Collecting Challenge, 1952 Bowman, Post Six

Aquisitions, Apr. 26th, 2017

It has been awhile since I last updated readers about the progress of my collecting of the 1952 Bowman set. Many changes have occurred which delayed purchases from this iconic set. My wife and I had a new baby to take care of, and we also moved into a larger domicile because of it.

We have settled in and the baby has now become an 11 month old toddler. My man cave has also increased in size, being the basement of the new house instead of a smaller office in the old place. All the expenses that are involved in moving have now been taken care of and I had a bit of disposable income to spend on cards.

Instead of the usual places to find the cards (eBay, COMC, Kijiji), which are difficult to use when wanting to buy in groups rather than individual cards. It seems every lot of 1952 Bowman listed on eBay, for example, include more cards that I have than cards that I don’t.

Lately, I have been visiting an active forum over at Blowout Cards which resulted in a private purchase from one of the members there. He had numerous doubles of 1952 Bowman that he was looking to sell. Of them, 15 were not in my collection. I purchased the lot for $52.00. They were in the lower end of the grade scale (most in good) but that is to my liking as I am a man on a budget. The man was even nice enough to throw in a 16th card (a double of card #175 Ransom Jackson) that I can use in a future trade.

With more room on the wall to display the progress of my collection, I added a poster I created of the full set as a visual reference. It makes the wall just a bit cooler to look at.

1952 Bowman, The New Wall

 

1952 Bowman, The New Wall 2

 

The 15 cards I received are the following:

  • #15 – Sam Mele
  • #19 – Bob Cain
  • #66 – Sal Maglie
  • #85 – Marty Marion
  • #95 – Luke Easter
  • #163 – Johnny Lipton
  • #168 – Preacher Roe
  • #170 – Joe Astroth
  • #171 – Mel Queen
  • #175 – Ransom Jackson
  • #179 – Pete Suder
  • #212 – Solly Hemus
  • #214 – Ray Boone
  • #228 – Bob Chipman
  • #231 – Dee Fondy

With these 15 cards my collection has increased to 163 of 252 total cards, or 64.68%.

Collecting Challenge, 1952 Bowman, Post Five

 

New Company to Cut up ’52 Mantles for Wall Displays

MegaAwesome Displays of Ottawa, Canada has recently purchased fifty 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball cards they intend to cut up into small pieces and put in their new wall displays.

1952 Topps Mickey Mantle

“We’re a new company just entering the memorabilia market and we thought this would be a good way to get our name known around the industry.” says company spokesman Johnathan White. “We went out into the baseball card market and spent a significant sum to acquire the Mantles in varying grades, a few as low as PSA 2s but many in the 7 to 8 range. It took us a couple years to build up our inventory but we think it was well worth it once people see the gorgeous displays we have created.” continues White.

The cards were slowly purchased through auctions and private sales over the last two years. The cards are to be cut up into 1/4 inch pieces and put into 16″ by 24″ wall-mounted framed displays. A nice picture of Mantle circa 1952 will be used as the main image and the card-piece will be put into a window on the bottom right.

1939 Play Ball Ted Williams

Mr. White stated that the company did its research and felt the market was ready for memorabilia of this type. “With the card companies acquiring so many pieces from the memorabilia market, bats, jerseys, gloves, and other pieces of baseball history in order to put them in cards, we at MegaAwesome Displays thought that picking up classic sports cards to put into memorabilia displays would fill a void in the market. We intend to move on to other classic cards, like the T206 Wagner and ’39 Play Ball Williams in the future. We believe it will become a very lucrative market.”

Mr. White stated that he and his business partners did not invent the idea. They borrowed it from the card companies. Collectors love having pieces of memorabilia in their cards. The major reason for the attraction of these memorabilia cards was that collectors could never afford the whole jersey or bat, so it was nice to be able to afford at least a part of something historically significant. “We just borrowed the same idea and applied it to sports cards.” said White. “Very few people can afford a 1952 Topps Mantle card, this way they can share the experience of owning at least a piece of the historic card along with their more financially able peers,” concluded White.

Be on the look out for these displays at the next National coming in July of 2017, they should sell like hotcakes.

