Saturday, September 14, 2019

Keepers! A Thought Experiment

What if you had to thin your collection down to just one or two thousand cards? Which cards would you keep, and which would you let go of? I find this to be an interesting thought experiment, particularly as I've watched my collection bloom over the last decade plus.

At its height, before I started seriously purging around a year or so ago, I had quite literally hundreds of thousands of cards.  This began to bother me for a few reasons, first and foremost the OCD with which I track my collection was a real challenge with numbers that large.  Secondly, I wasn't happy with the amount of physical space my collection was literally taking up in my house.  Lastly, I find it hard to truly appreciate the cards as I should be doing, when there are that many of them.

So, I'm starting a new series of blog posts where I'm going to (theoretically at first, but who knows later) shave my collection down to just 2,000 cards.  I'm going to give myself 1,000 baseball cards, plus 1,000 "other" cards which will consist of anything other than baseball.  I'm sure the majority of this second collection will end up being hockey cards, but this is also where I'll have to tally any basketball, football, soccer or non-sport cards I want to hang onto.

In the end, I should be whittled down to the 2,000 total cards I'd hang onto above all others, the "keepers".  I think this will be a fun exercise that will allow me to show off and appreciate my best cardboard here on the blog, and help me identify and focus on what really brings me the most joy as a collector at the same time.

For this first post I've got the first half dozen cards for the baseball keepers collection, and the first four cards for the other keepers collection to share with you.

On the baseball side, I had an easy time picking the first six cards.  I went with my 1934-1936 Diamond Stars Red Sox team set.  Not only does it contain my only playing-era card of the great Lefty Grove, but the artwork is simply beautiful.

I love the art deco style of the paintings, and the backgrounds are simply fantastic.

Lefty Grove isn't the only HOFer in the small team set either, as he's joined by Rick Ferrell.  This one might actually be my favorite of the bunch.

Billy Werber has the only plain background out of the Sox players, with this rainbow stripe deal.

Fritz Ostermueller is the only horizontally-oriented card in the bunch.  Another interesting background; that building has always reminded me of the "Superman building" in downtown Providence right next to where I work.

This is, to date, the oldest team set I have ever completed.  Probably will be for some time, too.  Given that fact, and the fact that at six cards it didn't chew too much into my 1,000-card cap, these were an obvious choice to start off this project with on the baseball side.

As far as the non-baseball group, I knew exactly how I wanted to lead off there as well.  One of my absolute proudest accomplishments since returning to the hobby is completing the four-card hockey subset from the iconic 1933 Sport Kings release.

The first two cards alone, HOFers Eddie Shore...

...and Howie Morenz are probably top 25 cards in terms of my entire collection, period.  These are likely the only two playing-era cards I'll ever own of these guys, the studs of their era and still two of the most revered names in the history of the NHL.  There is no way, even 50 years from now, that these would ever fall outside my top 1,000 non-baseball cards.

Ace Bailey was the final piece of the puzzle in securing this hockey subset.  Took me years to track down this copy.

Ching Johnson rounds it out, and we have our first four inductees into the other keepers collection.

Today's cards had all appeared on the blog previously, but that won't always be the case with these posts.  Many of my most prized cards have never seen the light of day here for some odd reason, and I figure this series will give me some needed motivation to get around to showcasing them at last.

I'm keeping a virtual album of sorts for the each collection that I'll update with every post.  The baseball keepers collection is here, and the other keepers collection is here.

Have you ever thought about which cards you'd hang onto if you had to do something drastic, like reduce the size of your collection by 99% or more?  If so I'd love to hear about it in the comments, or even better a blog post of your own.  Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Beautiful Bowman

No time to write, but want to get something up on the blog after a couple of days here.  So, here are three beautiful 1952 Bowman cards, part of that small 14-cards-for-$31.50 with free shipping birthday haul I put together for myself.

First up, from the Phillies, hurler Emory "Bubba" Church.

The back mentions a "line drive injury"...

Next, a card that kills two birds with one stone as a nice addition to my Red Sox collection as well, Ray Scarborough!  This is just about a perfect vintage baseball card, no?

