Misprints or Design Errors?

Personal offers and search inquiries about promotional, misprinted, and unofficial Magic items.

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mystical_tutor
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Misprints or Design Errors?

Post by mystical_tutor » Fri Apr 03, 2009 6:36 pm

One thing that has bothered me in collecting MTG, both in the commercial and in the collectors relms is that I think there is a lack of a clear definition between "design error" and "misprint".

To me there is a big difference between:

1. Where the process screwed up in the design, proofreading and final approval of a card resulting in something WRONG being printed and distributed to the public (aka. MTG Alpha cards are legend and legion for these errors).

verses:

2. Where the printing process makes a mistake.

a) ink run out.
b) dirty/damaged plate
c) sheets and cutter not aligned correctly
d) a sloppy product was not captured and properly disposed of
e) ad infinitum ad nausium

The first should be something like "design errors"; "WotC flubbs"; "card mistakes". In reality these mistakes are not “misprints”. The print company did not make a mistake and can do everything 100% correctly but the error still exists, this is not a ‘print’ ‘miss’.

The second could be called “misprint” because something in the printing process was wrong and the printer is the catalyst for the error.

We position ourselves as a prestigious group of collectors and it behooves us to lead the community and industry in properly designating the items we collect.
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Magic61983
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Post by Magic61983 » Fri Apr 03, 2009 6:48 pm

There's also a line between miscut and misprint. I know a lot of people that call miscuts misprints. I agree with your thoughts on misprint and mistakes.
BGS 9+ Alpha set 282/295 (97.29%) Avg 9.41
BGS 9.5+ Beta set 283/302 (93.71%) Avg 9.58
BGS 9.5+ Arabian set 35/92 (38.04%) Avg 9.62
BGS 9.5+ Antiquities set 82/100 (82%) Avg 9.64
BGS 9.5+ Legends set 279/310 (90.00%) Avg 9.61

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Post by mystical_tutor » Fri Apr 03, 2009 7:25 pm

Magic61983 wrote:There's also a line between miscut and misprint. I know a lot of people that call miscuts misprints. I agree with your thoughts on misprint and mistakes.
I have seen that difference too and have no argument with it. It is, however, easy for me to put anything that is caused by the printing company into one category.

I feel what Squt has done is great, dividing errors into specific categories. It really makes it much easier for definitive collecting. A little too specific for general conversation though.
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Post by hammr7 » Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:56 pm

Last night I was watching the Science Channel on cable TV. They have a show called something like "How Things Work" that shows different industrial processes. They bundle 3 or 4 different segments into each show, and segments can have anything from making crayons to chains to industrial bread making.

Anyway, last night they had a segment on how playing cards were made. It was immediately clear (from the jokers) that they were showing the Carta Mundi printing process. Sadly, I wasn't at a TV where I could record the show. But for anyone who has never seen how cards are made it is an excellent primer.

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Post by ende73 » Tue Apr 07, 2009 2:47 pm

I also agree that there must be a distinction:

1) I call stuff like the German Swamp / Drudge Skeleton or the French Erosion with the Legends symbol a "standard" misprint, meaning exactly what Mystical Tutor refers to as "design error". This type of error will obiously happen in quantities.

2) I call stuff like a miscut card showing 2 different cards as a "non-standard" (theoretically unique) error card or misprint.

Squt's website is probably the best catalogue out there of "standard misprints" according to these definitions.

Personally, I only collect (or have a rather heavy focus on) non-standard misprints.

However, some shady areas exist: for example, how should Filler cards qualify in this classification? They surely aren't part of a design error which leaked into the mainstream set, but they're certainly not a unique printing error either...

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Re: Misprints or Design Errors?

Post by ende73 » Tue Apr 07, 2009 2:50 pm

mystical_tutor wrote: We position ourselves as a prestigious group of collectors and it behooves us to lead the community and industry in properly designating the items we collect.
Gee, English is not my first language but this phrase fascinates me... it looks like George Washington ! :-P

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Post by mystical_tutor » Tue Apr 07, 2009 3:02 pm

hammr7 wrote:Last night I was watching the Science Channel on cable TV.
Anyway, last night they had a segment on how playing cards were made.
Wonder if that program offers copies for sale. I lost that channel when I stopped subscribing to TV and went to local broadcasting.

