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  #1  
Old 07-29-2015, 10:10 PM
Zach Wheat Zach Wheat is offline
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Default 1991 Topps Desert Shield - What We Know & How to Spot a Fake

I was asked by a few others in a thread on the Pre-80 board initiate a separate thread to recap what we know about the 1991 Topps Desert Shield set and "How to spot a fake". Apologies in advance for the long post, but this encapsulates a number of years of research, hunting and review of thousands of cards. I certainly don't consider myself an expert in this area so feel free to chime in with questions, changes & corrections.

Understand Topps Mindset in Producing the Set
In order to get information on the background of production, I have reviewed numerous periodicals, newspapers & articles contemporaneous with this era for information on the set. Why did this set have such a short production run?

Topps marketing spokesman Bob Ibach indicates that, "...Topps isn't patting itself on the back and distributed the set..." with "...little fanfare in order to let the troops have a little reminder of home". Ibach also mentioned Topps did not anticipated many or any of the cards would make it home as the troops had little means of protecting or storing the cards. Seemingly their goal in producing the cards was short term in nature purely as a gesture of goodwill. At this time Pro Set had already distributed several million packs of football cards and Topps did not want to be left out. The cards had to be produced & shipped overseas relatively quickly and converting a set that was already in planning & production seemed to be the easiest way to meet these needs.

Operation Desert Shield took place from August 2, 1990-Jan 16, 1991. That operation was replaced by Operation Desert Storm starting on January 17, 1991. Topps spokesperson, Ken Liss indicates that Topps produced the cards quickly with a short shipping timeframe. A Jan. 1991 issue of the Chicago Tribune indicates Topps "...did this shortly after the first troops were sent to Saudi Arabia, so the cards say Desert Shield..." versus Desert Storm. Production of the cards ceased almost as soon as they started printing them.

The Feb 4, 1991 issue of The Pittsburgh Gazette indicates that "...the Topps cards were issued 2 Months prior..." (so Dec 1990) and that Topps had actually planned the shipment before the war (ie Desert Storm)
began. Timing dictated that Operation Desert Shield was over almost as soon as the cards arrived. In an article in the Myrtle Beach Air Star News, Topps spokesman Timm Boyle again mentions that approximately 5,400,00 cards were produced and that the entire allotment meant for the Air Force was returned to the base at Myrtle Beach unopened. This shipment accounted for approx. 1,500,000 cards. Boyle also mentioned that the production run was approx. 6,800 for each player (my math) or approx. 1/1,000th that of normal production.

Basics of the Set
The set was consists of 792 cards printed in 6 sheets which Topps designated Sheets A - F. Printing was done in one print run as evidenced by the 6 Key Cards detailed later on in this discussion - with each card produced equally. Of the 6 sheets, 2 sheets (A & B) have a bold red "40th Anniversary logo" on the reverse of the card while the remaining 4 sheets have similar, but much more faint impression of the same logo.

In addition, analysis of full printing sheets indicates that the set was probably produced early after the 1991 Topps set had already started production as some statistical changes were made from earlier 1991 Topps cards; however most changes were not included in the Desert Shield set. To date, there are no known data variations (only print ink variations).

On the reverse of each card, near the copyright logo, Topps indicated the sheet where each card was printed. When Topps switched or replaced certain cards in the print run - some times necessitating they change location on different sheets - Topps added the sheet designation to the new card. For instance, if a card on Sheet "E" needed some changes to the stats on the back of the card, Topps removed the card from the sheet, made the changes and then replaced it on, say Sheet "F" except for the reverse of the card would now state that the card was printed on "Sheet E*F*".

There are only 5 Desert Shield cards with a dual print sheet designation (#9 Fletcher, #87 T Jones, #233 Leiter, #676 Chiamparino and #696 Olin). These 5 cards are all situated close to each other on Sheet F*. A 6th card of Cal Ripken is also adjacent but does not have a sheet designation. The Ripken card is the only card in the set without a sheet designation. This data seems to suggest the set was printed in one continuous print run and that there are no print variations.

Glow Backs
It was noticed by illustrious N54 member 4Reals that certain cards had backs that fluoresced under UV light. In fact, it appears that when Topps execs decided to switch printing to the Desert Shield set, they also changed the ink combination on the cards. They added a brightner to the red ink used to print the "40th Anniversary logo" and red trim on the reverse of the cards. After much searching, it became evident that virtually all Desert Shield cards had a 40th Anniversary logo that glowed under UV light. It appears that Topps experimented on several sheets of cards - as some of the printing is slightly off and so is the UV enhanced "red ink". These cards soon became known as "glow back" cards. All known Desert Shield cards - except for a rare handful - are known to have a "glow back".

