Monday, November 25, 2013

A day at the card show, Pt. 1: Loose change loot

Ah, card shows.

Few things excite me more. The prospect of attending a card show gets me geared up during the weeks before the festivities, and sends me reeling for weeks afterward.

This past Saturday was no exception.

I don't know about you, but I find it nice to be in a room with a bunch of fellow collectors at a card show. It's a change of pace from the cardboard apathy I seem to face from the rest of the general public.

Granted, a lot of them are purely there for the autograph guests. On top of that, many of the actual card collectors present hunt for more higher-end cardboard. A very small percentage of show attendees have the discount bins on their minds.

But, if you read this blog at all, you probably know that I'm one of those extreme few.

As usual, my dad came along for the ride on Saturday, once again providing a much appreciated and extremely generous grant to my card show budget. We scaled every single aisle in the place, searching for little treasures along the way.

Surprisingly, though, we found that there weren't as many dime boxes as usual. Now, there were more than enough other goodies to make up for the lack of dime bins. (More on that in a later post, though.)

While the number of dime boxes left me wanting, the overall content of the few I found sure didn't. In the end, that's all that really matters.

I even stumbled upon a few rare dime binders at one point during the show, not exactly a common sight.

One of the many cards I'd pluck from those pages was the football-chucking '89 Upper Deck Nolan Ryan, a treasured and (now) former "Dime Box Dozen" need.

As opposed to my organizing philosophy, I do like dime boxes a little better than dime binders.

There's something to be said about sifting through stacks upon stacks of cardboard, as I often do with dime boxes. You don't get that feeling with a binder.

Still, I found the "hit-and-run" method of grabbing a few cards here with each passing binder page to be quite fun as well.

The guy had three huge binders up for grabs with the words "CLEARANCE -- 10 CENTS EACH" scrawled upon each.

I sure do love seeing clearance signs like that. I guess the guy just wanted to clear out some space.

Why else would he let rookies of Zack Grienke and Mark Trumbo go for a dime?

I've said this before, but I used to go absolutely nuts for numbered cards as a young collector.

They're not a huge deal to me now, but any dime ones I can find are still a nice surprise. Especially when they come from an uber-high end set like Topps Marquee.

I had to rub my eyes to make sure I saw this right. A beautiful "throwback" shot of Matt Kemp, numbered to 199 copies, for just a dime. A card of "The Beard", limited to a mere 99 copies, also a dime.

I couldn't believe it.

Ichiro cards are hard enough to find in dime boxes.

But numbered Ichiro issues? Forget it.

Yet, against all odds, I found one in these massive clearance binders. And it comes from another rather high-end set with Upper Deck Epic. It's one of the better dimes I've ever spent.

As hard as it might be to believe, though, these weren't even the best binders this vendor had.

But more on that in my next card show post.

For now, back to the discount treasures.

I've noticed throughout my days frequenting card shows that a few different types of vendors put out dime boxes.

The most common are nice, courteous people, willing to cut you a deal on anything you might buy.

Sometimes, though, you'll run into a higher-end dealer who's just trying to make a couple extra bucks on those suckers who'd even bother digging through all those scraps.

Well, yours truly, a so-called sucker, ran into one of those vendors on Saturday. I could tell he barely even cared when I handed him a five-dollar bill to pay for my 30 dime cards. He didn't even have two singles for my change. I doubt he thought anyone would spend a mere three bucks at his table.

You'd think that a high-dollar dealer would know that he had a Bryce Harper rookie lying unprotected in his dime box. I guess not. Suckers like me look for those types of things.

It's the first Harper card I've ever found for a dime.

I actually found two autographed dime cards throughout the course of Saturday's show.

The other is going to a fellow blogger, so I won't show it here. The other, though, was the Miguel Montero autograph you see above.

I didn't notice the warped corner until I got home Saturday night. But, if anyone wants to look past its defect, I'd be more than willing to send it to a good home. As apathetic as I am towards autos and jersey cards, I just couldn't let that one go for a dime.

More along my personal tastes is that beautiful (and numbered) card of "The Flying Dutchman". Once again, it comes from a high-end set in Topps Tier One.

A single pack of those things probably goes for more than I spent during the entire show.

One of my goals for Saturday, as I put it, was to "raid" the 2013 dime boxes.

Near the end of the show, I found exactly what I'd hoped to stumble upon all day up to that point. A guy had dime box upon dime box upon dime box of almost every 2013 set imaginable.

He even had some hearty stacks of chrome-y cards on tap. I honestly didn't even know that Bowman Chrome was out. That's how little I care about the brand these days. But, that said, I can't turn down new cards of guys like Brett Lawrie and Josh Reddick for a dime.

Also present was a small stack of 2013 Finest. Shockingly, I actually like how that set is looking this year.

I can't remember the last time I said that about Finest.

The biggest draw of this guy's table, though, was his selection of 2013 A&G.

He had almost an entire 3200-count box full of singles from the set. Needless to say, I indeed "raided" that thing.

