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Archive for the ‘1991 Portraits’ Category

And here’s a rare Rodney Holman, if you’ve never seen one

In 1991 Portraits on December 1, 2014 at 1:14 am

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Beau, another friend of the site, shared with me a Rodney Holman card he owns. He said he acquired this card in Hawaii in the 1990s from an acquaintance who worked for NFL properties. He said there is a “long, cool story” attached to the card. Here is Beau’s story:

I was in the military, and I had volunteered to work for the Special Olympics during a Topps NFL card show/NFL experience. The Special Olympics held a silent auction, and Bill Barnes of NFL Properties had donated many items for us to auction off. My son and wife visited the card show. And as I was working the booth, they looked around and took part in some of the games there. I heard my name called over the speakers telling me to go to the medical tent. When I arrived, Bill Barnes was there with my wife and my son. My son’s face was a bit bloody, and I asked what had happened. I guess my son tried catching a football thrown by one of the machines, and the operator of the machine did not reduce the speed (my son was 5 years old at the time). So the ball hit my son in the face. Nothing was broken. However, upon seeing me, Bill was like, “Damn I am so sorry, Beau!” Of course, I was not upset. Things like this can happen. So after my son was attended to, Bill hooked him up with many NFL items, one being this card. So that’s the story of how I got the card.

Beau was interested in getting a handle on a value for the card. Beckett lists it at $350. I’m not a big fan of Beckett’s accuracy when it comes to the values of cards in this set. That’s why I created the market data section. Check it out here.

But as far as I know, $350 might be accurate for this card. There are so few of them around, that I don’t have access to the sale prices of many of these. So Beckett’s guess is as good as mine.

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A look at a rare card

In 1991 Portraits on December 1, 2014 at 1:05 am

rashad family front Joseph Carnevale

rashad family back Joseph Carnevale

Joseph C., a friend of the site, shared with me a Rashad Family card that he owns. It has Phylicia’s signature on the front and Ahmad’s signature on the back. It’s quite a rare one.

Note that the back of the card does have a number, but the card does have the embossed seal.

Joseph is very near completing the set. He said he’s never seen an Al Davis signed, embossed card.

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.

1991 Pro Line National embossed: with numbers and without

In 1991 National Convention, 1991 Portraits, 1992 National Convention, Oddities on May 13, 2013 at 5:19 am

tittle 1991 national no number

1991 everett national number

Donnie, a frequent eBay seller and friend of the blog, shed some light on the 1991 Pro Line National set. Some of the cards with the embossed seal from the 1991 National convention in Anaheim, Calif., have the card number on the back of the card, and some do not. Donnie is selling some of these cards that have the number, and I asked him what the difference is.

Donnie said the 1991 Pro Line National embossed complete bindered sets were distributed at the National to card dealers. These complete sets had their own special binder and case that the binder was inserted into. All of the complete set cards were a parallel of the base card other than the embossed seal.

The non-numbered cards were given away individually and could be signed by players who were at the convention as contracted signers by Pro Line. Some of those players were Michael Cofer, Christian Okoye, Blair Thomas, Gayle Sayers, Andre Collins and a few others. The embossing on those cards were done by a hand stamp and therefore the placement of the stamped seal is inconsistent.

The stamped sets were embossed by machine stamping and are all consistent, just like the stamped pack pulled autograph cards.

In the 1992 National bindered sets, both Portraits and Profiles were unnumbered cards.

1991 bennett national with number

felicia moon 1991 national no number

1991 Pro Line National set for sale on eBay

In 1991 National Convention, 1991 Portraits, 1992 National Convention, Oddities on May 5, 2013 at 1:50 am

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Here is a complete 1991 Pro Line set from the National Sports Card Convention, which was at the Anaheim Convention Center.

I actually attended this show, and it was a blast. Unfortunately, I hadn’t started collecting Pro Line autographs yet. Had I known that I eventually would, I would’ve been at ground zero for oddities, giveaways, prizes, autographs and the like.

I have heard multiple times that, in the goodie bags at the front door, some fans received a certificate and/or a Pro Line card that they could take to a signing party during the show and have autographed by the player, say Howie Long, and then the card would be embossed at the party. I own some cards with the National seal but no autograph and I own some signed cards with the National seal. In fact, all nine of my signed 1992 Jerry Rice cards are from the National. And I enjoy having them. But I can’t say for sure where they came from.

I’ve also heard that these complete sets were given away to VIPs at some party. I’m not sure why card company execs or even the athletes themselves would want even more sports card stuff, unless they were socking it away to sell to collectors on a rainy day.

But this promotional piece has all the cards, even the Rashad family card and the Payne Stewart insert. It doesn’t appear any of them were autographed. And the buy-it-now price is $350.