Thanks for the info, sounds worth getting.
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Post by mystical_tutor » Tue Apr 07, 2009 3:34 pm

ende73 wrote:I also agree that there must be a distinction:

1) I call stuff like the German Swamp / Drudge Skeleton or the French Erosion with the Legends symbol a "standard" misprint, meaning exactly what Mystical Tutor refers to as "design error". This type of error will obiously happen in quantities.

2) I call stuff like a miscut card showing 2 different cards as a "non-standard" (theoretically unique) error card or misprint.

Squt's website is probably the best catalogue out there of "standard misprints" according to these definitions.

Personally, I only collect (or have a rather heavy focus on) non-standard misprints.

However, some shady areas exist: for example, how should Filler cards qualify in this classification? They surely aren't part of a design error which leaked into the mainstream set, but they're certainly not a unique printing error either...
I guess I dislike using the term misprint to refer to mistakes not made by the printing process itself.

The shady area of filler cards you mention is an excellent example of the distinction. They, in reality, are not errors of any kind in their design and manufacture. They are errors, however, in the printing process itself because they were not supposed to be packaged (and should go right in with the other escapees from the trash bin).

When we look at the whole process from R&D through opening a booster there are two sources of error, the company that designs the item and the company that produces it. A third possibility exists which is the segment of the process that distributes the product --lets save that discussion for another thread.

Thus using these two sources of error as a basis for a clear definition makes it easy to catalogue almost any mistake made.

I would not argue with your definitions. If they work for you--great. Using the word "misprint" for a design error, however confuses the issue for me.

I realize my terminology will not become popular or even be used by most because there are few people in the world that will exert an effort to change anything that even "kinda" works. I just wanted to make my point and share my opinion on the subject.

Oh, and for Squt's work. We all owe him a precious lot for all that work and the definitive help it has been to us. He has earned the right to call them anything he wants and I will not object.
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Post by aleksandr » Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:27 pm

Going back a few decades to when I was a kid and collected baseball cards, I remember there also being a distinction between a non-corrected 'misprint' and a corrected 'misprint'. For example, if every copy of card X has an error on it (due to the design process) it is no rarer or special than any other card, except maybe as a conversation piece. However, if an error was later corrected then the rarity of either the original error or the corrected card would be worth more, depending on which was scarcer.

I'm thinking of the Cephalid Looter when I think of the 2nd example--you can find some with the incorrect creature type and some without.

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Post by hammr7 » Tue Apr 07, 2009 9:53 pm

Typically, if a card was printed improperly, then you have to dcide if it was done so in bulk, or was sort of a "One Of" mistake.

Any card that is printed incorrectly in bulk is usually not considered an "error", at least not in the normal sense we think about.

If a card was printed in a technically incorrect manner (wrong color, wrong technical information, etc.) but the error was never corrected, and if the card was issued as part of a regular run, then the card is the regular card, and therefor not an error. It may be more highly desirable from a player's perspective (like an Alpha card with a reduced casting cost), but within the set is just another regular issue.

If a card is printed in a technically incorrect manner, and the error was corrected only after some large quantities were printed should be considered "variations". Similarly, when some of the masters on the original sheet were correct and some other masters on the same sheet weren't, then as long as both were printed in any kind of quantity then these different cards would normally be considered "variations". The 14 cards in the Arabian Nights set that are dark vs light, or have large circles instead of small fit into this category.

So in formal terms, cards that were printed differently, but in large quantity as part of normal production runs, would normally not be "errors" but would be "variations". Another example would be the English-language promo cards for fourth edition that had the 1994 copyright instead of the 1995.

Error cards would normally encompass everything else. They could include crimps and miscuts, any number of unique printing ink errors, registration errors, as well as prototypes and samples that didn't match the final production cards. They would also include wrongbacked and blank-backed cards as well as overprints. Many of these errors could be defined as "misprints".

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Post by mystical_tutor » Wed Apr 08, 2009 4:15 am

hammr7 wrote:Typically, if a card was printed improperly, then you have to dcide if it was done so in bulk, or was sort of a "One Of" mistake.
I'm not trying to be difficult here. I honestly have difficulty following this logic. I can not see what quantity has to do with correctness. I do not see most variants as errors. The large/small casting cost circles in AN, while detracting from the "professionalism" of the game design are not really "incorrect". They are simply printed differently. Whereas the "campfire" in the desert is an error of some type in the printing of the card. The artist did not put it there (I must confess, though, I do not have the straight of this specific error. I have heard a lot of speculation but no hard facts. With a rarity of 'C11' my best guess is a spot got on one of the pictures and one out 11 deserts has a campfire but that is a SWAG [for non-americans read that as Silly Wild A** Guess]). If one wants to call this a variation I guess that is ok but I think it is a mistake, caused in the printing process and is, therefore, a 'misprint' with a quantity of one in eleven (maybe).

