Friday, January 18, 2019

Cleanup in Aisle Sports

Not too long ago, Night Owl ran a giveaway to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his blog.  I entered, but was fairly far down on the order of selection and a lot of really cool cards had already been picked over. I ended up choosing the 2008 Topps Babe Ruth you see below. 

It doesn't really fit in my collecting wheelhouse, but it is a nice card and is apparently fairly rare.  The 1994 Rawlings Yoo-hoo Bobby Bonds was included and is a nice card as well. I like the design and it is the type of modern oddball I might consider collecting.  

The following cards arrived from the inestimable Mr. Haverkamp.  He sent me 8 cards from 1972-73 Topps basketball, a set I started working on last fall.  Of the 8 cards, I needed two and three others were clear upgrades. I am not sure why I didn't scan all five of the cards before they went into the binder, but I didn't. So, here is four of the cards that found their way into my binder.

And finally, a card from 1968 Topps Baseball:

In terms of my sports card collecting, I am working on 1968 and 1970 Topps Baseball and am less than 100 cards from completing each set.  Specifically, I need 76 cards to finish 1968 and 99 to finish 1970.  Even though the number of cards is lower for 1968, I am probably further away. The only major stars I need for 1970 are Roberto Clemente and Al Kaline. However, for 1968 I lack most of the star cards, including the dreaded Tom Seaver rookie card and the Killebrew/Mays/Mantle Super Stars card.

I got this on an Ebay auction. My approach to set building is to get as far as I can with local shows and card shops. Once those sources are exhausted, I generally look to Greg Morris Cards set breatk auctions to fill out the set.  It takes a while because I usually only end up winning a few auctions at a time.  With 1068 and 1970, this is the point I am at. Although, my tentative trip to a Dallas show in February may help me knock a few more off in person.

So that may be about it for a while. I'll still keep an eye on Ebay, but my expectation is that I'll add more cards to my horse themed tobacco card collection and keep my powder dry on everything else until February.

What I am listening to: Jacob's Dream by Alison Krauss (sorry)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

1938 Gallaher Racing Scenes

It may seem like I have foresworn sports cards lately, but that really isn't the case.  I swear it isn't.  It is just that these horse themed tobacco cards are really quite affordable.  Take for example, the 48 card 1938 Gallaher Racing Scenes set which I am about to show  These cards are in excellent condition and I was able to get the complete set for $11 delivered.  I still collect sports cards, but am going to skip the January OKC show in favor of saving up and going to a show down in Dallas in February.  So, the sports card posts may be a little skimpy for a while.

This set is my favorite horse themed set yet.  While it does show various scenes of horses and jockeys, it also shines a little light backstage, if you will.  For this post I'm going to focus on those cards.

This is interesting. I am not sure if it is indicative of the casual racism of the early 20th century or not, but it certainly speaks to tensions between the Gypsy/Roma/Traveler community that came to Surrey each year for the Epsom Derby and the local gentry.  There is an interesting BBC photo  story about this topic. Here also is an interesting history of the Gypsy presence at Epsom.

Here is a picture of a young horse being trained.  This is still a common training technique known as lunging.  It is often done on a lunge line, as seen here, or in a round pen without.   Part of the training is to train the horses to move through the three gaits. But, lunging is also a fairly typical  in various natural horsemanship techniques to develop a rapport between horse and trainer.

Ah, the farrier.  One thing you need to understand is that the horses hoof is the equine analog to our finger/toenails and as, such are constantly growing.  So, the farrier needs to come out periodically to trim the hoof and reset the shoes, if they are used.  It is a matter of preference how frequently the farrier comes out.  We normally go seven weeks between visits. We are lucky that most of our horses have good feet and don't require shoeing, only trims. Now something that isn't commonly known, sometimes even amongst horse owners, is that the farrier is an important contributor to the health of the horse.  For example:

This is an x-ray of the front foot of a laminatic horse.  The triangle shaped bone is the coffin bone and is equivalent to one of our finger phalanges.  The surfaces of the coffin bone should be parallel to the hoof wall.  The hoof is attached to the bone with a fibrous tissue known as lamina.  If the lamina breaks down, the bone rotates, as you can see above. This is painful for the horse (imagine having to stand on your tiptoes for an extended period of time.) While this can have a mechanical cause, it is quite often attributable to a diabetic reaction to something in the horses diet. A good farrier is every bit as important as a vet in treating laminitis.  Generally, they will in the short term do some corrective shoeing to better distribute the pressure of standing more evenly across the foot. Over the longer term they will gradually trim the foot to get the angles back to normal.

