Friday, January 22, 2010

Card Spotlight: 1-22-10

1988 Topps Cloth #52 - Ron Karkovice

Topps has a long wonderful history with cloth cards. Mostly involving test runs and limited area releases, these can be some of the most rare of Topps cards.

It's hard to estimate exactly how many test cards were printed, but the number is greatly reduced from the number of regular cards available each year released in the flagship set. The entire set consists of 120 cards, cherry picked from the 1988 Topps set.

1988 may be one of the hardest cloth releases to find, but they are out there. In my personal collection, I have a Topps cloth card from 1977. These are probably the most common, but it is a highlight of my seventies collection.

These releases always remind me of the different stickers I collected as a kid. Many of them were made of the same cloth material. It was something that instantly got my attention as a kid, so I'm not quite sure why cloth cards didn't catch on.

Like all good ideas before their time, Topps kept trotting this idea out every few years, just to see if it would stick. I find the test products of Topps usually more interesting than the mainstream releases. Cloth, stickers and 3-D cards all had test runs. Some got wide releases. Some didn't.

In 1983, Topps tested out a similar foil packaging that Upper Deck used when it first hit the market. If I remember correctly, that was test run only in Michigan. For some odd reason, cloth cards always reminds me of that unrelated packaging test. I suppose it has to do with adventurous innovations and limited releases. Perhaps it has something to do with my youth. All I know is that when I come across a cloth card, I never want to let it go.

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