Archive for card show

Hey card show guy: PRICE. YOUR. STUFF.

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on July 10, 2021 by Cardboard Icons

I live in a pretty populated area of California and we’re lucky recently to have a few card shows in various areas. My son and I went to one two weeks ago in Fairfield and did pretty well in a short amount of time. Then today there was a show at a mall just 15 minutes from where I live so I felt like it was a good way to spent the afternoon doing our card thing.

I’d not been to a cardshow in this mall since at least the mid 1990s, which is the last time I recall there actually being one. That was a time when mom would drove me off with a $10 bill and come back for me in two hours. I would also supplement my money with a few trades and then come away with a stack of items from the dime boxes and maybe trade a few things for other things that I wanted in my collection.

And so we went today and I was simply hoping to find a few cards to buy, and hope that my son could also find some stuff to carry on the good vibes he had from the last card show. Sadly, this was not the case.

Mall shows are always hit and miss. There were a good amount of slabs, and most of it was basketball stuff, which doesn’t surprise me given the area I live in, and the items that had been hot in recent months. But I rarely go to a show to even look in the showcases. I usually go looking to pillage the boxes marked at set prices.

Just two weeks ago I spent about $75 and walked out with a few things for my PC and a few things I figured I could flip on COMC. But it’s sort of hard to so this kind of buying when the cards aren’t priced at all.

It was a common theme at this specific show. In all there were a reported 70 tables — and that doesn’t include the rogue dealers who set up their sad stashes on the tables at the Food Court — but in all there were probably a dozen dealers. And of those dozen dealers, maybe half of them had a box or multiple boxes of cards in sleeves and top loaders for sale. And of those three dealers, only two of them actually had prices. Spoiler: The prices were not good.

One dealer had no less than four two-row shoeboxes with toploaded cards packed. I asked if they were all different prices and he said that they were. “There could be cards up to a $100 in there,” he said, noting that I should build a pile and that he’d make me a deal.

Is that supposed to be a selling point? The fact that the first card I saw was literally something I wouldn’t pay $0.50 for leads me to believe that this seller doesn’t know his prices, and that any “deal” he was likely to give me was not going to be worth my time fretting over whether the card I actually want will be made available to me at a price that I’d be comfortable.

I shook my head and just walked away, not really caring if I missed anything because odds are if I had unearthed a gem it’d be offered to me for too much, or he’d ask me to make an offer, which also isn’t usually an affective way to sell items.

As I checked out another dealer — one of the guys who actually had his stuff prices — I thanked him for putting prices on the cards and then proceeded to tell him how frustrating it is as a buyer to not know how much something is going to cost.

His response: “They don’t want to make mistakes and price something too low,” he said, adding that they’re afraid of a player performing well and someone would get too good of a deal.

I realize that not all of us collect the same, and therefore our objectives when we attend a show could be entirely different. But whether you’re seeking bargains in a box or looking at stuff in showcases I think we can all agree that we want people to price their items.

There were a few dealers who had all of their stuff marked with prices. But about half of the folks at this show did not. Instead I look like a jackass asking how much you’re asking on your PSA Slabbed “altered” Michael Jordan rookie and then I shutter when you tell me $4,500. If you price the damn thing I can just walk away and just laugh about it somewhere else.

So, what did I end up walking away with? A 2020 Topps Chrome Pink Refractor Ronald Acuna Jr., which I found apropos given that less than an hour before we showed up to the mall Acuna had been carted off the field with his knee injury. The cost: $1.

Road Trip! Cardboard Icons is headed to The National!

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , on July 1, 2012 by Cardboard Icons

I must be crazy.

It’s been confirmed for a week now, but I still can’t believe that in one month’s time I’ll be in Baltimore attending my first National Sports Collectors Convention.

A lot of you East Coast collectors get out to the show every year or two.  But for me being from the West Coast, this really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I mean, who travels across country for a card show? Seriously, who does that?!

I’m not rich.  And although  I love cards, I had a hard time convincing myself that this was a good decision.

