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Where exactly does the gloss on vintage cards come from? The regular old fashioned kind, not UV

I've lately been curious about this but can't seem to find a good answer...where exactly does the gloss come from on 1991 or earlier Topps cards and other cards from that era (I'm not talking about the glossy UV coating that came out in the mid-90s)? come from and how is it made and applied to the cards? And apparently it has a different look/texture on Topps cards than Donruss/Fleer and others?

WISHLIST
Dimes: 54S, 53P, 50P+S, 49S, 45D+S, 44S, 43D, 41S, 40D+S, 39D+S, 38D+S, 37D+S, 36S, 35D+S, all 16-34's
Quarters: 61D, 52S, 47S, 46S, 40S, 39S, 38S, 37D+S, 36D+S, 35D, 34D, 32D+S
74 Topps: 37,38,46,47,48,138,151,193,210,214,223,241,256,264,268,277,289,316,435,552,570,577,592,602,610,654,655
1997 Finest silver: 115, 135, 139, 145, 310
1995 Ultra Gold Medallion Sets: Golden Prospects, HR Kings, On-Base Leaders, Power Plus, RBI Kings, Rising Stars

Comments

  • 1951WheatiesPremium1951WheatiesPremium Posts: 6,206 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Estil said:
    I've lately been curious about this but can't seem to find a good answer...where exactly does the gloss come from on 1991 or earlier Topps cards and other cards from that era (I'm not talking about the glossy UV coating that came out in the mid-90s)? come from and how is it made and applied to the cards? And apparently it has a different look/texture on Topps cards than Donruss/Fleer and others?

    Curious about the rare, mysterious and beautiful 1951 Wheaties Premium Photos?

    https://forums.collectors.com/discussion/987963/1951-wheaties-premium-photos-set-registry#latest

  • I had a printer that used what could be described as crayon blocks for ink. Combine the glossiness of the ink, how its applied and the texture of the cardboard, you got a naturally glossy surface.

  • baz518baz518 Posts: 1,228 ✭✭✭✭

    Topps didn't gloss anything on vintage cards... any glossiness was natural from how the cardstock was finished. The first instances of applying a post-print coating to their cards were the All-Star rack pack inserts and Tiffany, both of which began in 1984 iirc.

  • nam812nam812 Posts: 10,528 ✭✭✭✭✭

    In my opinion it's really just an un-handled sheen that appears as gloss. You can se it on high grade cards when held at an angle - the colors look like they are 3D.

  • EstilEstil Posts: 6,846 ✭✭✭✭

    @baz518 said:
    Topps didn't gloss anything on vintage cards... any glossiness was natural from how the cardstock was finished. The first instances of applying a post-print coating to their cards were the All-Star rack pack inserts and Tiffany, both of which began in 1984 iirc.

    Okay so what did they use to "finish" the cardstock?

    WISHLIST
    Dimes: 54S, 53P, 50P+S, 49S, 45D+S, 44S, 43D, 41S, 40D+S, 39D+S, 38D+S, 37D+S, 36S, 35D+S, all 16-34's
    Quarters: 61D, 52S, 47S, 46S, 40S, 39S, 38S, 37D+S, 36D+S, 35D, 34D, 32D+S
    74 Topps: 37,38,46,47,48,138,151,193,210,214,223,241,256,264,268,277,289,316,435,552,570,577,592,602,610,654,655
    1997 Finest silver: 115, 135, 139, 145, 310
    1995 Ultra Gold Medallion Sets: Golden Prospects, HR Kings, On-Base Leaders, Power Plus, RBI Kings, Rising Stars
  • GroceryRackPackGroceryRackPack Posts: 2,348 ✭✭✭✭✭
  • emeraldATVemeraldATV Posts: 3,918 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I don't know the time line regarding the card or cards, but I can tell you this.
    The Stock, The Press, The Pressman, and good ole Made in the U.S.A Craftsmanship.
    Pressman 45+ yrs and I still can make it jump.
    Ho, ho, ho !

  • stevekstevek Posts: 27,470 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Considering these were basically inexpensive cards made for kids, I doubt if Topps did anything special in their printing facility to get the particular look. Just like you can go into an office supply store, and buy glossy paper, matte paper, and other assorted effects papers for your inkjet printer, I'd say that Topps bought the cardstock sold by a paper mill, and simply printed on it using pigmented inks.