Which are the Real Checklists?
The checklists of Desert Shield cards do not contain the embossed Desert Shield logo. Even the original sheets have been inspected and found that the checklists do not contain the embossed logo. Unfortunately, PSA grades both error & revised checklists as true Desert Shield checklists. So how can we determine the true Desert Shield checklists?

Three of the 6 checklists (Cards #131, #366 & #527) can be found with errors on them as well as a corrected version. Review of the full uncut printer sheets indicates that the true Desert Shield checklists are the uncorrected "error" versions.

How to Spot a Fake
For all those that have read this far without falling asleep, a true Desert Shield card should by now, be easier to spot. A true Desert Shield card should have the following characteristics:
  • Desert Shield logo should be 13mm X 15 mm
  • Desert Shield logo should have a rounded bottom
  • Desert Shield logo should be "crisp" and not fuzzy
  • The logo can be either goldish or slightly silver - both colors seem to be legitimate
  • Stars on the Flag should not be fuzzy
  • The card should be a Glow Back ie flouresce under UV light. The red 40th Anniversary should jump out under UV light
  • The tip of the bottom most palm leaf should point between the "R & A" in " O P E R A T I O N"; fake logos have the word " OPERATION" shifted slightly to the left.

The last point in the list above is one of the 2 most obvious tells of fake Desert Shield card (the other being the glow back). In every instance where I have been unable to see something obviously fake about a card except for perhaps a slightly fuzzy logo - the palm leaf gave the card away as a fake. I can show examples later on if needed.

I have reached out to Ibach (who runs a marketing firm in Chicago), Liss and Boyle for continuing comments about the set and their time at Topps. No one had any additional information to add - other than to wonder why some looney was inquiring about a piece of cardboard produced almost a quarter century ago.

Apologies for the long post. Enjoy collecting the set and consider us all better educated as we learn together.

Z

Last edited by Zach Wheat; 08-02-2015 at 02:19 PM. Reason: Corrected checklist to read "#131" not #31
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  #2  
Old 07-29-2015, 10:56 PM
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Wow a lot of great information. I've always been curious about that set, but don't own any yet.

If you're not an expert on this set I don't know what one needs to do to be considered one.
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  #3  
Old 07-30-2015, 05:40 AM
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Thank you for the great post Mr. Wheat. When you have time I would really appreciate a nice close up scan of a real logo to compare mine with.
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  #4  
Old 07-30-2015, 10:13 AM
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Default DS

Great info and commentary Zach....except for the part about Joe being "illustrious"....unless that means he glows fluorescent under a black light
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  #5  
Old 07-30-2015, 04:18 PM
Zach Wheat Zach Wheat is offline
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Default Desert Shield

Ben,

First, here is a fake logo with explanation. Close but no cigar. I am not sure which card this came from....might have been the Boggs we discussed.

Z
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File Type: jpg 1991 Fake Logo Tip of Leaf Between E R and Fuzzy Stars.jpg (79.7 KB, 659 views)

Last edited by Zach Wheat; 07-30-2015 at 04:33 PM.
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  #6  
Old 07-30-2015, 04:22 PM
Zach Wheat Zach Wheat is offline
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Default Fake Logo

I should have added that I initially suspected this card was fake because it was initially printed on an A or B sheet without a Bold "40th Anniversary" logo.. All known Desert Shield cards printed on Sheet A or B should have a bold 40th Anniversary logo.

This card did not have that and then I started looking at the logo more closely. This was the best "fake" DS card I have seen.

Z

Last edited by Zach Wheat; 07-30-2015 at 06:35 PM.
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  #7  
Old 07-30-2015, 04:27 PM
Zach Wheat Zach Wheat is offline
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Default Legit Logo

Ben,

Here is a legit logo. The quickest way to identify a legit logo for me is that the embossing isn't fuzzy, you can see the stars in the flag and the tip of the lowest palm leaf is between the "R" & "A".

Z
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File Type: jpg img715 Resized Legit L Beneath N and N Beneath Tree.jpg (75.4 KB, 637 views)

Last edited by Zach Wheat; 07-30-2015 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 07-30-2015, 05:44 PM
RobDerhak RobDerhak is offline
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Great write up and thorough.

One thing you may change in the OP...

The tip of the bottom most palm leaf should point between the "E & R" in " O P E R A T I O N" instead of shifted.


