Monday, April 29, 2013

The find of a lifetime

Initially, I was planning on revealing a new region from the "Gems of Junk Wax" tourney this evening.


The events of last afternoon got in the way of that. Don't worry, I should be posting about the tournament tomorrow. I assure you, though, this write-up will be worth the wait. I know it's a bit of a lengthy one, but it's more than appropriate for my find of a lifetime.

Yes, I did make another trek to the local flea market yesterday, and I did find a slew of new discount box gems for my binders, perhaps more than last weekend. You'll see them on the blog soon enough.

But that's not what we'll be talking about today.

After our latest flea market extravaganza, my mom and I made our way to a local garage sale yesterday afternoon.

First, though, let me tell you why we were there in the first place.

While I was out of the house on Saturday, my mom went to that very garage sale, as she does on many weekends. (I get my bargain hunting genes from both parents.)

When I came home that night, I surprisingly found six brand-new binders waiting for me in my room. My mom scored them for just a buck. And, no, not a buck each. A buck total. (Ironically, this came just a day after complaining that I didn't have any spare binders.)

It got even better. My mom said the guy who sold her the binders had a collection he was looking to unload. Apparently, he'd just had kids and moved into a new house, and his wife wanted to clear out some space, and...well, you probably already know how that one goes.

Because of that, my mom graciously offered to go back to the garage sale so I could take a look. Once we got there, the guy had a huge tub of cards in boxes, many of them containing complete sets from the overproduction era.

At first, I thought it was going to be the same tale I'd seen so many times before. Boxes and boxes of overproduced cardboard for sale at outrageous prices. All that hope wasted.

After rummaging through the bin a bit, American Pickers style, I found a few boxes to my liking. Four, to be exact, plus that card-filled binder you see lying atop of them. One of them, as you'll soon see, was really to my liking.

When I asked what he wanted for the lot, the guy had a firm $35 price tag in mind.

While I had to take out a bit of a loan from my mom to buy 'em, I gladly forked over the thirty-five bucks.

Remember that price as you read through this post.

Thirty-five dollars.

Now, I did select each of the four boxes and the binder for a reason. All had quite a few cards I needed for my collection. While I'll probably post about what the rest of my haul entailed in due time, I want you to focus on the one on the far left for tonight.

As you might be able to tell, it has the words "Important Cards/Papers" scribbled across the front of it. I didn't need the papers he had in the box, and the garage sale vendor took those out before I walked home with them.

Now, just what did that "important cards" label mean?

I'm glad you asked.

The title of this post isn't a hoax.

Those "important cards" were my find of a lifetime. Once I saw this well-loved piece inside that "important" box, I realized that this garage sale might not be a waste of time after all.

Back in the earlier stages of this blog, I dealt my '51 Bowman Charlie Keller to a fellow blogger. While I received a substantial haul in return, I've always wanted to own another '51 Bowman issue ever since then.

Now, thanks to this piece of one-time Pirates manager Billy Meyer, I feel like I've reclaimed a small part of my collection. 

Still, even a card from '51 Bowman felt like small potatoes in digging through the remains of this box.

I didn't even see this during my initial dig through the "important" box.

I found this "quasi-mini" lying at the bottom of the heap late last night. Apparently, some young collector really wanted a Roberto Clemente card.

So, not knowing what these things would be worth in forty years, he customized his '67 Topps Leaders card, isolating Mr. Clemente's portion in the process.

A small part of me couldn't help but laugh. Most collectors today wouldn't dream of doing something like this. Yet, back before the "money boom" of the hobby, it was a logical solution for a young Roberto Clemente fan.

Still, I couldn't help but wonder, "What if?"

What if this whole card was still intact?

I didn't own any "leader" cards of Clemente. One of those would certainly look nice in my collection.

What if?

Oh, well. It's probably not worth brooding over anyways.

Wait a minute...

...never mind.

Now I do have an actual "League Leader" card of Roberto Clemente!

Straight from a garage sale into my home!

Oh, and this just so happens to be card #1 from the '68 checklist, by the way.

And, as hard as it might be to believe, it wasn't even one of the three best cards I scored from this staggering box of cardboard.

I'm not kidding.

Yes, this jaw-dropping masterpiece was just my third-best find.

You'll see why in a minute.

That's not taking anything away form this amazing piece, though. This '63 Topps "Buc Blasters" issue pictures slugging Pirates Smoky Burgess, Dick Stuart, Bob Skinner, and, yes, Roberto Clemente.

This pre-dates the oldest solo Clemente card I have in my collection by a good six years.

Now, let me warn you.

What you're about to see may shock you. But I guarantee that these last two cards, with everything I've already shown in this post and all the other boxes (and binder) I featured at the top, only set me back thirty-five dollars.

I wouldn't lie to you.

Now, if you don't believe me, well...

I can't say I'd blame you.

I'm still having trouble coming to grips with my find of a lifetime. In fact, I'm still not convinced this isn't all just a dream.

I mean, how the heck can I explain the fact that I found a 1966 Topps Hank Aaron at some garage sale for such an unbelievable price?

