Friday, March 20, 2015
Thanks to social media and eBay listings I quickly found out about the damage to 2015 Topps Tribute Baseball. The overwhelming majority of autographs were smudged, streaky or broken straight out of the packs. Rumblings about the entire release having issues flooded Twitter timelines and card forums. Speculations as to what happened and how Topps was going to handle it ran rampant. In public I remained silent. I had ideas of what had happened and how Topps might respond. But it was clear this was going to be a no win situation for Topps.
EVERY card company has had issues in the past and the usual response is “any damaged cards will be replaced,” a fix it as we go approach. But today Topps did the most bold thing any company can do which is also the right thing. Topps has issued a complete recall of 2015 Topps Tribute Baseball.
Any collector that still has a sealed box should return it to the point of purchase by March 27, 2015 and they will receive a full refund. If you bought your box from an online retailer I would contact them about methods to return boxes.
For those of you that opened boxes or are being shipped cards from box breaks or bought early singles on the secondary, if you have a damaged autograph card that is not still sealed in a pack, you have the option to contact Topps Customer Service and arrange for an exchange of that card before June 30, 2015. Exchanges will be made for another card of equal or greater value, PLUS a bonus autograph or relic. Values for exchange will be determined by Topps at their discretion.
Collectors are angry, and rightly so. No one wants to open a high end product and find any damage. Finding damage to almost every hit in a box probably wasn’t even a thought for any collector or even Topps. So clearly something went wrong. From Topps' statement the damage is due to UV contamination on the card. As a collector with a lot of experience autographs I can tell you this makes perfect sense.
As an avid collector of autographs I know the quality of autographs can vary wildly with surface types, (straight paper, magazine, Glossy card finish, chrome/mirror card finish, photographic matte & glossy paper, straight baseball leather, pitted football leather, synthetic leather, etc.) type of pen (ball point, Sharpie, Staedtler, paint pen, etc) speed and strength of the player’s signature and believe it or not WEATHER (extremes of cold, sun, humidity, etc.)
For example, if you want a player’s autograph on a baseball, if you get them to sign with a Sharpie chances are that auto will become a faded blur over time, if it’s cheap baseball, sometimes within months. Sign a vintage card with ball point pen and the ink will disappear over time leaving just the indentation of the signature. Hang a signed photo in a frame without UV protection in a well lit room and over time both the autograph and the photo will degrade.