Archive for Thrift Treasures

Thrift Treasures 112: I found a treasure chest!

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

Once upon a time, a Yahoo Sports columnist wrote that I, Ben Aguirre, must consider myself a “real, live Indiana Jones” (read here) after I unearthed the mother of all Thrift Treasures items, a game-used Earl Weaver jersey, that I later had signed and authenticated by Weaver himself.

Well, what should I consider myself today after finding a real, live “treasure chest?”

The answer: perhaps nothing more than a fool.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written a Thrift Treasures posts. In fact, it’s been 11 months. Which if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time you’d know that’s an asinine amount of time for me, an avid thrift shopper, to write about something I’ve found.

Well, truth be told it’s been slim pickings for a while. Anyone with a cell phone — which is to say that everyone who walks into a thrift store — is an expert, or can at least quickly learn enough to know whether or not to buy an item.  Also, while I still pop into thrift stores, it’s definitely been with less frequency.

I digress, this week I decided to set aside some “Me” time and do something other than laundry, or other adult chores such as run errands and pay bills. I decided to be Indiana Jones — I decided to go hunt treasure.

I walked into a few stores and walked out empty handed. But at one Goodwill in San Jose, Calif., I found something promising: A Baseball Collector’s Treasure Chest. See, it says “treasure” right on the box.

The box, as you might be able to see in the picture, is taped shut.  And while some would say rip the box open and review the contents before purchasing, I found that to lack class — yeah, I used class while writing about a thrift store visit. Also, there was nearby evidence suggesting there may be something worthwhile inside. Beside, it was $5.99 for this big box of cards, or about the same price of three retail packs of 2018 Topps Baseball — which I know releases next week and I will be sure to steer away from as much as possible so as to not get sucked into that rabbit hole.

So, what is this nearby evidence of which I speak? It’s actually a clear, gallon-sized food storage bag also containing cards, including what i could see to be a handful of mid 1980s autographed minor league cards, as well as a personalized signed 1985 Topps Tim Belcher rookie card. The bag was priced at $3.99. The presence of these autographs created this notion in my mind that there could be anything in side the box.

And so the “Treasure Chest” left the store with me and in the car I sliced open the tape and I could immediately see three things:

First, there was a 1968 Topps card included here. That was promising.

Secondly, the cards did not appear to be recently sorted since they were packed fairly tight and in a uniform fashion. That’s also promising.

Thirdly, there’s an awful lot of colored borders here. That’s NOT so promising.

As it turned out, this treasure chest was a real turd.

I immediately grabbed the 1968 Topps card (Jim Merritt, a common) that was sitting on the side of the row and found that there was a 1979 Topps card (Ken Clay, also a common) behind it, as well as a 1990 Topps Special Nolan Ryan card as well. I then thumbed through every card in the box and found that the box contained an assortment of 1986 through 1991, what seemed like opened packs or bricks removed from complete sets, or partial team sets, void of most of the big names. The one highlight from the box was a 1988 Topps Tom Glavine rookie card.

I sat there a second and thought about what exactly this “Treasure Chest” was.  I’d never seen these for sale before, but it was not uncommon in the early 1990s to find random baseball cards for sale either on television shopping channels, or in various magazines. And based on the items that were IN this box, I’m guessing this was a “Treasure chest” offered for sale via one of those avenues, and the description likely pitched this box as containing roughly 1,000 cards, a random assortment from multiple manufactures including Topps, Donruss, Score, Fleer and Upper Deck. Additionally there was likely a guarantee that the box included a card from the 1960s and 1970s, as well as a card of Nolan Ryan, who was at the peak of collectibility in 1990 and 1991.

Needless to say, the Treasure Chest was a dud. But thanks to the box I learned about pitcher Jim Merritt, the subject of the 1968 Topps card. He was an all star in 1970 with the Reds, who three years later would be fined as a member of the Texas Rangers for throwing “spitters” in a three-hit shutout against the Cleveland Indians.

And I learned about pitcher Ken Clay, the subject of my 1979 Topps card. Clay apparently was a top pitching prospect who never made it at the MLB level, and was traded by the Yankees after a handful of seasons in which he bombed, but his team still managed to win a pair of World Series rings. Wikipedia also notes that Clay’s struggles at the MLB level was the reason why Yankees owner George Steinbrenner shifted away from building through the draft and rather through free agency and trades.  Additionally, Clay also apparently had some run-ins with the law, all of which you can read on the link added above.

As for the Ziplock bag that I labeled as evidence for this purchase earlier, I’ll break that down in the next edition of Thrift Treasures coming up later. I assure you it’s better than this.

Total cost of this Thrift Treasure: $5.99.

You can see more Thrift Treasures posts Here.

Collecting Goals for 2018

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , on January 18, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

Every year for the last decade or so I’ve sat down in late December or early January and penned a piece in which I declared goals for the upcoming year.

Well, I’m kind of off to a late start here as we are closing in on Week Three of 2018. Nonetheless, collecting has been on my mind lately, and thus it felt appropriate to declare my goals for the upcoming year in hopes that it will help keep me focused.

Without further delay, here are Cardboard Icons’ top five collecting goals for 2018.

GOAL #1: No more duplicates*

A reoccurring theme in recent years has been this ideology of thinning out the herd. In other words, stop hoarding stuff that doesn’t matter to me. If you buy packs, boxes, spots in breaks or whatever, then you’re likely to at some point come up on some duplicates. For me, this has sometimes led to owning two, three, or four … or 15 or 20 of the same card — and usually without doing it on purpose. So, it is my intent to get rid of extra stuff – with few exceptions of course. I own three of four 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookies and all will stay with me.  But any extra 2017 Aaron Judge rookies shall be moved.

