Sunday, October 27, 2019

Tap tap tap...Is this thing on?

Has it really been two months since I last posted? Yes. Yes, it has.  In my defense, I haven't really been all that active in the hobby lately. Not by choice, mind you, but by necessity.  I've picked up a few commons for my vintage sets, but that is about it.  I did get a nice package in the mail recently that I'll talk about in a bit.  Feel free to skip ahead if you would like.

My wife and I don't have children, but we do seem to collect animals.  And animals can be expensive.  Take Missy:

Missy is our senior pup.  Very senior.  We don't know how old she is, but we believe she is at least 16 years old. Missy came to live with us in the summer of 2007.  She actually belonged to a family that lived about a half mile away, but they really didn't pay much attention to her.   I patted her on the head once when she was hanging out at the convenience store/bait shop across the street and she followed me home.  Without getting in to the whole timeline of events, suffice it to say that we would take her home to her family and she was usually back the next day. Sometimes, she'd be back in a few hours.

Finally, the other folks told us that we didn't need to keep bringing her back, because she would do so on her own when she got hungry.  Fair enough. Except that she didn't.  She camped out on our front porch.  We made sure she had water (it was summer in Oklahoma) but that was it.  The next day she was still there.  Another day passed and she hadn't left.  After the third day of her constant presence, we finally figured out that she had chosen to live with us and was just waiting on us to abide by her decision. So, we did.

We have had a wild and wonderful history with Missy, but fast forward to last year when she started having small seizures. They only lasted 3 to 5 seconds, but they were serious enough to cause her to fall over.  The vet thought they might relate to her extremely low heart rate.  We tried several treatments to help, but none offered more than a temporary relief.  The vet suggested she be evaluated for a pacemaker.  (You see where this is going, right?)  Again, leaving out a lot of detail,  she was actually quite healthy, other than her cardiac issue. Surprisingly so, for a dog of her advanced years. So, she got a pacemaker.

Alas, a month later, we found a growth on her hip which ended up being a mast cell tumor. Luckily it was highly localized and had not metastasized, so we had it removed. Some latent back issues have re-asserted themselves and we are treating those with therapy and non-narcotic pain medicine.  She isn't the fireball she used to be, and has good days and bad, but she is still a happy girl and is still engaged in our family life. So, I will continue to honor the trust she put in us over 12 years ago.

So, that is why I haven't been doing much collecting of late, since I have been investing a lot of time and much of my spare money in my sweet, old girl. You probably think I am crazy. You are right. I admit it and am not embarrassed in the least.  But, given that we all collect small bits of cardboard, a certain level of WTF is already baked into our lives.

Anyways, let's move on to the card stuff. A package arrived a few weeks ago from Night Owl, right before I left for my annual Ohio trip, so I've been remiss in posting this,  N.O. was apparently one of the three people that read my previous post about the blaster of Allen & Ginter I bought, where I professed my love for the Mares & Stallions and History of Flight insert sets.

These cards did not seem problematic to me like the Appaloosa card did.  So, props to Topps for not screwing them up.  With these six, I am now up to seven cards from the 15 card insert set. I had tried to set up a trade with another blogger for more of the Mares & Stallions back in September, but I had a total of zero cards from his want list. 

And, with these three, I now have four out of the 15 card History of Flight insert set.

 I'm probably going to start dipping my toes in the hobby water here again soon.  There was actually a card show in OKC this weekend, but I decided to skip it in order to catch up on my honey-dos around the farm while the weather is nice. My plan at the moment is to drive down to Dallas for a card show on my birthday weekend in November.  Hopefully, I'll find something to fill out my end of the aforementioned trade, plus hopefully get closer to completing my 1968 and 1970 Topps sets.  

Anyways, catch ya later.

What I am listening to: Methademic by Black Sabbath

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Modern Mistake

I got back into sports card collecting in 2011 and, like most folks new to modern collecting, jumped in wholeheartedly. I was putting together vintage sets and opening up a lot of contemporary issues.  However, I became quickly disillusioned with modern collecting.  The plastic stock of cards like Topps flagship didn't appeal to me. I loved Heritage, but the artificial scarcity of the high number series quickly angered me.  As I struggled to finish 2011 Heritage, I was paying more for high number commons than I was paying for vintage.  I finally gave up in disgust.

Now, I still will add modern single cards to my collection and will occasionally build a modern set that catches my fancy.  But for the most part, I am a vintage set builder.

Yesterday, I got the bug and bought myself a blaster of 2019 Allen and Ginter.  For the most, part it didn't really interest me, although two subsets seemed like something I'd add to my collection.

