make sure you wash your hands before checking a print this way, especially if it's a $50,000 Rembrandt etching and you've just eaten fried chicken.  I haven't been allowed back in Seattle Arts Museum since that incident.

 

QUESTION: Hi David.  I have your book on authentication and collect most baseball memorabilia.  I would like to buy a 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan Rookie Card, but am keenly aware that there are a lot of counterfeits out there.  My plan is this:  I already own several hundred of the 86-7 Fleers, though no Jordan.  I also have a black light that I got from my brother.  My plan is that when I get a prospective Michael Jordan I will compare its black light fluorescence with the cards I already have, hoping that a fake would be different.  I just want to check with you to see if this sounds reasonable.

 

ANSWER: Sounds like a good plan to me.  Realize that there can be some variations in fluorescence within a trading card issue, but if you have a good number of the 86-87 Fleer cards you probably won't have a problem.  Also, I am assuming you would also compare stuff like card gloss, cardstock thickness, etc.  If all basketball collectors were as prudent as you, the Jordan counterfeit would probably not be a problem.

 

QUESTION: David, how does writing on the back of photographs effect the value?  I'm want to buy a small bunch of 1920ish photos and most have writing on the back.  I know that writing is not a good thing on cards.

 

ANSWER:  As far as writing on the back goes, photographs are different than trading cards.  With most trading cards, any writing or marks on the back will significantly lower the value.  With most photographs with blank backs, neat and relevant handwriting that doesn't effect the front image, will have rarely lower the value significantly and sometimes will raise it.

 

If the writing is the photographer's, it will probably raise the value.  For collectors of original wire photos, crop marks and production notes will often raise the value, as the collector finds it interesting and it shows that photo was 'official.'  If an old family photo has the vital information: date, location, who's who and what's what-- that is a good thing.  I know that many collectors have come across an obscure carte de visite or tintype and wished the original owner had written this type information on the back.

 

For a fancy display photograph that has a ornate design on the back, like a cabinet card with the studio's design on back, writing should not aesthetically effect the design, but, again, a small note written neatly in pencil in one corner probably won't adversely affect the value.

 

For real photo postcards, opinions differ.  Some collectors like the backs (or fronts, when notes were written on a blank front panel) to be blank while others prefer a postally used postcard with interesting writing.

 

For real photo trading cards, like the 1880s Old Judge tobacco cards or 1948 Topps Magic Photos (little self developing photographic cards, issued by the famous bubblegum maker), writing on the back will lower the value.  Most of these photos are collected by trading card collectors, so the trading card rules apply. 

 

In short, 80% percent of the vintage photographs I handle have some form of handwriting on the back.  This writing is more often than not useful and, as long as it doesn't effect the aesthetics of the photograph, it does not lower the value.

 

QUESTION: I bought on eBay a black light and just started testing it out.  I notice that the three 1909-11 T206 cards I have a fluorescence.  It's light, sort of very light brown in color.  Is this okay?

 

ANSWER: Little paper material, even antique paper material, has no fluorescence, which would mean it would be black under a black light.  The T206s have a fluoresce like you describe and, if I recall correctly, the yellow ink can fluoresce yellow.  Old photographs and paper material will often have a tannish fluorescence.

 

QUESTION: I recently started collecting cards from before World War II, especially from the 1930s.  I bought some cards some cards that at first I didn't notice that there was some spots of glue and paper loss on the back.  It was dumb of me not to look when I bought them, but they are beat up anyway. 

 

When I was looking at eBay I noticed that other cards have similar back damage.  Is this type of damage normal?   How did it happen and how does it affect the value?

 

ANSWER: In the old days it was common to paste trading cards, photos, postcards, etc, into scrapbooks.  When the cards were removed, most often in modern times for resale, the backs will have paper loss, glue or album paper residue.  This type of back damage is common for cards dating back to the late 1800s.  The damage definitely lowers the value, especially if the card is in otherwise high grade.  It will effect the value less, and may be barely noticeable, if the card has not text or graphics on the back, like an 1880s Old Judge or 1930s Goudey Premiums.

 

QUESTION: Which are the best professional sports card graders and the worse?

 

ANSWER: I'm not into the graded card scene, and have little personal experience with them.  Readers are more than welcome to foreword their opinions on this matter.  Popular opinion says that the 'Big Three' are PSA (Professional Sports Authenticators), SGC (Sportscard Guarantee) and Beckett (BGS, BVG).  I don't hesitate to say that NASA (for those unfamiliar with trading cards, that name is not a joke) and PRO are the worst, neither being legitimate ventures.  And presumably all the rest fall somewhere in between, in reputation if not practice. 

 

There is a new company called Global Authentication Inc (GAI), which was formed by prominent defectors from PSA.  Though I think their name is rather silly (professional graders tend to choose names that make them sound like internet venture capital firms), some of their cards were in a MastroNet auction which means someone must think they are good.  I've heard some card collectors grumble about GAI's lenient grading, but card collectors like to grumble about grading issues (I've been heard to grumble on occasion).

 

While Beckett is well regarded in the hobby-- and I think highly of them as an overall good company-- they have a relatively new BCCG (Beckett Collector's Club Grading) designation which I don't think much of.  It appears that BCCG is a softening of the grading standards in order to help mass-marketers like Shop-at-Home mass market their wares to gullible beginners.

 

QUESTION: You wrote that a plate mark sometimes appears on relief prints.  Under what situations will this appear?

 

ANSWER: Plate marks (indentations surrounding the printed graphic) are uncommon on relief prints, and when it does appear, it's usually in the fine arts.  They are very rarely seen on collectable/commercial relief prints.

 

QUESTION: I have some M116s Sporting Life baseball cards and was looking them up in the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards.  It says that they are hand colored.  How can I tell if mine are hand colored, because I'm not sure they are.

 

ANSWER: The cards were not hand colored.  I suspect that that description in the catalog was used to describe the cards' appearance, and not to be taken literally.

 

QUESTION: In fine art prints, how often will the colors and inks used change for a print.  I mean within a specific edition, as opposed to between editions.

 

ANSWER: It is not rare for colors/inks to differ within an edition.  In some cases the artist has a premeditated design to create a unique color combination for each print. Andy Warhol was famous for doing this on his screen prints.  In other cases, the colors and tones vary more subtly, as the artist makes minor adjustments throughout the printing process.  In much of fine art printing, the colors are mixed by hand, much like a painter mixing paints on a palette.   It is not abnormal for the artist or printer to say "This needs a bit more blue" after a print comes off the press, or "I'm going to try something different this time."  Also, if the artist accidentally runs out of a batch of ink and has to mix some more it's nearing impossible to match exactly the original colors.

 

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That's it, thanks for reading

 

 

Cycleback’s The Vintage Collector