Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me! I’ve always been fascinated by the age of pirates, both the fictional and historical versions. Every time we visit Disneyland I insist on a ride through Pirates of the Caribbean and of course we’ve looked at many One Piece trading card sets here at The Archives. Today though I have something really special to show you, it’s Pirates and Privateers, a new independent trading card series from RRParks cards.

Table of Contents

A video review of the set, the cards look even better in person!

Introduction to RRParks

Before we dig into this set, let me introduce you to RRParks cards – the hardest working man in trading cards. Richard Parks is the man behind the brand, and it’s essentially a 1 man show. He comes up with the set ideas, he sources or creates the cards, he commissions the sketch card artists, he pays to have everything printed – and he also collates, packs and ships all the sets almost entirely by himself. For over 10 years he’s been producing independent trading cards this way. Everything from MST3k, to fully licensed Ultraman sets, his famous Halloween series – and now Pirates and Privateers.

His sets are typically sold on kickstarter first, I’ve made a tracking page here to help you see what sets are being sold now or coming soon. If you want to be the first to know about new RRParks productions the best thing you can do is follow his facebook page here.

Pirates and Privateers

This is a historical trading cards set. Meaning it features real pirates from history, not fictional ones like the Disney movies or One Piece. Although One Piece actually sources a lot of it’s pirate material from real life. The set it packed with content, starting from the amazing 5×7 red/blue 3d card and included 3d glasses. I’ll walk you through some of the major components of the set, starting with an 18 card set of art cards featuring to work of the famous Howard Pyle. If you’ve seen pirate artwork in a museum before, it was likely by that artist.

The main event is the 50 card reprint of Allen & Ginter’s classic 1888 tobacco card set. Tobacco cards were an important precursor to modern day trading cards. You would get 1 card in every pack or tin of tobacco and it was meant to be a fun collectible. These days the cards have become popular enough to be products on their own. This 1888 set called Pirates of the Spanish Main sells for 20 – 30 thousand dollars at auction, with single cards fetching thousands on Ebay. So getting a chance to see the entire set is kind of a dream come true.

RRParks did the work to fully restore the backs of each card into readable form without retyping, so you can experience the original cards as they were meant to be seen and still read the fun stories on each one. Remember these were printed over 130 years ago, so the language used can be anachronistic, yet that only adds to the fun and authenticity.

Special Cards

This new set comes with even more goodies in the form of special cards, some that every backer receives and others that are unique to each buyer.

There is an amazing 3d lenticular card featuring the Flying Dutchman artwork, it’s difficult to capture that card in a scan so watch the video above to see it in action. Also included is a fantastic etching of a kraken attacking a ship. These etching prints are a specialty of RRParks and we usually see them in each set. Also included is a gorgeous limited edition metal card featuring another sea monster painted by Arthur Rackham – no relation to the famous Captain Jack Rackham.

Every master set includes an authentic pirate era coin relic card. These coins are often found in ship wrecks around the Caribbean. There are many dive companies who specialize in retrieving and selling relics like this using the maritime salvage laws. While the coin included in this card is not the best looking example, it certainly does look authentic – and great looking relics like this can cost into the thousands of dollars per coin.

Sketch cards are another hallmark of RRParks releases. He works with over 300 professional sketch card artists, the same artists who work on Topps and Upper Deck sets like Star Wars and Marvel. In my master set I received a 1/1 sketch of Robert Culliford a famous English pirate. The sketch was made by Keith Adrian Derla. There is always a blank sketch card in the sets too in case you want to draw your own or have something commissioned.

Stede Bonnet Printing Plate Set

As a special bonus, RRParks was offering complete printing plate sets for sale along with the main master set. I ordered the Stede Bonnet set as he is one of my favorite pirates. Stede is known as the “Gentleman Pirate”, he used his wealth to hire a crew and ship and launched his pirate career yet tried to retain aspects of his gentlemanly upbringing. His story is featured in the HBO show Our Flag Means Death produced by Taika Waititi and staring the amazing Mr. New Zealand: Rhys Darby.

Printing plates are often used as chase cards for trading card sets, they are the actual plates used to print the cards. Every card has at least 4 plates, a magenta, cyan, yellow and black. Getting all 4 plates is usually very difficult and quite costly as they are each unique 1/1 relics. So the opportunity to buy a complete set of plates was something I could not resist. Did I mention I dressed up as Stede Bonnet for halloween last year? Yeah… I might be a bit obsessed with pirates.

Conclusion and Looking Ahead

So that’s Pirates and Privateers, at least that’s set 1. Richard has already announced set 2 coming this fall and there are rumors that a 3rd set is also in the works. Follow him on Facebook or keep track of my own Independent Trading Cards page to know exactly when they become available.

Along with the set we received a few promo cards for upcoming projects. This year will be the 11th year that RRParks has produced a Halloween themed set, these are always a highlight for the year and I’ve done a 12 part video review series on the previous 10 years worth of cards. Also a very cute promo for Leg Day Cards upcoming Little Monsters set. Finally there is a simple amazing promo for Patas: The Paws of Fate – a feline themed Manos set. That’s right, we’re going to get a Manos: The Hands of Fate set featuring cat artwork, to say I’m excited for that release would be quite the understatement.

Thanks for reading and I hope you learned a lot about the set and the world of independent trading cards!

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