Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Welcome Care Package

I just received a care package from Jon from A Penny Sleeve For Your Thoughts, which I very much so appreciate. He was wondering how I was doing and sent some cards and a DVD too.

The DVD is from the 2007 Season Ticket Holder package and includes highlights from the team’s 30-year history. It was narrated by Dave Niehaus, the voice of the Mariners from 1977 until his death in 2010, and just hearing his voice brought back some wonderful memories of watching baseball over the years. A lot of happy memories.
New additions to my Steve Kerr collection, Sonics collection and Mariners’ collections. There were more cards sent but I only scanned about half of the cards.
I have been working on my Edgar mini-pc and now I have my first Edgar relic card.

The Mariners just retried Edgar Martinez's number and in conjunction with the ceremony they did an Edgar Martinez bobble head SGA and his bat has a light on it that works. I am not a bobble head collector and have picked up only a couple of Griffey SGAs but I do plan on picking up one of the Edgar Lights Out bobble heads when they drop down to realistic prices.

The last two cards are a Buhner and Edgar 1999 Upper Deck Black Diamond Triple Diamond #/1500. I had the Buhner card on my wants list so that is a number card off the list. I haven’t built an Edgar want list yet, I am making some changes in my collection so I do plan to create one eventually.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Some Treasures Should Remain Buried

As if you needed another reason to stay FAR away from antique stores when looking for card deals here was my experience. When my daughter and I hit up some of the antique stores a few weeks back I kept an eye out for cards. Usually the cards are priced exceedingly high but I have heard of the occasional surprise deal so I look when I am already in the store.

I didn’t find much, there were only two booths in about 6 stores that we stop at where I found cards and one didn’t have prices but when I find a dirty Ziploc bag filled with mid-1980s baseball cards I know I am going to need a Bill Gates type bank account to afford it so I passed that booth quickly. 

The second booth was a collectibles booth with action figures, priced to 1990s prices, comic books, which I didn’t look through, and Hot Wheels tagged at $4 apiece for the same cars I can find in any toy aisle today. I didn’t have much hope by the time I got around to the two glass cases where the cards were kept.

I think this photo represents the prices of the contents of the cases quite well. I was surprised to see a GMA card graded anything by Gem Mint 10. I could put a card in my kid’s bike spokes and let him ride around for two weeks and send it to GMA and still get a 10 grade.

There actually was a recent sale of a GMA 8.5, two weeks ago Probstein sold one for $3.83 plus shipping.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday Question Day- SPs?

Today is question day:

For set collectors; do you consider a set complete without SPs or parallels?

In my mind, short prints have made set building extremely difficult and I have noticed that some set collectors will actually state that the set is complete without SPs. This is part of the reason that I no longer build sets because it seems like some sets are just quagmires sucking people in and never getting finished.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

A Lucky Pull

Yesterday I stopped by a different Walmart than the one I normally shop at to pick up something to drink and while I was at the register I looked over and saw a blaster of 2017 Topps Chrome which I know was just released and people are going crazy over it so I gave in to the dark side and picked up the blaster. 

When I pulled this card I was floored, I know it isn’t the best pull when you consider all of the possible refractors to pull but it is Aaron Judge and it is a 1 in 38 packs in retail blasters so I am super excited. I pulled a regular Judge RC two packs later and that one will remain in my collection but this reverse negative refractor is already on eBay.

Friday, August 11, 2017

COMC Keeping Us On Our Toes

 Last night I was doing COMC Challenges and empty penny sleeves kept showing up. This is the first time I saw a sleeve, I have seen receipts before but this one was new to me. The first 3 or 4 challenges I did had 6-8 sleeves in each challenge too, that was odd.

Usually I forget about the challenges but last night I put on my headphones, listened to music and just answered away. I ended up doing enough challenges to add $5 to my COMC so I am pretty stoked.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Learning A Thing About eBay's GSP Costs

One of my auctions was ending Monday and there was a bid and he emailed me and asked about the shipping. I charge $3 for shipping, which includes the card being packed in a penny sleeve, in a rigid top loader, in a team bag inside a padded mailer with tracking information and delivery confirmation.

So, when the guy told me that after he bid the shipping jumped up to $16 and he was angry with me for trying to rip him off and to cancel his bid. I assured him my shipping is $3 and that the jump in shipping cost must have been an error because I was seeing my regular shipping cost when I checked the auction. He settled down and said to not cancel his bid because he still wanted the card and it helped that I told him that if for any reason the shipping was showing up for anything over $3 I would cancel the order and just work out a trade instead.

