...there were 19th Century tobacco cards that began as an advertising gimmick, premiums in packs of Old Judge and Gypsy Queens and Lady Fatima cigarettes, some of the most magnificent cards ever; the famous "gold borders" and other T-200s from the early 1900s; and little Chicles gum cards and Goudey's "Four-in-Ones" from the '30s—all roots of the current jungle.

I even count some referential items, like the single card I bought from one of the comic-book hero Wolverine sets. It shows him on a rooftop in the distance watching a group of thugs rampaging in the street below, and in the foreground one of those thugs threatening with an upraised bat in hand.

(And I look at my son in glee: "Look, it's a baseball card!")

looking for this lost card

So many baseball cards. But it's like everything else in the world—you turn towards any realm and what you see or hear or taste is 95 percent commercial and aesthetic dross: busy, clumsy, blockish, and overproduced—the leavings of pretenders that obscure and make more difficult to find the objects of beauty. The best of these are actual artworks woven together by the talents of designers, illustrators, printers, painters and photographers into this vast sub-culture focal point. The products being things we might hang on our walls were it not so easy to fit them into our pockets.

Rick Lopez / June 6, 1994

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