GOAL #2: Buy packs in moderation, if at all

I can’t say that I’ll never buy a pack again, but in 2018 I plan to stay the hell away from the card aisle at Target. Why? Because nothing that I pull from those packs really conforms to the standards of my collection.  Most of the time those purchases are made out or boredom, to help suppress feelings from other aspects of my life, or simply because I’m getting caught up in the internet hype of products or prospects.  I won’t declare that I’ll go pack free – buying cards has been in my blood for three decades. But I will exercise restraint and buy only in moderation; not because something in trendy or a product is hot. It’s so easy to dump $20-$40 into products that ultimately wind up as clutter. I refuse to do that in 2018.

GOAL #3: Buy 10 new HOF rookie/tobacco era cards

In 2018, I shall regain the focus of my collection and return to the icons of the sport, the icons of cardboard. Too much time has been spent in recent years chasing hot players who ultimately wouldn’t be able to sniff the cleats of the guys whose cards I REALLY enjoy. And so this year I will find 10 new Hall of Fame members whose rookie card or tobacco-era cards I do not own because these are the cards I love. These are the cards I will pass onto my children. These are the icons; they are the namesake of this blog.

GOAL #4: Get raw HOF rookie cards/tobacco-era cards slabbed

At this time I have roughly a dozen tobacco-era cards of HOFers that are not encased in Beckett Vintage Grading slabs and the lack of continuity in my collection is bugging me. These include Chief Bender, Adie Joss, Mordecai Brown, Miller Huggins, Hughie Jennings, and so forth. The fact that they’re just resting in my collection outside of a uniform slab is driving me insane. And so, when the time and money is right, I shall do what I do and send them to BGS for encapsulation. And when they’re slabbed, they can be properly displayed with the rest of their HOF brethren.

GOAL #5 Have Fun

So much has happened in my life over the last few years that I’ve lost sight of the joy that this hobby has brought me over the last three decades.  I enjoy collecting – it’s fun. I enjoy chasing cards that I never dreamed of owning. I enjoy obtaining a card that my grandfathers or great-grandfathers would have owned if they loved baseball. I enjoy sharing hobby experiences with my children. And so I shall do only the things in this hobby that make me happy and that are fun.

Ben,

Cardboard Icons

Collector of Hall of Fame tobacco era and Rookie cards

Collector of Roger Clemens and Clayton Kershaw.

You can reach me on Twitter and Instagram @cardboardicons. You can also e-mail at cardboardicons@yahoo.com

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 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 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.

 

Thrift Treasures 104: Are you effin kidding me?

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

So check this out.  I went to one of the local thrift stores on Friday and did my typical rounds through the store. 

Toys, clothes, books, collectible showcase, and random bags in te housewares area.

There was nothing in the first few spots. And then as I am walking a chick in a bikini catches my eye …
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Yeah, I saw that lady on the cover of the 2011 Sports Illustrated Swim Suit desk calendar in my peripheral view And when I stopped, I found bags of cards on a nearby peg tucked behind the scantly clad lady.

The cards instantly looked like stuff I see all the time. Bunches of 1989 Topps baseball, 1991 Donruss and then I saw a beacon of hope: a 1989 Score Steve Atwater rookie card. 
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Atwater, a safety for the Denver Broncos, had a solid NFL career. But I remember his mostly for this very card, which obviously hails from a very iconic 1980s sports card release. 

The presence of the Atwater, a card that was NEVER a common card during 1989 or the early 1990s, piqued my interest. And so I tried to get a gander of whatelse was inside.
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I could see two Derrick Thomas rookies in this bag. I then placed the baggie into my cart. Thomas Score rookies strike a nostalgic chord with me. DT, along with Bruce Smith, was one of my favorite players when I was a kid and his Score rookie was on my Christmas List for three straight years before I actually got one.

I took another off the peg hooks and did a quick check and could see a Michael Irvin rookie. I placed it into the cart without reviewing the baggie further.
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I went through the other five bags on the pegs and none of them really excited me. I did buy one more bag simply because it had a 1988 McGruff Crime Dog/Oscar Meyer release of former San Francisco 49ers head coach Bill Walsh. The Walsh card comes from a police set that was distributed to school kids here in the Bay Area. In 1988 I personally obtained multiples of Joe Montana and Jery Rice from this set through some bartering with classmates.

I went to the register and paid. As I headed out the door I ran into a guy whom I consider competition when it comes to hunting treasures. So instead of opening the baggies in the car I headed to next thrift store.

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After that stop, which yielded nothing, I received a text message from a friend who had see my teaser Twitter post. At that point I peeked at the baggie with the Michael Irvin bag. When I picked up the baggie the cards separated and I saw the unthinkable: a 1989 Score Barry Sanders rookie card.

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I snapped a picture and sent it to the friend. I then ripped open the bag to confirm that the Sanders, a true Iconic card from my child hood, was left for dead in a thrift store. 
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Clearly the Barry isn’t mint. infact, the card is creased. But it’s unthinkable that this card, which is on the same level as the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card, was ditched in a second-hand store. To make things more interesting I had not owned a single real copy of this card until earlier this year when a full 1989 Score set was gifted to me by a friend.

Total cost of these Thrift Treasures: $5.97.

You can see more Thrift Treasures posts Here.