Friday, August 31, 2012

What Do I Collect?

A simple question with an oft changing answer.  The oft changing answer is the bigger part of the problem, as I have a tendency to acquire items which are often neat in the moment, but not in the long term.  Nonetheless, I've tried to summarize my collecting goals, if for no other reason than to give me some additional structure in my acquisitions.

T206 Cards


This is where it all started for me again, with one Orval Overall leading to a tobacco collection of 457 unique T206 cards.  My goal is to collect the set to 518 and given the progress I've made in the last two+ years, I think this is a fairly attainable goal.  Most of my purchases are of the lower grade variety, in the trimmed/poor to good range.  To push me toward finishing the set, I've tried to pick up not only the commons when I find them, but to seek out the more difficult cards on the journey up front, since you never know when you will find them again at an affordable price.  I've picked up a substantial majority of the hall of famers, including the four Ty Cobb cards and managed to get most of the shorter print cards to 518 with the exception of the Elberfeld Portrait Washington card, which always manages to elude my grasp.  Now, collecting to 518 means no Wagner, Plank, Magee, Slow Joe Doyle NY National, O'Hara St. Louis or Demmitt St. Louis, but I can live with that.  The cards I own still have a sense of history and are stunning pieces of art, even though they are stunning pieces of art used to stiffen cigarette packs and encouraged people to smoke more.

Nonetheless, I am always happy with my T206 cards and they really are the core of my collection.

Orval Overall

Overall M116

Who is Orval Overall?  Well, in terms of sports greatness, he was a very good second or third starter for the Chicago Cubs around the last time they were viable World Series contenders.  His claim to baseball fame is that he won the last game of the 1908 World Series for the Cubs. 

My interest stems from some research about 10 to 12 years ago, when I wrote some of the biographies for Stars of the Deadball Era, National League.  While his life after baseball is what most people would call pedestrian, such as being a banker, I still find I have a strong connection to him.  Given the timeframe and the cards available, it became a natural for me that I would collect his cards beyond the T206 set.  There are a decent number of caramel and other tobacco cards, silks, discs, pins and even west coast candy cards to collect.  His popularity is not so great that his cards are prohibitively expensive, like chasing Ty Cobb or Christy Mathewson cards from their playing days.  That being said, the variety is nice, while not having too many exotic cards which I would have a slim chance of owning, due to the small populations available.  

Mike Scott

Scott Ticket Promo

Growing up, my favorite player was Mike Scott.  There is something about a pitcher who comes out of nowhere, to dominate for a few seasons, which lures me in.  Especially once you put in the orange uniforms, split-finger fastball, false accusations of scuffing and complete and utter dominance of the 1986 Mets in the NLCS. 

Collecting Mike Scott cards gives me a great appreciation of how many oddball series were created in the 1980s.  I have heavy bronze cards, disc cards, bakery cards, fire prevention cards, coins and all sorts of other random cards which have crept into my boxes over time.  I am always on the lookout for a new Mike Scott card I've never seen before, so I can add it to the growing stack of orange and white cards containing an often bespectacled man. 

Other Collections

I also from time to time, pick up cards which fit into these categories.

Late 1980s and early 1990s Pittsburgh Penguins, such as Paul Coffey, Tom Barrasso, Ron Francis and other non-Lemieux and Jagr players as cards become available.  I'm especially a sucker for any relic cards for these players.

Non-Sports Tobacco cards.  I have a fairly decent sized collection of non-sports tobacco cards.  I especially enjoy cards containing pictures of flags and animals.  I managed to complete the entire T59 Flags of the World set, which makes is likely the only time I can mention Saxe-Coberg-Gotha and card collecting in the same sentence.  T29 Hassan Animal cards are my set in progress, as I have about 45 of the 80 cards in a binder directly behind the Flags of the World.  I also have my strays which I pick up at card shows and antique stores, which include Silk Flags, World War I picture cards and Franz Liszt. 

Deadball Era players on Post-1960 Cards.  Topps has done a great job in putting out cards containing Christy Mathewson and Ty Cobb over the last few years.  They even put out cards for less famous members of the Deadball Era, such as Kid Elberfeld, Willie Keeler, Mordecai "Three-Finger" Brown and even George Davis (who is both a Hall of Famer and possesses quite possibly the coolest, most apocalyptic background found on a T206.).  I am such a sucker for these newer cards, that I almost always buy up these cards at shows when I see the guy who has the "new" Topps cards for sale.  Quite possibly, the card from this era at the top of my list is the 2011 Topps Ty Cobb driving a car card.  I'm sure you've seen the picture and somehow a Hall of Famer driving an open top car in 1910 or 1911 is begging to be in my modern collection. 

I probably also pick up cards of Astros in technicolor orange uniforms and I am working on a low grade 1973 Topps set which has fallen by the wayside, but left me with about 250 duplicates sitting in various boxes near the binders.

So, I think that covers what I collect, which is far broader than I hoped it was.  I'm sure more of these cards will be showing up on this blog soon.  

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