But, I digress.

The motor horse box.  I am told this is still a common configuration for vehicles in Europe. Here is the US, as most of you have probably seen, is a separate trailer pulled by a pickup truck.

I just thought this was funny.  A local horse racing track does something similar for charity, but with ostriches instead of donkeys.

What I am listening to: Redemption day by Sheryl Crow

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Christmas Comes Late

I got one of my Christmas presents today.

While I am mainly a vintage collector, occasionally a modern set will cach my fancy.  2000 through 2004 Fleer Greats of the Game fall into that category.  As does the 2009 through 2011 Tristar Obak sets that were issued to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the original T212 Obak tobacco cards.  Back in December, I happened across an uncut sheet of the 2011 Obak cards on eBay for a less than $50 delivered. So, I got it and took it in to be framed. I got it back today.

It is not the complete base set, just the regular print run cards.   The 2011 base set consisted of 120 cards, the last 10 of which were short prints.  This sheet is the other 110 cards.

The Obak sets were mainly normal sized trading cards, but each included a subset of T212 minis, which were essentially duplicates of some of the main set cards, but in the size of the 1909-1911 tobacco card originals.  For some reason, I had it in my mind that the sheet was the minis, though I have no earthly idea why I thought that. Since this the full size base set, it is huge.  I am going to have to think about how/where to put it in my home office/card room.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

1939 Will's Cigarettes Racehorses & Jockeys

The next of my horse themed tobacco card pickups is the 1939 (issued) Will's Cigarette's 40 card series of the top racehorses and jockeys of 1938. I was able to get the entire 40 card set for about $15 delivered.  If there are any horse racing history fans out there in my "vast" readership, please note that the set was issued in the United Kingdom, and is focused there, so there is no Seabiscuit or War Admiral cards.

The WD &HO Wills company was founded in 1786 under a different name, and was the first British tobacco company to mass produce cigarettes and was also one of the first such companies to offer trading cards with their products. In 1901, Wills along with 13 other British tobacco companies merged into the Imperial Tobacco Company, including the  previously covered John Player & Sons.  They offered their first trad card in 1887, but didn't begin offering general interest sets until 1895.

The cards themselves are a hair narrower than your modern sports card and about 3/8" shorter, so they still fit well into a 9 pocket page.  The artwork is fantastic. I find that it is quite realistic in how it captures the moods and mannerisms of horse and rider.  As I was researching this post, I have seen the same artwork offered in print form, though generally listed as Artist Unknown.  I don't know if this means the tobacco company commissioned the work to be done or licensed existing artwork. What is interesting to me is that the first 27 cards are vertical, while the last 13 are horizontal. I don't know if this indicates that the cards were issued in series, but it is a curious thing. More research will be needed.

With regard to the subjects, there are (obviously) 40 different horses, but 21 different jockeys including Pat Beasley who appeared 6 different times.  In case you were wondering, I did not attempt to trace the lineage of any of our horses to the subjects in this set.  While I know people who are fascinated by bloodlines, I found the research tedious and of little more than passing interest.

Up next will be an Australian issue from 1906.

What I am listening to: South Central Rain by R.E.M.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

Okay, enough of the horsey posts. I'll have more of those later, but I know most of you are more interested in sports cards, so let's get back to that.

I had a little extra cash recently and, on a lark, bought two slots in a group break at Burl's Sports for 1934-36 National Chicle Diamond Stars.  It was just my luck that the break was livecast on YouTube while I was driving home from a business trip to Louisiana.  I was determined to watch the break, but obviously couldn't while driving.  So, I did the next best and safest thing, and streamed the break via Bluetooth to my car's stereo system. So, while I wasn't actually watching, I could learn what I received.  And here they are:

I think I did fairly well, particularly considering the Traynor is a high number. I did some research and it shows that if I chose to sell them I would get well more than my entry money back.  Am I going to sell them?  I don't know.  I didn't enter the break with the idea of flipping the cards.  Group breaks are something like a casino. Chances are good you aren't going to come out ahead.  

However, the potential sale price for these two cards is somewhere around three months worth of my normal hobby budget and that cannot be ignored.  These are great looking cards, but if they can help me make progress on projects within my hobby focus, why wouldn't I consider it?  I did something similar a few years ago when I flipped a 1938 Goudey Jimmy Foxx (which I also won in a group break) into 1956 Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente.  I have finished 1956 Topps, but have a good head start on 1955 (111 of 206 total cards.) Why not look at that trade up? Well...….