The first was The History of Flight

The second, as any of you who have been around my blog over time (and there are at least 3 or 4 of you), was Mares and Stallions. I the Andalusian in the blaster and liked it so much, I decided to put that subset together and went online to see what the rest of the cards looked like.

And I saw this:
That, my friends, is not an Appaloosa horse.  That is a Paint Horse / Pinto with a tobiano color scheme.    Appaloosa color patterns generally include spots. Small spots.  Should you be interested, you can see examples and read more about Appaloosa color patterns here  and Paint color patterns here.  Seriously, that image doesn't even match Topps own description on the back.

I suppose I shouldn't expect better from Topps and just let it go. But, I cannot explain how much this ticks me off.  Get your shit together, Topps!

Anyways, if you have any cards from these two subsets and want to trade, hit me up.

What I am listening to: He's my Baby by Donna Hightower

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Collecting Intersects with My Childhood and My Current Life

When I was but a boy, my family would spend a week in the Thousand Islands for vacation each summer.  We stayed in small cottages on Dingman Point Road just a short trip from Alexandria Bay. I think most of my fondest childhood memories were from there.  One of those memories is watching ships pass through our view as the navigated the St Lawrence Seaway to and from the Great Lakes.

So, image my delight when I looked through the 1931 W.D. & H.O. Will's Strange Craft tobacco card set and found this:

Fast forward to last week. I was back in Ohio visiting my mother for her birthday.  Although I grew up in Rochester, all my immediate family now lives in Cleveland (long story.)  Anyways, the Great Lakes Science Center has a restored Great Lakes Freighter as part of their collection, the William G Mather. I've never been able to work out a visit for a variety of reasons. But, this time I was able to go and see it.  If you ever find yourself in Cleveland in the summer, I highly recommend it. It sits on the north edge of downtown with a nice view of First Energy Stadium, where the Browns play.

Anyways, I spent a couple hours wandering around the good ship and here are a few pictures:

What I am listening to: Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot (of course)

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Oh Boy

Looks like I'm going to have to change my header photo.

What I am listening to: Temporary Nature (of Any Precious Thing) by Lucinda Williams

Monday, July 1, 2019

So Far Off Topic That I am Back On

It's still fairly quiet on the hobby front.  We've just about clawed out of the hole left by the issues that came up in our recent home improvement project.  Add in an unexpected vet bill and I've been mainly on the sidelines.  I did, however, participate in the recent Vintage Non-Sports Auction. 

I threw out some lowball bids and actually managed to win the following two cards for $25.

I was mainly interested in the N32 World's Racer card.  I already have 5 cards from this 50 card set, issued in 1888. But, I have to say that the N7 Fans of the Period card is actually my favorite of the two. I can't explain why, it just is. It has this feel of Victorian gentility, though I am not sure that is quite it.  I just like it.  

Which brings me to the rather cryptic title of this post.  I still consider myself a sports card collector.  I have finished 10 of the 28 Topps flagship sets issued between 1952 and 1979 (1956 and 1971-1979),  am within striking distance of two more (1968 and 1970), and have three more in various states of being started (1955, 1960, and 1965).  But I have found some needed hobby joy in the sheer randomness of collecting these old tobacco issues.  

To a certain extent, building sports card sets is a restricting hobby. To be sure, you can define your collection any way you want. But, once you do, you have set the boundaries of what you collect.  There is a defined group of sets with a fixed checklist.  I suppose player collectors are similarly constrained.  I can see where team collectors may have some additional freedom, but are still, ultimately, contained within a box of their own creation.

Collecting these tobacco issues, though, has opened up a whole world to me. If you can imagine a subject, there is probably a tobacco issue covering it.  I started out wanting to only collect horse themed sets, since my wife and I have a small horse farm.  But, I have learned to embrace serendipity and just collect sets that speak to me.  At some point, I will put together a post (or posts) about tobacco issues that appeal to me.  Suffice it to say, there is some cool stuff out there.

Until then...

What I am Listening to: A Stór Mo Chroí by Bonnie Raitt and The Chieftains

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Royally Surprised

It has been a while since I last posted my great mail day.  The centerpiece of that haul was a large lot of pre-war British tobacco cards from a seller in Great Britain who was auctioning off his duplicates. There was approximately 1000 cards representing well over 100 unqiue sets.  I'm not through sorting through them yet, though I am pretty close to being done.

I will, sometime in the (hopefully) near future will publish a post of some of my favorite cards from the lot.  But, I did find something I wanted to share.

