Double Takes

A recent post over at Diamond Cuts and Wax Stains on Nick Beverley got me thinking about reusing photos/very similar shots for multiple sets, particularly back-to-back years by the same company. O-Pee-Chee seems to have done this on a fairly regular basis during their first run. I can think of a couple off the top of my head, outlined below, but I’m sure there are many others.

1971-72 and 1972-73 O-Pee-Chee Gilles Marotte

First up, a couple of early seventies cards of Gilles Marotte. I honestly can’t tell if they’re the same picture or just from the same photo shoot, I keep on going back and forth with the verdict in my mind. Marotte was a very good player that made a couple of all-star teams but he’ll probably be best known as part of the worst trades in NHL history being swapped in a package by the Bruins for Ken Hodge, Fred Stanfield, and some guy named Esposito. Two quick asides: 1. Marotte is a letterman jacket away from being one of Bif Tannen’s cronies, and, 2. Why the Kings don’t use this as their primary logo I’ll never know.

1976-77 and 1977-78 O-Pee-Chee Dan Maloney

I’m almost certain I’ve seen these two Maloney cards together before somewhere on the web but I can’t remember where. O-Pee-Chee also seems to be cribbing their own design here, just sliding the team name and logo to the bottom of the card. Also, what is it with the 1977-78 set that makes so many cards look airbrushed? That is, on top of the ones that actually are.

1990-91 and 1991-1992 O-Pee-Chee

Not the same photo, but as close as you can get. I wonder if these were both taken during the same game at the opposite ends of the ice. It’s like those what’s the difference? puzzles that were in Highlights magazine and every touch screen bar game where you need to circle the differences in two photos. (Speaking of Highlights, Upper Deck should totally do Goofus and Gallant cards that feature cheap shot artists like Matt Cooke and Lady Byng winners and put them as an SSP inserts set in O-Pee-Chee next year.)


1991-92 Bobby Orr BayBank

91-92 Baybank Orr1My friend gave me these a few years ago, before I got back into collecting and I filed them away in a box and kind of forgot about them until now. Back in the eighties and early-nineties Bobby Orr was the spokesperson for BayBank–a local chain of banks that merged with Bank of Boston to become BankBoston, which were then bought out by Fleet, which were then bought out by Bank of America. There’s three cards and an 8×10 and they were given away at bank locations and Bruins games. I only have the first two, in fact, I didn’t even know there was a third until I started doing research for this post. In a bit of irony, these cards feature BayBank’s blue and green colors which were also the colors of the Whalers who, if you grew up in central Massachusetts, competed for your loyalty. (I grew up closer to Hartford than Boston.) But I’m not going to turn this into another Hartford Whalers post. I promise. The juxtaposition of these black and gold photos from the seventies with the blue and green borders and BayBank’s logo that screams I’m-from-the-eighties is jarring.

The second card inverts everything. The colors are swapped, Orr’s name goes to the bottom and the company’s name shoots to the top. I think I like this one better though, I like the angle up against the boards, how little tape is on his stick.

Not surprisingly,  BayBank chose to omit Orr’s stats from the two seasons he played in Chicago on the back. I like the simplicity of the backs and how they (mostly) show his career stats. The third card in the set is the best but I don’t have it: Orr is digging the puck out along the boards with Bobby Clarke and his mop right behind. In 1995, BabyBank produced another card, both a standard and oversized version.

91-92 Baybank Orr1 back

1976 Scanlens VFL #120 — Graham Melrose

1976 Scanlens VFL MelroseInternational cards continue to fascinate me. I’ve won a few auctions on ebay and plan to post about various cards and sets as they trickle in from around the world.

The Australian card company Scanlens–which I wrote about a couple posts ago–produced cricket, VFL, rugby, and non-sports cards back in the sixties and seventies. As I also mentioned, most of these featured designs they licensed from Topps. However, some, such as the 1976 set to the right, seem to have an original look. Graham plays for the North Melbourne Kangaroos, one of the oldest teams in the then VFL, now AFL. (After the league expanded out of Victoria in the early-nineties, they changed the name to the Australian Football League. Great team name, great colors.) Although an uninspired (to say the least) photo I do appreciate the backdrop and the old Adidas soccer cleats. And, if I’m not mistaken, this is Melrose’s rookie card. Nevertheless, he helped the Kangaroos reach the Grand Final in 1975 where they lost to Hawthorn.

I don’t know much else about Australian Rules Football. When I was growing up, NESN used to show Australian Rules Football games during the morning after SportsDesk, their version of SportsCenter. I remember having no clue how the game was played and laughing at their umpires (refs?) because they alway wore white sport coats and white fedoras but I can’t find any evidence on the internet so maybe I’m making this up? A false memory?

Oh yeah, and the back of the card is blank.

1976 Scanlens VFL Melrose2

1987-88 O-Pee-Chee Mini #24 — Mike Liut

1987-88 OPC Mini Liut1The aspect of collecting I like best is finding cards I’ve never seen before, especially when they’re something old. This is why the last three posts have been on footballer and cricket cards from the sixties and seventies; even though I know very little, if anything, about the players on the cards, they’re new and exciting to me while still being vintage. I think this is why I don’t like vintage baseball as much as hockey. I’ve seen all the sets and designs a hundred times before.