Last but not least, third baseman Hank Majeski of the Athletics.

Yep, three beauties indeed!  I'm up over 20 cards from this iconic set now, and I'm sure these won't be the last to be shown on the blog either.

Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy your Friday night!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

1950 Bowman - Post #11 - Jimmy Russell

I'll never turn down a '50s Bowman card, and if I won the lottery or otherwise had an unlimited collecting budget I'd love to track down each and every one.  Until that day comes though, I'm satisfied with plucking some cheap ones off of eBay from time to time.

A while back I started officially tallying and dedicating a post to each card I land from the 1950 set, and today I've got the 11th post along those lines, featuring Jimmy Russell of the Brooklyn Dodgers!

As far as pure aesthetics go, the plain wooden fence isn't the most exciting background you'll find in this beautiful set, but it's a nice enough card anyway.  I mean, is there even such a thing as an unattractive '50 Brooklyn Dodgers card?  I don't think I've ever encountered one!  Of my small collection of 1950 Bowman, this is actually my first Dodger, which is pretty cool.

I picked this card up a few years ago in graded format only because it was dirt cheap, cheaper even than I could find any decent-condition ungraded copies for.  Some day though I'll look to get rid of this and pick up an ungraded version, or maybe even crack it free from its plastic prison.  If and when I land any HOFers or big stars from this release I'd consider graded, but at this point in my collecting career I prefer raw cards at least for the commons.

Here's a better look at Jimmy, sans plastic slab.  Russell actually began his MLB career all the way back in 1942 with the Pirates, and was winding down at the Major League level by the time he found his way to Brooklyn.  The 1950 and 1951 seasons that the Pennsylvania native spent with the Dodgers wound up being the final seasons of his Major League career.  After he hung up the spikes, he spent well over a decade as a scout for both the Dodgers and the Senators.

Here's a look at the back, unblemished for the most part...

...and here's a better look for anyone who might want to read the summary.

A 1950 Bowman was the very first vintage baseball card I ever owned, as probably an 8 or 9 year old when my dad bought me one at an antiques store near where we lived.  I've loved the set ever since, and I enjoy the new cards I pick up from this release almost 30 years later every bit as much as I did that first one.  I may never own them all, but you can bet you'll be seeing at least a few more of these on the blog in the future.

Enjoy your Wednesday, and thanks for stopping by!

Set Progress:  11 of 252 (4% Complete)

Monday, September 9, 2019


I've got another box of 100 singles on the way from COMC, so I need to clear some space in my card chest before those arrive.  I don't have the time or motivation to tally what I paid for these to do an official "COMC Blaster" post, so instead here's just a random smattering of some of my pick-ups from over time on the site...

Every once in a while I like a random Star Wars card, and this sepia Luke Skywalker from a recent set looked interesting to me.  If memory serves it was maybe around 75 cents.  This is exactly the type of purchase I refrain from these days in an attempt to be more organized and goal-oriented, but I actually bought it over a year ago now and just got around to scanning and adding it to my proper collection today.  Still, a fun card.

Speaking of trying to stay more focused and goal-oriented in my collecting, I'm still plugging away in my attempt to complete the wonderfully colorful 2014 Topps Finest set in X-Fractor format.  Aside from maybe the original Finest set in 1993, or maybe the sophomore '94 effort, I think this is as good a set as there is in the entire long-running Finest line.

The X-Fractor treatment bumps the already colorful and shiny cards up another notch.  With this pair of David Wright and Shin-Soo Choo in hand, I'm at 46 out of 100 of these, nearing the halfway point.  I've got a couple big cards left to track down still out of the 50+ that I'm missing, but I'm determined to finish this one off someday.

This '94 Upper Deck Palmeiro was grabbed with a future "Stat Kings" post in mind.  Not an amazing card by any means, but I needed a '94 Palmeiro and it fit the bill for cheap coin.  You'll see this one again on the blog someday if I ever get around to that post.

I don't buy many soccer cards these days, though I do enjoy watching English Premier League (and have especially enjoyed watching my favorite team, Liverpool, win each of its first four matches this season!).  When I stumbled upon a small grouping of shiny Donruss Optic cards at an extreme discount a while back, I hand-picked a few of my favorite stars.

