Upper Deck Authenticated pitches in with upper-class price tags


Who needs Hammacher-Schlemmer?

Upper Deck Authenticated has filled its fifth glossy quarterly with autographed, licensed (often limited-edition) sports memorabilia.

The cover of the 40-page catalog has autographed baseballs, the back cover lucite-encased oversized versions of Upper Deck cards. Then there's the one-of-a-kind collectible for the collector who has everything. Last time it was a used America's Cup yacht. This catalog has Dan Gurney's last race car -- autographed, of course -- for $180,000.

The company has a stable of current and former stars -- including Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Joe Montana, Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Dan Marino and Magic Johnson -- and just signed Michael Jordan. Jordan items will appear in next month's catalog and be available at retail locations in January.

Autographed items are balls (or pucks), photos, cards and replica jerseys. If an item is a limited edition, the number is given. There's even a list of sold-out limited-edition items.

This is not for the do-it-yourself collector -- or one with a limited budget.

The thrill of the chase is removed, and there's no chance to chat with (or at least be in the presence of) the star as he signs. Also, the cheapest item in the fall catalog is $14.95 (plus shipping) for a memo-pad-sized set of consecutive photos that, when flipped through, simulate moving pictures of Mantle hitting home runs. It is similar to photo books from the '50s -- which usually came free with razors or other products.

Careful shoppers will note that Authenticated is selling 1993 All-Star Game programs for $15. Other sample prices: a San Francisco 49ers helmet signed by Montana ($389.95), an autographed Gretzky helmet ($299), Johnson-signed NBA balls ($399.95) and NBA All-Star balls ($699, includes display case).

For information, call (800) 456-2007.

Baseball stars shine

Upper Deck is ending the baseball season with a 36-card Diamond Gallery set. The set features one star from each team, five top rookies and veterans Nolan Ryan, Rickey Henderson and Ozzie Smith. Cards are lithograms, combining color photography and a holographic image. The set comes in a box and includes an order form for a custom album.

Baseball update

Topps' 132-card baseball update set features 35 players from the expansion Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins, plus Fred McGriff in his Atlanta Braves uniform, rookie Aaron Sele of the Boston Red Sox and 22 Team USA members exclusive to Topps.

Upper Deck hockey

Upper Deck is changing its NHL format from low series-high series to Series One-Series Two. Series One is scheduled for release this month, and its cards will not be repeated in Series Two, due in February.

The 310-card first series has a new design as well as players from the expansion teams, Florida and Anaheim. Subsets feature 100-point scorers, team point leaders, Upper Deck's all-rookie team and this season's top rookies. Look for a Teemu Selanne lithogram card as well as insert sets featuring hat-trick scorers, top players at specific skills, future stars and Gretzky's choices for 10 top moments in the NHL over the past decade.

Premier hockey

Topps is adding Premier hockey to its lineup this month. Premier consists of 528 cards in two series. The coated cards will come 12 to a pack, 11 regular cards and one gold card, retailing for 79 cents. One-quarter of the packs will have two gold cards. Look for the expansion Florida Panthers (in uniform) in Series I.

NBA Starting Lineup

This season's Starting Lineup NBA figurines each come with two cards produced for Kenner by Topps. Among the players offered are Shaquille O'Neal, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, Karl Malone and Alonzo Mourning.

His own insert set

SkyBox International thinks Shaquille O'Neal is special enough to rate his own insert set, so it signed him to an agreement that gives SkyBox exclusive rights to offer an insert set of the 1992-93 NBA Rookie of the Year. Other card companies can feature O'Neal in insert sets and on player cards but not in his own set. There will be 10 cards in the "Shaq Talks" set, five in SkyBox Premium Series 1 and five in Series 2. O'Neal is also on a player card and in three other insert sets. SkyBox cards are expected at dealers' by Dec. 1

In the frozen food aisle

Score's 18-card Quarterback Club set, offered to purchasers of qualifying Ore-Ida products, includes two Maryland alumni, Boomer Esiason and Neil O'Donnell. The set is available by mail and uses the same card design as 1993 Score NFL, but Esiason and Jeff Hostetler are shown in their new uniforms.

Photo collectible

Press Pass is putting photographs and text on coated 10-by-14 card stock to create Photo Boards. The first Photo Board highlights the career of the late Davey Allison.

Elusive rookie card

The NHL's No. 1 draftee, Alexandre Daigle, is part of Score's 496-card hockey set -- sort of. Exchange cards can be redeemed for cards showing Daigle in his Ottawa Senators uniform once the rookie plays his first NHL game.

The set is in two versions -- English for the U.S. market and French and English for the Canadian market. There are also six commemorative sheets (three for Canada, three for the United States) honoring the Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens, one per case.

Coming events

Through Oct. 31, exhibit "The Babe, The Birds and Baltimore: An All-Star Tradition" and exhibit on Rex Barney's 50-year sports career, with memorabilia from his Brooklyn Dodgers days, Babe Ruth Museum, (410) 727-1539.

Thursday, sports auction to benefit Jarrettsville Elementary School (expected signers are Dave Johnson and Dick Hall), Jarrettsville Elementary (3818 Norrisville Road); preview at 4:30 p.m., children's auction at 5:30 p.m., main auction at 6:30 p.m., (410) 557-9812.

Thursday-next Sunday, card show, Harundale Mall (expected signers include Hoyt Wilhelm, Don Buford and Harold Baines), Thursday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m., (410) 766-7246.

Saturday, autograph session, Katzenstein Custom Frame Shop (Ridgely Plaza, Lutherville), Sherman Obando, noon to 2 p.m.

Saturday, card show, Arbutus Fire Hall, 5200 Southwestern Blvd., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 242-6286.

Nov. 7, card show, Cromwell Bridge Holiday Inn, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (410) 239-7446.


Fleer Ultra football is coming back in late October with a 500-card basic set in 14- and 19-card foil packs. Spokesman Michael Irvin rates a 10-card highlight set, and he has autographed more than 2,000 of his cards. There is also a mail offer for two additional Irvin cards. Insert sets feature award winners, '93 rookies, touchdown leaders and league leaders.

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