Friday, 28 August 2015

What is Pacifik Graphik? - (Volume 1 Addition?)

If you are the sort of CFL collector who likes to spend time looking for really obscure CFL trading cards (as opposed to the "mainstream" Jogo cards), you may eventually stumble across some cool cards made by a company called Pacifik Graphik. This was the case when one day I found myself looking at a website of a sports collector named Mac Maroon who specialized in making his own index cards with images and sending them direct to athletes (from many different sports) asking for autographs. Often the players would also send back (in the pre-supplied self addressed stamped envelope) their own signed cards from various sources as well!

2010 Arland Bruce III Hamilton Tiger-Cats unlicensed Pacifik Graphik card

And that is when I noticed that there were some curious and attractive cards from Pacifik Graphik featuring CFL players. I had never heard of these cards but with the look of them and the logos (including the team and CFL logo on some cards) I thought that perhaps these might be legitimate issues that were regional or promotional or something similar. So I did some google research and contacted the company which is located in Quebec City. Here is their website although it looks a little stale dated now.

2009 Brendon LaBatte Winnipeg Blue Bombers unlicensed Pacifik Graphik card

As it turns out the connection of this company to the CFL is that Offensive Lineman Alexandre Gauthier's brother worked there and starting in roughly 2004 they began to produce cards directly for the players. Originally there were only a couple of players made each year but eventually the number grew to about 30 by 2011 (whether that was per year or over a few years is unknown). The distorted low resolution card card image below comes off of the company website, I don't have a copy of it myself, and as a steadfast Calgary collector that irks me greatly.

2005 Alexandre Gauthier Calgary Stampeders unlicensed Pacifik Graphik card

So the cards were not for sale, they were for distribution to the players who had paid to have their own cards made only, and the only way to get them was directly from the players themselves. In fact I was unable to even get a listing of which players had been made. So I tried the same tactic Mac Maroon uses, a self addressed stamped envelope and a nice letter to five CFL players who had already proved responsive, as a test case. Initially nothing came of it and I forgot about it but some time much later I did get a response from Brendon LaBatte and so this is why I have predominantly his cards illustrated in this post.

2008 Brendon LaBatte Winnipeg Blue Bombers unlicensed Pacifik Graphik card

It seems to me that the majority of these cards are from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and it might be that if you follow Alexandre Gauthier's career path you will find more cards from players on the teams he played for in each particular year. Eventually the CFLPA got wind of these cards and as they have the rights to assign the license for CFL trading cards (now of course held by Upper Deck), apparently they pressured Pacifik Graphik to stop making these cards.

2011 Brendon LaBatte Winnipeg Blue Bombers unlicensed Pacifik Graphik card

So I am not sure if I should catalogue what I know of these cards or not in the planned eventual update to Collecting Canadian Football Volume I. They are technically not officially licensed but on the other hand they were professionally produced and since the players were involved in the process they are at least partially legitimate by some measure. In any case they do make an interesting group to pursue, they are rare, hard to get (some players would sell autographed copies off of their personal websites), sharp looking and well designed and manufactured. I only know of about 5 more cards than the ones illustrated here and there must be a lot more out there than that, so if any readers have Pacifik Graphik cards I would love to hear about them and get scans.


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