I don't know how y'all are with your cards, but when I am sorting through my cards I generally am engaged in the process and not necessarily paying attention to the subjects.  I've tried, not entirely successfully to be sure, of the history I am holding in my hands.  Not just the history of the subjects, but of the cards themselves.

With sports cards, it is easy to lose track of that since the overwhelming majority of my sportscards were created within my lifetime.  With these tobacco cards, not only were they printed and distributed before my time, many often existed before my parents were born.  It is a bit overwhelming to sit back and wonder who has owned these cards and what history did they see themselves.  As much as I have used them to escape from life's stresses, did a previous owner use them to escape the stress of the Second World War?  It really makes me want to care for these cards to honor that unknown history.

I did also often stop and look at the cards and wonder about the subjects, since many of them were people.  And I wondered if any of the subjects of these old cards were still alive.  So, occasionally when the card's subject was a particularly young looking person,  I would Google them to see. For the most part, I struck out.  But, near the end I did find one card subject that is still among us.

Look familiar? No?  Here is a clue:

That picture is a 9 year old (future) Queen Elizabeth.  Cool, huh?

Okay back into my hole. Hopefully I'll emerge again soon and show off some fascinating cards.

What I am listening to: The Sade Café by The Eagles.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Mail Day!

I'm still mostly on the hobby sidelines recovering from the home improvement cost overages and some unplanned vet bills.   But, I have dabbled a bit in the shallow end of the pool and picked up a few low cost non-sports lots.  They all arrived today:

The main arrival was a large lot of another collectors extras.  There is a whole lot there and it spans a large number of sets. So, I am looking forward to sorting through them and see what is there.  More soon.

What I am listening to: Frightened by the Sound by Justin Townes Earle

Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Secret Word is Fun!

So, I have been back from North Dakota for over a week now.  I had a great time hiking in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which included some up close and personal encounters with some buffalo.  I got home Tuesday evening last week and caught up on some badly overdue lawncare by Thursday night.   Saturday was looking bad weather-wise, so I decided to attend a card show down in Ardmore, about an hour and half south.  The show advertised pulling sellers from both Oklahoma and North Texas.  Since I skipped the big Dallas show in April, I thought this might be a good chance to visit with some of the Texas sellers who don't travel up for the OKC shows. And, since it was going to be a rainy day, my wife decided to tag along with the intent of wandering through some antique shops.

So, we drove to Ardmore and parked by Heritage Hall, a decent sized venue where I saw a Merle Haggard concert a few years ago. I went into the building and it was almost completely empty. I counted three sellers, two who were selling memorabilia like mini-helmets and not cards, and one seller with a table that was just graded modern mojo cards.  I turned on my heels and was back to the car before my wife had even gotten out of the passenger seat.  So, we spent the day together, which was nice.

Anyways, you may be wondering about that box of Pee-Wee Herman cards. Well, let's get to it.  The box had 36 packs, each advertised as containing 3 trading cards, a sheet of tattoos, an activity card, a sticker, and a wiggle toy, I found a checklist which helped me identify whether I had  complete set (spoiler: I didn't) So, let's take a look.

There are 33 different trading cards, each with two variations.  The variation is found in the background graphics, which you can see above. I fell three cards short of having the full 66 card set. It is interesting that Topps was already dabbling with planned variations back in 1988.

There are 12 different sheets of tattoos. I did get all of them.

This is one of the activity cards. The checklist I found on line suggests that there were 5 different types of activity cards with 4-5 variations each. But, it wasn't detailed enough for me to determine what I did or didn't have. So, I really didn't bother trying to figure it out.

The sticker cards included letters, as seen above, as well as individual images.  The back of the stickers was flip card images.  Basically, you stack the 40 different sticker cards (plus 4 checklists) in order and fan through the, you see moving images. Considering the box only had 36 packs and horrible collation, I didn't get anywhere near a complete set of 44.

This is the wiggle toy. Better known to sports card collectors as a 3-D or lenticular card.  There are 12 different wiggle toys in this set, and I did get a complete set.  The card above is Miss Yvonne and the puppet bully Randy.  As an aside, I looked up the cast of Pee-Wees Playhouse, and the actress who played Miss Yvonne, Lynne Marie Stewart, is an accomplished actress who had \appeared such iconic movies and TV Series as American Graffiti, MASH, Arrested Development and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  She appears to have worked almost continuously since 1973. Seriously. Check out her filmography.

Anyways, that was s fun box to open, but the set didn't excite me enough to want to complete it. In fact, I am not even going to sleeve it up. 

