Archive for the Thrift Treasures Category

Thrift Treasures 111: Best Wishes … who?!

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , on February 20, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

As far as thrifting goes, Sunday nights are probably the worst time to head out and look for collectibles. Why? Well, basically most of the good stuff has already been snapped up by the “weekend warriors” who get after it every weekend at the crack of dawn and keep going all weekend.

Nonetheless I decided to make a stop Sunday after work and headed to a thrift store that’s out of the way a bit. It was worth the trip.

Due to the day and time, I figured the best place to start might be the books section as I might luck my way into another book signed by a president.  I checked book after book but found nothing. 

I then headed to the “collectibles” counter and saw a signed baseball sitting in a Ultra Pro ball cube. It read “Best Wishes … Willie Mays.”

Yeah, the Willie Mays.


Now, unless you were an active collector of autographs or have experience viewing Willie Mays’ signature you’d have no idea what name is scribbled on this ball.

Luckily no one who’d laid eyes on the ball was able to make out the Baseball Legends’ autograph.

From a distance I couldn’t immediately tell if it was a pre-printed ball.  When the clerk handed it to me I could see right away that it was indeed some sort of black marker pen on a Wilson Dura-Lon cover “Official League” baseball.

The price tag said $19.99 and the clerk immediately told me that it was not part of the half-off sale. 

Well, that’s good because I suspect someone would’ve taken a chance at $9.99, but would pause at $19.99.

Me? No delay.  I’ll take it.

When I got to the counter to pay the clerk asked if I had any coupons.  As it turned out I had a 30% off coupon for donating a few boxes of base cards. Perfect timing.

And so for $13.99 I walked out the door with a baseball signed by one of the finest players to ever play the game.

Now, this isn’t the ideal signed ball. We’d all agree that we’d like a   non-greeting blue ink signature on the sweet spot of a Rawlings Major League Baseball or Rawlings National League Official Ball. And of course we’d like some sort of certification to ensure authenticity. But c’mon, we’re dealing with a thrift treasure. You take what you find.

So, is it real?  I think so. I’ve seen enough Willie Mays signatures — on balls and flats — from the early to mid 1990s that made me lean toward the affirmative.

And later I did a quick search on eBay for Willie Mays balls signed with “Best Wishes.” Here are two comparisons.

It looks pretty spot-on in my opinion.


Total cost of this Thrift Treasure: $13.99.

You can see more Thrift Treasures posts Here.

Thrift Treasures 110: SI For Kids … For Me. 

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , on November 25, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

Sometimes when I donate cards to my local thrift stores, I like to go back a week later to see what they’ve priced them at.  Usually they grab a handful, stick then in a bag and then put a $3-$5 price tag on it.

And every now and again when I’m looking at these bag, often Filled with cars I owned, I come across ones that weren’t donated by me.

A few days ago I found one with a stack of Sports Illustrated For Kids cards. I buy these if I see a name that sticks out to me. In this case, I could see the name of Bryce Harper.  I figured I’d buy it as I didn’t own the 2012 SI For Kids card.

The Harper was the highlight of the bag, but there also was a cool card of women’s soccer player Alex Morgan. In all there were more than 20 of the SI For Kids cards. 

The find isn’t of any great value but still a neat little haul for the price of a retail pack. 

Total cost of this Thrift Treasure: $2.99.

You can see more Thrift Treasures posts Here.

Thrift Treasures 109: An impossible pull from a sealed junk wax box (1990-91 Pro Set NHL Stanley Cup Hologram)

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , on October 12, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

img_0970So there I was stopping at one Goodwill on the way home from work on Oct. 12, 2016, when I saw in the showcase a sealed 1990-91 Pro Set Series One NHL box of cards. Typically these boxes get left at thrift stores and they have already been pilfered of anything of value, OR they are priced in such a fashion they are not worth the gamble.

And what gamble is there, you might ask? A long shot at hitting a winning lottery ticket in the form of a Stanley Cup hologram limited to 5,000 copies.

