Archive for baseball cards

Elite Status: Iconic 1991-1996 Donruss insert sets complete with autos

Posted in Completed Sets with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

EliteLogo It’s been three decades since I opened my first pack of baseball cards. And less than five years into my hobby career, cards went from being just cards to being chase-worthy investments — at least that’s what we the collectors were being sold.

At the front of this movement was the almighty Elite Series insert set, which started in 1991 as one of the hobby’s most iconic chase sets to date.

Imagine if you will opening dozens, hundreds or even thousands of packs and see nothing but blue and green borders and then … bam, a bronze foil border card with a marble-like design embedded within and a serial number on back.

By today’s standards, Elite cards wouldn’t be much to gloat about, but in 1991, it was something most would only dream of.

My dream of pulling an Elite Series card actually came true in 1993 when I fished an Eddie Murray out of a pack at Target. As I’ve told people before, the story goes that I was opening a pack while my mom was paying for it and other stuff.  When I saw the shiny foil, I dropped an f-bomb that made everyone from my mother to the people in line to the cashier stop what they were doing and look my way. Hey, I was 13.

Anyhow, i eventually made it a goal to complete the first three Elite Series (1991, 1992 and 1993) sets including the autographs — a feat that was accomplished a few years ago and documented in one of my Beckett Baseball columns.

I’ve since moved on to the next three years. And while the passion to finish it came and went over time, I got the itch recently to put those next three sets to rest and with a little help from Tanner at CansecoCollector.com I was able to get the elusive 1995 Elite Series Jose Canseco that I couldn’t find.

And so, here is a visual look at the first six years of Elite Series Insert cards. You’ll notice that the dynamic of the set has changed over time. It started as an 8-card set with one legend and one autograph. Then next two years the base Elite set grew and continued to include a legend and autograph.  By 1994, the Elite Series set was scaled back to just 12 basic Elite cards — no more autographs or legends. Nonetheless, they were still special.

1991 Elite Series (base Elite’s /10,000; Legends Series /7,500; Signature Series /5,000)

1992 Elite Series (Base Elites /10,000; Legends /7,500; Signature Series /5,000)

1993 Elite Series (Base Elites /10,000; Legends Series /10,000; Signature Series /5,000)


1994 Elite Series (all /10,000)

1995 Elite Series (all /10,000)

1996 Elite Series (all /10,000)

Now that those sets are done, I’ll get to working eventually on 1997 and 1998, but I’m also turning my eyes to a few other insert sets from my youth that always intrigued me:

1992 Pinnacle – Team Pinnacle

1994 Score Cycle

1994 SP Holoview

1994 Flair Hot Glove

1996 Pacific Flame Throwers

 

In Memoriam: Yordano Ventura 6/3/91-1/22/17

Posted in In Memoriam with tags , , , , on January 22, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

Condition Sensitive: Centered with lower grade, or off-center and higher grade?

Posted in Misc., Rookie Card Upgrade with tags , , , , , on January 5, 2017 by Cardboard Icons


I love vintage cards, and loving old cards often means you have to decide how bad of a condition you are willing to accept in order to add one of the prized pieces to your collection. Because let’s face it, good condition vintage usually means spending good money.

When dealing with mid to lower grade cards — those that usually fit into most collectors budgets — there are lots of factors to consider. What types of “damage” to a card are you willing to tolerate: Creases? Writing? Bent corners? Torn corners? Layered corners? Minor paper loss? Glue or gum Stains? And so forth.

Each collector has different things they’ll tolerate. For a long time my one and one standing rule was: I must be able to see the players face.  I broke this rule once when I obtained my first 1948 Bowman Stan Musial rookie. The card had surface damage on Musial’s face, making it pretty hard to display without giving it the stink eye.  I eventually moved that Musial and upgraded to a much more presentable copy.

This game of upgrading or changing a card for a different version of the same card is one that some collectors partake in quite a bit. I do it infrequently, but I’m always looking to better the collection, whether it be by adding a missing piece, or growing aesthetically. I’m an opportunist, if you will.

Such was the case recently when I logged into eBay and found a gorgeous looking 1955 Topps Sandy Koufax rookie card. The card was professionally graded by Beckett Vintage Grading and was actually graded lower than the BVG 4 I had sitting in my display case.  I was very much content with the Koufax already in my collection, a card I acquired a decade ago when I shifted gears in terms of my hobby focus. The one draw back for me on the 4 was always the centering. It wasn’t horrible, but it was off.  This is a classic problem with the 1955 sets. The cards are horizontal and the bottom border typically seems to be shorter than the top.


I like sharp corners. I like smooth surfaces. But above all, I really enjoy a centered baseball card. And so when the lesser-grade Koufax popped up on eBay with a Buy It Now that seemed more than reasonable, I decided I had to snag it and at least compare the cards in person. It made really ponder which of the two Koufax rookies would stay and which would hit the market. I don’t need both.