I recently bought the 1987-88 O-Pee-Chee Mini set and while I had seen most dozens of times on other blogs and around the internet I came across this Mike Liut card which I had not. I’m surprised I hadn’t because 1. it’s of a Whaler and. 2., it’s Mike Liut. I would say his cards are featured rather prominently on many blogs due to his terrifying, horror film-esque masks. (Some day, I’m going to do a post on all of Liut’s OPC cards because he looks like such a badass in every one.) Somehow, this one slipped through the cracks until I was thumbing through the set, giving me one of those “Ah!” moments that become fewer and farther between the more and more we collect.

I like the fuzzy white borders on this set, it adds a literal haze of nostalgia to the cards. Plus, it really works well with the white of the Whalers sweater here. I like the font, too. The whole thing looks a little like the Scanlens Cricket cards from earlier in the week.

1987-88 OPC Mini Liut2

1965 Scanlens Cricket

1965 Scanlens Cricket Bill LawryWhile doing research earlier on the previously mentioned A&BC/Topps Footballer cards I stumbled upon information on the Australian trading card company Scanlens. Apparently, they had an agreement with Topps to provide artwork for their Victorian Football League (that’s Australian Rules Football to me and you) cards to be sold in Australia and New Zealand from the sixties to the early-eighties. But more on that another day. Further and further down the rabbit hole I went, eventually landing on an ebay auction for a 40 card set of cricket cards they produced back in 1965. Unfortunately, the auction is a bit pricey–pushing $2,000. If you think vintage Topps Baseball and O-Pee-Chee Hockey is expensive, take a lot at what old Scanlens cards are going for. Nevertheless, the seller had the whole set neatly organized and scanned so, in the interest of posterity and knowing how ephemeral ebay auction photos tend to be, I saved them and uploaded virtually the entire set for your viewing pleasure.

Like most Americans, I know nothing about cricket but all I can say is about these cards is wow. The photography is fantastic, a nice mix of (staged) action shots and portraits where the athletes are in a shirt in tie.

1965 Scanlens Cricket A1The design is very minimal; they remind me of old Polaroids. The font seems to be some variation of Futura and give the set a real Wes Anderson feel. Come to think of it, these cards are very Anderson-esque: an obscure posh sport, check; vintage and formal clothes, check; interesting insignia, check; ties and tweed jackets, check. All that’s missing is the sixities folk and garage rock soundtrack.

1965 Scanlens Cricket B1Two Bobs, a Graeme, and a Graham all on one page. For some reason, all these names seem fake to me, like characters from an old, British novel. Or fictitious golfers.

1965 Scanlens Cricket C1The green grass, white jerseys, and red logo all go really well together. A+ for overall composition.

1965 Scanlens Cricket D1Similarly, Garfield Sobers and Basil Butcher are two of the greatest names I’ve ever heard. Some great sweaters here as well. And Doug Walters’s photo is just perfect.

Lastly, the backs. They’re bright and garish and feature a comic/trivia, how very O-Pee-Chee.

1965 Scanlens Cricket A2


1980-81 Topps Footballer Super

80 Topps Footballer1I’m actually not even sure of the name of this set, it’s not even listed on Nigel’s Webspace but perhaps a reader will be able to help. Produced in 1980, I’ve seen it listed as “Super” (like the American Football and Hockey releases of the same year), “Spotlights” (which appears on the top of the backs), and the title of the auction on ebay referred to them as “Topps Soccer Football Large”.

There’s 30 cards in the set and they’re oversized, measuring 5″x7″. The fronts are glossy and they feature (then) First Division players though many, such as Osvaldo over here, are dressed in their national team’s jersey, particularly the English players. Though the fronts are identical to the American Football and Hockey’s, the backs are completely different, listing everything from their club to their height, favorite food, and actress.

Here are a few others:

It’s really a shame that Topps never produced a NASL set for release here in the States and Canada. Imagine this design, or the one in the previous post, featuring Pele and Franz Beckenbauer in New York Cosmos jerseys or Johan Cruyff as a Washington Diplomat.


1977-78 Topps Footballers

77 Topps Footballers TudorTopps produced soccer cards under the name “Footballer” from 1975-1981 consisting of players from England’s First and Second Division which are now, essentially, the Premier League and the Championship. According to the great Topps Archive, Topps had partnered with A&BC in the late-fifties/early-sixties to release sets under their name before they became Topps UK in 1975. So for you Toppsophiles, they essentially put out soccer sets from 1959-1981. Often, they borrowed designs from baseball sets, such as in 1960 and 1963. I actually had no idea Topps did these Footballer sets until a few months ago when I saw a post on Diamond Cuts and Wax Stains featuring one from the 1975-76 set which, again, borrows its design from a baseball set. Plenty of more information on all these sets over at Nigel’s Webspace.

I was at a card show a couple of weeks ago and found a lot of 13 of these from the 1977-78 set. After a little haggling, I left with all of them for an even $5. Most have soft corners and a few appear to have eraser marks like the Tudor card above. I would love to complete the set even though I know virtually nothing about seventies English soccer but the cards are hard to come by in the States so I’m filing it away under “unreasonable”  and “wishful thinking” for now.

Here are some of the highlights:

I knew nothing about any of these players before this post. Selections were purely based on aesthetics. Love those Queens Park Rangers jerseys.

I’ll (hopefully) have another soccer related post tomorrow. But for now, enjoy the back of John Tudor’s card, which does a great job at epitomizing an American’s strange perception of English soccer.

77 Topps Footballers Tudor2