YeeHaw. I Pulled My First Cut Auto.
February 3rd, 2011 by slangon

And by “pulled” I really mean “made”.

As you may or may not recall, over the summer, I sold a David Price pie face short print on eBay for a couple of bucks, and immediately turned that couple of bucks into a pile of stuff that I found more interesting than that David Price money shot card. One of the items I picked up was a Clydell Castleman cut signature. The second I saw it and made the decision to bid on it, I knew what the logical outcome of obtaining that item would be. A SlangKo Kustom Cut Autograph. I hadn’t really given much thought to making my own cut auto card until I happened to be buying a few cards from that 1 particular seller and saw that they had this cut signature for $0.99 and figured why not. At the time, they actually had 2 or 3 other cuts for $0.99 that were of other, similarly old but not well known players from the 1930’s. In hindsight, I wish I would’ve picked up a few more, but what can you do.

Before I show you the final product (as if I have any control over you just scrolling down to see it), I just want to share some thoughts on the actual process of making this card.

First off, I have never had the pleasure of pulling a cut autograph, nor do I think I ever will. It all boils down to my card buying habits. I don’t know off the top of my head what the odds of pulling a cut auto are, but I’m know that they’re extremely steep. I’d venture to say that the chances of pulling even a crappy cut auto are beyond me. I just don’t buy that much hobby product. I’m lucky if I buy one or two boxes a year, some of which don’t have cut autos as part of the checklist. Even my retail purchases have dropped off as of late. Point is, for the amount of boxes and/or packs that I open, the chances of me pulling a cut are slim pickin’s.

So anyway, I get this cut signature of a guy who played in the Majors 70+ years ago and decide to make a custom card with it. I’ve made quite a few custom cards in my day, and I think I’ve done pretty well with them so far, judging from the reactions I’ve gotten from people who read this blog, so I felt pretty confident going forward with this one. Once I started however, I realized it’s quite a bit more complex than just churning out a design and slapping the signature in it.

I’ve read several posts concerning cut auto cards on various blogs throughout the card community complaining about poorly designed cards, which is perfectly valid, because, after all, it’s your job as a card manufacturer to make cards and if you want people to continue to buy your cards, you should do the best job possible to make them look as good as you can. It seems especially important with big pulls such as cut autos since I would imagine it would be quite deflating to finally pull something as rare and special as a cut autograph but have it presented in a poorly conceived card layout.

That being said, once I started in on trying to coming up with a design for my cut autograph, I realized that I was kind of limited in certain aesthetic choices due to the characteristics of the actual autograph.

This is what the signature looked like as I got it from the eBay seller.

As you can see, the paper that the signature is on is long and narrow, which doesn’t lend itself very well to making a vertically oriented card. Actually, this particular one, although I never measured it, it too long to fit on a card which is standing up. That’s fine, since I happen to be partial to horizontal card layouts, but then the problem becomes one of real estate. When you figure that a standard card is 3.5″ by 2.5″, and the signature itself takes up just about half the card, you’re basically working with an area thats roughly 3.5″ by 1.25″ or so, which is a kind of awkward area to work with, at least if you’re trying to incorporate anything more than just the players name. I was looking to add a few more visually interesting elements to the front of the card, so this ended up being a little bit of a challenge.

What further complicates matters is that (ideally) you’re dealing with a signature of someone who isn’t around to make more signatures, so it’s not like you can call them up and ask for a different autograph that might fit into the space a little better. It might sound a bit callous, but really, what’s the point of making a cut auto card of somebody who’s still alive and could just as easily sign a card? Again, judging by other posts I’ve read around the interwebs, I don’t think I’m alone in that opinion.

I assume that the card companies employ people who design things for a living, though, so just because something is a little challenging is no excuse for turning out a lousy looking card. I’m just saying, having done it, trying to come up with a cool looking cut auto card that works with the actual signed piece is a lot harder than you would think.

Anyway, without further ado, here is the card.

2010 SlangKo Kustom Cuts #1 Clydell “Slick” Castleman Cut Autograph 1/1

This, obviously, is the front side, with the window for the signature. I was able to incorporate a few of my personal favorite graphic elements, namely a floating head, a gnarly looking old team logo and a nickname. Another thing I thought was pretty cool is the “1/1” mark.  I actually found this foil stuff that you can run through the copier to give whatever you’re printing a metallic sheen. It’s a little hard to see it in the scan above, but it’s a little clearer in this photo.

Oooh. Look how shiny. One thing you can see in the scan above is that the registration is off a bit on the gold numbers. It’s actually a little tricky to use this foil stuff. What you have to do is isolate whatever elements you want to be gold in the design, in this case, the “1/1”. Then you print only those elements in black. Then, take that printout and tape the foil stuff to it. Then you run that through the copier again, where it gets heated and the foil sticks to whatever is black. Then, you run that same piece of paper through the copier again, this time printing everything else that’s not gold. It’s sort of a pain in the ass, which is why I wasn’t too picky about that little bit of mis-registration. Besides, judging from some of the mis-registered and mis-cut cards that Topps has put out over the years, I’d say it just makes it more authentic.

The back was pretty straight forward. Since I didn’t have to make room for the autograph, I wasn’t bound by any restrictions and could just approach the design the way I normally would. It’s a little hard to tell by this scan, but that image behind the text on the right side is an old photo of the Polo Grounds. By the way, one of Slick’s 5 strikeout victims in Game 6 of the 1936 World Series was Hall of Famer Tony Lazzeri. I don’t care that Castleman was a player who not too many people would remember these days. He could always tell people that he once struck out Tony Lazzeri. That’s pretty awesome.

One other thing that was sort of strange about the process of making this card was how nervous I was about it. Maybe nervous isn’t the right word. Maybe tentative is a better word. I just kept second guessing the design. I think it was because even though it’s not an autograph of anyone spectacular, and even though I only paid $0.99 for it, I doubt I’ll ever see another Slick Castleman autograph. It really is a 1 of 1. I wanted to make sure the card looked good before I entombed the signature in it. Speaking of nervous, I was kind of nervous when I was actually assembling the card because I kept feeling like I was going to jostle the signature at the last second and it would end up being in the card crooked. Once it was in, there would be no way of re-doing it without destroying the signature. It may not be perfect, but I like it.

There it is. The first ever SlangKo Kustom Cut. Hopefully, if I can my hands on more of these signatures, more will follow.

6 Responses to “YeeHaw. I Pulled My First Cut Auto.”

  1. cool story and AWESOME CARD!!! Well done!

  2. I’ve been thinking of trying to do this with some index cards that I got signed. Neat card!

  3. Nice! Now I know where to send all my loose autos!

  4. Great work, sir! You’re breaking new ground in the custom card world and it shows great respect for Mr. Castleman.

  5. This is top notch! Can’t wait to see more custom cuts!

  6. Holy Cut-Autographs, Batman! That is one awesome piece of cardboard you’ve made! Who can resist the powers of the floating head? It hypnotizes you!

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