Archive for Thrift Treasures

Thrift Treasures 122: Factory Sealed Iconic Set has a Homecoming

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

I know what you’re thinking: Didn’t he say he was moving stuff out of his collection?

If that’s what you’re thinking, then you’re half right. I did say that, but the last post also had the following key components: be happy, write more, and hopefully add to the Thrift Treasures. I am accomplishing all of that here.

Saturday was the monthly flea market at one of the local junior colleges. I hadn’t been there in months, hell maybe even a year. But I was free on Saturday (which is rare) and my son was willing to go check it out with me. So we went with low expectations; I explained that this very much a feast or famine situation.

What we found was that there were at least four dealers who had cards in some format. Some had singles, others had boxes for sale — old and new. I call this an “abundance” of cardboard given that sometimes there is literally no one selling these collectibles.

I wasn’t looking for anything in particular other than stuff that made me happy or seemed like a great deal so I kept my purchases to a minimum.

The focus of this Thrift Treasures post will be on the items purchased from the final table we found on the way out of the venue.

This vendor had a dozen 1990 Donruss Boxes, some 1990 Topps Vending baseball boxes and some other misc items from that era.

But what stood out to me was this 1991 Topps baseball factory set. I’m close to completing my 1991 Topps Stadium Club baseball set and the 1991 Topps flagship set is one of my favorites of all time. And as I journey through this “Happiness Era” of my collecting journey, I’m realizing that I miss buying stuff that brings joy, not just the newest, flashiest or most valuable. Also, I feel like I’m trying to set a good example for my son in the hobby. And this purchase was going to do just that.

The box had a $10 sticker on it and the seller was literally packing up his van with the other items. I didn’t even bother negotiating. I handed him a $20 and be gave me my change.

I explained to my son how great the set is and that my intention was to put the set in a binder so that it can be enjoyed. The photography and design is great.

These sets are often posted on eBay for $10-$15, but shipping is brutal on a 792 card set and add another $15-$20 to your cost — that’s not a price point I want to be at with these cards.

We were about to leave when I was discussing this find via text with a friend. I’d shown him a photo. I told him how this seller had two boxes of 1991 Pro Set NFL Series One For $5 each. The first inquiry was about the Lombardi Hologram insert. I was reminded those were in 1990 — I should’ve remembered, I have one — but was advised that the boxes offer a shot at Bill Bellichik rookies, which command a premium in top grade.

For the low price tag I couldn’t resist. I told my son what the deal was and explained we could open the packs together later this week when he comes back from his mother’s house.

In addition to the Bellichik rookies, we’ll also be hunting for various variations and errors, which can also carry premiums. And when we’re done scouring the box, we’ll take the left overs (minus anything he might want to keep for himself) and donate them so they aren’t just sitting around my place. I post more about those boxes this week.

Me, being silly with the contents of a Thrift Treasures 122

Total cost of this Thrift Treasure: $20.

You can seen more Thrift Treasures posts here

Thrift Treasures 119: Colin Kaepernick signed “Salute to Service” hat

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , on September 12, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

This has been a really interesting week. Sort of out of nowhere I found myself in the market for a new (to us) dresser for my kids. The one we’ve had for the last few years broke and no longer held the drawers properly so I was faced with buying a new one, or looking for a suitable used replacement.

I chose to thrift shop since I could also get my fix of looking for discarded sports treasures

Well, Day One of the hunt actually led me to a GREAT deal on a new (to us) couch. And Day Two was pretty bleak for a few hours as I struck out at four different thrift stores — no good cards (only some over priced early cards it former quarterback Jake Plummer) or furniture

The fifth store was a long shot … a small Goodwill in San Jose, Calif., near the border of Santa Clara. I checked the showfloor and there was no dresser, but I discovered an upstairs “loft” boutique that had better quality items

Again, no dresser. But there was something that I had to own. You guessed it — the item listed in the title.

Here is what presents as an San Francisco 49ers 2013 Salute to Service cap with tags … signed by former quarterback and polarizing social justice figure Colin Kaepernick.

Let that sink in for a second …

This post isn’t supposed to be a place for people to bash Kaepernick, to show their patriotism, etc. Or really a place to bash the establishment, and show support for the former quarterback.

I’m not going to get all political here. That’s never been my deal.

But, I will say this is a mighty interesting piece in context. It was interesting when it was signed ,presumably at practice since the facility is nearby. It’s even more interesting in context today. And who knows how interesting this looks as a historical item in 25-40 years.

Needless to say, I had to own it.

By the way, I did find an alternative to a dresser — I found an IKEA 8-cube bookshelf for $25, about 70% off the original price.

Total cost of this Thrift Treasure: $14.97

You can seen more Thrift Treasures posts here

Thrift Treasures 118: Hobby time capsule for $9.99

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , on August 15, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

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

Thrift Treasures 117: Michael Jeffrey Jordan x 700-ish

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , on May 1, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Remember that time Michael Jordan retired at the peak of his basketball career and decided to play baseball?