The way this is worded (at least the way I interpreted it) is that on legit cards this is where the leaf should point...I looked through the ones I have and all pointed at the 'R A gap' and thought they were all bogus since they weren't at the 'E R gap'...then I got to your later post where it is spelled out clearer and breathed a sigh of relief

Just a little confusing if someone comes in & only reads the OP.

Like I said though, great instant resource of basically all that is known about them.

I'll add in that all indications are the packaging is the exact same as the regular issue...I talked to Steve Hart @ Baseball Card Exchange about this release when I found those unopened boxes (that turned out to not be DS), and he said he has seen both wax and cellophane packs contain DS cards.
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  #9  
Old 07-30-2015, 06:41 PM
Zach Wheat Zach Wheat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobDerhak View Post
Great write up and thorough.

One thing you may change in the OP...

The tip of the bottom most palm leaf...

I talked to Steve Hart @ Baseball Card Exchange about this release when I found those unopened boxes (that turned out to not be DS), and he said he has seen both wax and cellophane packs contain DS cards.
Good suggestion. Changed the wording....and I did not know DS cards could be found in both wax & cello. Still learning.

Z

Last edited by Zach Wheat; 07-30-2015 at 06:43 PM.
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  #10  
Old 07-30-2015, 08:43 PM
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Here is a pic of the only 2 I have. They both glow and the Boggs has the Bold back along with a wax stain. The one on the right seems to be a little thicker/heavier foil.
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Old 07-30-2015, 09:25 PM
RobDerhak RobDerhak is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zach Wheat View Post
....and I did not know DS cards could be found in both wax & cello. Still learning.

Z
I was surprised too...He told me there was no way to discern between Reg & DS, not satisfied with that I told him the unsealed boxes I found were cello and the vids of DS I had seen were Wax to see if that was a quick disqualifier, and said "Nope, no way to know without rippin'," so I guess he didn't say the words "I've seen both" but he sure implied it.
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  #12  
Old 07-30-2015, 10:55 PM
Zach Wheat Zach Wheat is offline
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Default DS

Ben,

On the reverse of #450 Boggs, you can see A* near the copyright. As you have correcty indicated Sheet A* and B* cards like Boggs should have a bold "40th Anniversary" logo on the reverse. The Card is a glow back and the shield looks legit. Both cards actually look legit...but just curious who is on the other card?

Rob,

Steve at BBCE authenticates packs for PSA and he probably has methods which he doesnt disclose for authenticating as it is his livelihood. However, as you've stated, he probably does indeed rip packs to insure authenticity.

Z
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Old 07-30-2015, 11:02 PM
Zach Wheat Zach Wheat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobDerhak View Post
I was surprised too...He told me there was no way to discern between Reg & DS, not satisfied with that I told him the unsealed boxes I found were cello and the vids of DS I had seen were Wax to see if that was a quick disqualifier, and said "Nope, no way to know without rippin'," so I guess he didn't say the words "I've seen both" but he sure implied it.
Rob,

Slight clarification....you can in fact tell non DS packs from DS packs....but you can't say a pack is a DS pack without opening it. The blacklight method can give you a false positive.

DS cards should be glow backs and you can see the red ink flouresce -even through the wrapping on the back of the pack - on true DS packs. However, Just because you see a glow back doesn't confirm it is a Pack of DS cards.

On the other hand if the Pack doesnt have a glow back it is almost certainly a regular issue 1991 Topps card.

Z

Last edited by Zach Wheat; 07-30-2015 at 11:18 PM.
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  #14  
Old 07-31-2015, 05:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zach Wheat View Post
Ben,

On the reverse of #450 Boggs, you can see A* near the copyright. As you have correcty indicated Sheet A* and B* cards like Boggs should have a bold "40th Anniversary" logo on the reverse. The Card is a glow back and the shield looks legit. Both cards actually look legit...but just curious who is on the other card?

Rob,

Steve at BBCE authenticates packs for PSA and he probably has methods which he doesnt disclose for authenticating as it is his livelihood. However, as you've stated, he probably does indeed rip packs to insure authenticity.

Z
The other card is a really cool looking Jose Rijo error card.