Before last afternoon, the oldest "Hammerin' Hank" piece I owned was his '69 Topps issue. While I'd certainly been on the hunt for one of his mid '60s issues, I wasn't too hopeful.

I certainly didn't expect to ever land his '66 Topps card. At the "heroic" #500 in that year's checklist, the possibility of owning a high-number of arguably the greatest home run hitter ever didn't even cross my mind.

Aside from being off-center and having a couple tiny creases, it's in nearly flawless shape. Dinged corners are a bit of a theme with my vintage collection, but I can't see a single one on Mr. Aaron there.

There it is. My find of a lifetime.

Hold on.

Didn't I say there were two more cards to reveal in this post?

Why, yes, I did.

Honestly, I'm not sure that my excitement over this final piece can be put into fathomable words.

But I'll give it a shot.

While the Aaron was indeed one of the better additions of my collecting career, it was this final card that made this box my find of a lifetime.

Prepare yourself.




There he is.

The Mick.

In my collection.

Like I said, I'm still not convinced this isn't all a dream.

For as long as I've been collecting, I've wanted to add an authentic Mickey Mantle Topps piece to my collection. Given the outrageous prices his cards command, though, I'd pretty much given up all hope that it'd ever happen.

But, now, thanks to a tub of otherwise random cardboard that was gathering dust in some guy's basement, I can honestly say that I have one. One that, I may add, has absolutely no creases and minimal corner wear.

One that'd probably run me a couple hundred bucks otherwise.

So, yes, I am now actually the proud owner of a 1967 Topps Mickey Mantle.

You have absolutely no idea how much I've wanted to say that.

And, again, this entire haul cost just thirty-five dollars. I can't emphasize that enough.

Thirty-five bucks!

Also, if you're wondering, the guy did indeed know what he had. He flipped through the contents of his "important" box when I picked it out.

He saw the Mantle and the Aaron, along with all the other goodies he'd had. Apparently, he just wanted to unload as much of it as possible.

As they always say, one person's trash is another person's treasure. I've never believed that more until right now.

Card-related or not, I've heard quite a few stories of people discovering some "mega-finds" at garage sales over the years. All that time, I'd always wondered when my day would come.

Well, I can proudly say that moment has arrived.

Now I have one of those stories.

It was, and always will be, my find of a lifetime.


majpasqua said...

Nick, I'm speechless. Congrats on such an amazing find. Enjoy em'!

Mark said...

I imagine there some words and pretty pictures after the Pirate cards, but I was too busy trying to wipe all the drool off my laptop to notice.

Aside from the guy who used to sell cards at our yearly neighborhood garage sale, I almost never come across any cards at the yard/estate sales we hit. Awesome finds!

madding said...

Nice finds! Congrats!

Backstop Cards said...

This doesn't seem real.

hiflew said...

That is just sick. Those are the type of dream scenarios that collectors strive for. Congratulations.

The Diamond King said...

Congratulations!! One of these days I gotta find something like that.

The Junior Junkie said...

Holy crap

night owl said...

I've said this before here and I'll say it again:

Will your parents adopt me?

Brad's Blog said...

Sweet Mantle! I'm a collector of his as well!

The Lost Collector said...

Congrats. My lone Mantle is a '67 as well, but mine has 154 creases.

Cardhobbyist said...

Awesome find. A dream come true for a collector.

P-town Tom said...

Wow! What a awesome find!

Stealing Home said...

Maybe even the find of TWO lifetimes.

WOW !!

Play at the Plate said...

Great stuff!

Swing And A Pop-up said...

If your parents won't adopt any of us, is it ok if we come over and play?

Robert said...

I have your address, we're heading to garage sales next weekend...

Damn!!!! Very nice pickups...

CaptKirk42 said...

Congrats and OH MYYYYYYYYY G... I can't even finish that thought on some of those classic cards. And for only $35?

Mother load.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine coming across cards like that: Clemente, Aaron and Mantle all in the same haul. AND FOR ONLY $35?! You scored, Nick, and if any of us deserve to luck out in such a way, it's you, man. Congrats! Show these off a couple times a year for the rest of us, eh? I would've freaked out...

Michael Chase said...

Outstanding! That is probably every card collector's dream come true!!!

I am now inspired to go garage sailing and look through the local free trader!!

Congratulations again : )

Spankee said...

If I was your mom, I would immediately collect on the loan and repo the cards.

Ridiculous man.

Jeff S said...

W O W ! ! !
Fantastic find and purchase.
In all my years of collecting, I have yet to find a buy like that.

Ana Lu said...

Oh boy! I'm also stuned! And truly happy for you!

Mark Kaz said...

A little late to the party, but...WOWWWW!!!!!! Awesome finds, congrats on the great Hank and Mick cards. Could't have found a better home!

Fuji said...

Congratulations... that is one heck of a purchase.

George said...

Every collector deserves a few fantastic finds like this in their collecting lives. Congratulations on adding these cards to your collection. From one dime-box collector to another, well done.