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Welcome to The Card Trader, a site inspired by Trade Card collecting, swapping, buying & selling!

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Articles

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 >


Where's Polly?

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 Schultz.

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 himself.

In the meantime, here's an image of that famous, elusive card.

1963 Polly Farmer


A 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.

Simple times.

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!". (See photo!)

How sweet was my revenge the following year - I wore short sleeves and they couldn't stop me!

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...

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? Maybe.

Nothing like the effort that will be required for those affected by Bushfires to rebuild their lives and communities in the coming years.

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, who hopefully 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 it's needed.


A 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 his stuff.

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!

1976 Graeme Tulloch, Richmond

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 another player:

"Obviously its my name on the card but its actually Cameron Clayton (in the photo). I was in line for a senior game but missed out at the selection table. Graeme Richmond wanted me in. Anyway these things happen. I didn't know anything about it until some collector from Sydney showed me the card. We both look similar."

Graeme Tulloch, 2007

1977 no’s 89 & 94 - Geelong players Graeme Landy & Murray Witcombe were mixed up. That's Landy (a left footer) on the left.

Geelong's Murray Witcombe is once again involved in a mix up, this time with Bryan Cousins – Ben’s dad.

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.  
obrien
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.
seddon

Know of any others?

Please click here to email them in, with a photo or scan if possible

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From 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 level.

Scanlens Archives

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, Historian, MCG

"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

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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 value at the high-end of the hobby.

Unfortunately these TV spots and news articles have been poorly researched and the sources for the articles have been unreliable 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 day and are astonished to find some cards that their 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 been misled 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 fueled expectations can never be met.

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Football Changes Are on the Cards

Unbelievable article from the Age in 1993 that notes the 30th Anniversary of the famous Scanlens 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 right!

TCT ; )

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1963 Scanlens

Design of the times

Long before 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 until dark.

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 cards.

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 activity.

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...

Topps NFL 1959

A classic design for this set of 176 cards, incorporating 5 or 6 different "pattern" background colours, stars in many poses clipped out and hand painted, and the two toned name.

Scanlens 1963

Smaller card, with smaller writing, no team or position on front, poorer quality photos, and a basic biography on rear (Topps 1959 has a magic coin 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

Scanlens 1967

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 puzzle.

   

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, a 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.

Scanlens 1969

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. Scanlens repeated this basic layout for the 1976 series

   

Topps 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.

   

Topps NFL 1973

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.

Scanlens 1974

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 text.

   

Topps NFL 1978

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.

Scanlens 1979

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 oblongs.

   

Topps 1965 Baseball

One of the most popular baseball sets of the 60's featured a coloured flag on each card.

Scanlens VFL 1966

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 to ignore.

   

Topps Baseball 1968

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. The rear featured a brief player profile and the usual satisfaction for the American obsession with statistics.

Scanlens Football 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.

Topps/O Pee Chee 1979/80 Ice Hockey

Blue border with a sash leading down to a circle containing the hockey team's logo.

Scanlens Football 1980

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, since 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 to the left - action shot of players clipped out on a coloured background, and the football field graphic at bottom left.

   
   

Topps NFL football 1956

The early years of Topp's football saw this basic design hit the streets - and it was a huge hit with American kids.

Select retro 2009

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?

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"Rookie" cards - 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 cards" for 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 card releases.

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 two reasons:

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, Leigh Matthews, Royce Hart, Kevin Bartlett, Alex Jesaulenko, Tony Lockett etc, your not really looking at a "Rookie Card", its just a card!

Spot the "Rookie Card"!

Graeme Tulloch happened to be at Training early on the right night in 1976 - and appears here in his first (and only) football card.
Hawk Champion 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!

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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.

Suddenly, with 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 strategy of 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 20 years?

TCT ; )

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Gold Coast Suns alternative theme song.

What would happen if the new AFL team the Gold Coast Suns had commissioned Borat to create their new theme song?

Click here to find out (youtube link)

 
   

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