The First Artist Proofs Beta or Collectors?

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The First Artist Proofs Beta or Collectors?

Post by cataclysm80 » Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:34 am

Jesper Myrfors wrote the following statement about this topic.

"There has been some discussion and or arguments concerning artists proofs, mostly on the part of people who were either not even alive when they came into being or were little children. So I am going to set the record straight once and for all.
Remember that the artist proofs were my idea, so there is no closer to the source information.
From the beginning I wanted the artists to be able to get example of their work. Getting color samples was a pretty big deal back in the early 90s when color printing was not cheap. The problem was we had a randomized game so sending artists product would not work. I came up with the idea that printing extra cards with no back that we could then send to the artists to do with what they wanted.
Originally we were going to do this for Alpha, but demand was so high and cash in so short a supply that we agreed to push it off to the next printing, which was Beta.
By the time we were ready to print the beta artist proofs we as a company came up with the idea of doing a non playable collectors edition for people who just wanted a sample of every card. It was decided that they would be printed along with the beta artist proofs, but that to further distinguish those cards, that they would get square corners. I was asked if it would be a problem if the beta proofs has square corners and I saw no problem with it, so the beta proofs and CE cards were printed at the same time, at the end of the Beta run.
Call them what you want, but the square corner artist proofs are the first edition of any artist proofs. They were not run as CE proofs, the two were bot run off of Beta with a different die cut.
This should end the discussion among all but the most obtuse or argumentative (or those trying to scam the original artists).
From now on I suggest just calling them first edition artist proofs.
Discussion closed.
-Jesper Myrfors
First magic Art Director, Graphic Designer, Magic Artist and Former Vice President of Production for Wizards of the Coast."

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Re: The First Artist Proofs Beta or Collectors?

Post by cataclysm80 » Wed Jun 15, 2016 4:00 am

Here is a timeline of events (various sources, mostly old paperwork & Wizards employee usenet postings / interviews), which may also help people to understand what was going on back then.

Alpha - On July 16th 1993 the first printed cards arrived at the Origins convention where they were previewed but not sold. Many pre-orders were placed.
On August 1st 1993 there was a release party at Peter's house (the WotC "offices"), during which boxes of Alpha booster packs were opened. That day Dave Howell became the first person to complete a full set of the printed cards.
On August 2nd, Peter leaves on a two week road trip to demonstrate the game in local game stores throughout Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and ending at Gen Con in Wisconsin.
August 5th is the day that distributors are allowed to release to the general public. WotC considers August 5th to be the official release date of Magic: The Gathering.
August 19th to 22nd 1993 Gen Con
August 24th Alpha is sold out
August 25th the last Alpha product arrives at WotC and is sent to the distributors who ordered it.

Beta - WotC was supposed to receive Beta by September 20th, but that was delayed until September 24th and delayed again until Oct 4th 1993. It was shipped to distributors as fast as possible to meet demand. Beta is the second print run of Magic: The Gathering, and the "official" release date is August 5th 1993 (when Alpha became available).

Unlimited - Unlimited was supposed to be released on December 1st 1993, but it was delayed. Booster packs arrived at WotC on December 9th and immediately sent to distributors who started shipping them to stores on December 10th. The release date is December 10th.
Starter decks arrived later, between December 15th to 22nd, probably on the 16th in the same shipment as the Arabian Nights cards.

Arabian Nights - Arabian Nights arrived at WotC on December 16th and was immediately sent to distributors who started shipping them to stores on December 17th. The release date is December 17th 1993.

Collector's Edition / International Collector's Edition - Pre-orders sold out in October. Several release dates were announced and missed. Distributors in the USA released this to stores on December 21st 1993. About 1500 "International" sets were sold in the USA.

I think everyone can agree that the print run which produced Collectors Edition, was not the same print run that produced the regular Beta cards.
Not just because they were released to the public two and a half months apart (due to delays in making the boxes to contain Collectors Edition sets). There are actually slight differences between the print runs. The black color layer is aligned slightly differently, resulting in the casting cost being centered differently inside it's circle, and sometimes revealing a thin red line through the middle of the black card border (between the rich black inner border and the plain black outer border). Most of the Collectors Edition cards are more smooth and glossy than most of the regular Beta cards. The card cutter was also adjusted slightly differently, resulting in most Collectors Edition cards being cut a little off center.
These minute differences are a good thing because they help to identify situations where a scammer rebacks a Collectors Edition card in order to try and pass it off as a more valuable Beta card.

If I've read Jesper's statement correctly, he indicates that the Beta Proofs were already planned to be produced as a seperate print run after the regualr Beta cards, and the Collectors Edition cards were later added to the Beta Proof print run.

Which came first is important to our terminology.
The Collectors Edition cards were added to the Beta Proof print run.
The Beta Proofs were Not added to the Collectors Edition print run.
The Collectors Edition cards look like the Beta Proofs (not vice versa).

I can understand people being confused about this.
The Beta Proofs being printed seperately from regular Beta seems like an odd concept today. Proofs for subsequent sets have been printed along with the regular cards. The Beta Proofs were the first Proofs, so it should be expected that their creation didn't run as smoothly as it did for the subsequent Proofs.
With hindsight, it is natural to call the print run which created all of these cards as the Collectors Edition print run. It was 99.7% Collectors Edition & International Collectors Edition cards, and only .3% Artist Proofs. Acording to Jesper however (and if I'm reading it correctly), at the time these were made, it was called the Beta Proof print run.

Last edited by cataclysm80 on Fri Jun 24, 2016 8:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The First Artist Proofs Beta or Collectors?

Post by dragsamou » Wed Jun 15, 2016 5:19 am

Hi Tav

Simply brilliant and indeed they should be named Beta or First Edition Artist Proof. Back in the years, when I contacted all the artists to get them not a single time they were named Collector's Edition but Beta or Square Cornered.
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Re: The First Artist Proofs Beta or Collectors?

Post by thulnanth » Thu Jun 16, 2016 10:53 pm

Wow... even though I was around when all that was happening, it still was a great read - thanks so much for sharing!!! =D>
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Re: The First Artist Proofs Beta or Collectors?

Post by LandDestroyer » Fri Jun 17, 2016 6:00 pm

Thanks, Tav.

That post on fb where we had all that discussion on the mana symbol alignment as a sign for reback or not...we should link this post in there. But I move this week so I'm super busy and shouldn't even be on the internet right now haha so if you find it first would you link in? :)


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Re: The First Artist Proofs Beta or Collectors?

Post by AlcesAlces » Tue Jun 21, 2016 3:08 am

I don't have a huge interest in artist proofs, but I enjoy the history of the game so that was a very interesting read. Thanks for the information!

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Re: The First Artist Proofs Beta or Collectors?

Post by Neuron » Tue Jun 21, 2016 4:32 pm

A really valuable statement, thanks for posting it here.

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