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Where's Polly? ...article >
A Tiger dream, finally realised ...article >
A Case of Mistaken Identity ...article >
From the Scanlens Archives ...article
Card Values - Lamenting the loss of
the Tin People ...article
Design of the Times ...article >
Rookie Cards - Don't Believe the Hype! ...article >
Boom and Bust - Why the Sports Card Phenomena
is a Tale of Two Continents ...article >
Football Changes Are on the Cards ...article >
As anyone who collects Scanlens VFL cards would
know, there is one card that stands out in the 1963 "Holy Grail"
set - # 12 Graham "Polly" Farmer.
I have spoken to many collectors who are seeking
that one card, which raises the question"Why are there so few
of Polly when compared to the other 17 cards in the set?"
Well, I believe the answer is to be found
in another card - Footscray's Brownlow winning ruckman, #6 John
I have seen a few of this card over the years,
and almost every one has a one inch long imprint on the right hand
side border, showing on both front and rear of the card, the likely
source being somewhere in the production process - possibly a grip
or clamp in the guillotining stage.
So the new theory is this -
if the John Schultz card was damaged 3 out of 4 times in the production
process, is it
not possible that the Polly Farmer card was also damaged 3 out of
4 times, however, unlike the Schultz card, the damage was more severe
- severe enough for the quality control at Scanlens to discard hundreds
of Polly Farmers before they reached the packet.
Only someone who worked at the printers in the
early 60's could possibly know the answer, or possibly Mr Scanlen
In the meantime, here's an image of that famous,
Tiger dream, finally realised
When I was a kid growing
up in the 1970's version of Melbourne's Eastern Suburbs, you either
barracked for the Tigers,
or "someone else" - a collective of rabble teams, lower
than the mud caked on the underside of our moulded-stud footy boots.
Yes it was real Tiger heartland, emphasized by the parade of stars
who visited our school each year to conduct footy clinics - Kevin
Sheedy, Bruce Monteith and Noel Carter to name a few.
My Richmond jumper and I went everywhere - through the local orchards
after school, to the milk bar to spend my 50 cents of pocket money
on footy cards, and up and down every street in my neighbourhood,
hoping to catch a glimpse of one of my school mates, primed for a
late afternoon kick of the footy.
My bedroom walls were plastered with Richmond footy posters - my
favourite being the 1973 and 1974 premiership team photos which came
out in the Herald newspaper Grand Final supplements, the Monday after
our great wins on footy's biggest stage. I imagined being there for
those photos - a mascot perhaps - slotting in nicely at the front,
between the feet of Daryl Cumming and Wayne Walsh, resting a Ross
Faulkner football on the head of the famous Tiger skin.
My school photos tell a familiar story
- standing at the back, Richmond jumper freshly washed for the
event (we didn't have a school uniform)
arms proudly crossed. My greatest disappointment was in 1977, when
the school photographer chastised me - "Hey Richmond jumper
at the back - uncross those arms, its not a football team photo!".
How sweet was my revenge the following year -
I wore short sleeves and they couldn't stop me!
But I learned the harsh lesson early that skill
would only take you so far, and as I possessed neither the passion
for hard work, nor the guts for the contest, my dream petered out
by under 15 level. Would I have done things differently had I known?
Nothing like the effort that will be required
for those affected by Bushfires to rebuild their lives and communities
in the coming
And I sure felt old, sitting with a bunch of young guys having a
laugh, patiently holding the same position for 2 hours in the sun,
but there's a real buzz around Punt Road in 2009 - everyone has it,
from the coach down to the bootstudder - a feeling that something
good is going to happen this year. I feel it too.
So it's a pleasure being able
to share this photo, and a very proud moment with CT junior,
will not only come to grasp the honour of being able to take part
in this event, but will also process the importance of helping when
This week has brought back those memories,
as I finally got to take up my position in the second row of
the mighty Tiger's
team photo. Albeit under different circumstances - I had fancied
my chances of taking the glamour route from the Glen Waverly
Hawks, through Essex Heights (unofficial under 15s), to the Richmond
Under 19's and so on...