We have to set the scene with Pro Set before we go any further. Long before there were autographs and relics cards that we see today, chase cards from the early 1990s usually meant the cards were glossy as compared to your typical matte finish, or they had some sort of flashy foil to make it obvious that you had something special.  With Pro Set they made holograms, and they were an absolutely needle in a haystack to find.

Perhaps the most famous Pro Set hologram is the Lombardi Trophy hologram that was inserted into the NFL product of 1990.  But more valuable is the Stanley Cup version inserted randomly into Series One packs of 1990-91 Pro Set hockey.

If you think they’re easy to pull because there are 5,000 of them guess again. There literally are close to — if not more than — a million produced of each base card in most brands these years, rendering them worthless. The shiny holograms that were impossible to pull have held their value. The Lombardi hologram usually fetches between $40-$100 in raw condition and much more if graded. And a quick check of eBay while I was in the store Wednesday night showed that the Stanley Cup holograms were selling upward of $125 in raw condition.

img_0971I looked at the box through the locked case and was able to see the $6.14 price tag. I figured the box was worth the price of two cups of Starbucks coffee.  After all, 10/12/16 was the Opening Night of the NHL season and it gave me something to open while I was watching the San Jose Sharks defeat the Los Angeles Kings.

So I paid for it, drove home, ate dinner, turned on the game and opened pack by pack slowly looking not only for the hologram, but also any errors/variations which also have a following.

I got 35 packs deep into the box with nothing really special when this happened:

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The third or fourth card in that stack isn’t like the others because … it’s a HOLOGRAM!

You newer collectors might night be laughing at this pull because by today’s standards because unless anything is numbered to like 50 copies you don’t consider it rare.  But for us who grew up in the junk wax era, finding something like this is insane. And to make this case even more impossible it comes from an abandoned g box located at a thrift store.

Anyhow, when I saw the shiny hologram the first thing I did was pulled out my phone and take the aforementioned picture and then record this video.

The card isn’t mint, which is crazy since this was a sealed box, but it’s probably going to stay in my collection as this is an epic pull given the circumstances.

Total cost of this Thrift Treasure: $6.14.

You can see more Thrift Treasures posts Here.

 

Thrift Treasures 108: The cards of my childhood are worth less, but not worthless.

Posted in Misc., Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , on September 23, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

Imagine that for one year of your childhood you ripped packs open chasing the rookie card of the hottest player in the game. And then three decades later that player is inducted into the hall of fame and his rookie card can be found for less that $1.

If you are a collector of at least 35 years of age, you know this exercise well. We grew up during the great card boom. We saw packs rise from mere pennies to half a dollar, and then venture well past that. We lived the transition of packs filled with base cards to packs filled with promise and hope that it may contain some shiny treasure we came to know as the chase card.

We also know what a hot rookie card can do to a product. Insert Ken Griffey Jr.

griffeyrrGriffey is far from the first rookie to hit the market and create waves, but in my youth, there was none bigger. Yes, Mark McGwire’s rookie home run chase generated heavy interest in his 1985 Topps USA card and his various 1987 releases. And a year later the card world gravitated toward can’t-miss New York Mets prospect Gregg Jefferies and Cubs first baseman Mark Grace. Although neither became hall of fame material, both wound up with fantastic careers. Jefferies played 14 years, collected almost 1,600 hits and tallied a career batting average of almost .290.  Grace stuck around for 16 years, racked up almost 2,500 hits while maintaining a batting average above .300, and earned four Gold Glove Awards.

A year later, however, both were trumped by Ken Griffey Jr., The Kid, the phenom in the Seattle Mariners system who was the son of a Major League outfielder still bumping around the Bigs.

Griffey’s history in our hobby has been long documented. His face is emblazoned on perhaps one of the top three iconic baseball cards in history. But for those of us who could not afford to chase that 1989 Upper Deck cardboard icon, we found other ways to chase The Kid, we ripped 1989 Donruss hoping to find his Rated Rookie.

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George (Ken) Kenneth Griffey Jr. We hoped to open our wax packs — literally, they were sealed with wax — and see that full name on the yellow backs of the card. Or we hoped to see that blue, black and purple top border and then the Rated Rookie logo that graced the front of a handful of rookie cards in the 1989 Donruss set.

