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.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

1905 John Player Riders of the World

It's been two weeks since I hinted at this post, so I supposed I really need to get it out of the way. I have a number of other acquisitions to share, so I need to knock this one off.

The set is the 1905 UK release from John Player & Sons tobacco company called Riders of the World. It is a 50 card celebrating riders from all over the world, from the UK to America and the Caucasus and Sri Lanka.  That last sentence may seem poorly written with it's awkward reference to 'riders', but there is a reason for that.

I acquired this set as part of my horse themed tobacco card collection, but not all of the cards feature horses, as you will see below.

And here they are:

The two cards in the set that don't feature horses.  They should present me something of a dilemma in that they don't really fit into a horse themed collection. But, I am first, and foremost, a set collector. So, they stay in the binder, with their set mates.

The set itself does present the completist in me with another challenge.  There are, at least 6 other versions of this set.  There are three versions issued by John Player: the brown backs seen above, along with a white back and plain back variations.  W.D. &  H.O. Wills issued this set in Australia in 1913 and across the Tasmanian Sea in New Zealand in 1926.  And, finally (as far as I know), United Tobacco issued two versions of this set in South Africa in 1931.  

I really can't see myself trying to acquire a copy of every variation, though I could get one version from each unique country, or perhaps just one English version and one copy of the South African version, which I assume is in Afrikaaner.  For right now, I'll just stick with the one and only expand the number of versions in my collection if I an do so affordably.

What I am listening to: The L&N Don't Stop Here Anymore by Billy Bragg and Joe Henry

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Surprise! Baseball!

I was planning on posting about another tobacco card set I got, but it is a 50 card set and I haven't decided yet which cards to scan, so I am going to divert back into something that might actually interest readers: baseball!

I haven't paid much attention to my 1960s Fleer autograph project for over 7 months. The last card I added to my collection was the 1961 Joe Sewell and I posted about it on June 23.  Recently, on a lark, I looked at the eBay store for one of the key autographed card sellers, Mill Creek Sports.  I found two cards on sale for 50% off, making them around $25 each.  Quite coincidentally, one of them was Joe Sewell's brother, Luke:

Sewell enjoyed a 20 year career as a major league player and managed in 10 different seasons. Sewell was a catcher by trade and, if Baseball Reference is to be believed he was about replacement level, totaling 3.8 WAR over his career. Even if you discount is 1939 and 1942 seasons where he played a total of 22 games and hit .125, he still averaged about 0.23 WAR per season. He did catch three no hitters: Wes Ferrell on 4/29/1931, Vern Kennedy on 8/31/1935 and Bill Dietrich on 6/1/1937.

 During that 1942 season with the St Louis Browns he was actually in his second season as manager.  He led them that year to their first winning record since 1929. Two years later, he led the Browns to the AL pennant, only to loose to their Sportsman's Park co-tenant, the St Louis Cardinals.  Since both the Browns and Cards played at the same ballpark, they were never home at the same time.  So, Sewell shared an apartment with Cardinals manager Billy Southworth.  Since they were both in town for the Series, they flipped a coin to see who got the apartment.  Sewell won the toss.

By 1946, the Browns were basement dwellers again and Luke was fired prior to season end.  He faired no better at a second managerial stop in Cincinnati. He took over the helm with 3 games left in 1949 and continued through the 98th game of 1952. He managed a few years in the minors before leaving the game and going into business as owner of Seville Centrifugal Bronze in Akron, Ohio. He retired from business in 1970 and passed away 17 years later at the age of 86.

The other card I picked up was Johnny Mize.

I wrote about Mize when I got a signed version of his 1960 Fleer card. You can find that post here.

So, where am I on adding autographed 1960 Fleer cards?  Here is a chart:

Year Total Cards Possible Have Percentage
1960 79 40 7 17.5%
1961 154 95 19 20.0%
1963 66 66 63 95.5%
Total 299 201 89 44.3%

What I am listening to: Fisherman's Blues by The Waterboys

Monday, February 4, 2019

A Familiar Name

If the baseball card blogosphere is to be believed, one of the most anticipated Topps releases each year is the quirky Allen & Ginter set.  As most of you know Allen and Ginter was a 19th Century American tobacco company that issued a large number of trading card sets during it's short life from 1872 until 1890, when it was part of the multi-company merger that formed the American Tobacco Company.

According to the American Tobacco Cards Price Guide and Checklist book,  A&G produced card series N1 through N68, with 5 designations in that series unused.  What follows are cards from the N32 series, The World's Racers, that was issued in 1888.

These cards are on a nice heavy stock and are all in good shape considering that they are 131 years old.  The backs show a checklist of the subjects of the 50 card series.  Each of the 5 cards above show some level of minor paper loss indicating that they may have been mounted at one time.

Up next: A slightly younger (only 114 years old!) British issue

What I am listening to: Sailing to Philadelphia by Mark Knopfler