I just looked at prices for the two major rookie cards in 1955 Topps: Roberto Clemente and Sandy Koufax. Holy Moley!  The Koufax is in roughly the same neighborhood price-wise as the 1956 Mantle I got at this years National. Which means it is at the hairy edge of what I am willing to spend on a card.  The Clemente, however, has a Beckett high book of $5000, which means even in Poor condition it is still going to cost $500 to $600. VG condition looks to cost $1,500. Maybe things will change in the future, but right now today there is no way I would spend that kind of dough on a card even if I had that kind of money laying around. Which I don't.

So, I have put these cards into my miscellaneous vintage binder while I consider my options.  If they stay there, fine.  If I can figure a way to use them to get something more in my wheelhouse, so much the better.

What I am listening to: Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap by AC/DC

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Icon's Ancestor

I suppose there is a discussion to be had as to what the one single most iconic card is in the sports card hobby. I don't have any interest in having that debate, but I think we can agree that the T206 Honus Wagner is certainly a candidate for that title.  So, for the sake of moving this post along, let's just assume this is the single most iconic card in the hobby:

I would imagine I brought a few folks in seeing a thumbnail of that on various blogrolls.  Psych!

Anyways, the T206 set was issued by the American Tobacco Company between 1909 and 1911.  At the time this set was issued, American Tobacco was in the midst of an anti-trust suit opened in 1907 and concluded in 1911 with the company being broken up into 4 new companies.  

American was a subject of this anti-trust case due to it's voracious appetite for buying and merging with various of it's competitors.  It was formed initially in 1890, by the merger of several companies including Allen & Ginter, Goodwin & Company, and the Kinney Brothers Tobacco Company. The acquisitive nature eventually led to the anti-trust action 17 years later. But, that is not of concern here.

I want to focus on the Kinney Brothers company.  It isn't clear, with cursory research when Kinney Bros. formed, but it was an active concern in the post-American Civil War era and Francis Kinney patented several machines that revolutionized the cigarette market.  The main Kinney Brothers tobacco brand, and the one that survived the longest, was Sweet Caporal (which also happens to be one of the more common T206 backs issued by American Tobacco.

Starting in 1887, Kinney started offering trading cards, already a common practice in the industry, with it's tobacco products.  Their card offerings were mostly general interest subjects, but did include three 25 card sets issued in 1889 that are of interest to me:  Famous American Running Horses, Famous English Running Horses, and Great American Trotters.  Jefferson Burdick classified these sets as N229, N230, and N231 respectively.

This is my first card from those three sets, Specifically, the Great American Trotters (St.Julien). As can be seen from the back, there was a mail in offer where, if you send in 25 of the smaller cards, they will send you an 8x10 print of a same subject.

So, while Kinney Brothers weren't the first company to issue trading cards, and never issued cards with baseball players as subjects, there is a direct ancestral line (via the Sweet Caporal brand) from this card and Mr. Wagner above. I think that is pretty cool and gives me a chance to tie my little side project back to the more common part of the hobby.

What I am listening to: Kathleen by Townes Van Zandt

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Lines of History

This is my follow-up post where I show the results of trying to trace the pedigree of my horses back to one or more of the various subjects in the 1933 Player's Derby and Grand National Winners cigarette trading card set.  Over the years we've owned 9 different horses.  Of those, only 5 were breed registered and I no longer have access to the papers for 2 of them. So, I'll only look at the remaining 3.


Jack was our first horse.  He was a registered American Quarter Horse (Flowithease). Most people think of quarter horses as bred to excel in ranch work.  But, the progenitors of the quarter horse were originally bred in colonial America, crossing English thoroughbreds to native horses, to be very fast over a quarter mile stakes race.  With the western expansion of the 19th century, these original quarter horses were eventually bred to native mustangs and developed into the ranch work savants most people are familiar with today.

We bought him on the advise of my wife's trainer shortly after she started her first job after law school.   Jack was originally bred for the racetrack and was nearly half (7/16 to be exact) thoroughbred. He never made the track and changed hands several times before he came to us.  Given his breeding, he was probably bought with the idea of being a barrel racing horse. But, he had an indifferent work ethic and probably never made it to the rodeo grounds either.