But thankfully my wife gave me the final nudge and blessing.

The trip will be a bit of a mix between business and pleasure.

I’ll be enjoying myself for sure as I have some specific collecting goals I plan to handle while there.

But there’s also some writing assignments planned for the trip, some of which will be published here, and also elsewhere.  Details on that will be released later.

Thrift Treasures XXXII: San Francisco Tri-Star Show edition

Posted in Newspaperman, Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , on May 30, 2011 by Cardboard Icons

The annual Tri-Star Productions card and autograph show rolled through the San Francisco Bay Area last weekend, and I was able to attend for the second time in three years.

I love this show.  There’s always tons of variety, and it’s kind of neat to see collector’s of all ages and races gather in a spot to buy what they like.  There’s always a ton of factory sealed wax and high end rookies and vintage card at this show.  But my main purpose in going was, without a doubt, the bargain bins.

One thing I had going for me this time was the fact that I attended the show on the very first day.  So, in theory, I was among the first batch of people to go through these boxes.  And judging by the results, this is definitely something I’ll have to do again in the future.

We’ll start with z dime Box. Pretty self-explanatory. Every card in the dealer’s Monster Boxes were a dime each.  Typically boxes like these are jam packed with commons.  Not this time.

1952 Bowman Hank Thompson

That get your attention?  That’s a 1952 Bowman Henry Thompson card, the second to last one in the set.  Sure, someone appears to have stapled it to something — perhaps a wall? — at one point, but this matters not.  It cost a dime — the same price as a top loader.

1951 Bowman Eddie Miksis RC

Score!  1951 Bowman rookie of Eddie Miksis! Who?!  Exactly.  But does it really matter.  This one looks like it was the victim of a run-in with a GI Joe toting a bazooka, but still … it was a dime. AND it’s going into my ever-growing rookie collection.

I know most of you don’t give a damn about vintage cards, so I’ll switch gears here and hit you with a few cards more contemporary ones.

2008 Elite Extra Edition Mike Stanton

2008 Elite Extra Edition Wilmer Flores

2007 Bowman Chrome Prospects Gaby Sanchez

2007 Elite Extra Edition Drew Stubbs

I love finding low-end rookie/prospect cards of up-and-coming players like these guys — it’s like finding a small treasure.  The Mike Stanton is being sold in a local shop for $8; Sanchez and Stubbs are legitimate major leaguer at this point.  Flores has yet to crack the Majors, but he’s supposedly on his way.

1991 Upper Deck Rickey Henderson / Lou Brock

This 1991 Upper Deck Rickey Henderson / Lou Brock card is a classic in the Bay Area.  I’ve owned dozens of copies of this card before, but NEVER one of variations with the date printed on the base.  What makes this find even more surprising is that Rickey was signing at this show, albeit on a different day.  Usually dealers set cards aside for the guys who are signing and then jack up the prices for the impulse autograph buyers.

1998 SPX Finite Radiance Barry Bonds /3500

From one Bay Area legend to another.  I was a fan of 1998 SPX Finite.  Honestly, I would have bought more of it if it were not so damn expensive for its time.  The vast majority of the Finite I wound up with came from repack boxes that were sold at KMart in 2000.  This Bonds card is a Radiance parallel, serial numbered to 3,500 copies. Super rare! … well, in 1998, anyway.

Let’s shoe-horn in a few hockey cards.

1990-1991 Topps Mike Modano RC

1991-1992 Upper Deck Peter Forsberg RC

1978 Topps Sticker Philadelphia Flyers

Whose up for some Minis?  Here are 13 Topps Gypsy Queen minis (including an insert, 2 SPs, and 2 parallels)

I’ve kind of come full circle on Minor League cards.  I used to love them when I was a kid collector, and then I abandoned them.  In recent months I’ve come to dig them again.  Here are 10 1987 Southern League All-Star Larry Walkers and seven Ken Caminiti cards.  The guy had some 50-75 sets that were missing only the Randy Johnson cards.  I almost bought all of the Walkers and Caminitis but at some point a deal is no longer a deal, ya know?

