Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Old-Time Baseball - Pat Deasley

As I continue to explore the wonderful custom cards created by Helmar Brewing, I'm more and more impressed by what I find.  So far I've covered the inaugural 2005 release, a T206 mini, and an "Oasis" framed card.  Tonight I've got my first card to show off from another present-day Helmar set, Polar Night!

This here is my very first card of Thomas H. "Pat" Deasley!  One of the things I find most entertaining about the Helmar releases is that they profile some old-time players that I have little to no chance of adding to my collection otherwise.  Deasley does have one or two playing era cards out there, but we're talking Old Judge cards from the 1880s; not exactly something you come across often if ever, and insanely expensive if you were to find one.  I don't exactly see Topps clamoring to release a Deasley card anytime soon, either.

Well, thanks to Helmar I can indeed count Pat Deasley among the names in my collection!  These Polar Night cards look absolutely stunning in hand.  Even the picture above, which I snapped with my iPhone, gives you a good idea of the bright, vibrant color that brings this set of deadball-era stars to life.

The inspiration for this release seems to be the 1887 Buchner Gold Coin cards, known in the hobby as the 'N284' release.  I don't own any of those, but here's a scan I found online for comparison.

Elements borrowed here would include the elongated card dimensions, the plain white border, and the nature-based backgrounds.  All of the artwork in this Polar Night release is original stuff done by Helmar's artists.  According to their website, they "kept the look of the early line drawings but improved them so that the players are recognizable".

While the 1887 originals are certainly beautiful in their own rite, you can see that claim about the elevated level of detail in the Helmar artwork is accurate.

In the case of the Deasley card, I was able to determine exactly what image the Helmar artist worked from.  It's pretty clearly the photograph from his 1887-1890 Old Judge card.  I obviously don't own a copy of that one either, but here's a photograph for reference courtesy of the Library of Congress.  Yep, that's the image alright, although understandably much more fuzzy and much less detailed being well beyond a century old at this point.

I didn't realize this connection when I purchased the card, and only discovered it while researching this post, but I have to say it's kind of cool to see an old black and white photograph like this be brought to life in full, vibrant color.

Like the Helmar Oasis card that I showed a few days back, these Polar Night cards really have the feel of a piece of baseball artwork (I suppose that's what they are, after all).

These Polar Night cards measure roughly 3" x 5", quite a bit larger than a standard size modern baseball card as you can see here.  Again, I find the large size to actually be a benefit.  The artwork is truly stunning, and I love the level of precision and detail in the drawing and painting that you can see when viewed at this scale.  Plus, at the advice of the gentleman I purchased this one from I found the perfect sheets for keeping these in a binder, which I'll show off in a future post once I fill one up.

The Polar Night series all have the same exact card back, with the only difference being the card number of course.  This is actually the first and only Helmar release I've come across personally so far that has the card numbers included on the back.  For the other releases that lack this though, their website has a comprehensive (and interactive!) checklist that makes tracking your cards a breeze.

So, there you have it! My first Helmar Polar Night card, and my first card period of the man who played catcher and roamed the outfield for a few franchises between 1881 and 1888!  Simply awesome.  I certainly hope to have more of these cards to share with you in the future here on the blog.

What do you think of the Helmar Polar Night release?  I'd love to hear your feedback, positive or negative, in the comments.  Thanks as always for stopping by!

1 comment:

gregory said...

Looks like Mr. Deasley is in the middle of performing a magic trick: "Perceive the baseball in my hands, and behold! (creates distraction, drops baseball next to left foot) The baseball is gone!

Nice-looking artwork, for sure.

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