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Adding New Elements to Card Printing —Cagle

September 2006
Strine PRINTING had always been something of a mystery. For years, the company had avoided publicity, preferring to keep a low profile. So when the assignment to profile the pride of York, PA, came along, I fought to hide a smile. All I knew about Strine was that it prints Topps trading cards.

Since a majority of my own 30-year collection was likely pressed at Strine, I knew a tour was in order. Dave Kornbau, vice president of operations, provided an extended stayover in the card division and related his own role in some of the most ballyhooed, valuable and highly desirable cards printed since the 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie. They are commonly known as memorabilia cards—where every piece of equipment or uniform imaginable is incorporated into the card itself (see the cover article on page 22).

Kornbau was personally in charge of harvesting the handle of a Babe Ruth bat, cutting it into thin wood chip portions that would then be sandwiched by two pieces of cardboard, with a diecut window, to showcase the piece of baseball history. Kornbau later heard that these Ruth bat cards were fetching thousands of dollars on the secondary market.

Due to the nature of the production, clearance is given to a precious few who can venture into “the cage,” where Strine keeps its stash of uniforms, bats, balls of all sports, and even auto racing tires and lug nuts. A single baseball jersey can be cut into 1,500 swatches, or grids as Kornbau calls them, so a single jersey can populate any number of different issues. A set of wooden templates are used for cutting the bat chips.

Despite the delicate process in dealing with vastly different substrates, few problems are experienced in the production process. Kornbau pulled out a small box of cards that didn’t make the grade, and demonstrated how the cards are assembled.

Clearly, Kornbau and his team enjoy their work, and it’s apparent in the quality of craftsmanship.

PLATES GET HAMMERED: Last month a treasure trove of printing plates used by banks to make ornate currency—plates that had sat in the archives of American Bank Note for roughly 150 years—went up for auction, according to the Associated Press.

A New Hampshire firm, American Numismatic Rarities, examined and catalogued more than 200 tons of plates. About 900 of the plates were used by banks for printing money—a commonplace practice before the federal government began printing money in quantity during the 1860s—and upwards of 20,000 plates were used for other notable printing jobs.

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