2010-05-26 15:39:16 (Link to this story)
Sketch Collectors Interviews Topps About Sketch Card Handling
If you haven't already read it, there are some questions surfacing about how sketch cards are handled at Topps:
To be honest, this is something that has been talked about under the radar for quite some time but this is the first I've seen it said publicly.
The questions are about a certain eBay seller and their ability to post only the very best sketch cards. This wouldn't be a problem for most sellers that post fantastic pulls, but this seller ONLY posts fantastic pulls. Basically, they never post any very basic sketches or even sketches that would fetch average prices. A standard case-breaker would have both of these in quantity and no reason not to sell them for what they could get for them. This seller, never posts them.
This brings up the concern about how these cards are getting into their hands. Most assume some sort of back-door dealings either with or without Topps management's knowledge.
To get to the bottom of what's going on, I contacted David Waldeck at Topps, who answered all of my questions.
Sketch Collectors #1) How does Topps control sketch cards before and during the pack-insertion process? How do collectors and artists know that all sketches are making it into packs or at least being held back as replacements?
Topps) Sketch cards are returned to us sealed by the artist. Some of you may have seen those labels before. Once received by us here, the cards are opened, sorted, counted and basically run though an approval process. All non-approved cards are sent to the shredder and destroyed. Once those above steps have been completed, all sketches are locked away in a dead-bolted storage closet. There are similar closets on the premises for autographs, relics and original artwork. Several days before final pack-out is to occur, the sketches are packed and sent to whoever is assembling the product, this always varies by product. From there, the cards are re-counted and inserted into the sorters that put them into packs. It is at this step that the replacement cards are pulled at random and returned to Topps Customer Service. Each printer and co-packer has their own security staff observing pack-out, which is incredibly strict considering the rarity and historic value of many of the sports inserts.
SK #2) Does Topps ever give or sell sketch cards to employees, dealers, or anyone else instead of placing them in packs or keeping them as replacements?
Topps) Absolutely not. An overwhelming majority of cards are placed into packs. As you mentioned, the only cards that are held back are replacements.
SK #3) Is Topps aware of the seller mentioned [although not specifically] above? Has Topps received reports from concerned collectors?
Topps) We have received reports of a specific seller, and that case is being investigated.
SK #4) If so, was Topps previously aware of this?
Topps) Please see 4 above.
SK #5) Either way, is this being looked into and is there anything to report?
Topps) Please see 4 above.
Concerning replacement sketches:
SK #1) How are replacement cards chosen?
Topps) Entirely at random as they are being mixed into packs. This is to replicate the ratios found in the actual product. In some cases if an artist is late and does not meet the deadline, those cards may also be used as replacements.
SK #2) Are puzzle pieces (from multi-card panels) ever pulled as replacement cards?
Topps) If they are, and I am sure some do get pulled into the replacements allotment, it is totally random.
SK #3) What does Topps do with replacements that don't get used?
Topps) These are filed for future requests and kept until supplies are depleted. We still get replacement requests for the very first Clone Wars, Revenge of the Sith and The Lord of the Rings Evolution.
I would personally like to thank David and Topps for answering these questions for the collectors.
If you would like to comment on this article, head over the the Scoundrel thread: http://scoundrelpublishing.com/spart/viewtopic.php?p=331310