Neymar doesn't play in the EPL, but is genuinely recognized as one of the top players on the planet.

Harry Kane is a goal-scoring machine for Tottenham Hotspur in the EPL.  These past few years they always seem to finish in or around the top 4 in the league, but haven't truly threatened to win a championship just yet.

Last Optic soccer card, former Liverpool striker (and ear-biter) Luis Suarez shushing the crowd after presumably finding the back of the net.  I won't chase many, if any, more of these, but they're a fun and inexpensive addition to my soccer binder/collection.

Next up, some very yellow additions to my 1959 Topps baseball set quest.  A new Red Sox card in Dean Stone...

...the great Joe Adcock, looking pensively off into the distance...

...and KC A's shortstop Joe DeMaestri, nicknamed "Froggy", bring my total number of cards for this release up to 314.  Still missing a lot of big-name stars, but nonetheless it feels great to be well past the 50% mark with this quest.

One more soccer card here.  I'd say my favorite modern soccer sets, period, might be the two Prizm World Cup sets that Panini produced for the last two World Cups in 2014 and 2018.  When I came across this Yellow & Red Pulsar Prizm parallel of Team USA's captain Landon Donovan from the 2014 set for mere pocket change, into my cart it went!

I used to collect Will Clark pretty hard-core as a kid in the early '90s.  Don't really chase his cardboard much if at all these days, but this shiny 1983-based card from last year was dirt cheap, and shiny.  Sold.

Here's a cool one.  I've always been somewhat of a sucker for "framed" cards like this one.  Aside from that, the bright red frame works perfectly here for a Red Sox card.  I chose this one because the old-time players look a lot better in logo-less, unlicensed format.  Possibly my favorite Harry Hooper card, which isn't saying much as I have all of four in total.

During the first year of the Topps NOW promotion, I went crazy picking up all the Red Sox cards.  I burned out on that quickly, and have grabbed less than a handful in all the time since.  I thought this Andrew Benintendi RC was at least an interesting pick-up at a price point well below $3.

I think the photograph on the back might be better than the one on the front!

How about three more cards in my effort to flush out some vintage Red Sox team sets?  From the 1960 release I added pitchers Tom Sturdivant...

...and Frank Sullivan, as well as...

...backstop Sammy White.  As with most of the vintage cards I pick up off of COMC, these aren't exactly gem mint copies primed for grading.  They present very nicely though, and I consider these to be "never need to upgrade" condition.  I'm up to a full two dozen Red Sox cards from the 1960 Topps set now, which seems like a lot until you realize that there are actually 35 Sox cards on the checklist!  Getting there slowly but surely, however I still need that pesky Yaz rookie...

We'll close it out with an autographed hockey card, Gary Jarrett of the WHA's Cleveland Crusaders.  I thought this one was too cool to pass up, given that Gary is someone you don't hear much about, but who had some decent success in the WHA.  In the league's first season, which this set pays tribute to, Gary scored at better than point-per-game pace, with 79 points in 77 games.  Certainly one of the more obscure autographs in my hockey card collection.

Well, that's all I have the time (and energy) for today.  Hope you enjoyed this look at some of my COMC pick-ups from the past, and thanks as always for stopping by!

Sunday, September 8, 2019

A Football Card Experiment - Game 1 - Steelers

I've never really collected football cards.  My primary interests, baseball and hockey, keep me more than busy.  I do enjoy tuning in to NFL action on Sundays though, and have been a faithful New England Patriots fan for more than 20 years now.

As the fall weather moves into New England here, I've become curious about sampling some football cards.  Don't get me wrong, I am not planning to collect the sport with anywhere near the level of intensity as my other collections, but I would like to expand a bit on my meager football collection over the next few months.

I thought it might be a fun experiment to pick up one card to represent each of the Patriots' games this season.  This will give me a way to focus a bit, and will also keep the number of new football cards on the lighter side, which is important to me.  Since I have less than 20 total football cards in my collection at the outset of this, the 16 new cards that I add will effectively double the size of my football card collection.

