With the help of a former White House official and the former CEO of Topps, PSA has confirmed that there are two distinct types of 1990 Topps George Bush baseball cards. One type has a thick coating on the front, the other does not.
Until now, it was believed that all of these modern-era rarities were constructed in exactly the same manner. After analyzing multiple examples, including those owned by the two individuals mentioned above, PSA officials believe it is clear there are two versions of the highly-desirable card.
"We've now confirmed there are two types of cards; one type issued directly to the White House and a version that merely escaped the manufacturer. Both types were produced by Topps and both have the same design of a young George Bush in his Yale University baseball uniform. However, the cards actually gifted to President Bush have a distinctively different characteristic on the front of the cards," said Joe Orlando, president of PSA.
"We realized the difference when a former White House official submitted his cards for certification. We now know the White House-issued cards have an almost laminated, reflective look to the front, while the other George Bush cards look and feel just like the regular Topps cards produced for their 1990 baseball card set," Orlando revealed.
"Until now, we'd only seen cards in the marketplace without the thick coating, and those examples are clearly different than the 100 cards that were personally presented to President Bush by Arthur Shorin, the CEO of Topps at the time. It has long been said that only 100 cards were made for this project. While there has been some dispute over the years as to exactly how many were manufactured, as a result of this study we are now certain that more than 100 were produced. One version actually made it to the White House and the other one did not."
Former New Hampshire Governor (1983-1989) and former White House Chief of Staff (1989-1991) John Sununu recently submitted a small group of the 1990 Topps Bush cards to PSA for grading.
"When the cards arrived, we immediately noticed a difference in their construction," said Orlando. "Each card provided by Mr. Sununu exhibited a thick, clear coating along the entire face of the card," Orlando explained.
Sununu received those cards directly from President Bush 23 years ago after Shorin gave 100 of them to the President.
"After the presentation of the special issue cards in the Oval Office, the President distributed a number of them to family, close friends and several members of our White House staff. Since I was sure that few, if any, of us would ever part with such a personal memento, I was surprised to see so many cards beginning to show up in auctions in recent years, although Topps' original intent was to distribute only the 100, which were given to the President," said Sununu.
PSA contacted Shorin, who has been a director of Topps since 1960 and served as CEO from 1980-2008. He located his personal 1990 Topps Bush card, which the President autographed at the initial presentation. “Actually, Shorin said, “I traded three Arthur Shorin cards to the President for one of his 100 cards, which I treasure to this day.” The coating on the Shorin card matched the coating on those submitted by Sununu.
"At this point, we are of the opinion that the cards actually presented to President Bush did possess this characteristic, the additional coating, which is absent on the multiple examples that escaped the factory over the years," said Orlando.
Sununu describes himself as a "lifetime card collector," and recalled his pleasure when Topps requested permission to print a card depicting a collegiate photo of the President.
"I was thrilled when Arthur Shorin called me to ask whether President Bush would allow Topps to produce a George Bush baseball card, and was doubly thrilled when the President agreed to my recommendation that he do it," he said. "The President was proud to have his two years as Captain of the Yale baseball team commemorated by Topps, though he was less eager to have his batting average displayed on the back of the card."
First baseman Bush batted .239 his Junior year and .264 his Senior year for a two-year average of .251.
"I reached out to PSA to 'clear the air,' and sure enough, Joe Orlando’s detective work revealed that there were indeed additional cards printed beyond the White House Issue," Sununu stated. "Like any collecting 'purist,' I am pleased to know that PSA has documented the two distinct card types and helped to unravel another small mystery within the hobby."
Orlando's report about the discovery and confirmation of the two types of 1990 Topps George Bush cards is online at www.psacard.com.