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