To me it boils down to print mistakes or design mistakes. Some print mistakes are in large quantities "hairy runesward" "desert campfire" etc. and I can not call them variations. I even have some trouble calling alpha and beta variations because to me 'alpha' if FULL of design errors but the corner variation in the middle of the print run is a printing mistake (along with all too many siblings of theirs where the printer so often did not get it right when making corners match....sigh).

But as I said, I am not trying to be difficult. I want each person to be comfortable with their perspective on the matter. I'm very comfortable with mine--even if some are not.

As mature individuals I am happy we can disagree, without being disagreeable. ^smile^
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Post by hammr7 » Fri Apr 10, 2009 6:58 am

It has been pointed out that we, as a premier, or at least quite experienced, group of collectors, should construct some format to identify errors.

I was merely pointing out some of the "norms" utilized by more established groups involved in other types of collectible cards. At issue is the idea of error cards, especially when the connotation is that such cards are rare, value-added anomalies.

The use of the term "variation" implies that there was a single design that was supposed to be printed, and that huge numbers of printed cards were materially different because a non-compliant master was allowed to be printed. The hairy Runesword, for example, was likely produced on virtually every sheet that was printed by Carta Mundi. As were the variations in the Arabian Nights cards.

You see variations a lot in coins, when a master die has some anomaly but is used to produce large numbers of coins. I guess the best definition for a variation is "the product of a production run, where the printing (or manufacturing) is perfect, but from a flawed or modified master". This separates variations from the typically rarer "errors", which are random imperfections in the printing, cutting, or packaging processes. It also separates variations from prototypes, whether as conceptual artistic designs or production run set-ups.

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Post by mystical_tutor » Fri Apr 10, 2009 7:26 am

hammr7 wrote:It has been pointed out that we, as a premier, or at least quite experienced, group of collectors, should construct some format to identify errors.

I was merely pointing out some of the "norms" utilized by more established groups involved in other types of collectible cards. At issue is the idea of error cards, especially when the connotation is that such cards are rare, value-added anomalies.

The use of the term "variation" implies that there was a single design that was supposed to be printed, and that huge numbers of printed cards were materially different because a non-compliant master was allowed to be printed. The hairy Runesword, for example, was likely produced on virtually every sheet that was printed by Carta Mundi. As were the variations in the Arabian Nights cards.

You see variations a lot in coins, when a master die has some anomaly but is used to produce large numbers of coins. I guess the best definition for a variation is "the product of a production run, where the printing (or manufacturing) is perfect, but from a flawed or modified master". This separates variations from the typically rarer "errors", which are random imperfections in the printing, cutting, or packaging processes. It also separates variations from prototypes, whether as conceptual artistic designs or production run set-ups.
OK, I can understand that. But then what do we call the cards that had, on purpose, different art in FE, etc? I always thought those were variations but they do not fit the deffinition above because there was no flaw, they were ment to be that way.
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Post by mahdishain » Fri Apr 10, 2009 2:53 pm

This is a very interesting conversation. My thoughts: In general the magic community is too loose with it's use of the term misprint. I approve of the design error versus misprint distinction. A miscut, while it is a mistake in the printing process, is not a misprint. I think variation is a printing error that creates a large scale difference in printing or a correction of a design error that does the same. Hairy Runesword is an example of the first type, Cephalid Looter, of the second. I would call the FE differences versions, intentional variations, if you will. I think we should form a committee to formalize nomenclature, define terms, and attempt to educate collectors.
I nominate Hammr7, for his knowledge of the printing process, Squt, for his work in categorizing errors, and Mystical_Tutor for creating this conversation plus his impeccable logic and language.

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Post by hammr7 » Fri Apr 10, 2009 11:19 pm

mystical_tutor wrote:
OK, I can understand that. But then what do we call the cards that had, on purpose, different art in FE, etc? I always thought those were variations but they do not fit the definition above because there was no flaw, they were meant to be that way.
An interesting question, that might be answered by the "version" vs. "variation" designations, or might be handled as:

"Variation - Alternate Art" (Four FE versions of Hymn to Tourach), vs.
"Variation - Modified Master" (14 Arabian Knights A-B pairs), or
"Variation - Flawed Master" (Hairy Runesword)

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