A Note About the Scanning Process

Unless otherwise specified, every picture of every card, front and back, comes from scans I made from my collection. The challenge here is that I don’t have a scanner. I do have Google’s PhotoScan app which, in conjunction with my LG V20, does a very good job “scanning” proper photographs in inconsistent lighting thanks to its glare reduction features.  The problem is, baseball cards, especially older ones, are worlds removed from being “proper photographs.” With any magnification beyond 1:1, the half-tone artifacts from the early-era of Fisk’s career are evident, and the Google PhotoScan process accentuates this effect. In proper lighting, I was able to take normal glare-free pictures then crop to create a standard “card” image, but at least 90% of the cards had their picture taken using the Google PhotoScan app. I haven’t touched up or processed any of the images beyond re-doing the scan if the white balance got blown up mid-scan (cards with a lot of white in some areas had this issue). I focused on the quality of the front of the card, not the back. Every now and then a defect from the Google PhotoScan process shows up, and I decided it wasn’t worth the time to re-do it. The fuzziness in this scan in the height, weight, etc. portion is an artifact of the scanning process, not the card itself. There’s probably a way to produce better scans of these cards, but the pictures themselves (and researching and purchasing equipment) are not my intent.

Another issue encountered is that, as of 2018, many of the cards are not perfectly flat. The thick Sportflics lenticular cards are the worst offenders, but even normal cards, which have been held captive in a non-cared-for binder since 1991 or so, haven’t been sitting perfectly flat, so they’ve accumulated a non-flat shape. Combine that with using a smartphone-based “scanner” app where the card is just on a flat surface (as opposed to a true flatbed scanner, with a lid providing pressure), and, try as it might to correct distortion, Google PhotoScan will end up with some janky, discolored borders. Again, this is a fixable problem, but this is outside the intent of the project.

In short, almost all the cards, even the very oldest, look better in-person than the included pictures indicate. Many/most defects are due to a combination of the scanning process and the relatively high dpi of the resulting image file.

I did come across some interesting articles about baseball card printing: