Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cards with character

Today is one of those days you dream about as a member of this hobby.

I fulfilled one of my life's goals this afternoon (my life as a card collector, at least), as I picked up a card I really wanted off Sportlots a few hours ago. Saying I "really wanted" it is a gross understatement, however.

It's a card I've wanted ever since I collected baseball cards, all the way back to my pre-teen years. By this time, I'd given up hope that any were out there. Alas, I was wrong. After years upon years of searching, one finally popped up, and I snagged it for under two bucks.

So, what was the card, you ask? You'll have to wait until it comes in the mail (hopefully) within the next few days.

As if this day couldn't get any better, I have an excuse to write a post on one of my favorite topics, thanks to Fuji's latest contest question. He asks:

"What's the worst conditioned card in your collection? Is there a story behind it?"

The great thing about most of these "cards with character" (as Fuji calls them) is that they hold more "stories" than almost any other card out there.

I definitely have a "worst conditioned" card in my collection, but let's take a look at some of the "runners up" in that category.

The above card was pretty much a "gag" buy from the recent card show I attended. One of the vendors let me pick out a few free cards after I made a purchase from his table. Since I didn't find many others I desperately wanted, I settled on the ink-stained Detroit Tigers team card you see above for kicks. (The checklist on the back is marked as well.)

I doubt I'll ever know why a kid wrote "Pittsburg Pirates" across a Tigers team card.

That sense of mystery is part of the fun of these cards, though.

Some of my longtime readers might remember this as one of March's card show finds.

It's also a great example of the other major reason I'm such a fan of "cards with character".

They're cheap.

As a jobless twenty year-old, I can't afford to go after most better-conditioned vintage. They're simply too rich for my blood. (Although I am trying to change that whole "jobless" thing.)

One of the things I've come to love about this hobby is the fact that it really doesn't take much to take away from the "value" of a card. A couple rounded corners and maybe a small crease puts a lot of vintage cards I'd love to have within my price range. (Although those imperfections add "character", at least to me.)

Occasionally, you'll run into a few really "well-loved" cards at absolute bargain-basement prices, as is the case with this 1955 Topps card of Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser. (Also his last card, incidentally.)

In good shape, I bet this one goes for fifteen to twenty bucks, at the least.

I snagged this battered copy for seventy-five cents, and it's still one of the highlights of my vintage collection.

At that price, cards like these can fit within anyone's budget.

On one summer trip to the flea market, I found myself with a bit of extra spending cash after all was said and done.

I took a trip back to one of the tables I had passed up earlier. To my surprise, I found this seemingly flawless '61 Duke Snider with a paltry $5 price tag. No creases, no rounded corners, no water damage, no pen marks.


"Why is this so cheap?", I asked.

After flipping the card over, I quickly found the answer to that question.

That's why.

At some point in its life, the "Duke" must've been glued into one of those old photo albums, only to be ripped out of it at a later date. The residue on the back of this card has a felt-like feel to it.

Nevertheless, I bought it (along with a '61 Eddie Mathews of the same quality) since I was pretty much already done shopping for the day. Plus, chances were I'd never come across another card like this for anywhere near that price tag.

Since I have it in one of these things on the wall of my room, I only see the flawless front of the card.

I can pretend that the back isn't even there, if I want.

Here's another flea market find of mine from last year.

For the record, I've never seen another copy of this card in person. It's one of those "dual rarity" cards, since it's a 1960's high number and a short-print.

I don't think I'll ever find out why someone punched two holes in this card and cut off its corners. (Not to mention that there's a small crease near the hole at the top of the card.)

However, in its own way, this is one great piece of history. If I could ever meet someone else who collects, it would be quite the conversation starter.

Not a bad purchase at all for fifty cents.

But even this one doesn't take the crown for my "worst conditioned" card.

Nope, that honor goes to a card I've already shown on this blog a couple times before, a card that's easily one of the centerpieces in my collection.

Without further ado, here it is.

It's what I like to call my "washer-used" 1975 Topps George Brett rookie card.

This is a prime case of a card that has "grown on me" over the last few months. When I first came across it in a fifty-cent bin at a card show last year, I nearly put it back.

I've never been a huge George Brett collector, after all.

At the time, the main reason I bought it was because it's one of those cards my dad had multiple copies of as a kid, at least before his collection was given or thrown away. One of those cards that he wished he could've handed down to me.

It was my little way of "reclaiming" it for my own collection. Plus, how often was I going to find a George Brett rookie card in a fifty-cent bin?

Never again, I'd bet.

So I bought it, along with a stack of other fifty-cent cards.

I've come to appreciate it more and more ever since I welcomed it into my collection. It's hard to put into words just how much I love this severely damaged card.

As if it couldn't get any worse (or better), the "washer-used" aspect isn't the only thing that's wrong with this card. If you look closely, you'll probably be able to tell that it's badly miscut on top of it all.

I don't think I've ever seen a piece of cardboard with more "character" than that.


Zayden said...

i cant wait to see the card you found when it comes in the mail. As for the george surprised topps hasnt come up with an insert reprint of cards like those...they could call them "Cards Your Mom Washed With Your Pants" or something to that effect lol

Fuji said...

Great post... extra credit has been served.

Btw... looking forward to seeing the card you picked up.