For collectors of a certain age there is something oddly comforting about junk wax cards. Far too many were printed, they’re littered with quasi-errors and print issues, and “rare” chase cards are numbered in the thousands. However, they are also full of players who are now in their respective halls of fame, the cards are necessary parts of many PSA Set Registries and a $5 or $10 investment can still bring hours of enjoyment. Not a bad deal. Here is the latest installment in the PSA Blog series called Diamonds in the Junk, where we crack some junk wax, review the results, relate them to the hobby today and have fun along the way.
I was perusing the junk wax table at my local LCS recently and realized that I had not yet reviewed any non-sports issues. The selection there was not great, but after passing by boxes of cards dedicated to motorcycles, American Gladiators and Cinderella, I found a box of 1993 Country Gold Series I. The idea seemed quirky enough to be interesting and the box was only $10, so I took a gamble.
There is very little information about the set on the box itself, and other than a handful of sales sites there isn’t much online either. It turns out that this is a set of 150 standard-sized cards that was produced and distributed by Sterling Cards and The Country Music Association (CMA) in conjunction with the CMA’s 35th anniversary. The set is rather disjointed as is appears to be the compilation of five different subsets. However, the cards in each subset do not run contiguously, so without any supporting information it took a little time to figure out exactly what was going on here.
The set is comprised of country music stars of the past and present (circa 1993), as well as upcoming stars. Although, like any set that is trying to predict future greatness, there are a number of flops included as well. I had heard of about half of the artists depicted, and I would only consider myself a moderate fan of the genre.
I had purchased this box as a novelty and even that definition turned out to be a stretch. Two packs in and I was already chuckling at the “artists” in all of their Aqua-Netted and mullett-y glory. They were shown in a variety of poses. Some were “in action,” while others attempted to look cool, tough and/or sexy, but 25 years later appeared goofy, ridiculous and/or downright silly instead.
It was also becoming increasingly apparent that the set was produced with a general lack of professionalism. Inserted into each pack was a card-sized invitation to join the Sterling Country Gold Trading Card Club, but the invitation was simply a black-and-white photocopy on thin paper. No effort had been taken to make the invitation particularly, um, inviting.
The cards took advantage of some of the glossy technology of the day and left the pack with a heavy shine. I don’t know if it was due to the storing of the cards over time or an inferior product to begin with, but these cards stuck together like none I have experienced before. I literally had to pry cards apart which resulted in permanent damage to most of the cards I opened. The glossy surface would come off the cards in patches, leaving behind an unattractive pock-marked appearance. Once the break was finished and I had a chance to look over the spoils, I realized that very few of the cards had any chance of coming back from the PSA graders with high marks. That hadn’t been a goal of mine, but I would have been upset if I’d had any plans at all for these cards on the secondary market.
In truth, this break was a drag. Once I had a few chuckles at the outdated hairstyles and ridiculous poses, the cards offered very little to keep me interested. While I did get big names such as Charlie Daniels, Toby Keith ( a rookie card?), Willie Nelson and Alan Jackson, I was inundated with entertainers whose claim to fame was likely their appearance on a 1993 Country Gold card. The text on card backs wasn’t particularly well written and the punctuation was suspect. The arrangement of cards within the set was confusing and the cards themselves were easily damaged during separation.
In truth I did not expect a lot from this set. It was pretty obvious that the cards were produced to make someone some quick money by taking advantage of the trading card craze of the early 1990s.
Would I buy another box of 1993 Country Gold? Absolutely not. I would have been better served to put the $10 into a box of Twinkies. But I’ve learned my lesson and I am sure that next time the boxes of American Gladiators or Sky Box Cinderella cards will be a much wiser choice.
THE DIAMOND IN THE JUNK: #24 Toby Keith