The auction ends and I go to send the invoice and I get a message that this is an eBay Global Shipping Program (GSP) order and that the invoice is sent by eBay and I have no access to adjusting the shipping cost. I didn’t realize he was international, I probably should have checked, but in my auctions, I clearly say I do not ship internationally so this is something he should have brought up when asking about the shipping.

I emailed him and pointed out that since this was a GSP purchase I had no ability to adjust the shipping cost because it is automatically set by eBay but I still offered to cancel the order and work with him to get the card to him. Essentially offering him the card for free or for a trade but he decided he didn’t want the card anymore after the frustration. Luckily, he didn’t leave negative feedback, I had no control over the cost eBay charges so that would have been unwarranted. I have changed all my auctions to now say any international sales will be through GSP and that the shipping costs are determined by eBay, not me.

It was only a .99 cent card so this didn't turn in to a huge issue and the GSP program is nice but since it isn’t spelled out that the shipping cost will be different than what is listed by the seller it leads to situations like this. A lesson learned.  

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Will He Escape The Milk Can?

This isn’t a major coup but it is straight from my Top 10 list, the card is the Escape Artist from the 2013 Viceroy Carnival release. As a kid I was fascinated with Harry Houdini and when I saw this card the kid in me had to have it. The Viceroy Carnival base/insert cards just do not show up very often so it was a nice treat when someone put up quite a few Viceroy cards and this was one of them.

This is my fourth card from the Metal Card insert set from the release and was actually the card that got me interested in the Carnival set. It is odd that the front scanned darker than it really is in hand and the back scanned much better than it looks in hand. The backs are really hard to read but the metal cards are all limited to 25 but they are not individually serial numbered.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Bob Hepner Has Been Faking Sketch Cards

 A couple of days ago some artists called out sketch card artist Bob Hepner, also known as BC Hepner and Tattoo Bob, in an official accusation for not drawing his sketch cards and commissions. He is using a transfer process where he is editing images in Photoshop, printing them out and transferring the images directly on to the cards while in other cases he has attached the print out directly to the card, added some pencil marks or paint and is calling them “original art”. What is strange is that he has done original photorealism before and he has talent but this is just him being lazy and making money while doing the least amount of work.

This isn’t a claim to be taken lightly, there have been 20 artists who have worked with Topps, Rittenhouse, Upper Deck, Cryptozoic and Leaf who have gotten together to do individual investigation so they could compare notes before anything has been said. This is very serious in the sketch card world.

Hepner has made one rambling statement on Blowout Forums basically calling everyone a liar and he quit FB groups but he hasn’t said anything directly addressing the examples showing his work isn’t original but with this claim now out more and more people have gotten involved to show that his work isn’t hand drawn and is not original and this includes someone pulling apart his own Hepner sketch card to show that the “sketch” is actually a separate layer from the card.

This morning Brian Gray of Leaf stated that Hepner will not be involved with any future Leaf releases and he may be making an official statement release as to what Leaf will be doing regarding Hepner’s work in their sets.

You can find more information in this pdf file that was included in the announcement.

Here are just some of the examples showing Hepner’s fake work:
Image 1:
This image lines up 100% to the reference image, anyone who has ever drawn knows this is nearly impossible even for photorealism artists to do this consistently. This is just one example, there are more.
Image 2:
Same image from Image 1 but a close up showing the subjects right shoulder. Those peaks and valley cut outs are mistakes that happen in Photoshop when using the eraser tool and not smoothing it out. There is no logical reasons for these cutouts if it was drawn by hand.
Image 3:
Another example of Hepner’s work lining up exactly with the reference materials.
Image 4:
There is no question that something was attached to this card, there shouldn’t be a texture for a hand drawn sketch card and you can see where the printed out paper ends near the bottom of the card and you can see the base of the sketch card is a separate layer. Add in the full size Solo image is blurry, for a photorealism artist like Hepner claims to be that should not happen. This is a case of using a bad image before printing it out and attaching it to the card.
Image 5: 
A close up showing exactly where his printed image ends. He didn’t even try to hide or blend the obviously attached image to the card.
Image 6:
Hepner’s comic book cover is on the right, on top of the wooden table. This was a comic book he claimed he created and says it is his “original art”, he was trying to sell this on eBay recently. On the left is Adam Hughes’ comic book that was published in 2016 and you can buy it on Amazon right now.
Hepner’s book is even dated ’17 after his signature so there is no question that Hughes’ book cover was published a year before Hepner did his cover, how he felt nobody would notice this one is beyond me.

