The Parallel/Printing Plate Glut

Featured cards listed at end of post.

65,860. That’s approximately how many entries are in the version of the Phillies Baseball Card Database I posted last night. I am fairly certain it’s the largest Excel file I’ve ever worked with (my job requires me to work with large Excel files on a regular basis), but how many truly unique Phillies items are there really?

Well, if you filter out printing plates and parallels (not a perfect way to determine this, but it works nicely for my purposes here), the number drops drastically — to approximately 36,950. That’s still a lot, mind you, but it quickly demonstrates the extremely small possibility of someone actually putting together a comprehensive Phillies collection. What’s truly mind-numbing is that number also means that parallels and printing plates make up nearly half of the current content of the database. Worse still, that percentage is likely going to grow dramatically as I continue with the project and continue adding new material. For proof of this, look no further than the parallels from 2013 Topps:

2013 Topps Camo Contreras2013 Topps Em Green Aumont2013 Topps Factory Orange Rollins2013 Topps Gold Brown2013 Topps SS Blue Kendrick2013 Topps SS Contreras2013 Topps Target Lerud2013 Topps TRU Cloyd2013 Topps WM Cloyd

The worst part is that there are still a few additional parallels missing from this collage. For the 20 Phillies cards (not counting the gimmick variations) in the 2013 Topps set, there are 340 parallels and printing plates — and each of those cards and plates has its own entry in the database.

I first attempted to assemble a comprehensive, unabridged list of Phillies cards back during my teen years in the mid-to-late ’80s. I still have an original printout somewhere in a box of mementos — I’ll have to see if I can find it and post a scan of one of the pages in a future post — and if I recall correctly, I was able to print out the entire list in roughly 30 pages, at two columns a page, in a nicely-sized, easily legible font. After playing around with the newest version of the database, I determined that I could probably port a legible printout in roughly 260 pages — but that really is a best guess.

This is the primary reason why this project has taken so long. I’m convinced that without parallels and printing plates I’d likely be done this project by now. As it is, 2015 seems like a reasonable estimate as to when I’ll finally have it at the point where I’m only updating for new releases. In the meantime, every time I see Topps announce yet another new parallel, I will be muttering curses under my breath.

Featured 2013 Topps Parallel Cards: Desert Camouflage #152, José Contreras; Emerald Green #646, Phillippe Aumont; Factory Orange #206, Jimmy Rollins; Gold #625, Domonic Brown; Silver Slate Blue Sparkle Wrapper Redemption #71, Kyle Kendrick; Silver Slate Wrapper Redemption #152, José Contreras; Target Red Border #424, Steven Lerud; Topps Toys “R” Us Purple Border #424, Tyler Cloyd; Walmart Blue Border #424, Tyler Cloyd

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3 responses to “The Parallel/Printing Plate Glut

  1. Two weeks ago I started working on a Phillies database with a main focus on Topps issues. I just recently re-found your site and it is great. I am going to use your database to improve and revise my own work.

    The parallels are downright offensive. Just looking at some of the 1990s sets with 4-5 versions is painful. I can’t fathom what 2013 is like. To save some space I am using a slightly different set-up from your list. I am setting up a checkmark (the “in my collection mark”) space for the the base card in column 1, parallel version #1 in column 2, parallel version #2 in column 3, etc.

  2. I make a point not to let parallels get anywhere near my Phillies binders. I rarely collect anything by buying packs anymore, but when I do, whenever I get a parallel I get annoyed. I would throw them out, but (a) I can’t bring myself to do that with any baseball cards at all, and (b) I always think someday I will have a “You Pick 5” listing on eBay and list all of my parallels there. Then someone will bid just over the cost of postage and I can move them out that way. Better yet, I should just donate them to a children’s hospital–kids probably would appreciate the sparkly ones at least.

    • I need to do a better job of staying away from parallels. I like to get one of each type, if I can get them cheap, and when I occasionally find a parallel set more attractive than the regular base set I’ll try to assemble the parallel as well. However, the sheer glut being produced by Topps these days is starting to rival the mess of parallels issued by Donruss just before they went belly-up, and that’s no small feat.

      I feel the same way as you, however, when I’m buying packs of a product because I want to assemble a set myself (this happened most recently with 2013 Topps Update Series). In that case, the parallels are just getting in my way and causing me to unnecessarily purchase more product. I’d really rather Topps go further off the deep end with inserts instead.

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