True, the Griffey Donruss card never even approached the popularity of the Upper Deck, but it was one of only two Griffey rookies aside from the UD card that were available in packs.  The Topps Traded and Score Rookies and Traded were available only in boxed set form.

Packs at the time for Donruss ran about 50 cents or so each; a full box of 36 packs usually retailed in shops for about $18. And the way collation worked you’d be lucky to see one Griffey in each box.  Nonetheless, for those of us working on small collecting budgets — much of my money actually came from collecting bottles and cans –Donruss was our option.  The other pack-released Griffey was in the Fleer product but the Billy Ripken “Fuck Face” obscenity card and subsequent variations drove that product’s price through the roof.

I owned a few different Rated Rookie Griffeys in my youth I pulled one or two, traded for others, and won a few in games of black jack and other silly games my friends and I would play.

In recent years I’ve found a few in bargain bins at shows for a buck or two, and I usually picked them up based on principle. Demand for the card has fallen so much — because everyone wants the Upper Deck first and the Topps Traded second — that the Donruss Griffey can routinely be found on COMC.com for under $1.

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Now fast forward to Thursday.  I took my kids to school and decided to do a little thrift shopping. During one of my stops I walked in and saw a mound of red boxes emblazoned with the words “Baseball Cards.” These boxes were very typical for the late 1980s early 1990s. I recall seeing these and green versions at various retail outlets such as K-Mart and Toys R Us. And I believe I had seen them in various catalogues and advertisements as well.

When I find these boxes in thrift stores they are usually filled with bulk lots of 1990 Donruss or Topps, or other sets that were part of the mass produced card era. If there was one key rookie card in any of those boxes they still wouldn’t be “worth” the purchase if the store wanted more than $5.

I opened the first box on the shelf and immediately I saw a lot of five 1990 Topps Sammy Sosa cards. A decade and a half ago this would’ve been a small fortune. Those cards were selling for $8-$15 each at one point. I combed through that box hoping to find a similar size stash of Frank Thomas rookies but there were none. I closed the box and kept moving.  I went through another dozen boxes or so until I came to one that housed 1989 Donruss cards.

By now it was clear that the owner was a set builder. They had built entire sets and then placed all of the other cards in numerical order in all other boxes.  If you were looking for a certain star card it’d be easy to find a half dozen or so of them in these boxes. I was hoping to find a good size lot of Griffey or Thomas rookies. And then it happened.

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I grabbed a handful of 1989 Donruss and skimmed through the Bonus Card
MVPs and the Diamond Kings before I hit the Rated Rookies. There were five Sandy Alomar rookies (card #28), four Steve Searcy (card #29), seven Cameron Drew (card #30), five Gary Sheffield (cards #31), four Erik Hanson (card #32) and … SIX of card #33, George (Ken) Kenneth Griffey Jr.  A smile came across my face and my instinct was to buy immediately for I had uncovered a jackpot.  Then I remembered the price on the bottom of the box. This Goodwill wanted $10.24 for the box.

I hesitated for a minute or two.

Did I need these Griffeys? No.

Was it a deal to buy six Griffey Donruss rookies for $10.24? Nope.

I closed the box and put it down on the shelf.

I took two steps away and stopped.  I turned back and grabbed the box.

What was I thinking? My rationale for NOT buying the box was the exact reason this hobby is so screwed up. Because we tend to worry about what cards are “worth” and don’t spend enough time enjoying the journey. Besides, the cost for this treasure I had unearthed wasn’t unreasonable.

So I placed the box under my arm and headed for the register. I paid for the item and sat in my car and pulled out the stack of Griffeys.  The sight of those six in my hands is one that made me happy. The cards were in good shape and these six Griffeys until this moment had been abandoned; their fate uncertain, which is a sad but true state of our hobby.

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Griffey is perhaps the finest player the game has seen since the days of Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. All of those feelings the younger collectors get these days with Mike Trout, those are the same that came when you thought of Ken Griffey Jr. in his youth.

