The process for creating these cards is multi-fold.
The creative side requires a background in and passion for collecting. As an avid collector for the past four decades, Phil Apostle has built complete sets from 1952-1958 and from 1976-1989 including a PSA Set Registry Award for his 1977 Topps set (the first year he purchased packs from the drugstores). What followed were collections of alternate poses and team affiliations featured in the 1977 O-PEE-CHEE set and, later, homemade cards of various rookies and stars. "It wasn't really boredom. It was actually the desire to see and...experience, if you will, MORE! I love the cards of my youth. But after you've seen 'em thousands of times; it's nice to see the "what ifs'"
One "what if" card led to another...then another. Banty Red (the name of Phil's micro-brew and non-existent tobacco brand) was born. "I enjoyed my Red Man. Still do! My imaginary tobacco tastes just like it." (Laughs). Today, there are over 500 hand-made cards bearing the Banty Red label and more coming virtually every day.
The practical side of the process begins with an image. Phil sold most of his baseball card collection to purchase large inventories of original negatives and to acquire various licenses. "That was tough, but what I really love about cards, at the end of the day, is the art and the image...the way it presents. The technical grade is always too subjective. Either it looks cool and appeals to you or it doesn't."
Once an image is selected, it's scanned at high resolution and turned to monochrome where it is dry brushed and colorized by hand. A template is created and the various elements are dropped into it; including the image. Once the artwork is completed and proofed on the software, it undertakes the transformation to a virtual artifact. The substrates that the images and artwork are mounted to are from 1956 and older. Phil adds; "It's funny...technically these things ARE vintage. I have no idea why the vintage stock is so cool to me-- It's just cardboard. But, for some reason, it just makes the whole process more exciting. I have more than a few collectors that really like the vintage stock element." Next, the images are compressed with software that imitates the printing of the specific era of production. Even the individual plates can slip, ink can be uneven or poorly struck, registration issues, color shifts can all happen with this process.
Finally, the cards are hand-cut using circular industrial blades that also mimic the process used on many vintage sets. They are trimmed again and distressed by hand to create the final cards. The ink used is archival to prevent fading and no gloss is applied to prevent warping or toning--beyond what is intended. Phil discusses the art of distressing; "I try to distress these with some thought. The stars were likely handled more, the Ale cards (Hires-Style) are more worn on the bottoms from being inserted into cartons, etc...I put an album adhesive pattern on the back of the DiMaggio Brothers card as it could likely have been stored that way. The Negro League cards are more worn as they are perceived as more scarce or may not have been as appreciated as they should have been. The Negro League stuff is my favorite to make. It's frustrating to think that we don't have a Turkey Stearnes rookie card out there but...now we have SOMETHING. I try to do them justice, but I'm not sure folks really appreciate the gravity of those omissions as relates to baseball itself."