Monday, April 9, 2012
The condition threshold
If there's one thing that is a fairly new topic in the collecting world, it's condition.
Up until the late '80s, kids across the country flipped, rubber-banded, and folded their cards, enjoying pretty much every aspect of their pieces of cardboard except keeping them in "mint" condition.
I'm not sure "mint" was even a term back then in the collecting world.
I like to think I'm a kind of "throwback" to that era. As I've said before, I could really care less about how my cards look, especially vintage. If I want the card, that's all that matters.
That's not to say that I don't get why others only want better condition cards or are constantly on the lookout for "upgrades", because I do. (I've even upgraded a card from time to time, if I can find one cheap enough.)
Condition-wise, the above "Catfish" Hunter card is about the best vintage card you're going to find in my collection.
However, I'll be showing a few of my worst condition cards in this post. I'd guess that most of us have some type of "condition threshold". I'm trying to figure out what mine is. Ask yourself this question as you get further along in the post:
If you saw a card you really wanted in as bad of shape as the following cards, would you still buy it?
How much do creases factor into it?
Creases seem to be becoming a thing of the past. I've barely seen any newer cards that were the victims of creasing at one point in their lives.
While it is a bit unsightly, I still bought this one, the only 1960 "Rookie Cup" card I own.
I'm not sure I could pinpoint everything that's happened to this card.
There's a giant fold in the middle, along with tons of other creases and some other stuff going on that I'm not sure I want to know about.
But yes, I still bought this one.
After all, how often was I going to come across a Harvey Kuenn rookie card?
How much of a role does centering play?
Okay, this is an extreme when it comes to off-center cards. I can understand if a card is way off to either side. But I do find it a tad silly when people complain that a card has a 55-45 or 60-40 centering rather than a perfect 50-50. (And I have seen it.)
If you really wanted it, would you buy a card as off-center as the above Rollie Fingers card?
I've shown this card before.
I have to say that it is indeed the most battered card in my collection. I've got a few other cards that I accidentally left in my pocket as a kid (like this one), but the above Brett takes the cake.
Even if this card was in perfect shape, it would still have one major flaw. It's about as miscut as the Rollie Fingers card I just displayed.
I've never really collected George Brett. However, when I came across this card in a fifty-cent bin at a card show this past November, I knew I couldn't pass it up. How often do you get a chance to buy this card for under a buck?
I never really planned on owning this card, but I've loved it ever since I first saw it in that discount bin. Granted, it's probably the worst version in the world, but I can still say I own an actual 1975 Topps George Brett rookie card.
I guess I don't really have a condition threshold.
With the exception of the Fingers (and maybe the Brett), the conditions of these cards are a sign that they were well-loved in the past. While others might look at that as a negative, I see it as an absolute positive. All I can ever hope is to give them as good a home as they previously had.
It makes me believe that I'm really not all that different from the kids who collected cards before my time.