Tuesday, December 24, 2019

I'm Weak

I've got too much going on.  I get up around 5 AM (7 days a week) and I am on the go until 7:30-8:00 in the evening when dinner is on the table. Watch a little TV or a basketball game, off to bed and start all over again the next day. Don't get me wrong. I am not complaining. I chose this life and there is nothing tugging at my time that I consider a burden and would prefer to leave behind.  But, it does require some minimal level of discipline and patience to negotiate through my life.

As collectors, we know about patience and discipline.  Or, at least we should.  I've complained here before about lacking discipline in my collecting.  I've been thinking about that more as the year winds down and decided to take inventory of what I am collecting.

Things I have completed in the last year:
  • 1961 Fleer
  • 1973 Topps
Things I have worked on in the last year and are not complete:
  • 1955, 1960, 1965, 1968, 1970 Topps Baseball
  • 1972-73 Topps Basketball
  • 1960, 1961 and 1963 Fleer Baseball Autographe
  • Allen & Ginter Fans of the Period (N7)
  • Allen & Ginter Worlds Racers (N32)
  • Kinney Brothers N229, N230, N231
  • Paul Blair and Johnny Antonelli Player Collection
  • Miscellaneous Pre-war British Tobacco Issues
Things I have not made progress on in the last year and should be considered on hiatus:
  • 1959 Fleer Ted Willaims
  • 1961 Golden Press
  • 1978 TCMA The '60s
  • 1993 Upper Deck Heroes of Baseball
  • 1994 Ted Williams
  • 2002 Fleer Greats of the Game
  • 2009 Tristar Obak
  • 2019 Topps Allen & Ginter Subsets
That is way too much. I worked on a lot and completed very little. I decided I needed to add a little discipline to my collecting as I am working on a lot and not completing much.  If this was my career, I would have been fired by know.  The obvious place to step back is the older Topps baseball sets. I am very close to completing 1968 and 1970. I should focus on those and not worry about 1955, 1960, and 1965 until they are done. Especially 1955, with those Clemente and Koufax rookie cards.  I've occasionally considered not building that set at all because of those two cards.

Should be easy right? Fat chance, when there is a source like Burl's Sports out there. Burl does vintage set breaks.  I know breaks are basically gambling. I get that all too well in that I rarely hit something interesting. So, I wouldn't call myself an aficionado of group breaks, but I will occasionally enter one if it is something I wouldn't normally collect, like pre-war sports cards or a vintage set that I have just started and am long way from completion. For example, I might be inclined to enter a 1960 Topps break because that is a set where I sit at about 30% completion.  But, I'd never pay to enter a 1965 break because I am over 70% complete because the chances of hitting a card I need is significantly lower.

But, recently Burl had a 1955 break featuring both the Clemente and Koufax cards. So, on a whim and thanks to a small windfall, I bought a four $25 slots.  I shouldn't have. I know that, but I am weak. 

For the most part, I struck out; drawing three cards I already had in my 1955 set (where I am at 75% completion.)   But, then I hit this:

Oh my.  The second most expensive card in the set behind Clemente.  Way behind Clemente, to be sure. Beckett lists the high book value of Koufax at $1,500. Clemente comes in at $5,000.  So, am I officially prioritizing this set?  No.  I may occasionally pick up a card or two. But, that Clemente sits out there and I cannot imagine ever paying the kind of money I would need to get even a poor quality version.  Never say never, but I just can't see it.

So, with that, I hope you all have a happy holiday season and enter the new year refreshed.  I am out of the office until January 6 and have some projects around the farm to complete.  I hope to publish my 2020 goals soon, if for no other reason to have a source of shame that will hopefully keep me on track through the year.

What am I listening to: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Rob Halford.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Dallas Show - Part 3

I have noticed that my collecting is somewhat episodic.  Certainly, I will go through long spells where I am not much engaged in collecting and then there will be other times where I have a fair amount of activity.  But, even within that, there are ebbs and flows with regard to what I collect. I went through a phase earlier this year when I mostly ignored my Topps vintage baseball set building and was focused on pre-war British tobacco sets. Now, after a long stretch of down time, I'm back on my baseball sets.  The Dallas show allowed me to make up for lost time on that part of my collection.

However, that non-sports part is still there in the background. I was interested in buying a Carrerra's Famous Airmen & Airwomen Amelia Earhart card though, in the end, I chose not to as the seller was asking $25 and it isn't unusual to find the entire set for less than that on eBay.  But, I did scratch the non-sport itch a bit when another seller had a lot of 22 1959 Fleer 3 Stooges cards for $1.50 each. I've seen these cards previously and have been interested in putting the set together.  But, the prices have been more than I was willing to pay. So, I jumped at the chance to get these cards.

