May 03, 2013

A few of my favorite screw-ups: 1951 Bowman Overprints edition

Did you see this great write-up about the blog? Check it out when you get a chance. All right, let's talk about screwed-up baseball cards.

I've written lots in the past about my love for screwed-up baseball cards. Severe, horrendous miscuts, wrong fronts, wrong backs!, diamond-cut cards, cards missing foil, cards with typos, cards at the edge of a sheet, cards missing a color, cards with the wrong photo—or the wrong facsimile signature. And what about cards that have problems with color registration? Those are great. But the best? The best are overprints.

What's an overprint, you say? Well, it's simple really: instead of a card having one image on its front and one image on its back, an overprint has multiple images. Sometimes printers do this to test the ink or the alignment of their presses. Other times they feed the wrong sheet by accident.

Whatever the reason, the result is one awesomely weird baseball card. Overprints are more commonly seen with stamps or paper currency, but with baseball cards, they aren't that easy to come by. They're by-products of the printing process, to be used as test prints or samples during production by the people on press during the run. With stamps or paper currency, it's easier to understand that overprints would be released, to extend the usage and life of regular stamps or notes. But if you opened your penny pack or pack of five cards in 1951 and got a card that looked like this, you'd notice. And you'd probably feel pretty angry.

So how did I get these? I got these six on eBay. They were cheap, too, which initially lead me to believe that they were fakes, but after handling them and handling other 1951 Bowman cards from my collection, the overprints feel about the same weight, and the cardboard feels right. (Granted, they could still be fakes, but I'm not too worried about it.) In terms of them having a value, I don't know how to assess that. I like them, but there weren't too many bids on the cards I won, and my winning bids were low, less than $10 each. So value? I'm not sure.

They've got blank backs, and each card has at least three images printed over each other on their fronts. There isn't too much written about them on the Web, but here's what I've found:

T206 "Ghost" overprints (From the T206 Museum, 2004)
1951 Bowman overprinted uncut sheet auction results (From a Robert Edward Auction, 2009)

And file under "Overprint (disambiguation)": 
What is an overprint? (From a Net54 thread, 2008)

Leave a comment on this post if you know anything else about overprints!

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