Crimps and maildays

Some months seems longer than others. In fact, I'm pretty sure that the first half of March took place about half a year ago. A time when I went to the office to work and before my daughter started talking proper words. And in that before-time, I pulled the trigger on getting a card for the Chaos Orb collection that I'd been eyeing for some time.

Usually, it takes about a week for a letter to get across the Atlantic. Maybe two. So the month between March 19 and April 20 with zero updates from the tracker in the middle of the journey was a little tense:

Also, the month lasted like fourteen weeks.

Then, after some more days in SF the letter apparently arrived in Oslo (where I live), and stayed at the airport for a week before it was sent back across the ocean to New York.

Then, silence from New York for a week or two. Going on two months since the letter was posted, at this point I was fairly certain that it had got lost in the shuffle somehow. New York in late April 2020 probably had more important concerns than non-insured USPS letters to random Norwegians. My hope was that the letter would eventually return to the sender rather than being lost mail, as it's contents - while by no means priceless - was very rare. Not Epsilon-playtest-Sphere-of-Annihilation-rare, but at least this-thing-exists-in-single-digits-rare. If it was to be lost, I had no idea of where to find another.

Then again, there always are the Magical rumors. Things that you occasionally hear whispers about from crazy collectors but can't really confirm (or perhaps don't want look for confirmation to, as the whispers are a part of the Magic). Like a golden Birds of Paradise, a Hurloon Minotaur leather jacket or an artist proof for 1996 World Champion. One such whisper say that there are a couple different guys that try to collect a full set of 1st Edition The Gathering with every card crimped. Is this true? I don't know, and I kinda like not knowing for sure. But the fact that the card I was waiting for had been available for a while rather than snatched up quickly makes me think that - if those guys indeed exist - they already have one, and I would look to find the rumored collectors in a search for another copy of the card. If the mail wouldn't have arrived that is. Which it eventually did a couple of days ago.

So, that is what people in the business call a "crimp". Crimps are among the most frequent types of misprints, alongside sheet alignment errors and similar miscuts. The saw-tooth indentation in the bottom of the card above comes from a packaging error that occur when the card somehow gets displaced in the booster before it is sealed, and the card gets heat sealed along with the booster plastic. 

Any set with cards in boosters or other plastic promo packaging can be affected (so pretty much any card could exist in a crimp version), and getting a random minor crimp as a curiosity for the collection won't break the bank.

I'll trade this one for a beer.

Older cards are a little more interesting, as they are the closest thing we in the old school community have to foils.

You'd have to give me two beers for this one. Or an imperial stout.

Crimps, by the physics of the error and friction, appear far more likely to affect one of the edge cards of the booster than any other. So rarity sequencing in packs is actually a thing here.

It is unlikely that a card in the middle of the pack suddenly slides out form between the other ones, compared to one of the top or bottom cards sliding. And if all the cards get displaced, the cards in the middle will be somewhat protected by the cards on it's side.

Rarity sequencing of 15-card boosters up to Urza Block was three uncommons, then one rare, and then eleven commons. The most pronounced crimps I've seen from e.g. Beta has been uncommons; the rares I've seen have been between minor (like the Orb) to almost invisible unless you look for it. But there surely exist a few crimp power cards.

The golden age for rare card crimps appear to have been from between Invasion to around Ravnica; after the rare had been moved from the fourth card to the last card in the pack, and before basic lands or ad cards were added behind the rare.

Invasion rare card crimp.

If you want a random crimp to show off because the mistake is kinda neat, look no further than ebay or some mtg oddities groups on facebook. But if you collect a particular card for a global set or such, you might have to prepare to search for a very long time unless you get lucky. And if the card you collect is iconic or a fan favorite in some way, expect to pay quite a premium. The demand is usually low for random crimps, but once it hits a card people collect, like a Lightning Bolt or something, the very meager supply of any given card will kick into play full force.

My first crimp, "won" in the first 93/94 tournament in Norway five years ago. And up until about a month ago, my only crimp. All the cards in the post are in my collection unless otherwise noted btw, as I got a bunch of minor misprints and oddities as a random sweetener for a kinda extravagant trade earlier this month. I'm generally not much of an oddities collector, so most of them are for trade for beer or tales from the road.

So that's the basics of crimps. But I guess that you didn't come here for just the basics and another Chaos Orb. So let's look at some next level packaging errors as well.

The first thing of note is what people refer to as "deep crimps". A deep crimp is a crimp where pretty much the entire booster seal is visible on the card. If it goes deep enough a small part of the card may even be cut off when the booster plastic is cut up into individual packs. This is a rare occurrence.

Not mine, picture via ebay listing.

The step after that is vertical crimps, which happen when the card furthest back slides out of the booster from the side somehow, and the back seal gives it a full vertical imprint (rather than a horizontal from the top or bottom seal). Collectors have suggested that less than 1% of crimps are vertical, and as the vertical crimp will be very prominent across the middle of the card, these are well sought after by collectors of oddities.

Again, picture via ebay listing.

But these things are still child's play compared to true packaging errors. The really weird things happen when a crimp goes so deep that the card gets cut in half. Rather than losing just a part of the top like the Elementalist above, there have been cases where the card is simply demolished by the booster gods, giving a deep crimp on two separate halves of the card before it is sliced and the pieces are sealed into different boosters. And in a few cases of those rare occurences, both halves are found and brought together in harmony of sorts.

Neat. And combos insanely well with Orcish Squatters in Scryings if I somehow manage to shuffle it.

I didn't really need that Orcish Captain, but it will be a sweet addition in the scrap book next to the crimped Orb to show in vivid detail how these kind of errors occur. Also, as a Chaos Orb scrapbook card goes, Orcish Captain both have the word "flip" in its rule text and the name is an anagram of Rip Chaos Actin. Would be greedy to ask for much more.

Until next time, I hope all your mail arrives safely.


  1. That is a sweet chaos orb! also glad to hear i could sponsor your first crimped card ;)
    about the mail yes its been super slow, i had two packages also from the states which took 1 and 1,5 month to Norway aswell, Always so dissapointing opening the app and update the status to see no change XD.
    about crimps i dont Think i have much left, i know i have a sweet arabian Tortoise with kinda big/long crimp but thats more or less it. //Jhovalking

    1. Haha, thanks man! And thank you for the Mind Bomb back in the old days, it has had a prominent spot it the binder ever since :)

      Giant Tortoise is a really sweet and underappreciated card btw!


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