This is a 96 card set and appears to be a popular set to collect.  

On that note, slight intermission: My new dog, Merle, is starting to settle in and learn the household rules.  He still has a way to go, but the other dogs have accepted him and the cats are starting to come out of hiding, As a working dog, he still wants to chase the cats and has an innate need to herd me.....somewhere. But, he is learning and will soon overcome his programming.

Anyways, back to the Stooges.

Interestingly, the set includes 3 checklist cards (16, 63, and 64) which are exceedingly rare. If this article at PSA can be believed, there are only 200 copies of these checklist cards known to exist.  That sounds like a recipe for some seriously expensive cards.  So, I probably won't collect this set. If cards come my way cheap, sure, I'll pick them up.  But, as fun as it is, I'd rather save my big investments for valuable cards I need for my sports sets. So, don't expect to see more of these.

What am I listening to: Steppin' Out by Joe Jackson

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Dallas Show - Part 2

When I first started back collecting, I made it my policy to only build one set at a time.  It was easy to keep to that policy while building the mid to late 1970s sets, which were issued in one series.  As soon as I tried building a pre-1974 Topps issue, the futility of that policy became evident. To state what is well-known anyways, Topps sets from1973 and back were issued in series.  And the later series were issued in smaller numbers because they were coming out at the same time as football cards. Consequently, higher number series are difficult to find and more costly than there early season brethren.

So, in order to stay active, I started building a couple sets at a time. Of course, things got out of control and now I am actively working on 5 different sets.  They are 1955, 1960, 1965, 1968, and 1970.  Of course, as I mentioned in the previous post, I am nearly done with the last two.  I have less than a third of 1960, but am a good way along with 1955 and 1965.

So, I picked up about 40 more cards, mostly commons, for 1965 at the Dallas show.  This puts me at about 70% completion, with 177 cards to go. I did manage to pick up a few star cards, though of the dozen or so most expensive cards in the set, I have exactly 1: #350 Sandy Koufax.

I managed to find 14 cards from 1955 Topps that I needed, including my first two star cards, shown above.  I am about 2/3 done with this set, but still have most of the star cards to go, including the Sandy Koufax and Roberto Clemente rookie cards. This will be a long term set build, even with the relatively short checklist. I'll probably keep adding a few commons at a time and bottom feed for star cards, but probably won't get serious until 2021 or 2022 when the National show is in Chicago and Cleveland, respectively.

That is it for the sports cards from Dallas. I have one more post planned with about a fun little non-sports card set.  Hopefully, I'll be able to make it a bit more informative than my last few posts, which are in the look-at-what-I-got category.

What I am listening to: Midnight Rider by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

Monday, December 2, 2019

Dallas Show - Intermission

I mentioned in a previous post that we had to put our old dog to sleep recently and I'dprobably be looking to bring the pack back up to it's normal level soon.

Well, that didn't take long.  The City of Norman has a wonderful animal shelter.  Unlike most municipal shelters it is a no-kill shelter.  And they do a great job of making information available online regarding animals they have on stray hold and also up for adoption,  There have been two dogs on stray hold I had my eye on, an Australian Shepherd and a Great Pyrenees. I swung by on Saturday to see when they were coming off hold and going into the adoption program. It would be close to a week more for both.

The Aussie was described as high energy and, in the end, I decided to not wait on the Pyrenees since I really didn't need another 120 pound dog in my small farmhouse. So, what did I do?

I came home with an Australian Cattle Dog.  

This is Merle.  He is 3 years old and, boy howdy, is he a character.  Good natured to a fault, but wants to be right next to me constantly and complains loudly when he can't be.  He is smart as a whip and, even after just two days, is learning the household rules.  Our Great Pyrenees, the eminence grise of the household, it not impressed but tolerant.  Our Golden Retriever-German Shepherd mix seems to sense that Merle will be a playmate and they are slowly working out how to interact with each other.

Anyways, I'll post more about the Dallas show later in the week.  I've got a work presentation this week and I need to get my notes together.

What I am listening to: Down Under by Men at Work

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Dallas Show - Part 1

So, how did I do at the Dallas show?  Quite well, thank you very much.

There it is. The final card I needed to finish my 1961 Fleer set. I have been sitting one card from completion for probably close to 3 years.  I've been goofing around acquiring autographed versions of cards from this set and had mostly forgotten I needed this card.  It was nice to finally finish it.  Actually, it felt good to finish any set.  The last set I completed was 1972 Topps and that was almost exactly a year ago.  

