As much as I like odd pre-production items like promo cards, proof photos and so forth, I’ve steered clear of printing plates. This is because they tend to be expensive. And really, who wants to spend money on a card that only shows only one-fourth of the image; either the cyan, yellow, magenta or black areas that makes up the photograph. But then I saw this card on eBay — a 2014-15 Upper Deck Series One Yellow Printing Plate of Nashville Predators goalie Carter Hutton — and had a conundrum. I collect all of Hutton’s cards. Do I go after this one too? Or do I let it slide by me, since it isn’t really a card?
Obviously, the collector in me wanted to try and at least win the card on eBay, and I did. I didn’t know what to expect. I figured it was just some “made up” card comprised of yellow ink slathered on a piece of cardboard. A manufactured rarity, if you will. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
This is actually a metal lithography plate that was used in the creation of this card. Now I’m a lot happier that I went after this. Carter Hutton is one of the few players that I collect, and had a similar card for Chris Chelios or Jeremy Roenick had been available, it would have gone for considerably more.
Comparing the printing plate side-by-side with the base card that it made, it is interesting to see how the more yellow parts of the photo — the stripes on the chest and sleeves of Hutton’s jersey, the base of the rink boards, and so forth — correspond to darker areas on the plate.
Also note that the image on the plate is not reversed; it is not mirror image of the final piece. Without going into a detailed explanation of the offset printing process (which admittedly I cannot do), the reason for this is because the inks are applied to an intermediary surface before ultimately being printed to the card stock. That is, the ink goes from the plate to another surface, and then to the card.
What I cannot figure out is why the printing plate has rounded corners? Perhaps that is because it was “punched out” of a larger plate, and the punch had rounded (not square) corners. This is just a guess, so if anyone knows, please enlighten me.
Every year, Upper Deck Series One seems to be a popular product for collectors to break, so I am sure that sooner or later the cyan, magenta and black printing plates will surface. And when they do, I’ll have no choice but to go after them — partially because I collect this player, but also because plates are a unique pre-production piece to own. ■