Monday, July 10, 2017

Cardboard OCD Chapter 2: Which Way Is Up?

Everyone has their ways of doing things.  We talk about most of them all the time.  But there are some fundamental things that we do without much thought.  Simple tasks or perceptions that are second nature to us, but may be different to others.  Small psychological differences that are interesting when you take a second to think about them.  Or maybe I just have no life.  (Don't answer that!)

Most cards are oriented vertically, with the text reading from left to right along the shorter (2½") side of the standard card.  For all the examples in this post, the card is "flipped" over it's right edge.

When you look at a group of vertical and horizontal cards together, how do you feel the horizontal cards should be facing?

I consider the "correct" orientation to be like this:

Photo swiped from Nick at Dime Boxes
So what would be the upper left corner of a horizontal card moves to the lower left when turned vertically, or 90° counter-clockwise rotation.  For ease of discussion, let's call it being Right Side Up since literally the right edge of a horizontal card points up, or becomes the top edge.

Looks like the grading companies agree.  A quick search appears to show that they encase cards in this direction too.  If you turn it to read the grading label, the right side is against the label at the top.

The backs of horizontal cards may be vertical and can reveal if the designers agreed with this arrangement.
In this case, they did.

I believe the majority of sets that have horizontal-front cards are consistent with this pattern.  I'll go so far as to flip cards over that are facing the other way in a stack I'm sifting through or in a top loader that I bought from someone.  Cards that aren't Right Side Up just push that little psychological button that says "That's not right.  Needs to be fixed."  At least in my mind.

Now the really strange part is, vertical cards with horizontal backs are actually the opposite, in the sense that the back rotates clockwise 90° or "Left Side Up".

This seems consistent through more modern sets.

So horizontal fronts with vertical backs go counter clockwise, and vertical fronts with horizontal backs go clockwise.

But not always....

I've found some examples that diverge from the "norm".  There are a few sets where all the horizontals are Left Side Up throughout the whole set.  And there are others where it just plain gets weird.

1994 Score has all horizontal backs.  To keep all the backs in the same direction, the horizontal cards end up Left Side Up.  I omitted the arrows because you probably get the idea.

Well OK, that's all fine and good.  At least the whole set is like that.

There is (at least) one Topps flagship set where things seem to have gone awry.

1997 Topps has a couple sections of Prospects cards.  They are horizontal on the front.  The backs are vertical.  For some reason, the orientation flips around among these.  There could be others, I haven't verified.  Check it out:

Backs are all the same.  But flip them all over at once....
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Topps??
Seems like someone was asleep at the design console, perhaps?  I don't see where these are variations anywhere, so I guess it's just how they are.  I don't even think the flipped ones are the good players or anything.

And the most bizarre design I've come across so far is 1993 Select.  These have sort of a two-tone green frame design on the front that varies between left and right facing, as well as horizontals too.  But it really goes nuts when you find that some of the vertical cards have horizontal backs, and some of the horizontal cards have vertical backs.  It's really just totally random.

Left front frame - vertical back
Jose looks concerned....

Right front frame - vertical back
Ok, fine.  Mix it up.  No problem.  Harold knows it's about to get weird....

Vertical front - Horizontal back!
Say Wha?  It's almost like they put so much into the rear photos that they catered the layout to them.  Hey, OK.  Random, but OK.

Horizontal front and back
 Horizontal - Horizontal.  Nothing strange here.

Horizontal front - Vertical back
OK, now ya got me.  They've lost all control....  Though at least from the small sample size I have (a handful in my dupes box), All of the HorizF-VertB ones are Left Side Up to keep the backs upright.  I don't think I'll ever want to complete this set.  It would be too annoying to have them all over the place like that.

So the bottom line question is really this - Which one of these below is "Correct" to you?

Let me know in the comments.  Then go enjoy your properly socialized lives.


Matt Prigge said...

Right side up is strongly preferred. Consistency, however, is essential. I'm surprised about those 97 Topps rookies. I never noticed that before.

Doe M.G. said...

I am also a right-side up collector.

Corky said...

I go with the right side being the top on horizontal cards. When I do sketch cards I try to stick to vertical but when I have to lay out a design horizontally I do the right side up on them too.

Nick said...

Right-side-up. Seeing a card left-side-up seriously screws with my cardboard OCD, even if it makes the back upside-down.