09 September 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 107: 2013-14 National Treasures Hakeem Olajuwon Magenta Printing Plate

I picked up this Hakeem Olajuwon printing plate from 2013-14 National Treasures Basketball, which by the looks of things on eBay is a product that has more printing plates than it does anything else. It is one of the better styles of printing plate that I've seen from the product, as the printing plates for cards with big relic swatch windows wind up with some pretty tiny photos in the corners and not much else. It didn't cost a whole lot and I think it's probably my first Olajuwon # 1 / 1. It is the Magenta plate, which is a pretty good color for a guy wearing a red uniform. There is some smudging along the front of the plate, but it isn't too bad.

As I sat here I got to thinking that something must be wrong with this plate because the lettering on Olajuwon's jersey and shorts went the right way and wasn't a mirror image. I thought maybe I had just uncovered some huge scam in the card production industry, where plates are just fabrications and not used in the card creation process after all. I tried to think back to other printing plates I had in my collection and which way the text on them ran.

I am not the first blogger unfamiliar with printing methods who has asked that question, as my web search turned up a post from January on the 14,000 Phillies blog, explaining that some plates print directly onto the card stock and are mirror-imaged, while a process known as offset printing places the ink from the plate onto a mat and from the mat onto the card stock, meaning the image gets flipped twice rather than once and appears normal on the plate. So this plate must have been used in that way. I guess I can rest easy tonight, knowing that the card companies aren't just a bunch of money-grubbing snake oil salesmen.

I don't know what to say about the back. Panini printed all the information right on the back of the plate, unlike the sticker that most Topps printing plates have. I don't really have a preference either way, I suppose.


  1. I love watching breaks of National Treasures. That Olajuwon is pretty sweet.

    1. It's pretty fun to watch the high-end breaks, even the stuff that's way out of my league. Did you ever watch a Panini Flawless break? That stuff was like $1800 for 10 cards, and it came in a little locking briefcase. At $180/spot in the break, there would be a couple of happy people and seven or eight people who were very sad. I was always happy because I got to see all the cards, but I didn't have any skin in the game.