I would be very curious to see a full sheet. I would bet the logos vary slightly from card to card. Authenticating these cards would probably be easier if Topps had made them any other year. 91 was a crazy year for Topps. They used several different inks so even with a very short print run I could see them using more than 1 type of foil.
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Old 08-01-2015, 08:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ALR-bishop View Post
Great info and commentary Zach....except for the part about Joe being "illustrious"....unless that means he glows fluorescent under a black light
I have spent many a night glowing under black lights but can honestly say I have never been described as illustrious. I got a tickle out of that, thank you. I must, however, give credit where credit is due. I learned of the glow backs on the base Topps set from a random Steve B. post buried in the archives. If anyone is illustrious it is he. I just went obsessive compulsive with it and discovered the fact of the DS cards along the way. Love that you compiled everything in one post Zach, makes it super easy to find, great work, brother.
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Old 08-01-2015, 08:41 PM
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Default Thanks...and some questions

Zach - First off, thank you for pulling this together in a post. As a player collector with a checklist of over 700 unique George Brett cards to run down I depend heavily on posts like these when researching rarer cards. Much appreciated.

A couple of questions...

"The tip of the bottom most palm leaf should point between the "R & A" in " O P E R A T I O N"; fake logos have the word " OPERATION" shifted slightly to the left."

In looking at the pictures, should this say that the word on fakes is shifted to the RIGHT? Thus making the leaf hit further left in the word between E and R on fakes versus between R & A on real cards?

I'm also wondering if there's variation in the intensity of fluorescing? I have both the base and record breaker Bretts. It's obvious on the base. Foil looks right and the red logo glows bright. On the RB, the foil looks the same, the red border on the back fluoresces but the logo not so much. Maybe it's just harder to see with the text over it on the RB versus the stat back.
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Old 08-02-2015, 12:15 PM
Zach Wheat Zach Wheat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsuttonosu View Post
Zach - First off, thank you for pulling this together in a post. As a player collector with a checklist of over 700 unique George Brett cards to run down I depend heavily on posts like these when researching rarer cards. Much appreciated.

A couple of questions...

"The tip of the bottom most palm leaf should point between the "R & A" in " O P E R A T I O N"; fake logos have the word " OPERATION" shifted slightly to the left."

In looking at the pictures, should this say that the word on fakes is shifted to the RIGHT? Thus making the leaf hit further left in the word between E and R on fakes versus between R & A on real cards?

I'm also wondering if there's variation in the intensity of fluorescing? I have both the base and record breaker Bretts. It's obvious on the base. Foil looks right and the red logo glows bright. On the RB, the foil looks the same, the red border on the back fluoresces but the logo not so much. Maybe it's just harder to see with the text over it on the RB versus the stat back.
B,

Not all fake logos have the word OPERATION shifted to the left. The best faked DS cards I have seen show this trait though. The other Fake DS cards have other "tells" like fuzzy logos etc. Just to be clear....on legit DS cards, the tip of the palm leaf is pointy and almost looks like it is dripping....and will come down between the letters "R A" in OPERATION.

The red ink on the reverse of the card in the "40th Anniversary" logo will glow strongly. There will be different variations in the strength of its glow - but you should notice it glowing. It appears that when they first started printing with the brightener added to the red ink - making it fluoresce - there was some variability. Following is Joe 4Reals original pic of the glow backs. You can see the red trim on the card glowing really well and the 40th Anniversary logo. You can even see the red ink glowing through the back of an unopened pack.

Z
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File Type: jpg 1991 Topps DS Back Flourescing.jpg (14.0 KB, 480 views)

Last edited by Zach Wheat; 08-02-2015 at 12:16 PM.
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  #18  
Old 09-29-2021, 09:11 PM
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Just purchased a raw DS set on eBay. Thanks for the black light tip! Just one card that does not glow. See attached pic.
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Old 09-30-2021, 08:38 AM
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Brian! Beauty of a set. What card failed the test?
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Old 09-30-2021, 08:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ltlbvr View Post
Just purchased a raw DS set on eBay. Thanks for the black light tip! Just one card that does not glow. See attached pic.
Is it a legit DS card? Not all of them glow.
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Old 09-30-2021, 06:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bnorth View Post
Is it a legit DS card? Not all of them glow.
double post

Last edited by hockeyhockey; 09-30-2021 at 07:05 PM.
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Old 09-30-2021, 06:56 PM
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Is it a legit DS card? Not all of them glow.
and there are counterfeit ones that glow, too. there's tons of glowback 1991 regular topps cards, so the unwashed miscreants now use them to dupe people.

i started to build the DS set and realized that 20 cards i acquired were fakes. did a quick 180 and sold off all the legit ones. that's not a project i'd be comfortable building.
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Old 10-03-2021, 09:13 AM
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Brian! Beauty of a set. What card failed the test?
Thanks Jon. Itís checklist #5. 656, I think.
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Old 10-03-2021, 09:16 AM
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Is it a legit DS card? Not all of them glow.
Honestly, I need to learn more. Itís a checklist, so no gold stamp. Checklist #5. 656, I think. Any tips on authenticating?
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Old 10-03-2021, 10:04 AM
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I have a DS set and have CLs with it, but it is my understanding there are no differences between the DS checklists and the standard checklists. However, because of variations among the 91 checklists and the existence of DS uncut sheets, it is my belief that on at least 4 of the checklists you can determine if they are NOT DS checklists. Those being CLs 1,3,4 and 5.