    The paper mill would have applied the glossy coating to the cardstock. They do that using various chemicals, with a coating machine on the mill rolls, probably around 10,000 yards of paper for this type of application.

  • EstilEstil Posts: 6,846 ✭✭✭✭

    So Topps didn't make the cardboard themselves?

    WISHLIST
    Dimes: 54S, 53P, 50P+S, 49S, 45D+S, 44S, 43D, 41S, 40D+S, 39D+S, 38D+S, 37D+S, 36S, 35D+S, all 16-34's
    Quarters: 61D, 52S, 47S, 46S, 40S, 39S, 38S, 37D+S, 36D+S, 35D, 34D, 32D+S
    74 Topps: 37,38,46,47,48,138,151,193,210,214,223,241,256,264,268,277,289,316,435,552,570,577,592,602,610,654,655
    1997 Finest silver: 115, 135, 139, 145, 310
    1995 Ultra Gold Medallion Sets: Golden Prospects, HR Kings, On-Base Leaders, Power Plus, RBI Kings, Rising Stars
  • PaulMaulPaulMaul Posts: 4,674 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Estil said:
    So Topps didn't make the cardboard themselves?

    Definitely not.

  • craig44craig44 Posts: 10,267 ✭✭✭✭✭

    the OP is correct. there is a gloss of sorts on vintage topps cards. the raw cardboard stock can be seen on the reverse. the fronts have a definite gloss on them. this had to have been added after the pictures were printed and not directly from the paper stock manufacturer. If it came straight from the manufacturer as "glossy" the backs would reflect light as well.

    there had to have been some kind of "finishing" gloss added to the fronts after the pictures were printed or they would appear dull like the backs do.

    George Brett, Bobby Orr and Terry Bradshaw.

  • PaulMaulPaulMaul Posts: 4,674 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 22, 2023 6:13AM

    @craig44 said:
    the OP is correct. there is a gloss of sorts on vintage topps cards. the raw cardboard stock can be seen on the reverse. the fronts have a definite gloss on them. this had to have been added after the pictures were printed and not directly from the paper stock manufacturer. If it came straight from the manufacturer as "glossy" the backs would reflect light as well.

    there had to have been some kind of "finishing" gloss added to the fronts after the pictures were printed or they would appear dull like the backs do.

    I am no expert on printing, but I believe the cardboard stock had a glossy side and a flat side prior to printing. I am inferring this simply because if you observe carefully you will see that different types of cardboard stock were sometimes used in the same year, with differing levels of gloss.

    In 1973 baseball there are two very different kinds of cards. The normal glossy fronts are most common, but there are other cards that have much more of a matte finish. It’s hard to see the difference in scans but anyone who has looked at tons of cards from this years would notice the difference. I have noticed it for 1974 also.

    Also, when you look at cards with corner wear, you can usually see where the glossy layer on the front of the card has chipped away, exposing the brown cardboard beneath.

  • stevekstevek Posts: 27,470 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @PaulMaul said:

    @craig44 said:
    the OP is correct. there is a gloss of sorts on vintage topps cards. the raw cardboard stock can be seen on the reverse. the fronts have a definite gloss on them. this had to have been added after the pictures were printed and not directly from the paper stock manufacturer. If it came straight from the manufacturer as "glossy" the backs would reflect light as well.

    there had to have been some kind of "finishing" gloss added to the fronts after the pictures were printed or they would appear dull like the backs do.

    I am no expert on printing, but I believe the cardboard stock had a glossy side and a flat side prior to printing. I am inferring this simply because if you observe carefully you will see that different types of cardboard stock were sometimes used in the same year, with differing levels of gloss.

    In 1973 baseball there are two very different kinds of cards. The normal glossy fronts are most common, but there are other cards that have much more of a matte finish. It’s hard to see the difference in scans but anyone who has looked at tons of cards from this years would notice the difference. I have noticed it for 1974 also.

    Also, when you look at cards with corner wear, you can usually see where the glossy layer on the front of the card has chipped away, exposing the brown cardboard beneath.

    I'd be sure that Topps had different mill roll suppliers. Price and availability always factors into it, as well as quality.

    Also, usually depending on economic conditions, paper can be placed on allocation by the paper mills. So Topps would have ordered the mill rolls accordingly. If one paper mill couldn't fill their needs, then Topps would simply order from another paper mill.