What I am listening to: Machi Bhasada by Bloodywood

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Reclaiming My Lost Youth

Hobby life has been, shall we say, rather quiet lately.  Each spring, we take on a home improvement project. This year, we resided the house.  The old siding was vertical sheet paneling that was in mediocre condition when we bought the house 15 years ago and has only gotten worse.  Of course, as is typical for this house, the original job was done poorly and we ended up going over budget to fix it. 

Normally, when siding a house, there is a plywood decking attached to the studs and the siding is attached to the decking.  With our house, the previous owner just attached the siding directly to the studs, so we had the contractor go back and install the decking and a vapor barrier. This added about $3000 to the project, so I am feeling a bit of a pinch.  

I ended up skipping the big regional show down in Dallas in late April and have only dipped my toes in the shallow (cheap) end of the hobby pool since.  I got a couple new Antonelli player collection items and have made a few small steps towards completing my 1968 and 1970 sets, but it hasn't actually risen to the level of being noteworthy.

So, what is with the title?  Isn't the whole idea of collecting sports trading cards about reclaiming some pure about your youth? Well, yes.  But I did have one fun auction win at Kevin Savage Cards a couple weeks back which adds a whole 'nuther level to it.  See for yourself:

I always rather enjoyed Pee Wee Herman's act. To this day, I firmly believe that "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" is the second best bicycling movie of all time, behind only Jorgen Leth's "A Sunday in Hell" which, to be fair, is one of the greatest sports films ever made. (Note that you can watch the entire movie at the Youtube link.  If you don't watch it all, I would suggest you watch for a few minutes starting at 55:10)  Anyways, even though it was on TV during my college years, I always enjoyed the Saturday morning show "Pee Wee's Playhouse," a show ostensibly for children but containing enough subtlely subversive humor to keep an adult watching.

There are 36 packs in the box, each containing (as can be seen) a sheet of tattoos, 3 picture cards, a sticker, a wiggle toy, and an activity card.  I have not yet busted the box yet.  I will probably start opening packs later in the week after I get home from a business trip. I am currently sitting in a hotel room in Watford City, North Dakota.  I am up here for a work thing on Monday and decided to come in a day early and do some sightseeing.  So, I will shortly head out to go hiking on the Caprock Coulee trail in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  

Stay tuned for what is inside!

What I am listening to: Feed the Tree by Belly

Sunday, March 31, 2019

1912 Wills Governor Generals

Hobby activity has slowed down a bit recently.  We are in the midst of our annual spring home improvement period.  This year we are finally breaking down and getting the house resided.  The current siding was in mediocre condition when we bought the farm 15 years ago and it has only gotten worse.  So, it was time.  

I have had a few low budget pick ups recently, but I am mainly getting my want lists together.  For years, my show experience has only been the local OKC shows.  Last years trip to the National was my first show outside my home base.  I won't be attending National this year, but like the idea of expanding my show experience. So, the last Saturday in April, I'll be venturing down to the DFW area (Frisco, to be specific) for a good sized show. My main goal will be to make significant progress  on my 1968 and 1970 Topps sets, for which I am 63 and 95 cards, respectively, from completion.

In the mean time, here is a quick little post of a fun little set I found on eBay.  It is a 25 card set (I have 10 at the moment) cataloging the various British Governor Generals of India (also known as Viceroys of India) from 1774 through 1912, the year W.D. & H.O. Wills  issued these cards with their Scissors brand cigarettes.  This set seems such an anachronism today, as Great Britain is on the verge of leaving the European Union, likely putting the final nail in the coffin of the British Empire.  

A lot of acronyms there.  For shits and giggles, let's see what they are.

K.P. - The Most Illustrious Order of Saint Patrick
G.C.B. - Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath
G.C.M.G. Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St, Michael and St. George
G.M.S.I. - Grand Master of the Order of the Star of India
G.M.I.E. - Grand Master of the Order of the Indian Empire

Dude had a lot of titles. I hope he didn't have to pay dues for all those societies.   Frederick Temple Hamilton-Blackwood was reputedly a poor money manager and, later in life, was used as the marketing face of a mining company that was merely a vehicle for fraud by other investors.

Anyways, that's all for now.

What I am listening to: Dead City by Patti Smith

Saturday, March 16, 2019

T62 Turkish Trophies Fortune Series

Here is an interesting set: the Turkish Trophies Fortune series, issued by the S. Anargyros Famous Cigarettes company in 1910 and designated T62 by Jefferson Burdick.  At the time,  Anargyros was part of the American Tobacco conglomerate. The cards themselves fit fit nicely in a 9 pocket page, being only slightly less tall than the standard modern card.  As with most such tobacco cards, the back is an advertisement for the company. 

