Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Bridge between Collecting Art and Baseball Cards

If your collecting career was alive and well during the 1980's, you were treated to finding your favorite players packaged with all sorts of things. From cookies and breads to sausage and dog food, they were everywhere. Unless they were Broders, you were very familiar with the airbrushed hat, not unlike what Panini and Leaf have to do these days. Companies did a great job understanding what their consumers liked, and in the 80's, it was baseball cards. Cards being inserted into bread is now a thing of the past. Card companies have done a number of things differently from back then. Some loved, some hated. One such item that has drawn criticism are sketch cards. Perhaps this is a way to bridge the gap between the nerdy card collector and snooty art collector, but it really is a mixed bag. I am not going to post pictures of anyone's work in terms of which sketch cards are laughable, but I'm sure you have seen them. Heck, I threw my hat into the cut auto sketch ring one time ... remember this? :)   20140620_172124 If that isn't talent, then I don't know what is! Card collectors in general are learning that value is not just about how the art card looks; but also who sketched it. I'm getting off track though. What this post really is about is my latest PC addition (don't worry, it ties in later ... sort of.). As I was cruising online recently, I saw a painting that looked vaguely familiar. s-l500 I shuffled through my odd-ball box to the food issued card section, and found something that looked to be identical to what I had seen online. As it turns out, the painting above is the original painting used for this card: 20151124_194210 Does this look familiar to you at all? It was put out by Metz Bakery back in 1993. Metz Bakery did a set of 40 cards consisting of several bigger time players from the 80's and 90's like Griffey, Barry Bonds, Will Clark, Roger Clemens, etc. As you can see, the card type shows a painting of the player, and not an actual photograph. This isn't a blockbuster card by any stretch of the imagination - heck, the highest I've ever seen a 1993 Metz card sell for was a PSA 10 Rickey Henderson for $25 - but allow me to provide some background on it. To me, the more interesting of a story, the more valuable the card is. First, some history: Metz Bakery was not exactly a mom and pop shop. As a matter of fact, they were apparently bought out for 625 MILLION dollars in the late 90's. (Man, think about how many baseball cards you could buy with that kind of cash!) Dr_evil_one_million_dollars Somewhere in the mix, Michael Schechter & Associates was involved in this. If that name doesn't ring a bell, perhaps you know them better by the initials MSA. Those initials are linked to many food and oddball issues of the 70's and beyond, like Ralston Purina, Kraft Singles, Jimmy Dean, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Slim Jim, M&M's, etc. The list goes on. Basically, if it was a food issue, the chances are that MSA had something to do with it. As mentioned above, Metz Bakery was added to the list. The photograph that this was modeled after was even used for another odd ball issue. 0002790000093_A Nothing like a good ol' Canadian bread card issue! 20151124_194225 I'll put them side by side for you ... see the resemblance? 20151124_194241 For a COMPLETELY unrelated reason, I was searching eBay today, and found this had sold a few months ago. s-l1600sm Look familiar? That is because it is a picture (from the Topps Vault) that was most likely taken a mere SECONDS before or after the model picture for the Metz and JJ Nissen cards. What are the odds that I would come across this without looking!? Here it is with the JJ Nissen card on top of it. jjnissen2 So anyway, Metz Bakery went a different route and commissioned an artist to paint 40 portraits of the players they selected for use in their baseball cards. This is what makes this set unique- where most cards during this time period were photographs, Metz said "let's commission an artist!" and it was so. Original artwork of any checklisted card is intriguing to me, so I reached out to the seller to find out more. You can think of this as not just a 1/1, and not just a printing plate, but something in between. The name of the artist is Don Ivan Punchatz. As with any piece of art that I run across, I went to google with it to see if he is famous, has done anything worth mentioning, etc. Most of the time, I'm left empty handed with an unheralded artist, but this particular artist had a few interesting pieces. Mr. Punchatz passed away 6 years ago on the same month/day my son's birthday. He was an artist that his work definitely did not go with him, as it is all over the internet. They are VERY unique and many look quite bizarre. Try this one on for size: 09-Don-Ivan-Punchatz Aside from doing work on various CD covers, National Geographic and Time Magazine, he is remembered well for this little piece: DOOM Yes, my friends - he is the one who did the box art for DOOM. The video game that I wasn't allowed to play when it came out because it was too violent. With all of these accolades, it was enough for me to really want this piece of art, but there was one thing that REALLY got me on board. Here is another piece of his: swcnov09 Boom. He drew the very first Star Wars poster. If you didn't already know, my son is a HUGE Star Wars fan, so to have a Jose Canseco painting done by someone who did Star Wars art which was used as a checklisted card - that is just a home run right there! To make things even better, when it arrived in the mail, it was absolutely stunning. It is such a beautiful piece, I couldn't be more happy. I took some pictures to show it off: Here is the front cover. It had a clipping of the picture used, along with a drawn "T" on the hat. The bottom has instructions telling the company to send back the art back to Mr. Punchatz when they were done with it. 20151124_194305 When you flip this piece of cardboard over, it acts like an easel almost, to stand up the piece. I figured I'd display the 2 cards I have with it, in a cubby in my office. 20151124_194151 Here is a close up of the pic. Note there is a loose clear sheet that is over the entire painting to protect it. 20151124_194343 I asked if he had any others, and he does - as a matter of fact, several are on eBay right now, but he has some that are not. Sadly, the majority of the big stars are not available, but I was able to pick up the Will Clark as well. will-clark Here is a pic of the card the painting above was used for: Untitled-2 The more I dig into these odd ball cards, the more interesting and collectible I find them. While I'm not a fan of sketch cards (I've never bought one before), I would definitely be a fan if they were drawn by artists who have somewhat famous pieces out there. Here is a little video I did of the latest piece for my PC:

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