2007 Bowman Chrome Draft Adam Lind (RC)

Three 2007 Bowman Chrome Draft Adam Lind “Rookies.”

2004 Bowman Chrome Draft Ray Liotta

I always wanted this card.  If for no other reason his name rules. Good thing it only cost a dime.

2004 Bowman Chrome Draft Matt Tuiasosopo

This 2004 Bowman Chrome Draft Matt Tuiasosopo used to be like $10, didn’t it? Ten cents, baby!

1992 Manning 1919 Black Sox Reprints Joe Jackson

Here’s one thing I loved about the Free-For-All that was the early 90s: unlicensed cards.  Companies these days paid big bucks to Joe Jackson’s estate to get his likeness onto their licensed cards.  I have a feeling there wasn’t dime that was paid to create this “Black Sox” Special Offer card.  The result is a cool collectible for me.

Wanna see random?  Checkout this 1978 Topps basketball folding poster of the Milwaukee Bucks.

I see one familiar face:  Don Nelson.  You know dig those coaches polo shirts.

Someone settle a debate.  When Upper Deck created these “special” short print cards in their base sets such as this Darrell Green card shown below, did the “SP” numbering mean “special” or “short print?”

1991 Upper Deck Darrel Green Fastest Man SP1

I always thought it meant short print, but others think it meant special. Either way I am a winner with this flashback for a dime.

About the same time the Darrell Green card above was released, Holograms were all the rage.  And while Upper Deck was the first licensed company to include them in their products, other companies were popping up out of nowhere to create their own. Like Arena Holograms, which produced this Frank Thomas card.

1991 Arena Holograms Frank Thomas

The hologram is OK … looks funky without logos.  The best part about this card?  Check out the back … do you see it?

No, not the flat top, that awesome bow tie or the fract that the company dubbed him the “Big Frank.”  It’s this line:


A quarter of a million of these?!  Holy bleeping bleep!

2010 Bowman Topps 100 Freddie Freeman

I know some of you collectors are itching to see something more modern. There will be more of that later, but here are two quick ones to keep the masses calm. I have a ton of 2010 Bowman Topps 100 prospect cards.  I don’t think I ever pulled one of Freddie Freeman.  Good times.

2010 Topps Heritage SP Tim Hudson

2010 Topps Heritage Tim Hudson short print.  Not going to break the bank here, but I will profit. I guarantee it.

2004 Playoff Honors Prime Signatures Mariano Rivera /2500

I love this insert set from 2004 Playoff Honors.  Each card is so inviting for a signature.  I actually had one of these Rivera cards that I got signed through the mail.  Unfortunately he kept the signature out of the white space.  Now I have another … which I think I’ll send again.  Maybe this time he’ll put the ink on the white.

Here’s kind of an oddball … UD Victory Japan Hideki Matsui. Cool card.

Seconds after finding this Matsui, a smaller, a card fell out of the stack onto my pile of stuff to buy.  It was another Japanese Matui card, only it was unfamiliar to me.

Pretty interesting card.  It’s like a card inside a plastic sealing. The back features a barcode sticker and the official Yamiuri Giants logo on a sticker.  No clue what this is from or what it’s worth, but it’s surely worth more than a flippin’ dime.

And the final two cards from this dime box:

1989 Mother's Cookies Mariners Ken Griffey Jr.

1993 Stadium Club Master Photo Ken Griffey Jr.

You absolutely have to love a “oddball” 1989 officially licensed Mothers’ Cookies Mariner’s rookie year release of Ken Griffey Jr. I love this set.  I love this release.  I love this card. Love it.

* * *

If all I bought at the card show were those cards, it would have been a successful trip.  But I aint done yet… not even close.