If you were alive and a sports fan in the 1990s you surely remember this. The Jordan-baseball connection actually started a few years before his “retirement” and it and it was famously chronicled on the 1991 Upper Deck Special card showing the basketball legend taking hacks at a White Sox game.

Jordan of course retired from basketball about three years later, opting to take his talents to Birmingham (to play baseball with the Barons, the White Sox minor league affiliate) with hopes of eventually wearing the pinstripes of the Major League White Sox.

Upper Deck pounced in this, creating a few Jordan baseball rookie cards in 1994 flagship Upper Deck, as well as in Collector’s Choice. A year later UD would again produce more Jordan baseball cards.

Topps? They never did create any. Hell, no other companies created any Jordan baseball cards … at least not legally.

And so enter the unlicensed market, which would include this 1993-94 Stadium Sports Michael Jordan card, comically numbered 69 as if there was actually a large set and not just this card, or different versions thereof.

It was not uncommon to see cards just like this during the early 1990s. Donruss has created legit Elite Series inserts using prism foil, and other companies were piggybacking on that with unlicensed cards of their own — often nothing more than a stale image of a player drowning in a sea of shiny goodness.

These type of cards weren’t really the type of thing I bought for my collection, but I saw plenty of people who did.

And so yesterday, while on my way to get my kids from school, I stopped at a Goodwill and they had a handful of 1990 Topps bricks (stacks of 25/50 of the identical card) of Nolan Ryan special cards on the shelf, and three boxes of cards in the showcase. I took a look through two of the boxes and passed as they were ProSet golf cards from like 1991.

And the third box? All Jordan. Michael Jeffrey Jordan. And all the same card.

You’re not going to find this card in your Beckett, and probably won’t see them on any official checklist, but there was no way I could pass on an 800-count box of Michael Jordan cards, even ones as kitschy as these, which show him as a baseball player with a proclamation of “Rookie of the Year.”

Total cost of this Thrift Treasure: $4.99

You can seen more Thrift Treasures posts here

Thrift Treasures 116: Is that OJ Simpson … and Jose Canseco?!

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , on March 2, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

True story: I woke the other day thinking about two retired athletes, OJ Simpson and Jose Canseco.

I can’t say for sure why I had those two guys on my brain, but their names were in my head. As it turned out, it was an omen.

I was out and about running errands and checking thrift stores along the way. I kept running into the same shoppers because unlike 15-20 years ago, everyone now knows about the flip game. This of course is disheartening because I figured they were all looking for the same stuff as me. But this doesn’t stop me from checking because I figure my skills are far superior to these other guys given my track record.

And so I scoured the shelves at one store and plucked from the depths of the toy section, filled with plush no less, a bag of toy cars that also contained a familiar sight: a baseball.

I grabbed the bag and there it was, on the sweet spot, a familiar scribble that passed the eye test as being that of Jose Canseco, Mr. 40-40. The signature was on a Rawlings American League Bobby Brown Baseball, which was produced through the strike-shortened 1994 season.

I flipped the bag over and found a price tag stating $3.99. This was a no-brainer.

So I shot a photo over to my friend, who is a Jose Canseco collector, and he was uncertain of the signature’s legitimacy. He said the auto looked rushed, but didn’t immediately trash it.

He could be right.

Or … he could be wrong.

We joked about it, and I bought the ball anyway. Why? Because the ball itself is worth $3.99 to me even for nostalgia purposes.

I’ve compared the signature to others and while it does pass the eye test, it’s not implausible that this is a fake.

Now, you might be asking who would be faking a Canseco auto. What you have to realize is that he was a huge deal in the 1980s and early 1990s and he wasn’t as accessible as he appears to be now. Also, his auto was pricey. Now couple this with the fact that this is a ball from that era in which he was a hot commodity and you’ve got to start wondering if it’s real or not. I mean, it’s not like all autographed balls found in thrift stores are iron clad authentic like this Pete Rose or Julio Franco signed balls I unearthed. (Side note: I thought I documented the Rose discovery here but can’t find it … maybe it was during a time I stopped writing. I go it for like $5.)

So, what about OJ Simpson you ask?

Well, an hour or two later I wandered into another thrift store and in a showcase behind another showcase I could see two football cards in screw down cases, one of which I immediately recognized as a 1970 Topps OJ Simpson rookie. I caught the attention of an employee so they could show me the cards.

He grabbed them from the showcase and laid them in front of me. In addition to the Simpson Card was a 1973 Topps Al Cowlings rookies card. I giggled because you know someone bought these two simply because of the infamous 1994 Bronco Chase. I took a deep breath before flipping the cards over to see the price tag.

The Cowlings was priced at $4.99. I knew this was a bad sign. So I slowly turned over the Simpson and nearly lost it when I saw a $149.99 price tag. I glanced quickly at the front to get a gander at condition and there was a giant crease across the middle. I handed the cards back to the clerk and thanked him and walked away. Then I realized 10 minutes later that I should have taken a photo. I went back after checking the store and no one was around to help so I took this image.

Needless to say the only item purchased on this day was the Jose Canseco autographed baseball … or does that say Jim?

Total cost of this Thrift Treasure: $3.99

You can seen more Thrift Treasures posts here