Well, today is game one for New England, and they face off against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the prime-time game this evening.  Here's the first card in the football card experiment, accordingly:

You think Antonio Brown would wear this helmet?
When I was browsing around trying to locate some cards to get a jump start on this project, this 1955 Bowman really stood out to me.  I'll likely focus on the Pats' opponent each week, as it provides a lot more variety than simply showing a New England card every Sunday for months on end.  Given my love of 1950s Bowman on the baseball front, I suppose it's not all that surprising that I gravitated towards '50s Bowman to kick off this football series as well.

I'm hoping these cards will have the side effect of forcing me to learn more about the game each week, and that's already been the case here.  For instance, I had no idea prior to writing this post that the Steelers were formed all the way back in 1933, making them the oldest club in the AFC!

As for Lynn Chandnois (whose name is mis-spelled on this card), I'd never heard of him, unsurprisingly.  He had a very successful collegiate career with the Michigan State Spartans, earning team MVP and All-American honors before joining the Steelers in the NFL.  In the NFL he had some real success as well, making multiple Pro Bowl teams and winning the Player of the Year award in 1952!

The backs of these '55 Bowman cards aren't the most exciting design I've seen, but this one was all about the front for me anyway.  I do find it interesting the way the stats are typed out on the bottom half of the card.

So, there you have it, my first football card of the season, with at least 15 more to come!  I'm certainly looking forward to increasing my collection and and learning more about the game of football as the season progresses here, and I hope you'll see a card or two in the coming weeks that interests you as well.

Thanks as always for stopping by, and for NFL fans best of luck to your teams (except the Steelers) in week one!

Friday, September 6, 2019

Selling Cards, Buying Cards - August Update

Back in July I made a decision that, in furthering my ongoing efforts to condense my collection, I would start selling off some items that didn't fit my present-day collecting tastes or interests too well.  I shared the first half-dozen sales last month, and today I've got another batch of cards to officially say au revoir to!

There was a brief period in time, before Xander Bogaerts, where Adrian Gonzalez was my favorite Red Sox player.  I kind of went nuts for a while picking up his 2011 and 2012 releases, where he was depicted with Boston.  The set I collected hardest was 2012 Topps Chrome, eventually completing a rainbow that was missing the 1/1 "Super-Fractor" card, but did have all four printing plates!

Well, these days I'm not a big Adrian Gonzalez guy, and while printing plates are cool and all, these just weren't bringing me a whole lot of enjoyment.  When I was contacted on TCDB by a 2012 Topps Chrome mega-collector, I offered him all four for $50 flat.  Sold!

I'm glad they went to a great home; this guy's 2012 Topps Chrome collection is insane.  He's already completed the base and autograph versions of the base set, refractor set, orange, purple, blue, black, sepia and gold refractor sets, and is just a few cards away from red and atomic refractor complete sets as well.  He's also got a ton of printing plates and super-fractors.  Quite literally, there is probably no place on the planet where these belonged more than with this guy, and I pocked $50 from the transaction.  Win/win!

Here's my one non-card-related sale so far, included just because I had a picture mixed in with the others here.  Like many, I really enjoyed HBO's Game of Thrones show, but now that it's over I don't really need my seasons 1-7 in blu-ray format any longer.  Especially not since I already redeemed the digital copies that came with these, and so still have access if I care to watch them again.  I scored $55 for this lot!

When I re-entered the hobby way back in 2007 I was fairly all over the map in terms of what I purchased.  At some point I snagged these 1973-74 Topps NBA & ABA Leaders cards.  I think I was just enamored with the fact that I could bring home names like Dr. J, Wilt Chamberlain, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for just a few bucks.  Looks like I paid $6 each for these back in November of 2007.

I sold them as a lot of four, and accepted an offer of $43, so I guess I made a few bucks on these over the time I held them, although that was not my intent.

Alright, these next couple weren't that easy to part with, but hear me out.  Back when I first returned to collecting, I cared way too much about obtaining graded vintage in a particular grade.  It was a total OCD thing, but any card from the '50s I wanted in a PSA 6, the '60s and PSA 7, the '70s a PSA 8, and so on.