Truth be told, I lost money or could barely break even on this deal.  Six Griffeys could net me $5-$6 on the open market if the right buyer came along.  And even though there were three Rated Rookie cards of fellow Hall of Fame member Randy Johnson and five of Gary Sheffield, a member of the 500 Home Run Club, it would take a special buyer to hand me a crisp $10 bill for the entire lot.

But as you know this hobby isn’t just about money. It’s about the memories and feelings that come with tracking down a White Whale for your collection. It’s about the stories you have that are tied to specific cards. It’s about reliving our childhood in an instant with a glance of a player’s face on a piece of cardboard.

The sight of those Griffey’s in my hands made me happy. It made me smile. It made me remember sitting on the brick planter box in front of Brian’s Books in the Food Farm Shopping Center in Santa Clara, California, talking about nonsense with friends while thumbing through our cards.

It made me remember the aroma of the pizza being cooked and ultimately sold by the slice at the pizza parlor across the hall. It made me think of the aquarium and fish store that was next door and flooded one time, causing Brian’s Books to close for a day or two. It made me remember that in addition to baseball cards, I also enjoyed purchasing pieces of Laffy Taffy, water balloons and cap guns at the drug store just a few doors to the north.

Yes, the cards of my youth are worth less than what I paid for them. But they are not worthless. In fact, they are priceless.

Total cost of these Treasures: $10.24.

You can see more Thrift Treasures posts Here.

Thrift Treasures 107: Serial Number Slayer

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

So the National Sports Collectors Convention is under way Atlantic City and like many others I wish I was there.  I’ve been to the annual event twice, both times as peripheral member of the Beckett Media team. But this year I couldn’t make it for several reasons as I IMG_0401I have a lot going on in my real life.  I may try for next year.  We’ll see.

On Wednesday I took my kids out to do a little thrift shopping. And what do you know, I find a massive amount of cards. So many that I was only able to get through a little of it before the kids got restless. Nonetheless, I got a good 15 minutes of digging in and with the cards priced at 5 for $1, I was able to snatch up a few treasures before I had to hit the road. It was a small sampling of what I would’ve been doing at The National anyway.

It’s not uncommon for me to run into such deals as 5 cards for $1, or even more.  But they’ve gotten a little harder to find lately.  And truth be told, I haven’t been out looking as hard as I had once been doing. It’s just a time issue.

Anyhow, I left some decent stuff behind, but I would up selecting 30 cards during this trip. And as the title of this blog post suggests, there were a good number of low serial numbered cards.

Let’s kick things off with three 2013 Topps Chrome football black refractors numbered /299 and a a 2014 Topps Chrome Bliue Refractor /199 of DeAndre Hopkins.

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Speaking of Refractors, here are  few more.  A shimmer silver 2013 RGIII /260 and a basic 2015 Topps Chrome Peyton Manning. The Manning will be a nice Christmas gift for my cousin’s son who just got into collecting.  I’ve already sent him every Manning I own, and about 5,000 other football cards.  His face when they arrived was priceless.

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Staying on the flashy subject. Here are three 2011 Leaf Limited parallels. The front of these are shiny foilboard. But I’m showing the backs because look at those serial numbers.  Hall of Famers Derrick Thomas /50 and Sam Huff /25.

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And some more Leaf Limited. These are from 2010 and they’re all rookies.  The base rookies are /499, but that Riley Cooper rookie is /25. Solid.

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How about some more serial rookies? Marcus Gilbert 2011 Absolute /50, 2010 Epix Ricky Sapp /50 and 2008 Prestige Chris Long serial 001/300. Gotta love those first-stamped cards.

IMG_0442A few random serial numbered cards. 1999 Paramount RW McQuarters /62, 2013 Absolute Boss Hoggs Julio Jones /99 and 2008 Icons die cut Mike Hart /150.

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Growing up in the Bay Area it’s almost a disgrace to see serial numbered cards of these two guys sitting in a thrift store. These are 2009 Leaf Limited Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, both serial numbered /399.

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Speaking of legends, I could not let a Barry Sanders (/1449) and Bart Starr (/639) from high-end 2007 Triple Threads sit on the shelf to collect dust.

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Johnny Manziel is pretty much a laughing stock at this point, but I still found some value – in terms of comic relief anyway – in finding his 2014 Topps Platinum rookie card.