And so I pondered: Do I keep the centered copy with slightly lesser desirable corners, or the one with better corners and worse centering? Obviously the one with better corners and higher grade would probably sell for more on the open market.


I posed the question to Twitter followers without specifying which card. A total of 84 people made a selection in the poll and the results weren’t completely skewed, but the majority did say they prefer centered vintage with softer corners over off-center cards with better corners.

The poll results definitely leaned in the direction I feel, and after comparing the two cards in person — even in their respective BVG cases — I do feel that the lesser grade with better centering is best for me at this point. I mean, when I walk past my wall-mounted display case, a centered Koufax pops out at me more than one that is slightly off-center.

What are your thoughts on condition when it comes to vintage cards? What defects are you willing to tolerate? What damages take precedent when you go about purchasing a vintage card for your collection?

 

 

 

2016: Possibly the least active year for Cardboard Icons

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , on December 31, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

I feel like I sit down at the end of each year and write some column in which I “promise” to write more in the future. I do this of course with the right intentions, but the fact of the matter is that there is so much going on in my life that I can’t live up to the expectations that I set for myself. And sometimes I stop myself before I even start.

Am I the kind of blogger you’re going to look for each day? Probably not. I mean I USED to write one or two posts a day (in like 2008-2010). But that was before kids (or when they were babies anyway). And that was in a time when several bloggers were trying to pretend to be “newsy.” You know … write “BREAKING NEWS” in the headline, like the post is some uber important piece worthy of a Pulitzer Prize. Because, you know, the only place you can see the images for the upcoming release is on so-and-so’s blog, when the reality is that it’s just images that were basically stolen copy and pasted from other sites. The practice got so bad with some bloggers that they forgot to remove the damn watermark that other sites used. Pathetic.

I never tried to play that type with this blog. I tried to keep up the number of actual posts to maintain readership, but my content has usually been somewhat different, albeit, not always of interest to others than myself. And that’s fine.

What I’ve come to learn over the years is that the only person to whom I have to be loyal in writing this blog is the person whose reflection stares back at me on the screen when I type these sentences. Do I enjoy readership? Yes. But it is my time that I am investing in forming these sentences and if I am not enjoying what I am producing then I won’t do it anymore.

And so explains much of the infrequency here.

I’ve essentially turned this into my personal diary; and used platforms like Twitter and Instagram, as well as facebook to be more involved in my circle of collectors. My diary is open to you all to read, and for those that do read when I post, I thank you.

This last year has been so physically and emotionally draining in my real life that 2016 may very well have been the least active I have been since I registered the cardboardicons.com domain. Sad, but true. Some of you really know what’s going on behind the scene in the Cardboard Icons corporate office household.

Nonetheless, here I am on New Year’s eve writing a column that will be read like seven times: Five times by myself, and then once by a person who wants to read it and another who might stumble upon it while trying to learn about some pornographic post.

Anyhow, writing is an activity that for me has always been cathartic and an exercise that breads more of the same once I start. In other words, in order to write more, I need to write something … ANYTHING.

If you’re still reading this, thanks for sticking it out. My next post WILL be more card related. I promise.

Happy New Year, collectors.

The dream Roger Clemens card has arrived

Posted in Mail Day with tags , , , , , on December 21, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

Ask any player collector what they’re dream card is and it’s likely going to be a signed rookie card of some sorts.  Or maybe a 1/1 featuring a sweet patch or button, coupled with an autograph.


For me, with Roger Clemens being my guy, that dream card is a 1991 Topps Desert Shield, signed by the man himself.

Some people may not understand my fascination with this card. I was a big fan of the photography used in the 1991 set and from the outset, I had my eye on the Clemens card because it features him standing at the base of the iconic Green Monster. I’ve owned probably 30 or 40 copies of the standard card, but always wanted the Desert Shield version. For the uninitiated, the Desert Shield version features a gold stamp in the corner. These were cards that were sent (in pack/box form) to the US troops stationed abroad during the Gulf War. The fact that some of these actually made it back to the States is impressive in their own right.

(Side note: Surely some of the boxes never actually made it abroad as sealed wax can be found if your pockets are deep enough. Nonetheless, the mystique surrounding the product remains.)

When I first learned of the cards, I hoped that one day I could own one card — any card at that — from that special set.  My hopes, obviously, were to own the Clemens card but I figured it would cost me a fortune. Remember, this was a quarter of a century ago.

Over time we as a hobby have found new ways to get the cards of which we’d always dreamed. The internet has made the impossible possible as we were no longer limited to just the cards we had in local shops and shows. Even so, I failed to obtain a Desert Shield version of the 1991 card until recently, when I not only located THE card, but one that had been handled and signed by the legend Roger Clemens himself. The autograph is authenticated by JSA, as noted with a sticker affixed to the back with a matching serial number on the COA.

The term “priceless” gets used quit a bit by collectors, but this one truly is in my mind.

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.

In Memoriam: Ralph Branca 

Posted in In Memoriam, Uncategorized with tags , , , on November 23, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

1949 Bowman Rookie Card