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  #1  
Old 03-10-2018, 05:37 PM
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Default Why did 1920s cards regress back to black and white?

Maybe there isn't a hard and fast answer to this, but I have always wondered why so many of the 1920s cards seemingly took a step backward to black and white compared to all the color issues of a decade earlier (or even the colorful cards of the 1880s like Allen & Ginter and the Goodwin Champions set)?

There are obviously many iconic and very valuable Babe Ruth cards of the 1920s, but I wonder how much the value of his four Goudey cards from the 1933 set would be impacted if there were some color options from the 1920s besides the horrific strip cards that may or may not bear a vague resemblance to what Ruth actually looked like.

Last edited by Bored5000; 03-10-2018 at 05:39 PM.
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  #2  
Old 03-10-2018, 05:48 PM
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Most of them are black and white due to the fact that they used black and white photographs to make the cards at that time. Actual color photography as we know it did not exist. The earlier cards were drawings not actual photos.
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  #3  
Old 03-10-2018, 05:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kmac32 View Post
Most of them are black and white due to the fact that they used black and white photographs to make the cards at that time. Actual color photography as we know it did not exist. The earlier cards were drawings not actual photos.
Thank you for the thoughtful reply. I know you are completely correct with what you said regarding actual photographs compared to an artist's drawing from earlier sets. The dearth of color always just struck me as weird when the previous decade had good looking drawn sets like T205, T206, the Cracker Jack sets, etc. Even the few artist drawn sets of the 1920s are pretty pitiful efforts..

Last edited by Bored5000; 03-10-2018 at 06:09 PM.
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  #4  
Old 03-10-2018, 06:09 PM
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This is just a random thought and not sure if it has any relevance. But, I was under the impression the ink used for cards came from Germany. If that is indeed true, then WWI would have had a huge affect on the availability of those inks. Thus going to B&W cards would make sense.
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  #5  
Old 03-10-2018, 07:24 PM
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Possibly the use of color by then was seen as just a fad that had passed, thus the return to classic black and white photography as opposed to tacky brash colorful lithography.
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  #6  
Old 03-10-2018, 07:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeanH3 View Post
This is just a random thought and not sure if it has any relevance. But, I was under the impression the ink used for cards came from Germany. If that is indeed true, then WWI would have had a huge affect on the availability of those inks. Thus going to B&W cards would make sense.
seems to me the reason would likely be war related.
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  #7  
Old 03-10-2018, 07:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ullmandds View Post
seems to me the reason would likely be war related.
+1
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  #8  
Old 03-10-2018, 07:40 PM
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It was probably cost.

Some of the old sets were actually done from photos, like the halftone portions of T206 or many of the caramel cards. But the color portion was what was done by artists.

Even on the most basic level, you'd need a plate for each color, six or more. Plus the back. And you'd have to pay the artists who did the backgrounds. That's already at least 6 times the cost.

The issuer would have had a lot of the say in it, and there's a pretty big difference between what a near monopoly is willing to pay to finish off any small competitors, and what a smaller company is willing to pay for something to give away for nothing to help stimulate sales.

There are a lot of similar modern situations, Topps going to large format cards in 52, which had to have been more expensive to produce than the smaller Bowmans.
And I think, even closer is the number of issues from MSA in the 70's. Mostly stock discs with black and white pictures that didn't include logos. Sometimes I think that many of the 20's sets were produced by a similar company. MSA didn't make stuff to compete with Topps, but made stuff that could be sold to a number of companies as giveaways.
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  #9  
Old 03-10-2018, 08:36 PM
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The American 1920s issues are unusually bland and often of poor quality, and yet the Cuban 1920s issues are glorious in their use of true photographic quality, like the Old Judges. Check out the Billikens, Aguilitas, and Nacionales!
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  #10  
Old 03-11-2018, 08:51 PM
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Funny, my absolute favorite pre war cards are the black and white photos. Many of my prized cards are exhibits from the 1920's. I think they destroy the drawings and paintings on other cards of the era.
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  #11  
Old 03-11-2018, 09:17 PM
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This thread needs a card, so how about a 1920s black and white issue with an awesome image.
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  #12  
Old 03-11-2018, 11:50 PM
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Default Some 1920's B/W cards are just as nice as their 1910 era counterparts

1922 W503, which by the way was not issued in strip format.

Brian (cards too nice to be mine)
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  #13  
Old 03-11-2018, 11:53 PM
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Bryan, that is one awesome image!

Can you imagine being in the batters box awaiting the next pitch from this dude?
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  #14  
Old 03-12-2018, 07:45 AM
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Great cards shown already, guys. Here are a few more colorless cards..
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  #15  
Old 03-13-2018, 06:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve B View Post
It was probably cost.

Some of the old sets were actually done from photos, like the halftone portions of T206 or many of the caramel cards. But the color portion was what was done by artists.

Even on the most basic level, you'd need a plate for each color, six or more. Plus the back. And you'd have to pay the artists who did the backgrounds. That's already at least 6 times the cost.

The issuer would have had a lot of the say in it, and there's a pretty big difference between what a near monopoly is willing to pay to finish off any small competitors, and what a smaller company is willing to pay for something to give away for nothing to help stimulate sales.

There are a lot of similar modern situations, Topps going to large format cards in 52, which had to have been more expensive to produce than the smaller Bowmans.
And I think, even closer is the number of issues from MSA in the 70's. Mostly stock discs with black and white pictures that didn't include logos. Sometimes I think that many of the 20's sets were produced by a similar company. MSA didn't make stuff to compete with Topps, but made stuff that could be sold to a number of companies as giveaways.
+1, but the Exhibits of the '20's on completely trounce the earlier issues in presenting accurate, detailed visual images, except for a few black and white postcards of the 19-oughts and teens, as well as some of the cards shown above. To me, the card should be a two-dimensional slice of a three-dimensional moment in the player's life and career, created nearly contemporaneously with the time, not some drawing or crudely colored photo which might or might not very vaguely resemble the person in question. Which is the main reason I have no interest in T206's, Cracker Jacks, candy and caramel cards.

