Friday, August 18, 2017

The Art Gallery- 2005 Rittenhouse Archives The Munsters

This month’s Art Gallery display is a triple shot of the Munsters; Herman, Lily and Grandpa. The artists are Cris Bolson who did Herman, Dan Schaefer did Lily and Emir Ribeiro did Grandpa.

I believe these cards came from a 2005 Rittenhouse Archives The Munsters release but I can only find sketch cards and promo cards for the set so I do not know exactly how these cards were made available.

I was more a Addams Family kid but I did enjoy The Munsters so these kind of sketch cards have a sentimental aspect to them. I have been seeing Munsters sketch cards appear over the years but much of the cards are Herman, Lily and Grandpa with only a couple of Eddie and Marilyn sketch cards appearing from time to time.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Time For A Griffey Update

I reached another milestone in my Ken Griffey Jr. collection, I hit 1,300 unique cards when I picked up this 2001 Upper Deck Vintage base card a couple of weeks ago. With each one of my eBay sale I have left a bit in my Paypal account which I have used to hunt down very cheap base cards for my Griffey collection so I have been adding a couple of cards here and there.

In January 2014 is when I began to focus on my Griffey collection after adding my collection to Zistle and realized I was calling myself a Griffey collection but I only had 92 unique cards in my collection. Here is how the growth of my Griffey collection has gone since January of 2014:

January 2014 I was at 92 unique cards

January 2015 I was at 291 unique cards

January 2016 I was at 552 unique cards

January 2017 I was at 1,255 unique cards

This year has been slow going and about half of the 45 cards that I have picked up this year have come from trades with many of the rest being under $1 purchases but that is ok. Not every pickup can be a major find, I am glad to have a .35 cent card as much as a $200 card, it is all part of collecting one of the best players of our generation.

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.