Thrift Treasures 118: Hobby time capsule for $9.99

Few things bring me as much joy as finding discarded hobby gems at the thrift store for less than the price of a handful of modern packs.

It’s easy to get sucked into paying $3, $4, or $5 for a pack of cards at retail hoping to pull something that makes you feel like a hobby winner. And we all know that the agony of defeat happens much more than any sort of victory. So when we can find items that make us smile — even if some portion of the hobby doesn’t get it — it’s really a priceless experience.

Such was the case Wednesday when I stopped at a local Goodwill before dropping off two packages at the post office. It’s been a while since I’d found cards at thrift stores, so imagine the joy I felt when I found a two-row shoebox that showed some promise … and for only $9.99.

True, 75% of this box had what was obviously 1989 Donruss. But that stack of cards in Card Savers II held so much promise. I wasn’t expecting the world, but cards stored in semi-rigids can be gold hiding in plain sight.

I looked all around the store hoping to find more boxes but there were none. The box was priced some five days earlier so odds are someone beat me to the punch for others.

Nonetheless, this box was mine and as it turned out, the box wound up being a hobby time capsule for one of the most exciting times in our hobby, 1990-1992.

The mention of those years will turn people away, thinking it’s just junk wax era. Hell, after I posted a picture of the wrapped box, one Twitter follower said he wouldn’t even risk the purchase unless there were relics inside.

Insert facepalm emoji here …

I digress. I ripped open the cellophane, grabbed a handful of Card Savers IIs and almost immediately found an absolute masterpiece of our hobby, the 1991 Elite Series Jose Canseco, serial numbered to just 10,000 copies.

The Canseco isn’t rare by today’s standards. But in 1991 trying to pull any Elite Series insert was literally like trying to find a needle in a haystack — they were legitimately like 1:10 cases. In their hay day the cards were selling for several hundred dollars; today the Canseco is still a $30-$50 card on occasion, and even more of graded well.

The Canseco would prove to be the pinnacle of this box in terms of current monetary re-sell value, but there was so much good stuff in here.

This image here is basically a summary of collecting from 1990-1992:

You’ve got the Canseco Elite, the awesome and tough-pulls in the Pinnacle “Team Pinnacle”, the 1990 Upper Deck Ben McDonald error card, the 1991 Upper Deck “Baseball Heroes” Nolan Ryan Header Card, the 1990 Score Bo Jackson baseball/football card and the 1990 Score Rookie/Traded Eric Lindros.

The McDonald is actually a neat card I’d never owned. He was a top rookie that year and his basic UD rookie card had the “Rookie” logo. But in early batches of UD, there were a bunch of errors, including the McDonald rookie showing the Orioles logo. it’s still a $10-$20 card in today’s market.

Speaking of errors, there were also these other tough (for the time) 1990 UD screwups:

Jeff Innis and Scott Garrelts cards show wrong player photos on front; the Team checklist and Jamie Weston cards have him listed as Jamie instead of Mickey Weston, and the Nolan Ryan is the banner variation. Errors and variations were a big deal at the time … and some of the younger collectors don’t understand how difficult it was tracking them down at the time.

In addition to the errors and inserts, there were some big rookies in here too. And while it’s not 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. or 1990 Leaf Frank Thomas big, we’re talking some stuff that had considerable hobby weight at a time in the not so distant past … and they all look like they’ve been in these Card Savers for nearly three decades.

And there was a fair amount of hobby stars, including a very nice 1972 Topps Joe Morgan.

In terms of today’s hobby “worth” these cards wouldn’t fetch a ton at eBay or at any show. But for a guy who cut his teeth in this hobby during this era, to basically locate a rookie collectors collection from the era, and to nail down some highly desirable errors and tough insert pulls, especially the Canseco Elite Series, is absolutely priceless. I know I’ve said it before, but this was truly a time capsule, and frankly better than most massive collections that some people are still hoarding in their basements.

Oh, and the 1989 Donruss? As I suspected there was no Griffey. But the sight of these brought back the memory of a hot summer in which I walked 40 minutes to Thrifty’s to buy cello packs of the product.

Total cost of this Thrift Treasure: $9.99

You can seen more Thrift Treasures posts here

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: