Hobby Musings: Historic Autographs brings 1945 to trading cards in a big way – In addition to its more traditional baseball products, Historic Autographs has been releasing non-sport products over the past few years. With these products, they’ve highlighted presidents, triumphs, and tragedies. For one of their latest offerings, they decided to highlight the year 1945 and the end of World War II. To find out more about what went into the product, I had the chance to catch up with Historic Autographs founder Kevin Heffner.
KS: Kevin, you made Historic’s name on baseball products, but have branched out into non-sport the past few years. With that in mind, what made you decide to tackle this as a product?
KH: When I started Historic Autographs back in 2010, our mission was to make cards that we would collect and utilize existing collectibles to make something new and special. As our company evolved, we saw a glaring void in the collectibles market. That void was historically based products. We intend to be the industry leader in this genre for years to come.
KS: For a project of this magnitude, how do you decide what the scope will be?
KH: It was apparent from the beginning that our first “Year” product should chronicle a big year, and there may be no year more impactful during the 20th Century than 1945.
KS: As an example, the product relies partially on WW2 era uniforms to make relic cards, however they aren’t specific to the person depicted on the card. What would the difference in the cost of the product be to have done that specific set with person-worn uniforms?
KH: We looked into finding actual uniforms for some of the people that we had in the set. But honestly, they just don’t exist, or are so rare that HA would never have cut them up to use as an insert card.
KS: A lot happened in 1945. Did you capture it all in this set or may we eventually see a second series?
KH: As I said before, 1945 was perhaps the most impactful year in the 20th Century, but our staff did a wonderful job telling the historical view of 1945. So, I think we are good with a single series. We are doing “1918” for our 2022 “Year” product to capture the end of World War I and the Spanish Influenza epidemic.
KS: The product booklist, which is part image database, part checklist, and part teaching tool, is one of the coolest aspects of the hobby version. Where did that idea originate, and was it part of the plan from the beginning?
KH: I am so happy to see that our checklist booklet is being seen as we intended. We made our first booklet for POTUS, the First 36 and we fell in love with the premise. We will continue to do booklet checklists (or booklists, as you named them) for all our historically based products.
KS: The oversized stickers in the hobby version look amazing. In fact they look nothing like the images on the sell sheet, nor was it mentioned upon soliciting that these were oversized. Was the oversized nature of the stickers by original design, or did it just happen during the process?
KH: The stickers were always intended to be large, (as box toppers) and the response has been mostly positive. They are beautiful holographic stickers, and my 10-year-old son has decorated his room with dozens of them.
KS: What were some of the harder cut signatures to track down that you felt, regardless of time or expense, just had to be in the product?
KH: I spent many hours every week looking for autographs, so I was able to locate some tougher names, and I believe that is one of the things that sets HA apart from other companies.
KS: How were you able to track some of these autographs down? I have to imagine that they’re not as plentiful as someone like Carl Hubbell or even Jackie Robinson.
KH: I think that finding the right autographs at the right price is what has become the most challenging issue.
KS: Why did you make the decision to do both hobby and blaster box versions of the product?
KH: We have been asking around and thought that producing both versions was what the market required. We are always adjusting the numbers and versions after each product to adjust to what the market enjoys most. For our next historically based product – Famous Americans – Historic Autographs will be producing more hobby boxes and fewer retail/blaster boxes because that is what the public wants. But we made sure to keep our “rate of pull” for inserts and parallels the same in both the hobby and retail to assure the public a fair deal.
KS: You’ve spoken of you’ve done more and more of them, how big a part are they of Historic Autographs’ future?
KH: You hit the nail on the head, Historic Autographs’ future will be in producing more quality products that are historically based, while still issuing familiar products such as KINGS and Originals, which are the single hit products.
KS: What other products do you have coming out soon?
KH: Still to come in 2021 are KINGS 3, Famous Americans and The Washington Chronicles (a HUGE product that will have (9) George Washington autographs among the hundreds of great “hits” and inserts. In 2022 we intend to issue “1918” along with The Lincoln Chronicles, Famous Americans 2, the Gilded Age, The MOB 2 and Decades, the 1980s. If we are lucky we may even do the Civil War again.
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