Image 7:
This is an image that someone from Blowout Forums posted showing what their Hepner sketch card looks like when it was pulled apart. Now sketch cards can be layered, mine are two layers, so that isn’t the point but you will see that beneath the top/sketch layer there is no ink transfer. If that was hand drawn, especially with the brighter reds/yellows/oranges, the colors should have soaked through to the next layer.
For comparison, here is a sketch I did earlier this year. As you can see it is those bright colors that soak through but Hepner’s card has nothing at all, which would be the case if it were printed and attached. He does some sketch lines and occasionally adds some white or black paint to make it look more artistic but this is still a case of sticking a printout on to a card.
Finally, I close with this. Hepner quit the Facebook groups he belonged to on August 3rd with this message. The statement from the artists making the claim came out on August 4th, seems odd that he would quit the day before it comes out that he is faking his art.

Sketch card artists and collectors are a pretty close knit group so things like this pass along quickly. I am not doing this to raise up a pitch fork and hunt down the evil artist, I am posting this because I am seriously disturbed by this. Some artists do use multiple mediums (John Soukup) well and that is part of the nuisances about his work and as a viewer/buyer I am seeing this knowing this is how Soukup works. Some artists use stencils and spray paint (Jason Adams and Bianca Thompson) but again, this is what we want when we look at their styles. Nobody wants to look at a photorealistic hand-drawn sketch card and purchase it not knowing it is just a print.

Since art is subjective based on the viewer so some people are ok with buying prints, but buying a print that is supposed to be hand drawn and paying the price of a hand drawn sketch card is different. Consider it this way, you buy a painting you are told was painted by Vincent van Gogh for $20 million and you hang it on your wall. You love it today but tomorrow you go to Hobby Lobby and see the exact same print as yours, same paper, same brush strokes, same backing, same frame, same everything except it is priced at $20 and you realize you just got ripped off. Do you still love your fake van Gogh? Nope, you are going to get your money back and raise some hell. That is what people paying commissions to Hepner or are buying his sketch cards should feel.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Monday Question Day- Celebs?

Today is question day:

Do you have a favorite celebrity sports card?

I hope to someday pick up a 2008 TRISTAR PROjection Billy Crystal card, I really want the autographed version but for that I will be waiting a long time. My favorite is my 1977 DAV Kurt Russell card, it isn’t an official card but the man who made these cards (Dave Stewart) is a disabled Vietnam vet and he has been making cards like this for decades so I will call it an unofficial official set.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Closing Out Pull Tab Week

It is Pull Tab Awareness week
Do be a Billy Blue and use blue painter’s tape and don’t forget to add the tab

Don’t be a Timmy Boxer and use box tape
I got this card yesterday and it was box taped inside the rigid top loader, the sender did at least put the card in to a small team bag so it wouldn’t get caught up on the box tape but the team bag ended up getting stuck on the tape so I had to cut the card out of the team bag because I couldn't remove it from the box tape. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Sellers Selling Fake Autographs Using A Trusted Service

Seeing things like this makes me sad. When Steve Irwin passed away in 2006 he had only one official autograph and that was in the 2002 Dart the Crocodile Hunter release. I had opened a box in 2002 and was fortunate enough to pull relics of both Steve and Terri but their autographs alluded me and now if you find one of his 2002 Dart autographs they are usually in the $1000 range and higher so I have scratched owning one of those off my list but from time to time I still like to look.

This signature is currently up for a BIN of $599.99 and is a perfect example of how authentication services are allowing unscrupulous people to take advantage of specific services by giving an appearance of being real. I am not putting the blame on any specific person, I am not claiming the seller is complicit in any attempt to scam or cheat. This may have been graded long before this item was even in the seller's hands. 
This is not Steve Irwin’s autograph, I have been watching his signatures since at least 2002 and I can 100% guarantee that this is not the Crocodile Hunter’s signature. I don’t know if there is another person named Steve Irwin who is signing pieces of paper and I am just assuming this is supposed to be he Steve Irwin we all know and love. No matter what the case is, at some point someone used PSA/DNA to grade the autograph only, not to authenticate it, and now someone is selling it using the actual term “authentic”.

Most people looking for Steve Irwin’s autograph will know it is not real, there will be people who also look at the flip and see that is says “Auto Grade Only” but someone along the line is going to jump at the price, they are going to see the PSA/DNA flip and the seller using the word authenticated and think it was just him writing out his name instead of signing and buy a fake.

For comparisons, here are authentic Steve Irwin autographs including one where he did print his name so you can see the difference.

A PSA/DNA with an actual authentication tag. The Irwin’s were quite big on sending signed post cards or photos to people who made donations to the Australian Zoo as a thank you so I am confident this is real.