Just my personal taste,

Larry

Last edited by ls7plus; 03-13-2018 at 06:24 PM.
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  #16  
Old 03-13-2018, 06:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ls7plus View Post
+1, but the Exhibits of the '20's on completely trounce the earlier issues in presenting accurate, detailed visual images, except for a few black and white postcards of the 19-oughts and teens, as well as some of the cards shown above. To me, the card should be a two-dimensional slice of a three-dimensional moment in the player's life and career, created nearly contemporaneously with the time, not some drawing or crudely colored photo which might or might not very vaguely resemble the person in question. Which is the main reason I have no interest in T206's, Cracker Jacks, candy and caramel cards.

Just my personal taste,

Larry
I love exhibits! Doesn't get much better than this one (26-29 Pose) for a Ruth at the height of his prowess...(available in multiple tint variations, I love the Navy blue variation, similar to Yankees colors)

I love B/W cards in general and it's also full of some other cool and tough early Ruths that I think look great (condition aside)
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 26886633252_3414cf3ed9_z(1).jpg (46.9 KB, 129 views)
File Type: jpg 19951410884_4138178e94_z.jpg (33.9 KB, 128 views)
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File Type: jpg 6310545561_e31b3de507_z(2).jpg (40.1 KB, 127 views)
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Last edited by yanksfan09; 03-13-2018 at 06:58 PM.
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  #17  
Old 03-13-2018, 07:27 PM
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Whoa !!! Great cards Erick !
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  #18  
Old 03-13-2018, 07:54 PM
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The pride of my collection is cards like the ones Erick showed. PSA and SGC low graded black and white cards from the 1920's and 1930's present so well and are often a steal in price. Great stuff Erick.
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  #19  
Old 03-13-2018, 08:38 PM
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Default No regression here

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scocs View Post
The American 1920s issues are unusually bland and often of poor quality, and yet the Cuban 1920s issues are glorious in their use of true photographic quality, like the Old Judges. Check out the Billikens, Aguilitas, and Nacionales!
1920's Jose Acosta billiken and aguilitas
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  #20  
Old 03-13-2018, 10:13 PM
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Thanks Justin and Sam. Those Cuban cards are nice too!
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  #21  
Old 03-14-2018, 09:18 AM
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Default Nacionales Cuban

Here is another Cuban card from the 1920s
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  #22  
Old 03-14-2018, 11:14 AM
100backstroke 100backstroke is offline
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On the back of the Oxford caramel cards, it states they are "lithographed". What is lithographed compared to other types of print? Can lithographed be in color? And were lithographed cards newly developed in the 1920's ?
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  #23  
Old 03-14-2018, 11:32 AM
steve B steve B is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ls7plus View Post
+1, but the Exhibits of the '20's on completely trounce the earlier issues in presenting accurate, detailed visual images, except for a few black and white postcards of the 19-oughts and teens, as well as some of the cards shown above. To me, the card should be a two-dimensional slice of a three-dimensional moment in the player's life and career, created nearly contemporaneously with the time, not some drawing or crudely colored photo which might or might not very vaguely resemble the person in question. Which is the main reason I have no interest in T206's, Cracker Jacks, candy and caramel cards.

Just my personal taste,

Larry
The Technology changed a lot in the mid-late teens, better screening became cheaper, along with a switch from flatbed litho presses using stones to rotary presses using photographically processed metal plates. So making a better representation was a lot more affordable (Some of the 1910 era cards were technologically excellent, some not so much. )

Most stuff is a product of the times, both technically and aesthetically. much of the teens stuff represents the players in a very pleasant manner, especially when they're shown on the field. Plenty of light airy days or sunsets in T206 and T212, T205 went with a more formal presentation, Which was a bit of a throwback as the trend in decoration was away from the elaborate stuff of the Victorian era.
The 20's- more people could see movies which were all black and white, but had motion. Things were booming, and seeing stars as they were rather than as we might wish they were was more interesting.
30's, color film got really good in 1932, but it was the depression, and it was better to represent the players a bit more heroically and less accurately. So color, a bit of a return to a more allegorical depiction.

I actually like them all. But that's just me.
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  #24  
Old 03-18-2018, 01:26 PM
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It seems whenever there is a question without a black and white (pun unintended) answer then the answer is more often than not, money.

Quote:
Originally Posted by steve B View Post
It was probably cost.

Some of the old sets were actually done from photos, like the halftone portions of T206 or many of the caramel cards. But the color portion was what was done by artists.

Even on the most basic level, you'd need a plate for each color, six or more. Plus the back. And you'd have to pay the artists who did the backgrounds. That's already at least 6 times the cost.

The issuer would have had a lot of the say in it, and there's a pretty big difference between what a near monopoly is willing to pay to finish off any small competitors, and what a smaller company is willing to pay for something to give away for nothing to help stimulate sales.

There are a lot of similar modern situations, Topps going to large format cards in 52, which had to have been more expensive to produce than the smaller Bowmans.
And I think, even closer is the number of issues from MSA in the 70's. Mostly stock discs with black and white pictures that didn't include logos. Sometimes I think that many of the 20's sets were produced by a similar company. MSA didn't make stuff to compete with Topps, but made stuff that could be sold to a number of companies as giveaways.
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Last edited by Leon; 03-18-2018 at 01:27 PM.
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