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Do I care about variations? It varies

One card that I received in a recent card package didn't show up on the blog until now because I don't consider it a need in my collection.

The sender -- Mike -- said that it is a variation, one of those 1991 Topps back differences where the Topps logo superimposed onto the stats is darker than usual.

Like so:

I just can't get myself to consider this a variation.

I believe the collectors who say they are. But it just looks like someone put extra ink on the roller to me. Is that enough to consider something a variation?

This is what I like in my variations:

Now that is a MFing variation. It's on the front, not the back, and it knocks you over with its obvious difference.

This was known as an "error card" back in the day but it's also a variation. (These days we have to differentiate between our variations and errors because so many variations are intentional).

So, like I said here, I like my errors and variations obvious. None of this subtle stuff. There seems to be a lot of subtle variations in early 1990s sets and I can't get interested in it. 1991 Topps is big on subtle variations.

That's just a sampling. It's just a little bit crazy that people thought the absence of a ® was a reason to collect an additional card.

Differences in stats, errors in stats, I understand.

This I understand, too. Pretty cool.

But like I said, a variation needs to knock me over the head with its awesomeness and the difference between a tiny E or an F symbol on the bottom of the card back, I'm just stunned that someone discovered a difference and then thought it was worth noting.

But that's the many flavors of collectors out there. Some of y'all study your cards A LOT.

Just for the heck of it, I looked at the 1991 Topps Dodgers in my binder to see if I had any of the dark Topps logo "variations."

I didn't.

Almost all were like this:

Very light (with a gum stain included).

I did notice what seemed to be a Topps logo halfway between the usual light ones and the one I received from Mike.

What is this? A third variation?


  1. Supposedly the backs are called "Glow Backs", under a black light (the old kind) long tubes, not the bulbs. The glow backs were also supposed to be what the factory sets were. I have 3 of such sets sitting on my desk, and the latter is not true in the two I opened, maybe a third of the cards were in both boxes. I left #3 alone. Some of those 91 Topps "glowbacks" ring big $ on the bay and comc. I haven't been able to actually check to see if any of mine glow because you can't buy the old fashioned black lights around here. I tried the bulb and no go. I am not a fan of intentional errors or variations. Like your Dodgers, I need my Braves but only if they are actually listed in/on Beckett as a legitimate error/variation whether intentional or not. The glow backs are not listed.

  2. 1989 Score drove me crazy with the uniform number variations. Griffey and Rijo both have variations, but you have to squint to see them. I don't pay attention to the copyright variations or glow backs or slight border variations (like 1990/1991 Donruss).

    I picked up a 1990 Fleer Canadian card several years ago, expecting the OPC treatment of French text, but the only difference was the copyright line. Regular Fleer are printed in USA, Canadian are printed in Canada. I was not happy.

    JT, The Writer's Journey

  3. I care...always. However, if my records show I have a card of that person or subject with that number, then I probably will never notice. When I first joined the Trading Card Database, and started logging my collection, I found almost two dozen errors and variations in my duplicates box. Some were as miniscule as a wrong signing date on the back, to as big as a person's name being spelled incorrectly on the card front and later corrected.

  4. I immediately noticed the variations in the 1991 Topps card backs way back in 1991, but I barely cared about them at all. Now that I'm a full fledged TCDB member, this stuff makes me slightly paranoid, maybe even anxious?

  5. This reminds me of 2006 Bowman Heritage. So difficult to tell the difference between the base and the parallels.

  6. Let's not even get started on what Donruss have done to us...

  7. I can accept the absence of a ® as a variation... but that doesn't necessarily mean I'll chase them. Now lighter ink... I'm in your corner on this one. Unless the lighter ink happens to be one of the "glow" backs mentioned above. The "lol" once again... I can accept it.

  8. For my Red Sox collection no back variations exist, at all. A&G mini back parallels mean nothing to me. As far as I am concerned I have a complete 1911 T205 team set. I don't care what advertisement is on the back of them, the team set is complete and I'm not buying any more. (now if someone gifts one to me well...)

    However for my Virdon collection I do the back variations. White/Grey Back, English/French Back, Blank/Postcard Back, whatever the case may be I chased them all.

    THe difference is probably because there is an infinite amount of Red Sox cards to chase. Why look for more to chase when I could never have them all anyway. However there were only so many Virdons produced so it isn't as big a deal to scoop up all the variations.

  9. I think some of these 'ticky tack' variations were a figment of someone's junk wax imagination - after pouring over a couple of boxes of 1991 Topps five or six years ago, I didn't care if I was missing out on some 'gems.'

  10. I don't care a lick about these "variations" either. It's hard enough keeping track of all the different (mostly intentional) variations around these days -- how am I supposed to notice if a card from almost 30 years ago is missing a trademark?

  11. So far in my 1955 Bowman set build I've avoided variations so that I don't have to choose which one to get (I'm definitely not getting both for any of them). For my 1972 Topps set build, I think I've always chosen the cheaper variation.

  12. Now that is a MFing variation. It's on the front, not the back, and it knocks you over with its obvious difference.

    Well said!


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