    Topps certainly had specifications for the paper that they ordered. However if that particular exact paper was unavailable, then a slightly different paper stock was acceptable. I doubt if Topps ever received a single complaint from the kids about it.

  • craig44craig44 Posts: 10,267 ✭✭✭✭✭

    it seems to me, that even if the paper stock was glossy on one side and matte on the other, by the time the front gets printed, that original gloss from the factory would be covered with ink because it takes so much to show the full front image? the backs did not have nearly as much ink on them as the fronts, so we can still feel the original card stock.

    George Brett, Bobby Orr and Terry Bradshaw.

  • PaulMaulPaulMaul Posts: 4,674 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @stevek said:

    I'd be sure that Topps had different mill roll suppliers. Price and availability always factors into it, as well as quality.

    Also, usually depending on economic conditions, paper can be placed on allocation by the paper mills. So Topps would have ordered the mill rolls accordingly. If one paper mill couldn't fill their needs, then Topps would simply order from another paper mill.

    Topps certainly had specifications for the paper that they ordered. However if that particular exact paper was unavailable, then a slightly different paper stock was acceptable. I doubt if Topps ever received a single complaint from the kids about it.

    Definitely. Early on with Wacky Packages, Topps used several different types of sticker stock for precisely the reasons you cite. The different types can be easily differentiated by the backing.

  • baz518baz518 Posts: 1,228 ✭✭✭✭

    @Estil said:

    @baz518 said:
    Topps didn't gloss anything on vintage cards... any glossiness was natural from how the cardstock was finished. The first instances of applying a post-print coating to their cards were the All-Star rack pack inserts and Tiffany, both of which began in 1984 iirc.

    Okay so what did they use to "finish" the cardstock?

    The finish of cardstock is usually done in the calendering process when making paper, which is a series of wheels the paper is fed through at the end of the process. Applying different pressures and incorporating chemicals and/or heat will yield different results. Topps used a cardstock that was white on one side, which is basically a layer of bleached pulp that is applied and pressed on one side of the stock. Topps did not make their own cardboard and they outsourced all their printing as well.

  • stevekstevek Posts: 27,470 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @baz518 said:

    @Estil said:

    @baz518 said:
    Topps didn't gloss anything on vintage cards... any glossiness was natural from how the cardstock was finished. The first instances of applying a post-print coating to their cards were the All-Star rack pack inserts and Tiffany, both of which began in 1984 iirc.

    Okay so what did they use to "finish" the cardstock?

    The finish of cardstock is usually done in the calendering process when making paper, which is a series of wheels the paper is fed through at the end of the process. Applying different pressures and incorporating chemicals and/or heat will yield different results. Topps used a cardstock that was white on one side, which is basically a layer of bleached pulp that is applied and pressed on one side of the stock. Topps did not make their own cardboard and they outsourced all their printing as well.

    Did they really? Outsource their printing? I never knew that.

    It's interesting that I've seen pics and videos of Topps, and also card companies in Europe, and I never saw anything regarding their printing presses which I think is one of the more interesting aspects of the card making process. I figured they didn't want competition or anyone else to know their printing procedures for competitive or other reasons.

    I do understand the printing business very well, and can visualize why Topps would send that out. But considering the size of their company, it surprises me.

    Thanks for the info.

  • stevekstevek Posts: 27,470 ✭✭✭✭✭

    "they outsourced all their printing as well."

    I did some quick research on this. The info I could find was a bit vague and not definitive. But this could be where Topps also gets their cards printed.

    https://www.cartamundi.com/us/en/

  • stevekstevek Posts: 27,470 ✭✭✭✭✭

    https://lcdssgeo.com/exhibits/show/explore-germantown-avenue/historic-sites/other-sites/zabel-bros

    Zabel Brothers Printing company is a well known Philadelphia landmark. They started in 1895 as printing sheet music and grew into printing Topp’s baseball cards all the way until the early 1980’s. Zabel was the primary printer for Topps after they bought their printing plant in Connecticut and moved those presses to their location in Philadelphia.

    Changes in Ownership

    In 1981, Zabel was forced to close after a strike by the GUIA. There was an attempt to sell the company privately and let the employees have stock ownership but the move was blocked. The company was then sold to American Packaging who still printed Topps cards.