This set, in it's own way, predicts the crazy parallels nonsense we see in modern cards.  The whole set consists 101 different images, with each image being printed with 5 different fortunes on them, making for a 505 card set.  Additionally, each card has a thin embossed gold line between the border and the image foreshadowing the gold parallels to come.

Not all of the images are horse themed, but I have identified a number (13, I think, but I am not at home to consult my checklist spreadsheet) and will certainly collect them.  You can see the entire checklist here.  It shows the description of each of the 101 main cards, with the first few words of the several associated fortunes underneath.  As you will see, some of the scenes depicted run to the mundane (i.e. Bank depositor in top hat w/ friend making transaction w/ teller in cage and Business man at desk on telephone, blue suit)  But that quirkiness does make it oddly appealing and I don't preclude putting the entire set together.

While I only have a few of these so far, most of the fortunes do give a positive message but, as you can see from the one immediately above, there is at least one that offers cautionary advice.  Good advise, to be sure.

What I am listening to: When the Stars Come Out by Chris Stapleton


Friday, March 1, 2019

Exhibit Cards

My horse themed card collection has mainly focused on pre-war tobacco cards.  But something came up recently that I just couldn't pass up. Specifically, Western movie star Exhibit cards.  These cards were issued by the Exhibit Supply Company for distribution in arcades.  They are basically the same as the baseball exhibit cards which we all know so well; only differing in the subject.

Bob Baker had a fairly short Hollywood career, appearing in 25 westerns between 1937 and 1944. While subsequent to that he made a few appearances as a stuntman, he was mainly a "normal" person holding normal jobs, including a time as a saddle and leather goods maker.

While he did have a few start turns in minor releases, Dick Foran was mainly a supporting actor, often in John Wayne vehicles. He had a fairly long career on the screen, stage, and on television as can be seen in his fairly sizeable filmography on IMDB.

Stuart Hamblen had an even sparser acting career, appearing in only 10 films.  But, he found fame in other areas.  His conversion in a 1963 crusade was considered by Billy Graham as a turning point in the popularity of his ministry. Additionally, Hamblen wrote the oft recorded popular song, This Ole House, and the gospel song "It Is No Secret." I was surprised to find that I have two versions of This Ole House in my music library, a swing arrangement by The Brian Setzer Orchestra and a more traditional country version by Loretta Lynn.  However, the first and probably most iconic version was by Rosemary Clooney.

Tom Keene was born George Duryea in my hometown of Rochester, NY.  He had a very long
film and TV career, starting in 1928 and continued through 1960, ending with 6 guest appearances on Ozzie and Harriet.  Alas, his final appearance on the big screen was in the delightfully horrible Ed Wood turn "Plan 9 from Outer Space."

Gary Cooper. Do I really need to say more?  Of course not.  Y'all know Gary Cooper.  Everyone has seen High Noon, right?  And, by God, you must have seen Pride of the Yankees, where he plays Lou Gehrig.

Roy Rogers. More than a fast food joint.

There is a town north of Oklahoma City called Guthrie.  It was the original capitol of Oklahoma Territory and, upon statehood in 1907, was the first state capitol.  The capitol moved to Oklahoma City in 1910 and Guthrie reverted to a sleepy rural town and (Logan) county seat.  Coincident with that time a bar known as the Blue Belle sat at the corner of Harrison and 2nd St. It has existed, in various incarnations but not exactly continuously, to today (it is a Mexican restaurant at the moment).  But, during the territorial days one of the persons tending bar was, prior to his movie career, Tom Mix. He also found work at the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch, which is the subject of the wonderful Michael Wallis book "The Real Wild West."

He was a prolific actor in silent films and did appear in some talkies, clocking up a IMDB filmography with 281 entries.

There is little I could write that would do justice to Gene Autry's life.  While no one would confuse him for Michelangelo, he is, in his own way, a Renaissance man.  Seriously, go read his biography on Wikipedia. I will note two things:

  1. There is a small town just east of Ardmore, Oklahoma named for Autry.  There is a Gene Autry museum in town that I have yet to visit, but will some day.
  2. Gene Autry was the first owner of the Los Angeles/Anahiem/California Angels and a vicepresident of the American League from 1983 through 1998, his tenure only ended by his passing.  Also of interest, the Angels ball club retired the number 26 in honor of Autry, as he was considered the teams 26th man.
What I am listening to:  This Ole House by Rosemary Clooney.