A JSA authenticated 8x10, the inscription was written by Terri but still they both signed the photo.
A 2002 Dart Crocodile Hunter autograph card, this one is real no question
Here is a clip where he signed his name and then printed his first name. Now I cannot state with certainty that this is his autograph but it does appear to be correct in appearance.  

I know this isn't like a situation where someone is just cranking out Carrie Fisher autographs and selling them for a couple hundred a piece but it does bother me that someone worked the system to confuse and take advantage of another person. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Wallet Card #4

This afternoon I took my daughter downtown to Whisky Row, an old part of Prescott with the original buildings from when Prescott was the Arizona capital in the late 1860s-1870s. It is a tourist location now with museums, shops and restaurants but it is fun to explore the area because of the history and if you were going to ask, yes many of the buildings are considered haunted.

We started with lunch at the Palace Saloon, which was opened in 1877 and is the oldest restaurant in the state. Virgil Earp lived in the area at the time and would visit the Palace Saloon before moving to Tombstone with his brothers Wyatt and Morgan. Doc Holliday would play poker in the Palace Saloon too before moving to Tombstone with the Earp brothers.

The saloon has changed hands over the years and was modernized but about a decade ago the owners restored the saloon to how it looked after it was rebuilt following a fire in 1900. When the fire was ripping through the area residents went in to the Palace Saloon and physically carried the actual bar out of the restaurant and across the street to the capital building to save it from being destroyed and when the buildings were being rebuilt the bar was moved back inside so the actual bar you stand at to order a beer is the same bar Earp and Holliday stood at to order a beer in 1877. I didn’t take a picture of the bar because it was full of people and kind of loses its historical luster when a bunch of old guys wearing fanny packs and crocs are sitting there talking about where they are from and how long they have been snowbirds.

Here is a picture of the bar, I didn’t take this photo it is from their site. I cannot imagine how many people would have been required to move this gigantic piece of solid wood across the street while there is a fire in the area but I do know they should have gotten free beer for the rest of their life.
I took some pictures around the restaurant, a bit kitschy but it wasn’t overdone. The first picture is of two of the brothel rooms, they have a prostitute mannequin at the top of the stairs. It was a little odd explaining to my 13-year old daughter that prostitution was legal and that those were two of the rooms used.
The next picture is a memorial for the Yarnell 19, they were 19 Prescott Firefighters that perished during the Yarnell Hill fire on June 28, 2013. During the recent Goodwin fire there was a lot of anxiety among the emergency crews because on June 28th the Goodwin fire was spreading quickly and being the fourth anniversary of the passing of the Yarnell 19 was on everyone’s mind. 
The third picture is the front window of the saloon, they don’t have much of a fan fare type promotion. There is a Palace Saloon sign above with this in their window. Quite easy to miss if you didn’t know it was there. Behind where Griffey is hanging out there are steps going down to the original jail, it was underneath the saloon. This section is caged off and locked so you can only access it from the kitchen inside the saloon, they now use the area as storage but the jail cells are still located down there.
I talked with our server for a while, I love paranormal and the Ghost Adventures did a show here last year so it was cool to hear about some of the stories and he told us about some of the experiences some of the employees have dealt with over the years.

If the story is not enough to get you to come take a look if you are in the area then maybe this will, here is my bison burger. The bison is from a Northern Arizona farm, the buns are baked in town and the fries are made fresh in the restaurant so everything is local. 
Over the next three hours we hit antique shops and eventually frozen yogurt, but Griffey didn't feel like having his picture taken with those places.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Trade Completed IV

I read through 10-15 blogs a day and I will admit I rarely look at people’s want lists unless something is specifically mentioned. I was reading one of my regular blogs and there was a post about a trade with Steve from Collating Cards and how he is a Mariners/Seattle collector so I finally looked at his Most Elusive list and the #2 card that Steve wanted, a 1991 Mariners Country Hearth Scott Bankhead, I had sitting in a set box.

The 1991 Country Hearth SGA set is not a common set and usually it is the two Griffey Jr. (#15 & #28) cards that show up so the Bankhead is really a difficult card to find. Last year I came across a set for around $15 shipped, a bargain when you consider the Griffey Jr, Buhner and Edgar cards that I wanted from the set sell individually in the $5-8 range, so I jumped on it. I pulled out the cards I wanted and the remaining cards went in to my Mariners box so seeing that I could help a fellow collector I was happy to send the card to someone who would appreciate it.

In return Steve sent three Griffey insert cards from 2017 Topps Series 2 release that I needed. The three cards are All-Star Game MVP (#ASM-12), Home Run Derby Champ (#HRD-9) and the one that brings back an amazing memory, Memorable Moments (#MM-28)

Thank you so much Steve, I am glad we were able to work out this trade.