A few years ago, I bought the 1992 National Pro Line set, which was in a white binder. It also was for sale on eBay. I can’t remember if I paid $95 or $195 for it. That’s a significant difference, but I really can’t remember. I’ve been told that the 1992 Pro Line National set was distributed at a private party at the 1992 National.

Considering the prices of some of the cards I still need to complete my set, I think I will pass on spending that much for this oddball set.

Here’s a link to the set. It’s not an auction. It doesn’t look like there’s an end date, so it might stay up until it’s sold.

Here’s a pre-Internet story from the Chicago Tribune and writer John Leptich about his impressions of the first Pro Line football cards when they were unveiled at the 1991 National.

And below is a closeup of the embossed seal for the 1991 National convention. The embossed seal was one thing that drew me to this set in the first place, and I think it’s cool that they made an entirely separate seal for the 1991 and 1992 Nationals.

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A milestone for the Certified Pro Line Autographs blog

In 1991 Portraits on March 10, 2013 at 4:41 am

Good news, everyone! The Certified Pro Line Autographs blog got its first link from another website. Huzzah!

A business professor called Vince who has his own blog about the sports card collecting hobby takes a very insightful and humorous look at a certain 300-card set released in 1991. Vince doesn’t pull any punches and points out some of the many flaws of the set.

The site has a little background on the feathers that the NFL ruffled with the players’ union when the set came out.

And he also mentions the innovation of inserting autographed cards into the foil packs, and he points the way to this blog! Yay!

And for that, we are returning the favor, complete with a link to his Pro Line post on his Junk Wax blog.

Thanks, Vince.

Ahmad Rashad sells for $271

In 1991 Portraits, 1992 Portraits on August 19, 2012 at 10:40 pm

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Jeremy Nierenberg, a card dealer in Tamarac, Fla., recently bought a lot of Pro Line cards from a collector. He is selling them individually on eBay, and he recently appears to have sold a Frank Gifford card for $299.

The collection had some rare cards in it, and one was this Ahmad Rashad card. Nierenberg’s buy-it-now price was $499.99, but he also was accepting best offers on the card. Apparently the high offer was $271.

Some other highlights were Reggie Langhorne selling for $271.50, Alonzo Highsmith for $177.51, Mark Carrier of the Bears for $128.04, Greg Townsend for $143.51, Albert Lewis for $95.

Oddly, the 1991 Roger Staubach Portraits card went for $120, which is a little high, IMHO.

His most recent set of auctions range from Ronnie Lott or Phil Simms starting at about $20 to John Elway at about $80 and Santa Claus at a C-note.

And if you’re looking for more prices that more Pro Line cards from 1991, 1992 or 1993 sold for, check out my Market Data section here. It’s not a price guide. It’s a list of sale prices that I am aware of. Some might be tremendous bargains. I recently bought a 1992 Thurman Thomas Profiles card for less than $5. That’s a great deal. Other prices might be gross overpayments. Maybe that Staubach that i mentioned a few paragraphs ago was too much. But, as I enter more results, a clearer picture will emerge of approximately how much other people are paying for the exact same card. And through that collection of data, perhaps readers will be able to gauge a fair range of prices for any particular card when buying or selling.

Was Emmitt Smith supposed to be in the 1991 Portraits set?

In 1991 Portraits, 1992 Portraits, Oddities on January 17, 2012 at 3:10 am

I have never seen this card before, a 1991 Emmitt Smith Pro Line Portraits card. A reader called Gus sent me two digital pics of the card, front and back, looking for some answers. I don’t have specifics, but I can make some educated guesses.

This clearly is not one of the regular 300 cards from the 1991 Pro Line Portraits set, although the date on the back of the card says 1991. Emmitt had no 1991 card. His Portraits card appeared in the 1992 set.

Gus’ card is exceptional for four reasons: The card has a different photo on the front than the 1992 Smith card (above), it has different text on the back from the 1992 card (below), it has no number and the date on the back says 1991. I can’t tell if the photo on the back is different, but the crop is tighter on the 1992 card.

The cards that were sent to the players to autograph did not have the card number on the back. That fact and the certified, embossed seal are the two ways to know you have an autograph card that was inserted into the pack by the manufacturer (and not a forgery). This card does not have the seal.

