Wednesday, February 22, 2012

1991 Baseball Cards A-Z (Part 1)

Well, really more like B (Bowman) to U (Upper Deck)

I think 1991 was a transitional year for the hobby. The 5 big producers (Donruss, Fleer, Score, Topps, and Upper Deck) had been in place since 1989. Cards were still a mix of gray and white card stock. The first major sets featuring glossy finishes, full-bleed printing and gold-foil appear this year. The excesses of the later 1990s (like a myriad of sets with multiple inserts) were just starting to appear. It's maybe the last year that it is possible to collect some of each major release.

Set #1 Bowman
In it's third year since Topps reincarnated the set in 1989, Bowman still hadn't found it's "Home of the Rookie Card" niche. They hadn't settled on the Blue-Red (and later Green) standard. The cards were still on gray card stock and no gloss. They did experiment a little with gold foil as several subsets (MVP, Sluggers and a Rod Carew tribute) featured little gold foil icons. Chipper remains the key card in this 704 card set. There were no inserts.

Set #2 Classic I
This 100-card set was sold as a factor set only and features pretty much the same design as previous years.  The cards were printed on white card stock with a plain finish on the front and no finish on the back. Other than the color, there is nothing to distinguish this set from Classic II.

Set #3 Classic II
The dark lines on the front look like flaws but are actually part of the marble-like background design. I only have a few of these and they are all different. Another 100-card factory-only set.

Set #4 Classic III
I just featured this card a few days ago but in case you missed it, Classic III, also 100 cards, had a different back and featured a glossy finish front and back.

Set #5 Donruss
In keeping with the transitional nature of the year, Donruss was a 770-card set issued in 2 series. I believe this was the first year they had 2 series,  but it will become a common in all sets in the next few years. Series 2 was distinguished by having a green background. As they had for the past few years, Donruss continued with the crazy borders and the plain looking backs. Their design will change completely in 1992. For 1991 though, no gloss and no metal foil. The Diamond Kings was still a subset rather than an insert. This will also be the last year that Donruss includes puzzle pieces in the packs. This year's puzzle was Willie Stargell.

Set #6 Donruss Bonus
Similar to previous years, this was a 22-card insert set with highlights of the 1990 season. The Series 2 inserts, like this Ripken card matched the green borders of the Series 2 base set.

Set #7 Donruss Grand Slammers
A 14-card set split between the two series, the set featured Grand Slam Home Runs hit in 1990.

Set #8 Donruss Elite
 This was something new in the hobby which will become very common in the future, a limited insert set with sequentially numbered cards. The Elite Series will continue for a few years. The 1992 set will start with card #9. After all these years, these cards have retained their value. There are currently only 4 of them on sale in eBay, 3 of them not slabbed and all commanding over $25. I paid $10.50 for this one in 2003 at a card store and it was the first one I had ever seen.

Set #9 Donruss Rookies
Like past years, the Rookies set was only available as a factory set. It has 54 cards and I have the whole set. The card design is similar to the Donruss base set but a different color.

This looks like a good place to break. The next post in the series will start with Fleer.

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