I walked into the show needing 34 cards to finish my 1970 set and I managed to find 27.  Of the 7 need for completion, 6 are commons though only one is a non-high number. The only star card I need for completion is #660 - Johnny Bench.  I am going to try and finish this set before the end of the year.  The major impediment to that is what I call the Gary V Effect. Prices on vintage star card have increased beyond where I am comfortable paying due to many new "investor-collectors" entering the hobby. 

Walking in, I needed 16 more cards to finish 1968 Topps. I found 10, including the Bench rookie card above. Alas, only one of the 6 remaining cards I need is a common.  I still need Lou Brock, Ernie Banks,the previously mentioned Aaron All-Star card, the Mays/Mantle/Killebrew Stars card (#490), and of course the outrageously expensive Nolan Ryan rookie card.  My best guess at this point is that I will get 5 more by spring, leaving only the Ryan RC for completion. 

Even under more normal market conditions, the Ryan RC would be a major purchase, consuming multiple months of my hobby budget. So, I'll probably wait until the Johnny-come-latelys have left the sports card market before I make any serious attempt to get that card.  I think what we are seeing right now is a classic bubble. A large influx of enthusiastic, but generally unknowledgeable, folks are buying up sports cards as an investment and will eventually move on to the next big can't miss investment (tulip bulbs or beanie babies, I think.)  When the bubble pops, I'll get more serious about finishing this set.

What I am listening to: O Come, O Come Emmanuel by Lauren Daigle

Friday, November 29, 2019

November Dallas Show

It has been almost a month since my last post.  Much has happened since then. I led that post off with the story of my sweet senior dog, Missy.  Unfortunately, we lost Missy two weeks later. It was mercifully quick.  On a Thursday night, she was her normal self.  Friday morning, it was clear she was in some distress.  She fought hard, but it was quickly clear it was time to let her go.  I miss her terribly, but she lived a long life (16 to 18 years), was happy until the end, and didn't leave anything on the table. You can't ask for more than that, can you?  I posted a tribute to her on Twitter (borrowing heavily from Robert Burns):

She'll be impossible to replace, but God help me, I'm already watching the adoption page at the Norman Animal Shelter and expect it is only a brief matter of time before the pack is back up to its full staffing level.

I finally managed to get down to Dallas for one of the shows down there after threatening to do so since the beginning of the year. It was a 2 1/2 hour drive, but it was very easy, with all but the first 10 miles, and the last 200 yards, of the drive on I-35.  It was worth the drive with the show being at least 3 to 4 times the size of the every-other-month OKC show.  Overall, it was a good experience.  I found several vintage sellers who were pricing in the same range as I have come to expect locally. For later reference, I normally expect to pay between 30% and 50% of Beckett high book for cards in the range of EX+ to EX/NM condition.  My checklists always have book value so that I can track my expected cost and keep me in line with my show budget.

I had only one bad experience.  My main goal was to make progress on my 1968 and 1970 sets, which were within striking distance of completion.  At one seller, I found 3 cards I needed:two 1968 commons and a 1968 Hank Aaron All-Star card. They had a total book value of $38, so my expected price was in the range of $12 to $15.  Oh, was I mistaken.  There were a couple of warning signs I should have heeded:

  1. The seller had 4 prices shown on each top loader. When I asked, he said that they were the book value of cards in 7/8/9/10 graded condition.  
  2. When I handed him the cards and asked how much he wanted for them, he spent around 5 minute examining the cards before telling me what he wanted. 
He asked for $75, nearly twice high book and over five times what I would normally expect to pay for those cards. I was shocked nearly speechless. I told him "I think I'll pass" and walked away.  There is no way I was about to pay graded prices on raw cards, particularly since they were, at best, EX condition and not even NM-MT.  I probably should have told him why I was walking away, but there was a huge room to explore and I suspect that a guy who's that out of touch with the market wouldn't really appreciate the feedback.

Luckily, other sellers were more reasonable and I ended up buying at five different tables, including Roger Neufeldt, who is based right here in Norman, but hasn't done local shows since a new promoter would only give him a less-than-acceptable table locations off the actual show floor.  So, I travelled over 100 miles to buy from a guy that is just down the road.

Anyways, I ended up bring home just over 100 cards. Here is a sneak peak:

It was a productive show where I managed to finish one set and get myself into the home stretch on two more.  Stay tuned.

What I am listening to: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas by Darius Rucker

PS: Be aware, my Twitter account posted above has little to no hobby content.  It is mainly contemporary politics, so I'd advise to only follow at your own risk.

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