The thing is, I sometimes paid more attention to the grade than the card itself (hey, we've all done things we're not proud of in this hobby, right?).  That was certainly the case here, and whenever I looked at this second-year Brooks Robinson within the past couple of years it just drove me nuts how off-center it is.  How in the world did this not get the 'OC' off-center designation from PSA?

In any event, it's gone now, and I'm $50 richer for it.

For the longest time, this card from 1961 Topps that pays homage to Mantle's legendary "565-ft" home run was the closest thing I had to a "playing era Mantle" card.  I was able to secure a couple of better Mantle cards beginning late last year though, making this one pretty expendable in my eyes.  Certainly expendable enough to accept a $66 offer for it!

This one was maybe the toughest call in today's post, because I really do like Brooks Robinson and it's a nice looking example of his '60 Topps card.  I'm not looking to complete this set any time soon though, and as silly as it may sound the super old PSA label was driving me kinda nuts.  I gladly took $70 for this card, and moved on.

Next, with hockey season right around the corner I decided to part with a couple of on-card autographs.  I still enjoy autographed cards (and in fact plan to revive my Signature Sundays posts this fall!), but this PK Subban didn't really fit into my collection.  I grabbed it because he's one of the most exciting defensemen in the NHL, because I love acetate cards generally speaking, and because I got a really good deal on it.  It's in a better home now though after it fetched $16 on eBay.

Final sale I'll cover today was for these two big-name HOFers.  While these are on-card autographs, and quite striking in blue ink against a sepia photograph, they're not my favorite autographs of either of these two players.  With a few exceptions (Hartford Whalers and one or two autographed sets I chase) on the hockey side, I don't typically need more than one autograph of any player.  These aren't exactly in-demand autographs, so I paired these up in one auction and accepted $18 for the two.  I might've been able to hold out for more, but I'm really trying to purge here, and the offer was good enough.

Even after eBay fees I still cleared well over $300 in profit from these cards alone, further motivating me to continue my selling spree.  Most of that money went to savings, but I haven't altogether given up on picking up new cards either, and used a small percentage of what I made to add to my collection.

On that note, here are a handful of new cards I've picked up recently!

Rafael Devers has cooled off a bit in the past couple of weeks, but I'm still having a lot of fun picking up cards of the exciting 22-year-old slugger.  This Hyper Prizm parallel of his Crusade RC from Panini Chronicles (#'d /299) was a cheap score at $2.00 with 99 cents shipping.  I'm up to 30 Devers cards and counting now, though the number is a bit higher than that as I have a few in pocket that I haven't scanned and added to my collection proper yet.

This past Monday was my birthday, and as a present to myself I put together a small order from an eBay seller who offered free shipping on orders of $25 or more.  I didn't go crazy, my final total was a modest $31.25, but I managed to pick up 14 different singles for that price.  Many of those are actually football cards (yes, seriously, post coming Sunday on that), but there were a couple of baseball cards included as well.

This one was too tempting to pass up due to the fact that it cost just $1.50 yet is right in line condition-wise with many of my other '56s.  Also, how can you not love a card where the subject is referred to as "Windy".  Add to the fact that it's a New York Giants card with an odd background (Polo Grounds maybe?), and I was sold.

I feel obliged to show the card back with any '55 or '56 Topps card, so here you go!

The other baseball card I picked up in that lot, and the final card in today's post, is this fantastic 1951 Bowman Steve O'Neill.  I've gone on record many times now stating my love for the early Bowman releases, the 1950-1952 full color mini releases in particular, and this is one that had somehow escaped my grasp until now.

This is my first Steve O'Neill card of any sort, and it's long overdue.  Steve was involved in Major League Baseball, either as a player or manager, pretty much consecutively from 1911 through 1954!

A small surface wrinkle and some gum stains on the back, just about perfect for my collection of early Bowmans as far as condition goes.  This one set me back just $3.  I can't believe it took me so long to pick one of these up when they can be found at prices like that.

So, there's an update from my little corner of the internet on this Friday evening.  Thanks for stopping by, and have a great weekend!
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