In the end, I found just over 120 new 2013 A&Gs for my binders, including quite a few short-prints. (As we have with the Kemp, McCarthy, and Newhouser.)

At a dime a piece, that totaled about 12 bucks. That same 12 bucks could've gotten me a grand total of four six-card retail packs of A&G from Target.

Dime boxes are the way to go, my friends.

Remember when I freaked out over finding of these Galasso Glossy Greats cards in a half-price box at my local flea market?

Take that and multiply it by about a hundred for what I stumbled upon at one table on Saturday.

I found a vendor who had a big stack of these puppies priced at just a dime each. I'd never seen so many of these awesome Galassos in one spot before, much less for a dime a piece.

Honestly, I couldn't tell you the last time I found new cards of Hal Chase and Nick Altrock for my collection.

That's what makes this set so fantastic, in a nutshell.

Of course, the discount bins featured a slew of more random goodies as well.

Both of these will go in my Orioles binder, although they each come from entirely different eras of the team's history.

A young Babe Ruth played for a minor league squad called the Orioles (not related to today's O's) in 1914. That's one of the earliest photos I've ever seen of the Bambino in baseball gear.

That Ripken was simply too beautiful of a shot to pass up for a dime.

You can never have too many cards of "The Iron Man".

A couple 'fros from a couple of my favorite players of the 1970's.

By the time 1981 came around, though, Oscar Gamble's famous hairdo seemed to be in its dying days.

Even legends like Carter and Clemente aren't prone to the discount bins.

These are terrific cards of a couple of my favorite HOFers.

Some of Score's early "Dream Team" cards can make you wince.

Others, though, deserve to be remembered. For obvious reasons, fire isn't exactly a common sight on baseball cards. That Doug Jones is one of a select class.

It's one of those cards that I'd seen many times before, but never managed to track down. Thankfully, it's no longer a gap in my collection.

While there weren't enough to warrant a separate post, I did dig through a couple quarter boxes on Saturday. And, yes, there were some good ones to be had.

Honestly, I never thought I'd voluntarily buy a Roger Clemens card for a quarter. Aside from perhaps Barry Bonds, I don't think I detest any former ballplayers more than "Rocket".

But I'll be darned if that isn't one heckuva nice card there.

I didn't even think twice about shelling out a quarter for it.

These made for some of my better buys of the day, I think.

I found about a half-dozen of these comic-themed cards in a quarter box about halfway through the show. I didn't know anything about them at the time, other than the fact that I absolutely had to add these great pieces to my collection at that exact moment.

Further research shows that they hail from an insert set featured in the lovable 1993 Upper Deck Fun Pack release.

I never got into the whole comics thing, but I can't get over how awesome these are.

One of the better developments of the day was the return of a vendor I hadn't seen in a while.

My dad and I call him "Milos", because he has a strikingly similar accent to one of my favorite minor characters in Seinfeld's long run.

Kidding aside, though, he's one of the more accommodating vendors I've ever seen. He counted the number of cards I pulled as I was in the process of my dig, thus saving me from having to do it at the end.

Because he already had a couple customers parked in front of his discount bins, he offered to move a couple of the dime boxes he had to another, less cluttered section of the table for me. And, yes, he cut me a nice deal at the end of it all.

I'd bought hundreds and hundreds of cards from him in the past. The stacks I found this time around probably added a few hundred more to that total.

He always seems to have an excellent array of cards from virtually every era imaginable. That includes, as I was happy to see, the 1990s.

The red convertible and fantastic Metrodome shot featured on this spectacular Kirby Puckett card pretty much sums up the decade for me.

Also among the finds from "Milos" were quite a few mini-collection hits.

Jose Rijo seemed to turn every card he touched into pure gold.

Here's a couple more.

It's tough to tell whether "Big Mac" is actually arguing with the ump in that shot, but I'll file it under my "Say the Magic Word" mini-collection regardless.

Probably my favorite find from his table, though, was this awesome shot of "The Big Hurt".

Between the interview shot and throwback uniform, it's a sacred "combo" mini-collection hit.

As you might have noticed, it'd been a "Dime Box Dozen" need of mine for the past month or so. I'm glad I get to finally cross it off the list.

Bookended by a couple former "Dime Box Dozen" nominees, this should give you a good idea of just how spectacular the discount bins were at Saturday's show.

I certainly put my loose change to good use.


Captain Canuck said...

while I agree with you and am one of the select few myself, I haven't been to a card show around here that has dime boxes. Or quarter boxes.
This past show, out of about 25 sellers, had one guy with a dollar box. One guy had a few two dollar binders, the rest.... the cheapest was a few with clearance boxes where you could pick any card for five dollars.

Five dollar boxes do not quite have the same ring to them as dime boxes....

The Junior Junkie said...

There are no dime boxes at my local card show. One guy has a quarter box that I've been througha hundred times already, but that's it. You got some great stuff. That Wizard comic card is wild...

Fuji said...

I'm totally with you. 85% of my card show time is dedicated to bargain bins. 10% walking around. 5% talking to people, snacking, and using the restroom.