Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Upper Deck Vintage

Way back in 2001, Topps had a terrific idea. They started a new series, Topps Heritage, using designs from classic Topps cards of the past. That same year, Upper Deck had the same idea, to put out a series of cards based on classic Topps designs.

2001 Upper Deck Vintage
Does this look familiar to you?  How about comparing it to 1963 Topps.

There is no substantial difference between these designs. Sure, the Upper Deck card has a black stripe with the team name on the front and Topps put the card number in a box, Upper Deck put it in a circle but that's just details. Even the back color is the same.

2002 Upper Deck Vintage
Compare to 1971 Topps
Upper Deck put the team name block under the photo and the back is mustard instead of green.  It was actually this Chipper Jones card that reminded me of this. I also have a Topps Archives card featuring Chipper on a 1971 Topps design card and I saw them both together.

2003 Upper Deck Vintage
Compare to 1965 Topps

I think that Upper Deck came the closest to copying the original Topps set in this year.

My extensive training in copyright law (I read a couple of Wikipedia articles) suggests to me that Topps, which has clearly copyrighted their cards, let their copyright lapse. If I'm understanding this correctly, prior to 1976, a copyright was granted for 28 years, with one 28 year extension. All these Upper Deck sets appeared more than 28 years after the Topps sets they were based on.  I don't remember hearing about any flap between Topps and Upper Deck back then.

2004 Upper Deck Vintage
For the final year of Vintage, Upper Deck looked elsewhere for inspiration and took the front design from a pretty obscure (at least to me) set, 1955 Red Heart, which was distributed by a dog food company.
I found this card on Beckett.com. I wish I owned it. If this design looks familiar, it's because Topps used it in 2007 for the Bowman Heritage prospects set.

Topps even copied the back.

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