Case of Mistaken Identity
There have been a few instances over
the years of players being named incorrectly on their football
card. But everyone
makes mistakes - commentators get the players wrong all the time!
Lets take a look at a few they got wrong!
The famous 1969 Footscray
cock-up - all 4 players names were wrong.
The Fred Cook card features Ron McGowan,
who's card shows VFA legend Fred Cook. The
David Thorpe card actually
features Ivan Marsh, who's card in turn shows a young David Thorpe strutting
To compound this mess-up, Scanlens continued to pour the misery on Ron McGowan, who's 1972 card again features (by then long departed) Ivan Marsh.
Someone sack that photographer's assistant!
*Thanks to Ron McGowan for the update!
Apart from suffering the indignity of never
getting a senior call up at Richmond, insult was added
to injury when it turned out that his only card actually depicts
"Obviously its my name on the
card but its actually Cameron Clayton (in the photo). I was
for a senior game but missed out at the selection table. Graeme
me in. Anyway these things happen. I didn't know anything
about it until some collector from Sydney showed me the card.
Graeme Tulloch, 2007
no’s 89 & 94 - Geelong players Graeme Landy & Murray
Witcombe were mixed up. That's Landy (a left footer) on the left.
Witcombe is once again involved in a mix up, this
time with Bryan Cousins – Ben’s
Surprised he didn't sue Scanlens.
||A couple of Swans players
they got wrong in 1981. On the left, the card for Steve
Wright is actually his brother Michael,
and on the right "Rod" Carter is
actually Peter Carter - no relation.
|...And again in 1982, the curse of
struck again at the Swans, with Paul incorrectly appearing
on older brother Tony Morwood's card.
||In 1985 the curse moved
to Melbourne, as a young Greg Healy showed up on his brother
Gerard Healy's card.
Paul O'Brien could be forgiven for thinking he should have been paid double for appearing in Scanlens 1982 series... twice. On the left is his actual card, and on the right, here's Paul again, on the card intended for Michael Seddon.
Know of any
Please click here to
email them in, with a photo or scan if possible
back to top
the Scanlens Archives
Here is some information about the new
Scanlens Archives series which is about to be released and will
take the modern
and vintage collector market by storm.
This is edited - for a full scope on the news
go to www.scanlensarchives.com.au
"Following the discovery of the
original colour transparencies used for the classic 1966 "Flag
Series" Football Cards, Scanlens Archives in conjunction
with the AFL Combined Past Players And Officials Inc (AFL X-MEN)
and Scanlens Sweets, has pleasure in offering a unique range
of collectables designed to take 'memorabilia' to the next
Gallery quality, limited edition
framed prints are now available capturing player poses from the Golden
Age of football which is in stark contrast to today's predictable
action shots. Technically superior to typical photographs from the
period, each image has been lovingly restored to optimum industry
standards with a result of such stunning clarity, that it feels like
you can reach back over 40 years and touch your heroes.
To celebrate this major find, an entire set has
been donated to the Australian Gallery of Sport at the MCG, where
it will take pride of place in the permanent collection.
Because the images include shots omitted from the original footy
card release, 10 never-before-published images will be on show for
the first time ever.
Players including John 'Sam' Newman and Barry Davis finally get a guernsey
in what would otherwise have been lost to history.
A strictly limited edition series of collector cards is also planned
which will reproduce, for the first time ever, all 82 player images
in what will become the ultimate homage to the 1966 Scanlens classic.
"They're artistic in many ways, not
your standard player mug shot." - David Studham,
"We are absolutely thrilled that the
photos will have a permanent home at the MCG." - Gillian
Brewster, General Manager, MCG Museum
"I can't get over how thin I was." - Ken Beck, President, Hawthorn Past Players Association
back to top ^
Card Values - Lamenting
the loss of the Tin People
There has been plenty of media hype lately
focusing on sports card collecting, in particular the growth of
the high-end of the hobby.
Unfortunately these TV spots and news articles
have been poorly researched and the sources for the articles have
and self serving. If someone out there has paid $5000 for a Scanlens
1963 card please email me so I
can verify your existence!
