I recently picked up a couple of cards from a set that is kind of offbeat but that I love to chase, the 1993 Topps R&N China porcelain parallels. This made me want to write a little about the R&N cards in general and specifically about the 1993-1998 parallel sets.
R&N China was licensed by Topps to produce porcelain versions of Topps cards throughout most of the 1990s. One of the things R&N did with this license was produce porcelain versions of current year Topps cards from 1993-1998.
I believe R&N produced full parallel sets of the current year Topps cards starting in 1993 and continuing at least in 1994. I believe they only produced the single player cards as I have never seen any of the two-player all star or manager cards. These cards were sold individually I believe through a mail-in offer that was advertised in various publications. As you might guess, the lesser known players are much tougher to come by than the star players since buyers chose which card to order. The cards themselves are serial #’d on the back out of either 5,000 or 1,000. Based on how rarely even the stars from these sets pop up, I have to believe that nowhere close to 5,000 or even 1,000 of these were actually distributed. I’m guessing maybe 500 of some of the star players and 10 or fewer of most of the lesser knowns.
This past week I added the 1993 Greg Maddux and Bob Scanlan cards. This brings my 1993 porcelain set total up to 7 cards. I also have the Ryne Sandberg, Sammy Sosa, Doug Dascenzo, Andre Dawson, and Shawon Dunston cards. Note that I have all of the stars, not many of the lesser knowns, although I have also seen Jessie Hollins and Rick Wilkins cards from this set. So I’m pretty sure all of the players were available.
As for the other years, I don't have any of the Cubs 1994 porcelain parallels, but I am virtually certain a full set was produced given the selection of players I have seen offered for sale. I have also actually seen the advertisement for this year in an old publication as well. So I believe this set has a full porcelain parallel as well. I own no 1995 porcelains, but I have seen some non-Cubs players offered for sale. Given that I have seen some lesser known players, my instinct tells me that 1995 may have a full porcelain parallel as well. But the porcelain cards from 1995 seem to be rarer than either 1993 or 1994. As for 1996-1998, I have seen stars offered from each of these years, but no lesser known players. So this leads me to believe that the offer may have been limited to stars only in these years. I actually own a 1996 porcelain version Ryne Sandberg.
In addition to the parallels of current year cards, R&N produced porcelain versions of a number of the great cards from Topps history. Cards like the 1952 Mickey Mantle, 1968 Nolan Ryan, etc. And there are a few Cubs historical reproductions on the list as well. I own the porcelain versions of the 1954 Ernie Banks and 1983 Ryne Sandberg rookie cards.
And I am aware of porcelain versions of the 1988 Andre Dawson and 1989 Mark Grace.
In the case of the Dawson and Grace, I know they also made small magnets of these cards.
These are definitely oddballs, but given their connection to the mainstream Topps sets and the challenge of finding them, they are pretty much right up my alley. Hopefully I can continue to add a few per year to my collection!