  • emeraldATVemeraldATV Posts: 3,918 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Printing companies, to my knowledge, talk to each other freely and often, in regards to production mostly. Sharing or if to help mainly.
    It's not cost effective for card companies (Topps, Flier) to produce their products. True. Maybe because there's a lot of hidden charges a card co. must incur (?). This may be one factor. The product must be costumer friendly would be another. (?) Not cost effective if you weigh the process of in house.
    Now Upper Deck is a different story.
    Yes, our co. was an outsource printer for Upper Deck in the nineties. U.D. had their own finishing dept at another location.
    Stage one, outsource is completed. next, deliver skids (cards) to their, stage two, process location.
    Upper Deck has many types of cards, not just sports. Comic book cells is one more product they produce.
    I print envelopes for other printers and charge them a broker price. Then they resell.

  • stevekstevek Posts: 27,470 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @emeraldATV said:

    @stevek said:
    "they outsourced all their printing as well."

    Printing companies, to my knowledge, talk to each other freely and often, in regards to production mostly. Sharing or if to help mainly.
    It's not cost effective for card companies (Topps, Flier) to produce their products. True. Maybe because there's a lot of hidden charges a card co. must incur (?). This may be one factor. The product must be costumer friendly would be another. (?) Not cost effective if you weigh the process of in house.
    Now Upper Deck is a different story.
    Yes, our co. was an outsource printer for Upper Deck in the nineties. U.D. had their own finishing dept at another location.
    Stage one, outsource is completed. next, deliver skids (cards) to their, stage two, process location.
    Upper Deck has many types of cards, not just sports. Comic book cells is one more product they produce.
    I print envelopes for other printers and charge them a broker price. Then they resell.

    I once worked for a company whose primary business wasn't printing. However they had an old letterpress and used to do custom print jobs for specific customers. The press could print up to around 3' x 4' or larger. I can't recall the name of the press, but I recall the manufacturer metal plate on it was from 1905.

    Two guys were needed to operate it, and they used to set the metal type by hand. The individual large sheets were fed by hand. If a customer had a logo or whatever, we used to send out to a plate maker. They would make the plate and our guys would fit it into the printing block along with the other metal type. The copies were absolutely beautiful, and it was mainly for customers who liked the look of letterpress versus offset.

    I'm sure Topps could afford to buy the presses, etc, and do the printing themselves. But they of course did the math, and figured it was best to focus on their core business of gum and candy, do the artwork and such for the baseball cards, and outsource the printing. Which now that I've pondered it, does make decent sense.

  • craig44craig44 Posts: 10,267 ✭✭✭✭✭

    did topps ever have a company in Connecticut print cards for them? I remember back in the 80s i had an uncle who worked at a big paper mill there and he would bring me up uncut sheets. which i promptly cut up with blunt scissors...
    I still have a box of 82 football that 5 year old me cut all to pieces.

    George Brett, Bobby Orr and Terry Bradshaw.

  • emeraldATVemeraldATV Posts: 3,918 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Since were on the subject....
    Your tree needs watering so we don't.
    The block you call a plate is called the chase. One sheet at a time as one ink roller is guided over the chase.
    One lead die (tree) and one lead on wood die (a custom ordered logo) are placed in the chase.

  • EstilEstil Posts: 6,846 ✭✭✭✭

    @craig44 said:
    did topps ever have a company in Connecticut print cards for them? I remember back in the 80s i had an uncle who worked at a big paper mill there and he would bring me up uncut sheets. which i promptly cut up with blunt scissors...
    I still have a box of 82 football that 5 year old me cut all to pieces.

    I guess that's better than wrecking your first car and tearing it all to pieces!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBTpoKvre84

    WISHLIST
    Dimes: 54S, 53P, 50P+S, 49S, 45D+S, 44S, 43D, 41S, 40D+S, 39D+S, 38D+S, 37D+S, 36S, 35D+S, all 16-34's
    Quarters: 61D, 52S, 47S, 46S, 40S, 39S, 38S, 37D+S, 36D+S, 35D, 34D, 32D+S
    74 Topps: 37,38,46,47,48,138,151,193,210,214,223,241,256,264,268,277,289,316,435,552,570,577,592,602,610,654,655
    1997 Finest silver: 115, 135, 139, 145, 310
    1995 Ultra Gold Medallion Sets: Golden Prospects, HR Kings, On-Base Leaders, Power Plus, RBI Kings, Rising Stars
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