A few tables away from my the dime box seller was guy selling cards five for a buck. Here are the best 15 cards I could find:

I was never a huge fan of the Topps Constitution cards inserted into 2006 Topps.  I was an even less fan of the Topps Chrome versions.  But the refractors are intriguing … well, when you can get them at this price.

2001 Topps Chrome Retrofractors Charlie Manuel

I like the 2001 Topps Chrome Retrofractors.  And I’m sure someone will like this Charlie Manuel.

Here are a couple 2009 Bowman Chrome Prospects Refractors.  I like the John Anderson because I’m pretty sure I worked with his dad. I’m going to have to confirm that.

2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Refractor Brock Huntzinger /500

2004 Bowman Chrome Draft Refractor John Anderson /500

Here’s a trio of veterans:

Team Albert Pujols”]

2010 Bowman Blue Chipper Jones /500

1997 Finest Gold Ken Caminiti

A few rookie cards I needed for my collection:

1999 Fleer Update Bengie Bolina RC

2004 Bowman Chrome Draft J.A. Happ RC

1996 Bowman's Best Raul Ibanez RC

I’ve always wanted the Molina and the Ibanez rookies but was too cheap to pay full price.  I did learn something about Ibanez though. Apparently he started as a catcher?  That can’t be right.

* * *

One more quick run of super cheap singles.  Found a dealer who was selling cards four for a buck.  He let me take five:

2009 Bowman Chrome WBC Norichika Aoki

2003 Topps Heritage Joe and Jake Mauer

2007 Topps 52 Rookie Flashback Ken Griffey Jr.

2005 Bowman Heritage Mohagany Derek Jeter

2008 Razor Eric Hosmer

Solid grouping of five cards from this seller.  While the Hosmer may not be worth a ton, it was surprising to see this card in this box.

 * * *

Now onto some cards that were actually in top loaders. These were  a wopping 50 cents each

1997 Topps Etch-A-Sketch Cal Ripken Jr.

2000 Aurora At-Bat Styrotechs die-cut Mike Piazza /299

2001 Pacific Ornaments Ken Kriffey Jr.

2006 Bowman Chrome Draft Blue Refractors Kurt Suzuki /199

2003 Topps Chrome Gold Refractors Franklin Gutierrez RC /449

1999 Topps Mark McGwire HR Record 220 x7

* * *

Someone need a Shin Soo Choo Bowman Chrome rookie?  I got eight of them … for a buck each.

2002 Bowman Chrome Draft Shin Soo Choo RC

* * *

There were more than a few auto/relic boxes at this show.  The prices really varied.  Some guys were selling them for $1 each.  Others were $5 each.  Nothing really caught my attention aside from these two autographed rookie cards that were $2 each.

2007 Bowman Chrome Draft Autograph Refractor Corey Lubke /500

2004 Donruss Elite autograph Ian Snell /750 RC

* * *

And the final two purchases from the trip were the most expensive.  These were tagged at $3 each, but the seller let me have them for $2.50 each:

2011 Bowman Chrome Prospects Blue Refractor Jedd Gyorko /250

2010 Bowman Chrome Draft Orange Refractor Travis Wood /25

“Major” Card Show Goodies, Notes

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2009 by Cardboard Icons

gallardoNote: I originally started writing this in early May, two days after the Tri-Star show at the Cow Palace. I’ve decided to publish it in it’s original form because it has some genuine feelings I had at the time.

I’ve not spent a lot of time blogging lately, but this weekend I attended the Tri-Star Productions annual card show at the Cow Palace in Daily City, Calif. (near San Francisco) and it inspired me to write something. Why? Because this show always reminds me of how things have changed.

By this point, most long-time collectors know that this hobby has gone through a world of change over the last decade and a half. It seems like ever since game-used and autographed cards really started to become prevalent that the hobby has kind of hit the skids. And card shows have become a perfect barometer of that as there are tons of display cases featuring nothing but low-numbered, sweet looking patch cards and a boatload of cut signatures. The basic cards on which this hobby was built have been shunned, and sometimes, just flat out thrown in the trash. Continue reading