But seriously, what this attention has caused
is an irrepairable ripple in the expectations of some collectors,
but more importantly with the people who simply open an old tin one
are astonished to find
some cards that
Dad or Grandfather left behind.
To you people, I apologise on behalf of the
2 or 3 selfish collectors/dealers who are responsible for this misguided
belief. No, your cards aren't worth $50,000, and I'm sorry you have
to believe so.
To the rest of us (genuine passionate collectors)
I also apologise - the traditional source of these type of collectables
(people with old tins) are drying up fast, simply because these media
expectations can never be met.
back to top ^
Football Changes Are on the Cards
from the Age in 1993 that notes the 30th Anniversary of the
1963 set, which apart from being released to test the Bubble
Gum card market in Australia, has served to bring much joy
to fans of VFL Football, Rugby League and Soccer. Click here
or the thumbnail to read the whole article as it appeared -
note the suggestion that a complete set of mint cards could
be picked up for a whopping $700, if you could find one!
Well at least they got the part about rarity
TCT ; )
back to top ^
of the times
the "Coalition of the Willing", there was synergy of
a different kind between the United States and Australia - found
in the designs of their football cards! In the 1960's & 70s,
many non-sport series were reproduced under licence from Topps
in the US, and many sports card designs were adopted & adapted
for local conditions.
The sixties in Australia was a simple time
- Dad went to work while mum stayed at home in the kitchen, football
was played on a Saturday,
and kids stayed inside long enough to down a vegemite sandwich
and a glass of milk before they raced back outside, playing madly
It seems to be also have been a time when the Scanlens Sweet company,
who produced famous gum products for years in Australia, were without
design initiative (or designers) when it came to their very own sports
Times have changed on all these fronts - workplace equality, the
football merry-go-round leaves us unsure where or when our team will
play, and kids prefer computer simulated games to any actual physical
Likewise Australian sports card manufacturers
have designers the equal of any other country, but for a moment,
lets cast our gaze
back to a simpler time when this wasn't as apparent...
A classic design for this set of 176
cards, incorporating 5 or 6 different "pattern" background
stars in many poses clipped out and hand painted, and the two
Smaller card, with smaller writing, no
team or position on front, poorer quality photos, and a basic
(Topps 1959 has
rub quiz) but no doubting the similarity.
Topps NFL 1966
The classic "TV" series of cards appeared
in the US in 1966, featuring stars of the game in a variety
of portrait and action poses. Features player stats on rear
Almost identical TV woodgrain effect, lettering
and positioning. Number is on the front instead of rear, and
the rear of this 72 player set makes up a large Black and White
Topps NFL 1967
Another colourful Topps set, with a full
oval border of varying colours surrounding an action pose by
players. Follows the Topps football 1958 design quite closely.
Scanlens 1968 A
The "horse-shoe" series
otherwise known as 1968 "A" - the first set released
in 1968. Multiple colours in the arched borders, and once again,
puzzle on the rear. This design was virtually repeated in 1978
- the first of the "Portrait" years from 1978-1982 that left
many collectors cold.
Topps NFL 1968
A really nice set by Topps, great shots,
beautiful colours and more fun "magic coin rub" backs. Interesting
to note that all photos are taken during the day (as the pro
footballers were full time even then) as opposed to many VFL
photos being taken at dusk before training, or in the dark
after training. As per the VFL cards, the team logo was placed
in either corner, dependant on the shot.
A real yearly cycle is evident
here - the front of these two cards is virtually identical.
Once again the rear makes up a large puzzle. Unlike the US
set, Scanlens preferred to (with the odd exception) match the
colours of the oblong bar at the bottom of the card with those
of the profiled team.
this basic layout for the 1976 series
NFL 1968 Die Cut/Stand-ups
A smaller sub-set of "Stand-ups" complimented
the 1968 Topps football set. Featured players and blank backs.
Scanlens 1969 Die Cut/Stand-ups
Almost identical to the Topps stand-ups
of the previous year, 18 additional cards were released by
Scanlens to go with the 1969 release. Even the folding instructions
are replicated here, along with the blank back.
A whopping set of cards released by Topps
in 1974 featuring more than 500 players and checklists. Tag
at top of black border/frame, flag at bottom, and some nice
action poses are features of this set.
