The Upper Deck Company, LLC (colloquially as Upper Deck and Upper Deck Authenticated, Ltd. in the UK), founded in 1988, is a trading card company currently based out of Las Vegas, Nevada.
On December 23, 1988, Upper Deck was granted a license by Major League Baseball to produce baseball cards. The first case of Upper Deck Baseball Cards was delivered February 28, 1989, to George Moore of Tulsa's Baseball Card Store in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Upper Deck Company sold out its baseball cards midway through this inaugural year, then pre-sold its entire 1990 baseball stock before the year began.
The 1990 set included the industry's first randomly inserted personally autographed and numbered cards of sports superstars. All Upper Deck brands bear an exclusive trademark hologram, and Upper Deck has been named "Card set of the Year" every year since 1989, ranked number one, and earned favorite brand status with card collectors.
Paul Sumner created the Upper Deck concept in 1987. He worked in printing sales and came up with the idea for a premium card. When he heard about card counterfeiting, he realized that he knew a way to protect cards. He had studied holograms in college and had used them in printing his company's brochures. He hired Robert Young Pelton to design and produce a prototype. Pelton designed and produced the cards for Upper Decks first three year rise. After it was discovered that Richard McWilliam was counterfeiting cards Pelton and Sumner had a falling out with accountant McWilliam who seized control of the company. Paul Sumner resigned with the understanding that he would be known as the "Co-Founder of Upper Deck", something that the company's owner and CEO, Richard McWilliam, recognizes to this day. The early years of Upper Deck and their dramatic crash after Pelton and Sumner left are captured in Pete William's book "Card Sharks: How Upper Deck Turned a Child's Hobby into a High-Stakes, Billion-Dollar Business"
On March 20, 1990, The Upper Deck Company was granted licenses by the National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players Association to produce hockey cards. The company also obtained licenses from the National Football League and the National Basketball Association in 1990, making the Upper Deck Company the first trading card company in 10 years to be licensed by all four leagues. Upper Deck established itself so quickly that it rivaled Topps, which had been considered the standard, and other companies such as Fleer, Donruss and Score. By 1991, the company built a 250,000 square feet/23225 m2 plant of brown marble and black glass on a hilltop 30 miles/50km north of San Diego.
Patrick Roy controversy
At the beginning of the 1992–93 NHL season, Upper Deck made Patrick Roy a spokesperson. Roy was an ideal choice as he was a hockey card collector, and his collection amounted to over 150,000 cards. An ad campaign was launched and it had an adverse effect on Patrick Roy’s season. Upper Deck had a slogan called “Trade Roy”, and it was posted on billboards throughout the city of Montreal. A Journal de Montreal poll, published on January 13, 1993, indicated that 57% of fans favoured trading Patrick Roy. Before the trading deadline, Canadiens General Manager Serge Savard insisted that he would consider a trade for Roy. The Canadiens ended the season by winning only 8 of their last 19 games.
Foreign language hockey cards
On September 29, 2009, Upper Deck created the company's first-ever packs of Finnish and Swedish language Victory hockey cards to go on sale in those markets.
NHL Biography of a Season
The NHL Biography of a Season cards was a 30-card set capturing the greatest moments of the 2008-09 NHL Season. The cards were available through Upper Deck Certified Diamond Dealers. A collector had to redeem 5 wrappers of 2008/2009 Upper Deck hockey cards at a participating hobby store and receive an exclusive Upper Deck Biography of a Season card. One new card was available every week throughout the NHL season. The first four cards were:
- Alexander Ovechkin - NHL single-season record 65 goals by LW
- Henrik Zetterberg - 2008 Conn Smyth winner
- Detroit Red Wings - Stanley Cup team photo
- Steven Stamkos - 1st overall pick in 2008 Draft
- Upper Deck Chairman Richard McWilliam Honored as Industry's 'Most Influential' Person of the Past 20 Years at Annual Hawaii Trade Conference. The Upper Deck Co, LLC. Trading Card Central (March 10, 2005). Retrieved on May 22, 2010.
- Sandomir, Richard (October 4, 1993). Upper Deck Shakes Up Trading-Card Industry. New York Times. Retrieved on May 22, 2010.
- Patrick Roy, winning, nothing else, p. 296, by Michel Roy, translated by Charles Phillips, 2008, John Wiley & Sons, Mississauga, ON, ISBN 978-0-470-15616-2
- Patrick Roy, winning, nothing else, p. 297, by Michel Roy, translated by Charles Phillips, 2008, John Wiley & Sons, Mississauga, ON, ISBN 978-0-470-15616-2
- Patrick Roy, winning, nothing else, p.299, by Michel Roy, translated by Charles Phillips, 2008, John Wiley & Sons, Mississauga, ON, ISBN 978-0-470-15616-2
- Upper Deck Celebrates NHL Premiere Games; Expands Hockey Business into Sweden, Finland. Upper Deck (September 29, 2009). Retrieved on May 22, 2010.
- Upper Deck Sports: NHL Biography of a Season. Upper Deck. Retrieved on May 22, 2010.
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