When you collect for a long time, you begin to crave unique items that you don’t see all that often. I try to collect every Chris Chelios card that I can find, including offbeat stuff like this 1991-92 Topps Stadium Club proof card. As you can see from the comparison above, the proof (right) is bigger than the standard card. The proof measures 2-7/8″ wide by 3-7/8″ tall — 3/4″ of an inch bigger in both directions. There’s an interesting reason for this.
Topps Stadium club cards “back in the day” were overprinted, then cut down to size. In other words, the cards were printed bigger than they needed to be, and then cut down to achieve the “full bleed,” borderless effect. If you search for uncut sheets of Stadium Club cards on Ebay and look at the pictures in the auctions, you’ll notice that the cards are bigger. Topps printed the cards larger than their final size and cut them two times: first to separate the cards, and then again to cut each card down to the standard 2-1/2″ by 3-1/2″ size.
This Chelios card was cut from the sheet, but not cut down to the standard size. We see the blade of his skate at the bottom, and more of his stick at the left.
Personally, I like the look of the uncropped photograph. The idea of showing the whole photo would be used by Topps a few years later in it’s 1993-94 Stadium Club Master Photo insert set.
The extra space on the back isn’t as exciting, though. We get more of the illustrated stands at the top. The upper-right corner shows a walkway behind the nosebleed seats, while the bottom shows more of the ice surface. I wonder if the artist who created this hockey rink illustration did the entire rink, or just what we see here.
Technically, this card is not a proof. A proof card would be used to check for mistakes or production errors. It appears that proofs — at least those we see on Ebay — did not have the gold foil applied. That makes sense; if Topps was going to print out cards to proofread and mark any mistakes, it wouldn’t make sense to incur the added expense of stamping the gold foil on them.
Why this card was printed and foil-stamped, but not cut down to size is a mystery to me. Proof or not, it is still a rare card for my Chris Chelios collection. Personally, I’d rather have a pre-production piece like this than a 1/1 that would cost a small fortune.
If you’ve seen other cards like this — printed at the 2 7/8″ by 3 7/8″ size — in hockey or any sport, and know more about them, please leave a comment below. ■
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.