Practically identical in every way, this
set also extended the Scanlens Footballers set from its previous
high of 72 to a monster 132 plus checklists and stickers. Scanlens
chose to match the flag and tag designs to the colours of the
team, and have opted for black rather than a matching colour
A mixture of player portrait, training
poses, and game-day action are framed with a multi-coloured
oblong shape. Noticeably less interesting and cheaper design
signals the direction a troubled Topps company would take for
the next decade until the hobby was revitalised by adult collecting
in the late 80's.
In keeping with some of the less than inspiring
designs by Topps throughout the late 70's and 80's, this basic
set featured player portraits framed with a variety of coloured
One of the most popular baseball sets of
the 60's featured a coloured flag on each card.
Any other year and this passing resemblance
might go un-noticed. But coming just one year after the popular
"flag" design of Topps
1965 Baseball series, the similarities are too co-incidental
Another popular set by Topps which features
a sandy coloured canvas "material" style pattern.
Team was placed in a coloured circle to represent a baseball.
a brief player profile and the usual satisfaction for the American
obsession with statistics.
1970 & 1972
With the exception of the VFL logo and
the colour of the puzzle on rear (it was Black and White in
1972), these two releases by Scanlens were identical. Even
some of the player photos were repeated. As opposed to the
Topps release, the team is placed in an oval shape (like a
football) which is coloured in the team's main colour.
Chee 1979/80 Ice Hockey
Blue border with a sash leading down to
a circle containing the hockey team's logo.
With the exception of the VFL logo and
the name being shifted from the top to the bottom of the card,
the Scanlens release is very, very similar.
Fleer US AFL football 1960
Topp's rival, Fleer, released football
and baseball cards in the early 60's, and again through the
80's. This set from 1960 profiled the NFL's upstart rival league
the AFL (American Football League) which included teams that,
the merger of the 2 leagues in the mid-60's, have endured to
become house-hold names - including the Denver Broncos.
Select retro 2003
From 2003 Select "retro" set
of 32 cards. There
is more than a passing similarity with the 1960 set
out on a coloured background, and the football field graphic
at bottom left.
NFL football 1956
The early years of Topp's football saw
this basic design hit the streets - and it was a huge hit with
From the 2009 Select
"retro" set of 36 cards. How they get away with this
is anyone's guess, and why Select would not want to do an Australian "retro" design
instead of copy a (pretty crummy) one from the US is puzzling.
I don't relate because I grew up in Australia - do you?
back to top ^
- don't believe the hype!
As Australians, we do have a tendency
to blindly adopt all things American - and as Tim Watson might
say - "The
Fish Rots from the Head!" But jokes aside, lets look at "Rookie
a moment here, and most importantly, define what constitutes a "Rookie
card" in our local market.
"Rookie" is an American term
to identify a first year player. In relation to Sports cards, it
was adapted slightly to refer
to a player's first published card.
The concept of a "Rookie card" is
that the term is generally only applied to a player of long standing
in his sport, who not only
is a recognised champion, but has been featured over many years of
There have been a few auction site sellers throwing
the "rookie card" tag
onto every player's first (and sometimes only) card, but in the Australian
market, there are very few players cards that fit this criteria for
1) Gum cards have only been produced since 1963, which for many
champions of the game, was at the end or in the middle of their careers
(eg Whitten, Barassi)
2) Due to comparatively smaller set sizes, only
a handful of players are featured each year - US sports sets feature
every player of every
team, every year, almost without exception.
So when as a buyer, you
see the word "rookie" applied
to a card, be skeptical!
Remember if your not looking at Gary Ablett,
Royce Hart, Kevin Bartlett, Alex Jesaulenko, Tony Lockett etc,
your not really looking at a "Rookie Card", its just
Spot the "Rookie Card"!
Graeme Tulloch happened
to be at
Training early on the right
in 1976 - and appears here in his first (and only) football card.
Leigh Matthew's first card - the 1973 "Orange" series. He would
later feature in many others.
