Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bob Lemke's Cool Custom Cards: December 2009

The 1952 Red Man Tobacco Mickey Mantle

By Bob Lemke

I've expanded my custom card repertoire with this latest creation. It's a “what might have been” fantasy card of Mickey Mantle in the format of the 1952 Red Man tobacco cards.

My custom Mantle is in the original 3-1/2" x 4" format. To better replicate the original Red Mans, I used a thinner cardboard stock for this one. It really has the “feel” of the originals.

As opposed to most of my custom cards, on which the back -- which usually has biographical details, stats, cartoons, etc. -- takes more time to create than the front, this one was a snap. Since the backs of 1952 Red Mans (and 1953, 1954, 1955, as well) were “generic,” I only had to scan an original and clean it up a bit.

The front is essentially a mashup of three elements. The background is from the front of a 1955 Red Man Whitey Ford card. With one click in my Photochop Elements graphics program, I flopped the image and moved the Yankee Stadium details from the left to the right side of the card.

The coupon at bottom started out on a scan I found on an auction site of a 1952 Red Man Ted Williams card. I changed the card number and cleaned up the typography and color bars.

Mantle's picture came from the cover of the 1953 Dell Baseball Annual. I had to do a lot of trial-and-error cutting and pasting to find a size and positioning that would allow for maximum detail yet still leave room for the text box.

I've always been frustrated that the Photoshop Elements program doesn't have the ability to create justified text . . . at least not that I've ever been able to find on my ancient 2.0 version.

After giving the matter some thought and trying a few workarounds, I determined that if I wanted to create justified text such as usually found on baseball cards, I'd just have to bite the bullet and do it the hard way. After writing my text in the designated space, I nudge every single word of it into a position that creates a pretty good approximation of justified type.

There's currently one more Red Man-style card on my to-do list, though I don't know when I'll actually get it into production. You'll see it on my blog ( before you'll see it anywhere else.

As always, you can access images of many of my custom card creations at If you think you'd like any of the actual cards as holiday gifts, contact me for details at


Bob Lemke is a collector of bubblegum cards in the 1950s-1960s, Bob Lemke's hobby today is creating cards of current and former “players” in those "golden age" styles. He currently edits the vintage sections of the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards and maintains a hobby blog at

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