Cutting Up History: Upper Deck Hacks Up Civil War Flag to Make Trading Cards

Being a sports card collector myself, I have always been drawn to Upper Deck, and some of their off-shoots for the creativity of their product. One set, called Allen & Ginter, was not your typical baseball card collection. Within packs, right alongside your favorite players, could be a card of anyone in history, or of a famous place. I have pulled cards of Tim Lincecum and David Crockett, Alex Rodriguez and the Alamo…the list is endless. I even have an over-sized card which I purchased separately that features the battle of Gettysburg, and includes pictures of George Meade and Robert E. Lee (2006 even had a “Stonewall” Jackson card in the set). This Allen & Ginter set always went the distance to ensure that they were unique. You could get a card with a typical piece of a player’s jersey, or maybe even a strand of hair from John F. Kennedy or a Wooly Mammoth—yes, you read that correctly. Then there was a piece of Marilyn Monroe’s dress, or the signature of Benjamin Franklin taken from a letter he had written, which was deemed unimportant enough to have it cut up (something that still slightly bothers me). I always admired them for this, because it was something you could not get anywhere else. Here, for a few dollars a pack, you could end up owning something that belongs in a museum, or something you could quickly sell online and make a small fortune. But now, with a recent Civil War addition to the items they offer, has Upper Deck finally gone too far?

Like Allen & Ginter, a newer subset from this company called Goodwin Champions, which like the former, attempts to recreate the look and feel of century-old baseball cards, the type you would get in a pack of cigarettes in the early 1900’s. They have decided to feature cards with Civil War memorabilia on them. My first though at seeing this mentioned? How awesome! There were pictures of buttons and small photographs of soldiers that are going to be in this set. Neat! Then there are redemption cards that could land you a piece of Confederate money. The best item? The hammer of a rifle used during the war, or the metal insignia that a solder placed on the front of his kepi. I was amazed…until I saw a picture of a flag. What are they going to do with this? Maybe award it in a drawing to a lucky winner? Nope, how about cut it up into a thousand tiny pieces? This is where they cross the line, because as they try to educate and allow people to have a chance to own something incredible, they are actually destroying it, and furthermore, desecrating it in the process. Their website notes how important the Civil War is, and how they are preserving history, but cutting up a 150+ year old flag that was actually flown in a battle is not the way to do it.

This article comes too late as the damage has already been done, but I imagine the anger will only soon begin from Civil War fanatics around the country, as Upper Deck has just destroyed something completely, which should have been left as a whole. Who thought this was a good idea, I wonder? Would it have not been better to have inserted a redemption card into a pack, with one lucky person being able to win the whole flag? The worst part is that a historian/professor was brought in to help with these items. This man obviously must not love or care about the Civil War and the memory of the men who fought in it too much if he happily lended his services without stepping away from the project out of protest—his involvement probably angers me more than the actual cutting of the flag, because part of being a historians is to, well, protect history.

So what can we do about it? For starters, maybe contacting Upper Deck to tell them that they made an enormous mistake, and to be more careful in the future when they acquire such important items. Once again, I have no problem with a card featuring a button or bullet or anything like that, so long as it remains intact and is not ripped apart for the sake of being able to sell more packs of cards and make easy money. What they have done here is nothing short of a disgrace, and I will definitely think twice before buying their product ever again, something I did quite often up until now.

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9 thoughts on “Cutting Up History: Upper Deck Hacks Up Civil War Flag to Make Trading Cards

  1. Eugene D Harless Jr

    They are trying to justify this crap by saying they had the consent of veterans and historians and saying the flag wasn’t complete anyway. Money-grubbing jerks that treat our flag like a pair of game worn socks.

  2. Gettysbuff

    The following will come as no surprise to you as you know i am no stranger to controversy, but i actually think it’s kinda cool and maybe you’re being a little hard on them. You may want to read this updated piece, which explains a lot:

    http://upperdeckblog.com/2012/08/controversy-is-in-the-cards-the-story-behind-the-civil-war-union-battle-flag-used-2012-goodwin-champions/

    I actually felt more like you do until they explained themselves. The flag just isn’t good enough to display in a museum, so you might as well let many people enjoy it in another way. I actually have some inside knowledge (from a friend who works at the Gettysburg Museum) about artifact preservation and display, etc, and the Gettysburg NPS have over 2 million artifacts in their collection…but only about 2% of them are on display. Now obviously it is impossible to display EVERYTHING, but also not EVERYTHING is displayable (really rusty canteens, etc) including this flag. I can’t wait to get my hands on a piece! I mean, WHO could afford to purchase a whole one, and when do you see whole flags on sale on ebay (for example) anyway? You just don’t. This is a great opportunity for many people to get their hands on a piece of (affordable) history, especially as we are observing the 150th anniversary. And to those who think the company is just doing this to make money, well it’s basically supply and demand isn’t it? There are many people out there that would love a piece of a flag even before this company had the idea of cutting one up (even veterans wanted pieces back in the day, as the article says), but they were unable to come across one. Well these people have just made that possible, that’s all. And like the guy said, if the flag would have been more complete and more ‘displayable’ then it wouldn’t have been touched. Yes it would have probably been a better idea to give it away as one piece, but then only one person could have enjoyed it. Now this way many people without disposable incomes can own a small piece of history and i’m sure there will be many little boys out there that will be grinning ear to ear when their parent presents them with one of these on their birthday.

    1. Gettysbuff

      EDIT: OK i’ve seen the prices now and how this all works and i take back what i said about it not being all about making money. My bad, i should have checked first before opening my big mouth, LOL. It’s not often that i am wrong, but when i am i am not ashamed to be the first to say i am.

      Still think it was a good idea though, man i would LOVE a piece of that flag. Or a rifle hammer. Or a button. Or a brass insignia. Or a………..

      1. Gettysbuff

        ….And the odds of finding something is apparently over 1 in 15,000. Still if you’re lucky and find one in your first box then you wouldn’t have spent much money.

      2. Like I said, I have no problem with a button or rifle hammer being included on a card. I think that’s awesome and kind of want one myself. However, if you look at the picture of the flag in their first article compared to the one you showed in their follow-up, they look like completely different flags. You cannot see the entire thing in either one, but the one I based this article off of looked in rather good condition based on what you can actually see: http://upperdeckblog.com/2012/08/upper-deck-brings-in-professor-to-review-civil-war-artifacts-in-2012-goodwin-champions/. Either way, I still would not support cutting it up. They could have mounted the entire remnant on a plaque and gave it to a winner via a redemption card (numbered into oblivion, no doubt), as these companies often do with large pieces of sports memorabilia.

        And as for the 1/15,000 number, I am actually surprised it is that low. Some of these cards are up in the 100,000’s. Of course this is going to make money. They will go for thousands on Ebay, guaranteed. Then what happens when a couple shops in Gettysburg or similar places get a hold of a few? I shudder to think how much they will sell them for!

      3. Gettysbuff

        I agree with you about the resellers. Have already looked on ebay and these are going for around $900. That’s pretty ridiculous.

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