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Is this why there are so few Lionel Washington cards in the set?

In 1991 Portraits on December 1, 2014 at 12:30 am

lionel washington pro line

I won an auction for this card on eBay recently, and the seller said “all” Lionel Washington cards in the set were like this. That may be an exaggeration; I’m sure I’ve seen a few with an autograph that wasn’t in this bad a position.

But it raises some questions: Were many of the Lionel Washington autographs cut off at the bottom? Is that why they are so hard to find? Did the Pro Line folks trash a bunch of them because the signature was so poorly positioned that they found them to be unusable?

I think it is obvious that Washington signed his cards when they were still uncut. There’s no way someone would choose to place the autograph right on the edge like that, making the act of signing difficult. I’ve written on the blog before that the subjects of the Pro Line Portraits were told to sign at the bottom on the back, which is what it looks like he was trying to do here. Now, having said that, my buddy Cole McGinnis pointed something out that I overlooked: If the cards were uncut and in a large sheet when he signed them, if his autograph bled off the bottom of one, it would’ve overlapped onto the top of the card directly below it. So my guess is that this card, and perhaps all the Lionel Washington cards that went into circulation in packs, were all the ones along the top row of the uncut sheet. Those may have been the only ones that were not spoiled by the bottom half of his signature from the card directly above on the uncut sheet.

The top half of Washington’s signature on the bottom of a card is one thing, as we see in the photo on this post. It’s not ideal. But a card with the bottom half of his signature along the top and the top of his signature along the bottom was probably unacceptable to the Pro Line folks. I’m betting those didn’t get inserted into packs.

And if we knew how many cards were on an uncut sheet, and in what configuration, we might be able to arrive at a good estimate of how many Lionel Washington certified autographs were inserted into packs.

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