I have three guesses about this card:

1) It is a prototype for a Smith card for the 1991 set that somehow got away from the Pro Line folks and into circulation in the collecting world. I’m basing this guess on the quote on the back of the card, which mostly revolves around Emmitt’s views on the differences between college and pro football. That would make sense for a player who just finished his first NFL season, but it makes less sense for a player who would be entering his third season as the cards were hitting the shelves. That being the case, Pro Line would’ve changed the wording on the back for 1992, which it did. Smith gained nearly 1,000 yards in 1990, so demand for a 1991 card would’ve been there. Gus says he read somewhere that neither Smith nor the NFL was happy with the photo of Emmitt not smiling. I would be interested to read whatever Gus read. If this were a prototype for 1991, it seems like a simple fix to change the pic. But we don’t know the timing of the matter, which might have kept the card out of the 1991 set.

2) It’s a prototype for 1992. But if it is, why does it have the 1991 date on the back? Seems odd. And unlikely.

3) Emmitt was supposed to be part of the 300-card 1991 set, and this is one of the cards meant to bear Emmitt’s signature and be inserted into foil packs. If this problem with the photo was significant enough (and the situation came up late in the process to get the set out), it may have prevented Emmitt from being part of the 1991 set. If that was the case, the company might have decided to hold the card until 1992, adding some star power to the set. I’m basing this guess on the fact that there’s no number on the back of the card.

I think the third is the most likely possibility.

As I said, I’ve never seen this card before, and I’d love to know more about it.

If it was meant to be part of the 1991 set, I’d also love to know which of the other cards was not originally included in the set of 300 (in other words, which card was added to replace Emmitt). I’d be curious to know who was essentially card No. 301 and got included when Emmitt’s card fell through.

For some reason, I want this

In 1991 Portraits, Oddities on December 20, 2011 at 3:42 pm


Yes, I know I just spent a few hundred words saying I don’t think the certified Santa autograph cards are worth bothering with. But I just saw a Cleveland Gary Pro Line card on eBay that he signed upside down. And for some reason, I want it.

Now if I’m a 12-year-old kid in 1991 who just spent $1 on a pack of cards that essentially are 3.5-by-5 advertisements for NFL licensed products … And if I pull and autograph card out of that pack … And autograph cards are reported by various sources at being inserted at a rated of one in every three boxes … And I pull Cleveland Gary … AND THE SIGNATURE IS UPSIDE-DOWN? I’m not gonna be a completely happy 12-year-old card collector.

And that, Judybats fans, would be incredibly bittersweet.

So why do I want to add this oddball card to my collection? I don’t know. It’s only $5 (plus postage, which is killing me during this Pro Line hunt). I’m not sure I would even be considering this if it were more than $5.

I doubt I will buy it. But I do have a section of my Pro Line box dedicated to oddities. And now, I have the same for this blog.

There’s all this talk about Santa Claus, but …

In 1991 Portraits, 1992 Portraits on December 20, 2011 at 6:03 am


If you’re collecting the entire run of certified Pro Line autographs, do you also collect the Santa Claus cards?

They’re certified. They’ve got the stamp. They’ve got an autograph. No idea whose signature it is. But unless Virginia knows something the rest of us don’t, it ain’t Santa’s.

And that’s my problem with the cards. The Pro Line Claus cards are fun, but I’m not interested in them for the purposes of collecting the set. Those just aren’t legitimate autographs.

I know my mind might change when, someday, I have all the cards and am desperate to continue the hunt. And when the search for the elusive Chris Miller Profiles cards someday dries up, I might search for the Clauses just to prolong the search for one more embossed, autographed card that I don’t have..

According to a few sources, Pro Set was the first to issue a Santa Card, in 1991. Then the Pro Line Santa (top of page) was released afterward. It may be obvious, but Pro Line was the first “autographed” Santa card. And it wasn’t enough to have a short print of autographed santa cards in addition to the “regular” Santa, which, I believe, also was a short print. But Pro Line also produced an autographed Santa that was numbered to 200. The first card was signed simply “Santa.” The second, numbered card has an autograph that reads “Santa Claus.” In 2010, Beckett said this numbered Santa insert is the most expensive of all the Santa Cards made since 1991. At the time it booked for $60, according to Beckett.

I’ll rant about the prices of Pro Line autographs (or any card, for that matter) in the Beckett guide some other time. But this adds to my frustration about the Santa card being part of the set. If you acquire a certified, stamped Santa card — but not the numbered one — do you still have to get the numbered one to finish the set? I suppose it depends on how much of a completist you are. But it vexes me that they added this make-believe autograph to the set. Then, it wasn’t enough to have one, they had to use the same card and add 200 more autographs with a gimmicky twist.

Why not add another card, one signed “Kris Kringle” that would be numbered to 50? Or one with a “Father Christmas” autograph numbered to 25? Where will it end? There are more names for Santa. All you need is a Sharpie and an embossing stamp with the Pro Line logo.

Anyway, in 1992, Pro Line produced another Santa chase card but added a Mrs. Claus, too, also signed and embossed. Here’s a picture of them (below).