Thursday, March 22, 2018

The death of the low-end collector (card show vintage!)

Despite what the title of this blog might suggest, I've been thinking a lot lately about whether I can even still call myself a low-end collector.

There's no doubting I'll always be a low-end guy at heart. Dime boxes and beat-up vintage are my anthems. And I definitely don't aspire to be a high-end guy: I don't have anything near the budget for that kind of thing, and besides, I find "hits" and big-dollar sets boring.

But the fact of the matter is that I definitely spend a lot more on cards these days than I once did (mostly because I didn't have a job when I started this blog...), and I'm not opposed to making big purchases if I feel like they're warranted (as this post will later indicate).

Last weekend's card show perhaps represented the pinnacle of my low-end self-doubt: take this Jimmy Piersall, for instance, which set me back a whole $10 and was the very first thing I bought on Saturday.

And before you go thinking that I've finally lost it by spending $10 on a '62 Topps common, let me just show you the back -- which, as you'll see, shows that this is actually a '62 Topps Venezuelan card, the first of its kind in my collection.

Topps Venezuelans are insanely rare (I'd seen maybe a dozen in-person over my many years of attending shows) and thus quite expensive, which means I'd long written off any possibility of ever owning one.

So when I saw Jimmy Piersall lumped in with a bunch of other obscure commons (one of the reasons I enjoy collecting him: he's a name whose cards often carry no-name prices), I bit -- despite the fact that most low-end collections don't have Topps Venezuelans in them.

From that same box came another foreign-language oddball with this '62 Post Canadian Billy Martin, another first for my collection and a card I couldn't pass up at three bucks.

These and the TCMA Fidrych I showed at the end of yesterday's post set me back $15 all together from the initial table of the day -- and while I was no doubt excited by the purchases, the feeling of spending $15 on just three cards isn't something I'm quite used to yet.

The second table of the day had more vintage, and these were more closely aligned with my low-end methods: a whole binder of 50-cent '75 minis!

I'm fairly certain I need all these, but a couple could well be dupes: '75 minis throw me for a bit of a loop sometimes because I'm not sure if what I'm remembering from my own collection is the regular '75 or the mini '75 of certain cards.

I've said before that one of two things usually happen at this show: I usually find a lot of Hostess or a lot of Kellogg's, never a lot of both.

Well, I'll have to eat my words there, because in addition to these gloriously greasy Hostesses...

...came an equal amount of awesome Kellogg's.

I remain fascinated with the wildly different prices Kellogg's cards can command -- the ones in this scan cost everything from a dime (Otis) to five dollars (Brooks), with the Yaz and Sutton in between (a buck each).

I've fallen hopelessly in love with these Fleer World Series cartoons, so you can imagine how excited I was to find everything in this page for 50 cents a pop.

Same goes for these Nu-Scoops: it's gotten to the point where I specifically try to scope these out at card shows, which has me thinking that a subconscious part of me is trying to build the whole set (even though I'm not a set builder).

These ran a bit more than the World Series cartoons -- the Spahn and Wynn were two bucks apiece, while the Cobb and "DiMag" were $5 per -- but they're prices I'm happy to pay because WOW are these cards nice.

A slew of various vintage oddballs which contented my low-end collector self since this whole scan cost me less than a pack of Gypsy Queen.

Let me give you a visual of one of my consistently favorite sights at this card show: behold what is known to my dad and I simply as...The Tub.

The Tub was back after an unexplained absence at the last convention hall show, and it was as glorious as ever. There's no rhyme or reason to what you'll find in this thing (the cards I sifted through spanned each of the last six or seven decades), and the cards are priced at 3/$2, 20/$10, or 50/$20 (and of course I managed to find 50).

And yes, you're seeing things right: if you look a little to the left of center of this photo... might notice a '52 Topps mixed into all that chaos.

Sure, the borders are cut off, and no, I have no idea who Frank Baumholtz is, but of course I bought it -- it's a '52 Topps card for 40 cents! 

Saturday must've unofficially been Bob Gibson Fire Sale Day, because I paid a grand total of 73 cents for these two (the World Series card from a 3/$1 box, the Gibson Story for 40 cents from The Tub).

It didn't take long to realize that the Dollar Vintage Gods were with me on Saturday.

The Podres has been a thorn in my side for a while now, and the Groat is actually card #1 from the 1961 Topps checklist, which made both of those especially sweet dollar buys.

One of the last tables of the day had a couple large piles of dollar vintage on display, but it was late in the show and I was running on fumes.

So I grabbed a stack somewhat absentmindedly, flipped through it, shook my head, and said to myself...wait, did I just see what I thought I saw? Indeed I had: there, for a dollar, was a '57 Topps Gil Hodges.

But as this scan might tell you, Gil was really only the beginning to all the low-grade big names those stacks held.

As hard as it might be to believe, these also came from those dollar stacks, and better yet, the dealer even let me pick out a couple of freebies -- which I promptly turned into the '55 Joe Black and Dick Groat you see above ('55s for FREE!).