My wife does the English riding disciplines (jumping and dressage) and he was to be her show horse.   Jack was a pleasant fellow and smart as a whip, however with his lack of ambition it was a struggle for my wife to learn how to ride when she had a horse that needed to be convinced to do much of anything. Eventually we gave up on him ever being a successful show horse and he became my trail horse, a role more suited to his temperament.    We had to retire him in 2011 at the age of 25 after, first, a broken coffin bone in a front foot, followed by a particularly nasty case of EPM (Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis)  He took to retirement easily and passed away in 2016 at the ripe old age of 30. 

As quarter horses go, he had royalty on the sire side of his bloodlines with the famous racing quarter horses Easy Jet and Jet Deck, as well as the AQHA Hall of Fame stallion Three Bars (who was actually a registered thoroughbred.)  As far as his relationship to subjects of the Player's set, he goes back to Blenheim and Gainsborough on his sires side and Sunstar on his dams side.


Even as Jack remained a solid horse into his early 20s, we were aware that his eventual retirement loomed and we were aware that I would need a mount to take his place.  As it was, we had friends who farmed 1300 acres in Pauls Valley and were pasturing a small contingent of paint horses for an acquaintance that was becoming too old to care for them.  We often observed these horses when we visited our friends and considered buying one as my next horse.  I originally focused on one mare about 10-12 years old.  I went out to into the pasture to assess her disposition. She was approachable, but when I tried to pick up one of her feet, she tried to kick me.

Changing focus, I went through the same routine with a 5 year old who happened to be the daughter of the first mare. She was much more accommodating despite having  been minimally handled (and not halter broke.)  So, we ended up buying her and naming her Stormy because her APHA registered name was Gayle's Stormy Night. After we brought her home, I spent some time working with her on her ground manners to ensure she was safe to handle.  After a few weeks, we took her to a trainer in Guthrie, a town about hour north of us.  The trainer came highly recommended and he had saddled, climbed on and rode her around a round pen within an hour of us arriving.  If you are interested, you can see a video featuring the trainer here.

I was able to ride more when I worked from home, but over the last 7 years, since I started commuting in to an office for work, I've barely ridden as what time I have in the evenings was usually consumed with various farm chores and projects.  With many of the projects complete, my intent is to send Stormy off to a trainer for a tune up and to start riding more this spring and summer.

Stormy is a registered American Paint Horse (Gayle's Stormy Night), which is basically a quarter horse with the distinctive pinto coloring. While Stormy's APHA pedigree was bred for conformation classes and roping, so she was put together than Jack, as you can see below. She has a shorter back and neck, shorter legs and was generally much more stout.

I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of APHA bloodlines, but she does go back to a number of famous Quarter Horses, including the aforementioned Three Bars, as well as King P-234.  As far as relations in the Player's set, she goes back to Blenheim and Minoru on her sires side and Sunstar and Durbar II on her dam's side.


Traeh is my wife's new show horse.  As her previous show horse crossed into his 20s, he was given a well deserved retirement.  Traeh is 6 years old and is an Irish Sport Horse (A Touch of Heart).  An Irish Sport Horse is normally a cross between a registered Irish Draft Horse and another breed, generally a thoroughbred.

I have always said, somewhat facetiously, that all horses are given an equal amount of attitude to spread throughout their body. Thus, large horses, like drafts or foundation quarter horses, tend to the mellow side.  But, as you traverse the spectrum of size in horses, the attitude becomes more and more concentrated in a smaller package . Thus, ponies and miniature horses have so much sass and attitude that they are virtually untrainable (unless they deign to let you train them, in which case it isn't enitrely clear who is training who.)  

Traeh is an exception. She has a pony attitude in a full size horse body. Luckily, she is people oriented so she has never tried to throw a rider off, which ponies are wont to do.  But, she can decide at timesshe knows better than her rider and has presented some training challenges. She is also quite bold.  While most horses will move away from strange things like, say, a riding lawnmower, Traeh will come over and investigate.  Because of the combination of sass and bravery, she is being brought along slowly as she cannot be trusted to understand when she is trying to do more than she is ready for or capable of and she must listen to her rider in such situations.  But, she is going to become a fine show horse in the next couple years.

What horses in the Player's set is she related to?  Cameronian and Sansovino.

Anyways, I've prattled on enough. But, I do have more tobacco issue cards to show in the days ahead, including one that can rightfully be considered a direct ancestor of the most iconic sports card ever. I also have a few sports card things to share, so as I don't lose what few readers I have. Stay tuned!

What I am listening to:  Straight Up and Down by The Brian Jonestown Massacre