Friday, June 15, 2012

Hidden gems

One of the great things about dime boxes are that they force you to take a deeper look at the world of baseball cards.

I chronicled how the blogosphere has helped me recognize some of the hidden greatness of some cards, but I've always been into the history of, say, a card of Hank Greenberg as a Pirate. Although he might've only played one season in Pittsburgh, there's still a lot of stories behind how that came to be.

There's also one more key reason to have a keen eye when it comes to discount boxes.

You never know when you might miss something. Specifically, something of value.

I'd say about ninety-nine percent of the dime cards I've purchased over the years are for my own collection. However, I'll usually come home from each card show with a few I intend on trading. I'm always a fan of any cards that make for good tradebait.

Some are easy to spot. When I uncovered a David Ortiz rookie card in a dime box a couple years ago, I knew it would garner a lot in the "trade market". And I was right.

Most of the time, though, it's not that easy. Short-prints are especially challenging, as I've already mentioned on this blog.

Last year, I scooped this neat Obak reprint of what is widely considered the first baseball card ever made out of a dime box. (Wouldn't it be great if someone found the real card in an antiques box somewhere? Oh wait. Someone already has.)

Since it's nearly impossible to find any cards that depict pre-1900's baseball, the card was an awesome find.

A few months ago, I was searching for some other Obak cards online. To my surprise, I learned that the Red Stockings reprint I had was indeed a short-print. While I never intend on trading or selling the card, it's still satisfying to know that you "saved" a card like that. Any SP you can find for a dime is an absolute steal.

As a collector, it's a great feeling.

Can you spot the difference between these two cards?

You'll probably notice that the card on the right has a foil-based Fleer Platinum logo (in the top-right corner) rather than the traditional one on the left.

I found the foil issue of this card in a dime box at the flea market a few years ago. (I picked up the regular base card a little while later.)

At the time, I just thought it would be another base addition to my collection, which I was perfectly fine with. I collect cards of Carlos Guillen as a Mariner for some reason.

Later on, I decided to flip it over to check Guillen's pre-2001 stats, and I found this...

Numbered cards are a rare find in dime boxes.

It's even better when you find one by surprise. (Although how Fleer settled on the number "201" , I'll never know.)

Not everyone can recognize a short-print when they see one. On the contrary, serial numbered cards are there for everyone to see. Most people simply don't take the time to look.

What this particular card taught me is to really take a good look at the cards I flip through, whether it's some dime box "finds" or just some extras you have lying around your room. They're called "hidden gems" for a reason.

You might be surprised at what you find.

I've collected Nick Johnson for as long as I can remember.

This is definitely one of the best pieces of my collection of his. It's also on my list of biggest dime box "scores".

Although he's put together a decent career, Johnson never quite lived up to his potential. It's an overall theme of dime boxes. I can't tell you how many Brien Taylor and Ben Grieve cards I've seen over the years.

When I bought this one at last year's National, I chalked it up as yet another base addition to my growing Nick Johnson collection.

But when I got home that night and analyzed that day's "spoils", I found that it wasn't your ordinary dime box find.

Once again, I found that I had nabbed another numbered card for the bargain-basement price of a dime.

While I don't put much (if any) faith in book value nowadays, I decided to look it up in my Beckett, just for fun.

I was staggered by what I saw.

Next to "2002 Stadium Club #109 Nick Johnson", I found the price "$25.00". I had to rub my eyes to make sure I read it right.

Twenty-five dollars! I'd found two other similar-valued cards over the years (including the Ortiz rookie), but I ended up trading each of them.

To actually find a card that valuable for my very own collection for a dime was simply beyond belief for me.

With dime boxes, it's all about personal value. It's about "saving" otherwise ignored cards from a fate of sitting in a garage or basement for years on end.

But "saving" a valuable card (as far as Beckett is concerned) does give me a sense of accomplishment, even if I don't much care about book value. It adds a little bit of personal value to the card, at least for me.

There are probably thousands of great cards sitting unnoticed in closets or basements around the globe. Taking the time to actually look though your collection might yield some unexpected benefits. And with the case of dime boxes, you might find some great new cards. And the price doesn't get much better than a dime a piece.

It's like the old saying goes.

Finders keepers, losers weepers.

1 comment:

moremonkeys138 said...

Like I mentioned before, I found two of the Topps short print legends in dime boxes but they pale to that Ortiz rookie. How that could wind up in a dime box, I'll never know. I can only assume some dealers just have so much that they scan as quick as possible and if its not a Yankee/Red Sox/hot player of the moment (at least around here anyway for those teams), it ends up in the dime boxes. Or perhaps it is just a mistake. Either way anyone who takes the time to rustle through the boxes reaps the benefits. You know, us! Great finds, I gotta get that Obak Reds card myself now!