Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Borders vs. full bleed
Borders have been a part of baseball cards for over a century.
They're pretty much everywhere you look. Tobacco cards, Topps, Donruss, you name it.
Then, right around the start of the wacky '90s, borders met their match with the advent of full-bleed designs. We're mostly back to borders these days, but the legacy of a lot of those full-bleed sets can still be seen today.
I've noticed a few different "borders vs. full-bleed" debates pop up around the blogs lately. I've never put much thought into the argument until I started reading about it.
I decided to do a little further investigation to hopefully put my two cents into the topic and see which type of card I truly prefer.
Both have their pros and cons.
As I said, borders have been a mainstay on cards for nearly forever.
They definitely bring a certain elegance to cardboard that can't be accomplished through full-bleed designs. Borders make you feel like you're holding something special in your hands.
It's part of the reason why Topps has garnered such a huge reputation in the hobby. I don't think it's a coincidence that every Flagship set ever released has featured borders. Would the '87 Topps design be as memorable without the famous wood-grain borders? Probably not.
Then again, maybe the whole border thing has been overdone. Topps has started to put me to sleep with all the boring white-bordered sets over the last decade.
They can improve their photography all they want, but a shift to more flashy borders would really get my attention.
Perhaps a full-bleed Topps set wouldn't be a bad idea, either.
The usage of full-bleed designs is a fairly new innovation. I could be wrong about this, but the oldest example I can think of is the debut of Stadium Club in 1991.
From there, more and more brands and designs started to branch out into the full-bleed world. Stadium Club continued to run with the idea during their run. Upper Deck converted to full-bleed for a few years in the mid '90s.
Many others followed.
Arguably my favorite example of full-bleed cardboard comes from mid '90s Fleer.
If you've ever held one of these before, you probably know that they have an odd matte finish that was a grand departure from the glossy domination that was sweeping the hobby at the time.
1997 Fleer is a particular favorite of mine. It truly stands out from the gluttony of similar sets that were being released in the mid '90s. Part of that has to do with the full-bleed design.
One thing I like about full-bleed is that it places an emphasis on the photography. Whether they're posed, candid, action, or whatever, we buy the cards for the pictures if you stop and think about it.
Like bordered cardboard, though, full-bleed can get boring if used too often. Plus, most full-bleed sets lack a sense of identity that make deigns like '87 Topps so famous.
I doubt we'd ever describe a full-bleed set as iconic.
In the end, I decided that I prefer borders over full-bleed.
I'll just put this way. Can you imagine '75 Topps with a full-bleed design? I can't. The colorful borders are what made the set last the test of time.
However, I do believe that there is a place for full-bleed cards in the hobby. I think we could benefit from seeing a few full-bleed sets these days. They'd bring a nice change of pace to what is becoming a fairly redundant selection of designs.
If I have to choose one or the other, I'm going with borders. Borders make the hobby for me.
I couldn't imagine baseball cards without them.