The Topps Blank Back Cards

Featured Card: 2012 Topps Archives Blank Back #188, Vance Worley

So far this week, I haven’t posted as many checklists as I do in a typical week because I’ve actually been taking the time to update and edit some of the checklists already online. Most of them are relatively minor — although, I have to thank my son for the edit to the 2012 Topps Stickers checklist. I never would have discovered the Utley variation (one that’s really not worth tracking down) if he hadn’t insisted that he wanted to start collecting the stickers and place them in the Topps Stickers album. However, there was one that was quite the pain to incorporate: the addition of Blank Back parallels to all the 2012 Topps products thus far.

I actually only stumbled across the Blank Backs by accident. I don’t recall now what search I did on eBay that caused me to stumble across them, but upon encountering one, I did a little research and confirmed that Topps has issued them for all its sets for this year, and for many other sets over the past couple years. What sucks about them is that they are an eBay exclusive, sold directly by Topps via The Topps Vault. They do not show up in any of their marketing material, and Beckett isn’t listing them (not the 2012 cards, anyway) — which are the two primary means (outside of my personal collection) of my discovering and confirming the cards I list in the checklists. While I feel the same way about the Blank Backs as I do other parallels, I thought it might be nice to add just one to my collection, and was actually able to purchase the Worley card you see here at a price I could live with.

Aside from the fact they are only available via eBay auction, there are a number of other reasons why I will basically ignore these cards (except for continuing to note their presence in the checklists, that is). The first and foremost is the casing in which Topps ships the cards. It’s basically the same as the one they used for shipping eTopps cards and encapsulating the Topps Retired Signature cards from the mid ’00s, and I really disdain them. I understand the appeal of keeping the cards pristine and “uncirculated,” but once you start compiling even just a small amount of these cards you see how inconvenient they are in terms in storage (I am planning to post about the eTopps cards very soon). I really want to just rip the card out of the damn case and toss it, but at the same time, I know that the case would likely be part of the appeal with something like this “1/1” when the day comes that I decide to sell it.

The other issues I have with the Blank Backs is the the “Topps Vault 1/1” hologram sticker on the back and the accompanying COA. These are supposed to be “blank back” cards, and the sticker ruins the desired effect. There has to be some other far less obtrusive way for Topps to mark the card as a “1/1” without resorting to such a large sticker (larger than the hologram stickers Topps used to apply to the back of their certified autograph cards). My suggestion: stamping the front “1/1” and simply include on the back a line stating, in fine print, “Blank Back.” As for the the COA, quite frankly I’d rather just pitch it, because it doesn’t do actually authenticate anything other than the fact that The Topps Vault sold the item. However, I don’t think I will because it’s another necessity I will likely need to provide on the day that I decide to sell the card.

I don’t blame Topps one bit for trying to make as much money as possible as they can off their product. However, from this collector’s viewpoint, they are a major waste of time and resources. I wish Topps would scrap this idea altogether and focus on correcting many of the long-standing issues I’ve previously rallied against. However, fixing those ills most likely won’t increase Topps’s bottom line, whereas issuing these cards, many of which Topps sells in excess of $100 each, provides plenty of easy profit. They are likely here to stay, sadly.

3 responses to “The Topps Blank Back Cards

  1. Speaking of breaking open a case, I am on the verge of deciding whether to break open a PSA case for the first time. I bought for my Phillies collection a nice-looking 1963 John Herrnstein rookie card encapsulated as a PSA 4 (with a qualifier). (Some would describe it as a Willie Stargell rookie–I think he is on there somewhere too.) I have no room in my binders for slabbed cards, and I don’t want to start now. I can see maybe not breaking open an 8, 9 or 10, but is there any good reason to keep a 4 with a qualifier in a slab? Cards want to be free!

    • I broke open a PSA case just once about 10 years ago, and I decided that my fear of damaging the card while doing so is just too much for me to try it again. I’ve accepted the fact that graded-cards, at least in my collection, are permanently slabbed, and for the pre-WW II cards, I kind of prefer buying them that way.

      The Topps-sealed cards are a different matter. I hope to have another post about this sometime this weekend.

      • steveinphilly

        With the help of a few self-help guides on-line, I did it without damaging the card. It broke apart without too much difficulty. I was happy to see that there is a bit of a “shattered” look along the two edges where I opened it so that one can’t slide a new card in there and glue it back together without some serious tell-tale evidence! On that site I used, it said that the BGS cases are really hard to open without risking damage to the card, but the PSA ones are easier.

        The qualifier, by the way, was an “MK,” meaning there is writing on the card, but this one merely had an impression that was nearly invisible, like maybe someone had pressed down with a paperclip or a capped pen. So although it was graded a 4(MK), out of the case it fits in nicely with my EX-MT 1963 Phillies cards. Normally, though, I am with you and I don’t open slabbed cards.

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