And yes, that's a '55 Topps (Ed) Mathews with what certainly looks like a burnt-off corner -- I initially had second thoughts about buying it, but with a little goading from my dad, I realized I'd be crazy to pass it up.

And here's yet another gift from the Dollar Box Vintage Gods: a '51 Bowman Eddie Waitkus.

Not too long ago, I realized that I had exactly zero cards of Waitkus in my collection. I needed to change that, because he's a fairly significant name in baseball history: he was shot by a deranged fan in 1949, an event which was later dramatized via Roy Hobbs in The Natural.

Waitkus doesn't have a ton of stuff out there (which is both good and bad for a player collector), and this stellar dollar-box buy is my first real vintage card of his.

A couple from my Keep Dreaming list with the '68 Denny McLain (actually found and purchased by my dad) for four bucks, and the '76 Rose for $3.

Though it's your basic low-end common (#40 in the '68 Topps set), the McLain proved oddly elusive: I asked two different vendors with huge amounts of vintage inventory without any luck before my dad found a third who had exactly one copy left (thanks again, Dad!).

And now we've come to the '58s, a set which I may have underrated in the past for the sherr unfortunate fact that it happens to be sandwiched between two of my all-time favorite Topps designs.

This colorful quartet cost about half a blaster all together, the Spahn on the high end at $5 and the Hodges on the low end at a buck (with Klu and Billy Martin -- the latter of which was another Dad Find -- in between at a couple dollars each).

But as it happens, '58 Topps was also the set that caused me to question my true status as a low-end collector on Saturday...why?

Well, here's one reason.

I threw a '58 Topps Roger Maris rookie onto my Keep Dreaming list as a bit of a joke -- hey there, anyone got an extra '58 Maris (wink-wink, nudge-nudge)? So you can imagine my surprise when I actually saw one that was kinda in my price range: this weathered copy had a $43 price tag on it, which is less than a quarter of the price of all the other Maris rookies I saw on Saturday.

Only problem was that I didn't have enough cash on me to buy it at the time. No worries, because I quickly did something else that might cause me to relinquish my low-end status: I bought a card with a credit card. At a card show. The vendor had one of those swipe thingies attached to her phone, and a few seconds later I had the Maris rookie without any cash having changed hands, with a receipt to prove it (a receipt for a card show purchase!).

And as for why I was forced to buy the Maris with plastic instead of cold, hard cash... can blame Teddy Ballgame for that.

One of my other wink-wink, nudge-nudge goals for Saturday was to find a real Topps Ted Williams. Though he retired after the 1960 season, this is Ted's last Topps card -- he signed a Fleer-exclusive contract in 1959 and thus didn't appear in any Topps set from 1959-61. And after seeing the prices on some of his other cards on Saturday, it quickly became apparent that it'd have to be '58 or bust.

This was really the only affordable Splendid Splinter I came across, and I was shocked at how (relatively) cheap it was: even though it's not in terrible shape, the vendor had a rock-bottom $40 price tag on it (the next cheapest copy I saw was $80, and that one was in worse shape).

And so I blew the rest of my remaining cash on a card I never thought I'd own: a real Topps Ted Williams. Plus, if that wasn't glorious enough, the vendor knocked an extra ten percent off the price, which meant I ended up getting it for all of $36.

With Topps Venezuelans, Roger Maris rookies, and vintage Teddy Ballgames now in my collection after Saturday's show, I honestly don't know if I can still call myself a low-end collector -- that's okay, though, because I'd rather have the cards anyways.


Johnnys Trading Spot said...


Mark Hoyle said...

Way to go Nick. Love the Teddy

Angus said...

Beautiful haul!

Mike said...

Wow,you didnt show me that Eddie Waitkus!!

And,as always,i had a great time with you!

TSHenson said...

Another awesome post! I always enjoy your blog posts. Keep up tbe great job. If by chance the Jim Perry '75 Topps Mini is a duplicate, I would love to trade for it. The '75 Topps Mini Indians team set is on my short list of bucket list of team sets I hope to complete.

Jeremya1um said...

Congrats on the cards, especially the Williams and Maris rookie. The Maris would be a highlight of anyone’s collection.

Chris said...

Impressive haul - I've wanted a 58 Hodges forever, and the 68 McLain is a classic (common or not) But the Ted and Maris, man...well done!

Adam Kaningher said...

I've been paying for card show cards with plastic for a while, but never on as much awesome vintage as this!

Fuji said...

Great stuff! Seasons change. People change. Low-end. High-end. It's all good.

BobWalkthePlank said...

Pretty soon you are going to be telling us you started a Trout auto pc :)

shoeboxlegends said...

What a show Nick! Congrats on the Williams, and that Waitkus card is pretty fantastic too!

Kin said...

Any blog post with Herb Score in it is a winner!

acrackedbat said...

I always leave my debit/credit cards at home, taking only cash. I'm more selective when parting with the real stuff. It's hard to pick a favorite from your display of loot but the Cobb Scoops is probably my favorite.