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Here are a few basketball parallels from 2010-2011 Contenders, Caron Butler and Samuel Dalembert, both /99.

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Whatdya know, I found an autograph in the boxes. Sure, it’s Jamal Faulkner, a common. But this is an Alabama alumnus — I’ve already found a new home for this card.

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And let’s finish things off with a mixed group of four cards: 1999 Paramound Team Checklist Barry Sanders, a 1996-97 Topps Allen Iverson rookie card, a 1994-95 Collector’s Choice French GOLD signature Charles Barkley subset, and a 2012 Bowman Platinum Purple Refractor Javier Baez.

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Nothing here is going to make me a small fortune, but  all in all, still not a bad stack of cards for about the price of two retail packs,.

Total cost of these Treasures: $6

You can see more Thrift Treasures posts Here.

Thrift Treasures 106: Hello, Holograms

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , on June 27, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

The randomness that are thrift stores are what I enjoy so much.  And among the random sometimes I find some odd items, such as this, a 800-card count box filled with standard 1980s cardboard and a small stack of late 1990s SPX cards. 

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One look at the box and you might find yourself closing it and moving on quickly.  But with the stack of SPX cards was really appealing given the $2.99 price tag on the box.  

We’ll get to the hologram hotness in a bit. But I’ll show the other stuff. There was a sizeable brick of 1983 Topps and among the highlights were two decent looking second-year Cal Ripken Jr. cards.
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There also was some 1993 Bowman, which yielded some rookies for my
collection and a second-year Mariano Rivera.
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Talk about random. Here’s a pair of Bill Belichick cards.
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And now the holograms. I LOVED the hologram-based SPX designs of the lates 1990s. They were distributed one card per pack and they were pricey upon release, somewhere in yhe $4-$6 per pack range if memory serves me right. well, this stack of SPX was just commons. It was star cards and parallels of the same. Fantastic!
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Total cost of the Treasures $2.99

You can see more Thrift Treasures posts Here.

Thrift Treasures 105: Do UC3 what I see?

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , on June 20, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

Collecting baseball cards is a funny hobby. If you’ve been in the game long enough you’ve seen how collectors latch onto certain things and then at some point they complete abandon them — the Sportflix/Sportflics technology.

In the mid 1980s Sportflics was a innovative brand that essentially made it possible to view three images with just a flick of the wrist. If you’re looking for me to explain it, you’re out of luck.  I understand it just enough to figure there are actually three pictures on the card and the plastic coating makes your eye only see one image at a time.

The brand disappeared after 1990, and then resumed in 1994 as it was produced by Pinnacle. And then in 1995, the brand morphed into Spotflix (notice the “x” instead of the “cs”) and the sister brand “UC3” was born that same year.  The sub brand was not quite as cool as the originals, but they had the same technology. In my opinion it was a bust.

But the cards were still different, and being a Pinnacle Brand, the set had inserts and parallel. The packs were a bit more pricey at the time and not everyone could afford them.  I know I certain veered away from them.

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Alas here we are in 2016 and one day recently I was lucky enough to find two plastic cases containing some 1995 UC3 cards. and with the price being $2.65 per plastic case (I’m pretty sure these cases cost about that much by themselves) I figured I’d snag them both to see what I was missing at the time.

These two cases were filled with stars as you can see here.

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And they contained the only two true rookie cards in the set, Hideo Nomo and Mark Grudzielanek.
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The cases also had their share of inserts. The Cyclone Squad inserts were 1:4 packs (Got two Ripkens, that’s cool); the UC3 In Motion were 1:18 and the Clear Shots were 1:24. To understand how cool this is you have to understand that the latter two insert sets were tougher to pull at the time.
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And then there were parallels, which in classic Pinnacle Brand fashion, were dubbed “Artist Proofs” and were inserted some one in every box and a half, or 1:36 packs. While neither of these three will break the bank to acquire, it’s hard to argue with the three guys who were hiding in theses cases: Sammy Sosa, Joe Carter and Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett. These parallels

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Total Cost of these Treasures: $5.30.