Saturday, March 8, 2008

Sticky Saturday Mystery

An Atlanta Braves mini sticker has uncovered a very interesting Fleer Sticker mystery, and brought to light a new undocumented sticker variation :

For those of you who haven't read Cardboard Junkie's Sticky Saturday post yet, jump over and read David's tale of the unexplained - then what I am about to cover will make more sense.

Some background: Fleer produced mini cards that were packaged in a boxed set that included 18 team stickers from 1986 - 1988.

The stickers can be found with the following backgrounds:

Based on the mini sets I've opened, I believe the sticker on the left with the star background to be from 1986, the sticker with the blue top and red & white stripes to be from 1987, and the sticker on the right with the green top and red & white stripes to be from 1988. The 1986 & 1987 stickers are blank backs, while the 1988 mini sticker has stadiums on the back, just like the Fleer stickers that were inserted in the regular 1988 Fleer packs.

Getting back to our story, a few weeks ago I sent David some Fleer Braves stickers, and he has been posting some of them each Saturday. A few weeks ago he posted the Braves mini sticker, and I commented that I had gone through 3 mini sets trying to collect the entire set of 26 teams (since each boxed set only contains 18 stickers you can't get all the teams with 1 set!). I mentioned I was down to just needing 1 more sticker (Rangers) from the set with the star background which I believed to be from 1986 (since the 3 boxes I had bought were the 1986 set), and David replied that he had just been thinking about buying some mini sets himself.

Then last week, David posted the stickers from a 1986 mini box he'd bought, trying to see if he could locate the Rangers sticker I was looking for. He found a Rangers sticker in the 1986 box, but it didn't have the star backgound - it had red & white stripes in the background with blue on the top. I commented that it looked like he had 1987 stickers with his 1986 cards.

With this week's post, David has posted the stickers he got from the 1987 mini box he also purchased, and sure enough the stickers that came with the 1987 set match the stickers he had gotten with the 1986 set. This seems to support the theory that David's 1986 mini box had somehow been packed with 1987 stickers.

It would appear that it would be time to say case closed - the 1986 mini set had probably been opened by someone who also had a 1987 set, and the collector at some point got the stickers between the 2 years mixed up when they put them back in the box to sell them. Innocent enough mistake since there is no date on the stickers.

But, then there is this.......

In 1986 Fleer used the trident logo for the Mariners (as seen on the yellow bordered sticker below), and in 1987 Fleer started using the M's logo (as seen on the blue bordered sticker)

So now what do we do? We've got a Fleer mini set with what appear to be 1987 stickers, but that sticker design can be found with 2 different Mariners logo variations, one of which was last used in 1986?

If we move ahead to 1988, I think we may have the answer. Take a look...

The 1988 Fleer stickers that were inserted in wax packs have both the older and newer versions of the Pirates logo. It would appear that Fleer started with the older logo, and at some point during the production process switched to the newer logo.

I'm guessing the same thing happened with the 1987 mini stickers. Early in the print run they were using the older Mariners logo, and then once they got the artwork for the newer logo or realized they were using an out of date logo, they switched.

However - this then begs the question - would the same variation exist for the regular stickers that were included in wax packs? I don't think the variation exists as I've never seen the trident logo on the 1987 stickers - but then again I didn't know about the 1988 Pirates variation until a month ago when I was going through some stickers I'd received and realized I'd gotten the older logo which I'd never seen before.

This is my guess at an explanation:

The logo for the regular stickers was correct from the start as the 1987 design with the trophies is a completely different design from 1986 and they used the correct new logo from the beginning, whereas the 1987 mini sticker set was the same layout as 1986 but just with a different background so that initially they just changed the background and didn't catch the fact that they were using the older Mariners logo and later corrected it when they realized the mistake. This would seem to be the most plausible answer.

However, this still doesn't explain why David got 1987 stickers in his 1986 box, and it doesn't explain an ebay auction showing the same thing:

Here are those same stickers showing up for a 1987 sticker set:

If anyone has the 1986 Fleer Mini set in their collection, I'd be interested to know which sticker design you have with your set. The 3 sets I have opened have the star backround. It could be they did a 2nd print run of the 1986 mini cards and started using the 1987 sticker design, or perhaps they were dumping the remaining 1986 inventory using the 1987 stickers that they were already printing up for the next year's set rather than print up more 1986 stickers.

A special thanks to David from Cardboard Junkie for busting these boxes and posting the results. Congratulations on discovering a previously unknown sticker variation!

1 comment:

bobs_1mil_cards said...

1986 and 1987 have blankbacks, with a STRIPES and STARS sticker sets. With blue color background and stripes, main difference are those teams that changed logo designs. 1988 also produced a STARS and STRIPES set with green color background and stadium backs. So from '86 to '88 minis you can collate 6 mini sticker sets.......BOB