Zach Wheat who started this thread is my go to guy on DS cards. You might pm or email him to see if he can offer more info on identifying DS checklists.

It is my understanding that that the DS CL 1s have Phil Bradley rather than Mookie Wilson as 727. That the DS CL 3 has Carl Nichols as 19 rather than 119. That DS CL 4 incorrectly has Keith Miller as 105 and Kevin McReynolds as 527. And DS CL 5 correctly has Palacios as 348, Lind as 381 and Lavalliere as 537.

See this CU thread for background

https://forums.collectors.com/discus...eld-variations

Last edited by ALR-bishop; 10-03-2021 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 10-03-2021, 09:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ltlbvr View Post
Honestly, I need to learn more. Itís a checklist, so no gold stamp. Checklist #5. 656, I think. Any tips on authenticating?
I agree with Al. PM Mr Wheat and ask him he is a great guy.
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Old 10-28-2021, 02:38 PM
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PSA can call this desert shield but won't upgrade my randy johnson marlboros from obscured

https://www.ebay.com/itm/36358840907...cAAOSwdy5hcGI6
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Old 10-28-2021, 04:06 PM
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PSA can call this desert shield but won't upgrade my randy johnson marlboros from obscured

https://www.ebay.com/itm/36358840907...cAAOSwdy5hcGI6
If that really was a DS card it would go for insane cash. I believe it would be the first card with a error and corrected version.

You could always take a black marker and make the Marlboro signs more obscured.
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Old 10-29-2021, 05:36 AM
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If that really was a DS card it would go for insane cash. I believe it would be the first card with a error and corrected version.

You could always take a black marker and make the Marlboro signs more obscured.
i saw this auction and did a triple take. love the outside border whiten. may have to bid even though i already have one.

true true!
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Old 10-29-2021, 12:07 PM
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i saw this auction and did a triple take. love the outside border whiten. may have to bid even though i already have one.

true true!
What is PSA's typical response for not relabeling your Marlboro RJ's?
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Old 10-29-2021, 12:18 PM
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What is PSA's typical response for not relabeling your Marlboro RJ's?
i'm not an expert, so maybe they aren't technically marlboros. the sign is certainly visible in all of them. but i look and see ones listed as marlboro that don't even have a sign
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Old 10-29-2021, 12:48 PM
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i'm not an expert, so maybe they aren't technically marlboros. the sign is certainly visible in all of them. but i look and see ones listed as marlboro that don't even have a sign
Neither is PSA.

There is no ryme or reason to the way tbey label the Marlboro versions. I still buy the raw Marlboro errors people list as corrected at corrected prices. I do the same with the error versons PSA labels as the corrected version.
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  #33  
Old 10-30-2021, 01:58 AM
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So...I learned that it MIGHT be possible to discern/confirm an unopened DS pack from a regular issue pack by putting a stud finder on the pack. Apparently the stud finder picks up the foil stamp and beeps. I would love to hear if anyone else tries this and it works. I don't have a DS pack myself.
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Old 10-30-2021, 07:55 AM
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So...I learned that it MIGHT be possible to discern/confirm an unopened DS pack from a regular issue pack by putting a stud finder on the pack. Apparently the stud finder picks up the foil stamp and beeps. I would love to hear if anyone else tries this and it works. I don't have a DS pack myself.
You don't need a DS pack. If it really works you could try it with just the DS cards or if you want to get fancy you could make your own pack using any wrapper.
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Old 10-30-2021, 10:07 AM
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I donít own a stud finder either. If anyone else tries and it works Iíd love to know though.


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Old 11-01-2021, 12:24 PM
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I went out and got a stud finder this weekend and gave it a shot and it didnít work


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  #37  
Old 11-01-2021, 12:49 PM
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I went out and got a stud finder this weekend and gave it a shot and it didnít work


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It was worth a try. Thanks for letting us know it didn't work.
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Old 11-01-2021, 02:43 PM
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There should be a way to pick up the foil though.
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Old 11-01-2021, 02:54 PM
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There should be a way to pick up the foil though.

Maybe a handheld metal detector if they sell such a thing


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