Friday, March 5, 2010

Lessons Learned From the Vintage Consignment(s)

Taking on (2) consignments of vintage cards from co-workers has provided a lot of fun, a lot of insight, and a lot of work. Along the way here are some of the things I have learned, been reminded of, or have had reiterated in my hobby knowledge.

The Industry and The Hobby are two completely and totally different entities. The Industry itself, as we know it, could vanish tomorrow, and The Hobby would exist long, long after its demise. People would still be buying, selling, acquiring, trading, upgrading, collating, and completing players and sets.

The past is finite. When you look through newer cards of the game's top players, you have a general idea of whether or not they'll be a Hall of Famer, win a batting title or HR crown. But when you hold vintage cards of guys like Mantle, Aaron, and Clemente, you know for certain the greatness of the player and the legacy they left on the game.

Condition matters. BIG TIME. The characteristic differences between a $500 card and a $5 card, aren't so drastic as to carry a requisite that the $5 card have been inserted into a toaster, bicycle spokes or shoved in ones pocket. No, much simpler flaws that can be attributed to age, storing, and handling like edge wear and corner frays can turn a treasure into a piggy bank.

Simple times. One set per year, released in series, with basic printing technology. By releasing the cards in series, Topps and distributors weren't left with unsold overstock as cards released later in the year had less demand as kids returned to school and football season approached. What that unknowingly did was create some of the first, true short-prints. Creating a demand today for simple commons from Hi Series card sets.

Card backs mattered. Easily overlooked in today's Hobby, the stats and bio on the back were almost more important than the face on the front. Everybody knew what Mickey Mantle looked like but to easily find out what he hit in 1964 required the detailed numbers, carefully organized on the card back.

Variations existed long before parallels. One of the most famous is the White Letter variations from the 1969 set. Resulting from a simple printing error, some of the players last names were printed in white and not yellow as they were supposed to be. True completists of the set feel they must acquire every variation for the set to be considered truly complete.

Oddballs must have been a fun, pleasant change of pace. Whether it was the Fleer Laughlins, Greats of the Game, Kelloggs 3D, posters, booklets, etc., when companies started producing these, kids must have had a field day.

It's fun but it's work. Being organized, keeping track of vintage cards from two different consignors requires a detailed spreadsheet, space, time, and motivation. Sorting, collating, scanning, storing, listing, shipping. You get the idea.

I have yet to truly put even a dent into this project so I am sure more lessons will be forthcoming.


Cardboard Icons said...

That must have been fun. I've had co-workers tell me about their "old cards." Of course when they say they had a McGwire rookie, I have to ask "is it the one where he is wearing a USA hat (85) or the one where he looks like he crapped his pants (87)?" Pretty sure at that point I know we are talking 80s junk.

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