1991 TOPPS DESERT SHIELD JULIO VALERA
Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of Mets cards, we move this week from Japan to the Middle East.
During the Gulf War, Topps stamped over 5 million cards from its 1991 baseball set with a gold Operation Desert Shield logo, with the goal of distributing special packs to the troops serving overseas.
It is thought that a portion of the cards never made it to the troops, but were instead sold into the hobby by enterprising military-supply personnel.
Many of the packs that did make it to the Middle East were given by soldiers to local children, most of whom treasured the gum and tossed the cards.
So, relative to the regular 1991 cards, which were produced in the thumb-numbing quantities typical of the era, these cards are a bit rare. In a perfect world, there would be about 6,800 cards available for each player in the set, but given the vagaries of distribution, that number is likely considerably lower.
This scarcity has led to counterfeiting problems, since there is nothing to distinguish these cards from the standard 1991 issue beyond that gold-foil logo.
I’ve done my research, and I’m fairly certain that this Julio Valera is the genuine article.
The color of the foil is consistent with that used on legitimate cards, as is the placement of the stamp. The palm tree in the logo is well-articulated, and not obscured by any foil bleed.
Plus– and this is the most crucial piece of available evidence– it’s a freaking Julio Valera card…