Saturday, November 30, 2019

Down-Grading - 1971 Topps Hank Aaron

Of the many cards I've sold off on eBay in recent months, there was one that stood above all others.  The 1971 Topps Hank Aaron pictured above, in a PSA 8 slab, is a card I'd acquired back in June of 2007.  This was a time before I owned a home, and as a result had a lot more disposable income to spend on cardboard.  I'd just gotten back into the hobby after more than a decade away, and had an unofficial goal of acquiring all of Hammerin' Hank's Topps flagship cards in graded format.

Fast forward a dozen years and while I'd still like to acquire all of those Aaron cards eventually, I don't feel the need to spend the money to get them in the sort of condition my '71 Aaron was in.  So, this card was an obvious candidate to list when I decided to start letting some cards go on eBay earlier this year.

To my surprise, I netted a cool $265 for this card, almost exactly twice what I paid for it back in 2007.  Since I've done a good job of saving most of my proceeds from my card sales over the past few months, I decided to treat myself to a little spending spree with the proceeds from this Aaron.  In the end I walked away with five graded cards in exchange for this one.

Let's take a look at how I did... 

First card up, the exact same card?!?!  You got it!  The thing is, it's not that I don't love this card, it's just that I don't feel the need to own a near mint/mint copy like I had previously.  At $35.50 I was able to score this beauty, which is above and beyond what I expect out of my '71s condition-wise.  Besides, it will go so nicely with the Nolan Ryan and Frank Robinson cards I scored from this set earlier this year, both of which are also in PSA 4 slabs.

This was an obvious choice, as I now truly don't feel like I "lost anything" with respect to my collection in this exchange.  Got the same card I started with essentially, only with a pile of cash to use to pick up some other great cards.  Speaking of which...

What can I say, I couldn't resist the opportunity to land another of Hank's iconic Topps cards.  A classic pose on this 1967 release.  '67 was a typical dominant year for Aaron as well, as he led the National League in runs scored, home runs, slugging percentage and total bases.

I've been focusing on 1950s baseball for the most part over this past year, but it feels good to flesh out my '60s collection of one of my boyhood idols.  A really nice looking card too, good eye appeal and I felt I got a steal using $59 of my proceeds to secure this one.

Next up, another Hank Aaron!  I promise this is the last one in today's post.  The 1962 Topps set has really grown on me over the years.  Like all sets from the '60s, there are some duds on the checklist, and more cap-less ballplayers than I'd care to see in any set.  When paired with the right photograph though, the design results in some truly beautiful cards.

I was drawn to this one because it looks absolutely stunning for a card graded a mere "VG 3" by PSA.  When I first got into graded cards in the late 2000s, I made the mistake of being obsessed with the grade.  I wanted all of my cards from the 1960s to be in a PSA 7 grade, no exceptions.  At some point though, I realized my OCD was hurting me, and preventing me from owning some of the very cards I desired most.  Nowadays, I just pay attention to the way the card looks, and couldn't care less about the grade.  In fact, if I can find a card that appears "under-graded" like this one I'm even more pleased, as it just saves me coin in the end.

Nonetheless, a 3 seems pretty harsh for this one, doesn't it?

Let's look now at the final two cards from this flip, neither of which feature Henry Aaron...

Another player I've really been drawn to in recent months is the great Roberto Clemente.  He's not nearly as represented in my vintage baseball collection as he should be, and I set out to rectify that with some of the proceeds from this sale.

Honestly, I'd love to one day acquire all of Clemente's vintage flagship Topps run, so in this instance I wasn't even looking for any one particular card.  I just knew I wanted a vintage Clemente, and was prepared to pull the trigger on whatever the best deal was that I could find.

This card felt like the best value, in amazing shape with just about perfect centering for $52.  I could not be more pleased with this pick-up, in fact I'd say it may be my favorite card of today's grouping, though that's certainly a tough call to make.

With four vintage baseball cards procured, I wanted to do something a little more off-the-beaten-path as far as my collection goes with the balance of the proceeds.  I've been trying to think of some iconic, yet affordable, cards from the other major sports for my "Cardboard Keepers" project, and ended up going that route with the rest of the funds.


Pretty sweet, huh?  Though I don't collect basketball cards strictly speaking, I like the idea as I mentioned above of at least landing a handful of cards of the best in the history of the game.  High atop that list would have to be the great Wilt Chamberlain.  Dude averaged more points in a season some years than most players ever achieve as a single-game career high, and is still the only player in NBA history to score 100 points in a single game.  Chamberlain is a household name, even in a household that lacks basketball fans.

When it came to selecting the first card to represent the man in my collection, the choice was easy.  I'm admittedly a total sucker for the "tall-boy" cards that Topps issued in the '60s and early '70s.  I already had hockey and football examples in my collection, so picking up a basketball counterpart was a no-brainer.  Besides, there's something about a tall basketball card in particular that just feels fitting, right?  I'm sure I'll be inducting this card into my Cardboard Keepers album in the future.  In fact, that's probably the case for all five cards in today's post.

