Back in the 1990s, many unlicensed hockey cards were made by those looking to quickly — and illegitimately — cash in on the booming sports trading card industry. Some of the more notable fake cards that circulated include a card of Wayne Gretzky as a member of the WHA’s Indianapolis Racers, and another that featured Eric Lindros, Sergei Fedorov and Ed Belfour.
Allegedly, a men’s clothing store called “Man In Black” put out a cheap-looking, six-card set that featured popular Pittsburgh Penguins players. While the Penguins in the 1990s were great, these cards of them are awful.
Like, really awful. Just look at the quality.
No, my scanner is fine — the photos are really that grainy, as if the person who made these cards used a photo of a photo. Hopefully, the suits sold at Man In Black clothing stores weren’t as crummy as these cards.
For some reason, the fronts of the cards use only the players’ first names.
The back of the cards don’t look that great, either. They give the player’s full name, and a bit of info about him. The word “PROMOTIONAL” appears to be stamped — it’s really just printed on — diagonally across the back, as if to say please don’t sue us; we gave these out for free and made no money on them.
At the bottom, the card mentions “Man In Black” Clothing Stores,” which were in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Columbus. I happened to buy these from a sports card dealer from Ohio a few years ago.
Also, I don’t think the Man In Black clothing stores are around anymore, as I can’t find anything about their business online. But if they did give these out, I wonder what the promotion was like. Buy a tie, get a free Mario Lemieux hockey card. Buy some cuff links, and get a free card of Jaromir Jagr. Or maybe the cards were just handed out to promote the stores.
There are three cards of Mario Lemieux, two of Jaromir Jagr and one of Kevin Stevens in this set. Here are pictures of all of the cards.
This picture appears to be from the 1988-89 or 1989-90 season. (back)
I know this picture all too well; it is from the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals, when the Penguins beat the Blackhawks in a four-game sweep. This picture was also used on the cover of the June 8, 1992 issue of Sports Illustrated magazine. (back)
This picture is from 1992-93 or later. Even though all teams wore a Stanley Cup 100th Anniversary patch on their jerseys during the 1992-93 season, the Penguins did not wear that patch on their dark jerseys. (back)
I believe this picture is from the 1991-92 season — that appears to be the Penguins 25th Anniversary patch on Jagr’s right shoulder. (back)
Most likely from 1992-93. Again, the Penguins did not wear the Stanley Cup 100th Anniversary Patch on their black uniforms in 1992-93. (back)
This not-too-flattering photo of Kevin Stevens is from the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals. (back)
My best guess is that this set is from the 1992-93 season, because it uses two photos from that team’s recent Stanley Cup victory in June 1992 and another two photos of players in what would have been their new uniforms for 1992-93.
Do you know anything about this set? Is this something that you would buy? Leave a comment and tell me what I missed, or what you think of these “promotional” cards. ■