Monday, September 5, 2011

Welcome to Classic Card Collector

As a small child, I spent a fair amount of time collecting cards. Baseball cards, football cards, basketball cards, even the occasional hockey or wrestling cards as well. And sports stickers, did I love sports stickers. However, as I got older, I ended up losing interest in cards.

Actually, for many years, the last cards I bought were a box of 1995 Topps retail from Costco, which is when I learned the difference between retail and hobby and that retail boxes were inferior to hobby, despite having the same cost structure. With that lesson in mind and getting older, I moved away from sports cards, collecting other items, finishing college, getting a job, all sorts of fun things.

Being a native of New Jersey, I ended up at the mall on day about a year ago in early June, which was holding a sportscard show. One of those big, weekend shows with thirty or forty dealers, filled with tables of assorted cards and other sports related items. I went with a specific purpose in mind. I wanted to find a 1973 Topps Steve Busby rookie. While the real Steve Busby was a tremendous talent who flamed out early, the Steve Busby I always think of was a star in a simulated baseball league I used to run and still participate in.

I found a Steve Busby and gladly paid a dollar for the card. While at the show, I looked at many of the other dealers' wares, seeing all sorts of shiny cardboard or cards from the 50's and 60's laid out in glass cases. Towards the end of my tour, I found a dealer who had even older cards. Cards from before World War II and even World War I. I found a dealer who had tobacco cards at the mall.

As a small child, I had a real interest in these cards. I remembered the famous T206 Honus Wagner, Eddie Plank and even the Sherry Magee error card which is purported to be exceptionally rare as well. Well, in order to have really rare cards, you need to have a more common base of cards. A set as it were. And here, for the first time in my life, I was face to face with tobacco cards I could purchase.

Being a large fan of the Deadball era and the players of the period, I took a walk around the mall, deciding whether I wanted to open the Pandora's Box that was the case before me. As you can guess from the title, I agreed to open the case and look within. I carefully sorted through each stack of cards, being awestruck by the colors and the players available.

Not knowing a lot about the cards or the current prices, I managed to limit my thoughts to four possible cards: a Christy Mathewson black cap in poor to fair condition, a John McGraw portrait with no cap with a beautiful, almost flawless front, combined with a nearly skinned back, a Ty Cobb bat off shoulder, which was covered in shellac, making the card a brittle brown and an Orval Overall portrait, which was clearly trimmed and missing some of its border.

Given my limited knowledge, I thought long and hard about some of the greats of the game and thought how amazing it would be to own one of their cards, but at the time, I could not bring myself to spend in excess of $150 for the Mathewson or the Cobb as a quick hit and the McGraw, while beautiful, was very flawed and at the time, couldn't see myself buying a card without a back, since it was part of the history as well. So, I settled for the Orval Overall, having written his biography for Deadball Stars of the National League and for $12, I was on my way to a new hobby and collection.

Having reached the halfway point in the T206 set since that day, learning a great deal about the history and the hobby, I thought it would be best to share my cards and my stories about collecting, especially, as it has led me into other avenues of collecting as well.

Most of the content here will be about the my chase for the T206 Set, but I do enjoy opening modern packs from time to time and will post about those as well.

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