So, that's the story of probably my single greatest card flip of 2019, and one of my better flips of all time.  How do you think I did?  If you had a couple hundred bucks in Paypal credit from a sale to spend on cards, would you pick up a few heavy hitters like this?  Maybe a bunch of small cards instead?  Use it all on a single white whale?  I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Thanks as always for stopping by!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

I Sold My 1953 Topps Cards! Part 3

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who are celebrating it today!

Back in October, I made the decision to sell off the majority of my 1953 Topps cards for a tidy profit.  I invested most of the proceeds right off the bat, but wanted to make sure I treated myself to some nice cardboard with the return funds as well.

In the last installment of this series I picked up 16 cards towards my rebuild of the '53 set in ungraded, raw format, for an even $40.  Well, we're going back to the 1953 Topps well today with another decent sized batch, this time acquired via eBay.

I won't provide commentary on every card since there are so many, but here's my haul...

I've mentioned before that I'm particularly intrigued by vintage cards that feature franchises of the past, so I was really happy to land this Hank Thompson, outfielder for the New York Giants.  Enough so that this was the third most expensive card in today's post at $6.40.

Ditto.  Love the St. Louis Browns cards from this set in particular thanks to the fantastic team logo that's prominently displayed.  Most of the cards in this order were less than $3.  What can I say, I'm starting with some of the low-hanging fruit in this second go-round.

It's especially rewarding when I'm able to land a card that I didn't have previously in the lot of graded cards that I sold off.  Hal Rice here was an example of exactly that.

I grabbed a few Red Sox that I already have in graded format within this lot as well.  The prices were just too cheap to pass up, and I don't mind having a duplicate raw copy of these in case I ever reach the point where I put this set in a binder.

Aside from the Red Sox, the Brooklyn Dodgers are my favorite team to acquire new '50s cards of, so of course I snatched up this John Rutherford.

Grady Hatton possesses possibly the most interesting background in today's entire lot.  Love the water tower behind the outfield fence there.

I've got a special place in my heart for Fred Hatfield, since his 1952 Bowman release was one of the very first vintage cards I ever owned as a kid (still have my original copy in fact!).

How awesome is that Philadelphia Athletics logo?

Maybe it's just me, but Johnny Groth resembles the Browns' logo just slightly in this portrait.

This Del Rice is perhaps the poorest condition card in today's lot.  Still a perfectly acceptable card for this run at the set though, and especially so given that it set me back less than $2!

Many of these suffer from one or two small flaws that prevent them from being pristine or grade-able copies, like the upper right corner on this Danny O'Connell.  My only criteria is that the cards are reasonably priced, and visually appealing.  I'd like to avoid any total train wrecks condition-wise, but a touched corner isn't going to scare me away.

Not one...

...but two cards in a row featuring scoreboard backgrounds.

Not one...

...but two cards in a row featuring an American flag off in the distance.

The most expensive card in today's post, at just a hair over $7.  I had to pay the "Yankee tax" on this one, but so many of the others were such a bargain that I didn't mind.  In the end I kept the total to around $3 per card averaged out.

Couple of Senators on very similar cards here with Frank Campos...

...and Connie Marrero.

Love the smokestacks in the background on this William Kennedy.

Bill Connelly represents probably the finest card in the lot as far as condition goes.  This one looks every bit as nice as many of the graded examples that I sold off!

I was particularly happy to reel in this Mel Parnell, given that he's one of the Red Sox I am still missing from my graded team set.

Another stunner here as far as condition goes, and a nice low-number card to knock off at card #4 in the set.

One of the more unique backgrounds in today's grouping belongs to Billy Hitchcock and the wooden fence.

Closing things out we've got another pair of New York Giants.

Well, that was exhausting!  If you kept count that was 33 cards from this iconic release.  My take home price for this lot was $98.20 with free shipping.  With a handful of today's cards being Red Sox that I already had graded versions of, I didn't necessarily add 33 new cards to my set total, but I'm now at 63 different cards and counting overall in my second attempt at this set.  Nearly a quarter of the way there already!

Still have plenty of funds left from the sale to play with, and I promise that we'll take a break from the '53s in the next installment of this series.  Until then, thanks for stopping by as always!

1953 Topps Sale Breakdown

$1,000.00 - Invested/Saved
$138.20 - 49 1953 Topps Singles

Remaining Funds:  $611.80

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Buyback Franken-set: Buyback "Blaster" Part 1

Recently I landed a nice lot of 69 different Topps buybacks on eBay.  My best offer of $15, plus a few bucks shipping made the lot come in at roughly the cost of a retail blaster.  Figured it would be a fun experiment to highlight this lot specifically within my overall Buyback Franken-set posts to see how the purchase ends up working out.

Let's get started with the first ten hopefuls from the lot today...

