Topps Museum — The Canvas Collection

Not every sketch card is generically called a “sketch card.” Topps has an annual baseball card set that titles their sketch card inserts as “Artist Original Canvas Collection” cards. Let’s break it down.

In 2012, Topps released their inaugural “Museum Collection” baseball cards. Not for the faint of heart, this is a premium set that delivers a lot of unique content. The name itself evokes the possibility of high-end pulls worthy of display. Each pack contained five cards, and SRP was around $200/box. One of the insert card sets are called “The Canvas Collection,” inserted one card per box. These are reproductions of artwork, but you also have the chance to find the original art card inserted into packs. By my math, there were 48 players in the Canvas Collection set. The original art cards were limited to 10 per player featured, (each had very similar art), so that’s 480 total sketch cards across the whole run. The odds were against the collector finding one, so the box graphics, and sell sheets didn’t really promote them as a hit. Below is a 2012 box image, as well as a 2013 sell sheet.

Below is a sample Canvas Collection reproduction card of Bob Gibson from 2012. Note the language on the back. It clearly says “reproduction.” If you are bidding on eBay with only a front scan, it becomes a whole lot harder to know what you’re buying. Keep reading below to see the distinctions between originals and reproductions.

The set returned in 2013 with a similar strategy and checklist. The 2013 set had 35 cards, which was down from 48 in 2012. A total of seven artists contributed to the set:

  • Dan Bergren
  • Gabe Farber
  • Brandon Kenney
  • Gary Kezele
  • James Henry Smith
  • Bob Stevlic
  • Brad Utterstrom
  • Russell Walks.

Kenney, Kezele and Walks returned from the 2012 lineup. Besides basic versions of the insert cards, each of the 35 players again had ten original sketch art cards inserted across the run. These are hand-numbered to 10 on the front (for a total of 350 sketch cards). When you are bidding on eBay with only a front scan, look for hand-numbering.

Above are images of both an Artist Original Canvas Collection (hand-numbered 05/10), and a pack-inserted reproduction. You can see how similar they look at first, but how the wording on the back of the Original says “Congratulations!” The original art is very similar to the reproduced inserts, but of course, not exact.

2014 gets more confusing. Inserted one per 2014 Topps Museum Collection Baseball box, collectors again received one reproduction card. It was is the biggest checklist yet for the insert. (It debuted in 2012 with 48 cards. In 2013, it was down to 35.) And while there are 50 cards in the 2014 set, there are three players who have two cards each for some reason: Yogi Berra, Lou Brock and Johnny Bench. CardboardConnection shared this information online: “Besides the basic inserts, original art versions are randomly inserted. These are not reprints but rather one-of-one pieces of art. The checklist for these art cards go beyond the 50 players in the main set.” — Wait. They deviated from their previous formula of 10 sketch cards per player, and made a bunch of random sketch cards? Do we know how many were even created? And worse yet … the reproductions say “Congratulations!” on the back of the 2014 cards (see above).

2015 Canvas Collection Reprints returned at a rate of one per box (but box SRP was up to $250). The set again consisted of 50 cards. Canvas Collection Originals again had original artwork drawn directly on the card, but the sketch cards were not related to the pack-inserted Canvas Collection Reprints. This Stan Musial sketch (above) by Kevin-John is most likely not duplicated over-and-over, like in the 2012 & 2013 sets. Again, I don’t think collectors ever received a final checklist or likely production run.

2016 Topps Museum shortened the insert set to just 25 cards. They also offered 5×7 enlargement reproductions as box toppers. Sticking with the previous year’s formula, Canvas Collection Originals sketch cards were not related to the pack-inserted Canvas Collection Reprints. This Tony Perez sketch (above) by Carlos Cabaleiro is most likely not duplicated over-and-over. Again, collectors never received a final checklist or production run.

2017 was wash, rinse, repeat (see above). Again, collectors never received a sketchcard checklist, and sketch cards were not related to the reproduction cards. The reproduction checklist had multiple duplicates (including THREE different Miguel Cabrera, and THREE Clayton Kershaw’s in the same subset). But a new sketch card emerged … “Canvas Collection Autographs” included Athlete SIGNED versions of an Artist Original Canvas Collection. See the Buster Posey below.

2018 will most likely drop in June. Advance solicitations say “the Canvas Collection insert is found in several different versions. A Canvas Collection Reprint falls one per box, while Canvas Collection Originals and Canvas Collection Autographs are both one-of-one lines featuring hand-drawn artwork.” — It’s additionally worth noting that other Topps sets/sports have also adopted the Museum brand, such as 2015 Topps Football Museum, and 2017 Topps UFC Museum … It’s a good brand.

Do you have a Canvas Collection Original? Or do you want to continue the conversation? Find me on Twitter @Sketchcards. Happy collecting.

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