If you chose B), you
are correct! If you chose
A), read the article again!
back to top ^
Boom and Bust - why the sports card
phenomena is a tale of two continents
The 80's is often
regarded as a shameful decade of greed, a modern-day "age
of excess". Millionaires, even Billionaires were forged and
brought down with regularity, as the secrets of success became widely
available and past barriers to self-improvement were opened to all.
Many excited and
newly "educated" investors headed to
the stock market, others built personal business empires, while yet
others chose the "safer" path to bricks and mortar.
It was during this
period that the fledgling collectibles industry spread it's wings,
and sports enthusiasts
flocked. The flurry of
activity over the following 20 years was reminiscent of the school
yard days - baby boomers fussing through their attics, hoping to
find that old shoe-box full of baseball cards & pennants, devouring
price guides like they might inspect The Wall St Journal, and arriving,
cashed up, on the doorsteps of an ever-growing number of trade card
dealerships across America.
The market that
subsequently developed was controlled by an elite few - dealers,
retail chains and industry
heavies. The masses responded
to advertising, catalogues that could shame a phone-book and word-of-mouth,
thus assisting the ever-tightening of their grip over the market.
With so few controlling the flow of product, demand was high and
was the primary cause of the hyper-inflated prices that peaked in
the early nineties. New buzz words like "rookie", "mint" and "factory
set" were strategically introduced to help fuel the euphoria,
and make those caught up in it feel like experts - "players" in
a high stakes card game.
Thinly veiled as
a hobby, the industry went from strength to strength, and when
a slight wane in the returns
of forgotten 80's "rookie" cards
caused a ripple, many traders and hobbyists just kept wading out
into the troubled waters.
And just like the stock-market a few short years earlier, the Trade
Card industry went into free-fall. Over-printing, over-supply and
a more focused and educated market reduced the foundations to rubble
in a few short years, and ultimately rendered much of the investments
about as valuable as the paper they were printed on.
Then came ebay
At a time when
the industry was already suffering and card "values" were
plummeting, ebay provided a wholesale forum for millions of users
to become card dealers in their own right, and the common law of
economics prevailed - supply was up, demand plateaued, and buyers
benefited from a level playing field.
increased availability, we saw many sad cases of 80's rookie cards
that had been priced
between $10-50 only a few
years earlier, being sold for .99 cents. Imagine the pain and shame
of the "investor" who purchased 100 mint copies of identical
cards valued at $20 each, only to find they couldn't sell them when
it came time to exercise their flakey exit strategy - even at 50
cents a card!
The Lucky Country
Here in Australia
we have been fortunate enough to experience the opposite effect
- an almost non-existent
trade environment was given
a push and created greater awareness and availability for what had
always been a limited product in a minute market place. Several "holy
grail" sets suddenly rocketed beyond the common man's fiscal
reach (e.g. 1963 Scanlens cards) and the pre-80's market boomed.
A limited production run and availability of these early cards coupled
with the spread of the hobby's popularity, leaves us with the belief
that pre-80's collectables will continue to increase in value, and
the newer material, though vastly superior in quality since 1991,
will lose it's lustre with each modern day player's retirement. Just
try getting more than $10 for a mid-90's set of Select Footballers
in Mint condition and you will understand.
An Industry Re-invention
From the wreckage
of the US Sports market a reactive side-industry was spawned -
the "Grading" service - which would ensure
retailers could survive the deluge of on-line sellers and retain
their authoritative grip on the hobby. Simple as it sounds, many
retailers began promoting themselves as grading experts, applying
incredibly in-depth criteria in a myriad of ways to any card or item
you cared to put in front of them. Sealed, dated & authenticated,
your item was suddenly desirable again, more valuable, and more importantly,
provided dealers and retailers with a new cash cow. Quite often the
service of grading a card was of greater value than the card itself.
For card grading information in simplified, Australian
terms, refer to Australia's first Online Grading
Guide, right here at The Card Trader.
Card grading services
have since thrived and coupled with the card manufacturer's deliberate
over supplying "common" cards
and placing valuable inserts and signature cards in packs & boxes,
we have seen a new batch of "valuable" modern day cards
achieve some high returns.
But will anyone really want Matthew Pavilich's signature card in
TCT ; )
back to top ^
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