1966 Topps #59 - Cincinnati Reds Team

Team checklist cards are pretty cool, even if the Reds didn't fare too well in the mid-'60s.  This is a fairly beat-up card condition-wise compared to many of my buybacks, but that doesn't bother me in the least.  Not surprisingly at such a relatively low card number, this one has some competition... the form of Sammy Stewart's 1984 card, courtesy of the 2016 Topps "65th Anniversary" buyback promotion.

I'm going to keep Stewart in his place, largely based on the fact that the horizontal nature of this card's layout would ruin the feng shui of the page it's on.

1979 Topps #593 - Rick Dempsey

Next up, Rick Dempsey taking a cut on his '79 Topps card.  A somewhat boring buyback if I'm being totally honest.  In a way though, it's the best card in today's post, because it fills a new number in the franken-set!  At this stage of the project I am hoping to get even just a handful of new numbers out of this lot overall, so it's satisfying to get one within the first batch of ten cards for sure.

1988 Topps #63 - Jimmy Jones

Up next we have an exceedingly boring 1988 Topps Jimmy Jones.  A card only a mother could love.  I can't imagine this buyback has a prayer of making the binder in slot 63?

Nope, it does not.

This is actually the second different buyback version of this exact same card that I've rejected now (this one's a Gold Foil, I'd previously rejected a Silver Foil version as well).

1978 Topps #470 - J.R. Richard

Whoa!  I have a feeling this one might end up being my single favorite buyback from this small lot.  J.R. Richard was an absolute beast in 1978, hitting the 300-strikeout plateau for the first of two consecutive seasons that year.  His 303 Ks were the best in the league, and he'd finish 4th in NL Cy Young voting.

Already had this Dave Dravecky in slot 470.  This one's an easy call.

J.R. Richard takes up residency in the franken-set, and Dave Dravecky is off to the rejected box!

1984 Topps #405 - LaMarr Hoyt

A couple of good pitcher buybacks back-to-back in this lot.  LaMarr Hoyt was your unlikely 1983 AL Cy Young winner, with 24 wins and a league-leading 4.77 strikeout-to-walk ratio.  Now, had this been a 1983 Topps Hoyt buyback it would be a near certainty that it would make the set.  In 1984 though Hoyt came back down to earth, leading the league with 18 losses and registering an ERA that was almost a full point higher than the season prior.

Ouch, on top of that he's pitted against this fabulously yellow Dwight Gooden buyback for slot 405 in the binder.

Sorry LaMarr...

1975 Topps #334 - Greg Gross

The great design that is 1975 Topps?  Check.  The Topps All-Star Rookie Cup?  Check.  A name that wouldn't have been out of place on a Garbage Pail Kids card from the '80s?  Check!

On top of all that, Greg Gross is pitted against a cap-less player as far as the franken-set goes.

Another easy call there, the '75 supplants the '69.

1969 Topps #554 - Frank Bertaina

One of the reasons I was drawn to this lot is the sheer variety of buybacks within.  We've already seen 2015 and 2017 flagship buybacks in this post, and now we have our first Heritage box-topper buyback of the lot!  Can't go wrong with a new Washington Senators buyback either.

I had this 2006 Topps Kaz Matsui buyback in slot 554 up until this point.

Going to shuffle him out though and insert the Frank Bertaina in his place.

1979 Topps #539 - John Ellis

Next up, a really plain and boring (and airbrushed?) John Ellis from the 1979 Topps release.  Don't know the first thing about the guy, and don't have much to say about the card itself either.  I don't think this one stands much of a chance, but let's find out.

Certainly not a compelling enough buyback to unseat this 1973 Tom Murphy.

Not at all.

1987 Topps #688 - Juan Beniquez

Any time I get a buyback with a number higher than #660 I get excited that it may end up being a new number for the franken-set.  And let's face it, being a new number is probably the only way this fuzzy photo of Juan Beniquez stands a chance of making the binder.

Well, it turns out George Mitterwald is already holding down slot 688.

I see no reason to make a change there.

1966 Topps #56 - Sandy Valdespino

Last card for today, and another Topps Heritage buyback.  These are my favorite type of buyback, and that seems to be the case with many collectors.  It's hard to find many of them for less than a dollar on COMC these days.  Having a few of these scattered throughout this 69-card lot made justifying the purchase even easier.

Unfortunately for Sandy Valdespino, he's pitted against this great Buck Martinez when it comes to the franken-set.  For some reason I just love the sea of green in the background on this card.  On top of that, I have precious few 1981 Topps buybacks in the entire binder at this stage.

For those reasons, I'm sticking with Buck.

A good start to this lot, with a new number for the binder, and three other cards fighting their way in as well.  The J.R. Richard buyback is easily the highlight of this round for me.

I'll be back with the next installment of this lot soon, in the meantime thanks as always for stopping by!

Franken-set Progress: 656/792 (82%)
1990 Topps Buyback Set: 121/792 (15%)
"Rejected" Buybacks: 644
Total Buybacks in Collection: 1,421
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