Now you know how I and many others feel about destroying the limited supply of classic memorabilia in order to sell sports cards. It’s a shameful practice and should be stopped. The above article is a hoax, it was written to make a point. Do you think differently about memorabilia cards now? Just something to think about.

Thank you for your time.

Collecting Challenge, 1952 Bowman, Post Five

1952 Bowman #27 - Joe Garagiola

1952 Bowman #27 – Joe Garagiola

Anyone who was around baseball in the 1980’s knew of the subject of my next purchase from COMC. His work announcing / giving commentary on NBC games with Vin Scully became baseball’s main voices of the 1980s. He just died recently and I thought his card in the ’52 Bowman set would be a good choice. If you haven’t figured out who I am talking about it is Joe Garagiola. He played nine years in the bigs, but it was his broadcasting career that made Garagiola memorable.

Garagiola is card number 27 in the set, and it is placed above common status because of his work in broadcasting. I paid $10.74 for my copy, and it wasn’t in pristine shape. With the addition of Garagiola, it now brings my count up to 148 of 252 cards or 58.73%.

The Wall:

1952 Bowman, The Wall, July 21st 2016

1952 Bowman, The Wall, July 21st 2016

Collecting Challenge, 1952 Bowman, Post Four

Collecting Challenge, 1952 Bowman, Post Six

Twenty Years Ago and the Chase for Wagner

McNall-Gretzky T206 Wagner card

McNall-Gretzky T206 Wagner card

Anyone who collected baseball cards back in the mid-90’s should remember Wallmart’s big sports card promotion that included the possibility of winning the McNall/Gretzky T206 Honus Wagner card.

The promotion, called the “Greatest Trading Card Giveaway of All Time,” included the Wagner card as well as other important cards in the hobby. Up for grabs were cards of Gordie Howe (’51-52 Parkhurst #66), Joe Namath (’65 Topps #122), Knute Rockne (’33 Sport King #35), (Mickey Mantle (’53 Topps #82) and George Mikan (’48 Bowman #69) and many others.

Sponsored by Upper Deck, Leaf, Fleer, Skybox and Topps, the idea sprung from the brain of Harold Anderson of Treat Entertainment who purchased the Wagner card for $500,000.00 from Gretzky in 1995. Anderson approached Wallmart and the five major card companies and the promotion was born. All collectors had to do to enter the contest was to request an official entry card, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to “World’s Most Valuable Card Entry Card Request,” P.O. Box 11838, St. Paul, MN 55111 by January 1, 1996 or enter a Wallmart store and buy the specially marked 2-for-$1 trading card packs and fill out the contest card and send it away.

"Greatest Trading Card Giveaway of All Time" Ad Poster

“Greatest Trading Card Giveaway of All Time” Ad Poster

The promotion lasted five months from Oct. of 1995 to Feb. of 1996. Each month there would be a draw in each of the four sports, October was Hockey, November was Basketball, December was Baseball and January was Football. On Wagner’s birthday, February 24th, the draw for his card took place.

Patricia Gibbs was the final winner of the Wagner card which she put up for auction almost immediately after winning (she couldn’t afford the taxes on the card). Christie’s auctioned the card off to Michael Gidwitz for $641,500.00.

There was mixed feelings in the hobby at the time about this promotion. Many card shop owners thought it would draw business away from their shops and get collectors accustomed to buying their cards at big department stores like Wallmart. Others took a different view thinking that the promotion would bring thousands of more people into the hobby as the contest would introduce them to a fun pastime. Either way you had difficulty ignoring the phenomenon. Personally, I liked the idea that for once there was a chance a normal Joe, rather than a star hockey player or owner, or other well-to-do collector would have a chance to own some of the great cards in the hobby. It is a bit frustrating when a hobby meant for kids transforms into a hobby that reserves the best cards to the exclusivity of those collectors with hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend.

 

Collecting Challenge, 1952 Bowman, Post Four

1952 Bowman #4 Robin Roberts

1952 Bowman #4 Robin Roberts

The next Bowman card that I ordered from COMC came in. It continues my purchases of the more sought after Hall of Fame players in the set as I wait until another bulk purchase of the commons shows up on eBay or various other auction sites.

Last time I picked up the Dodger great Pee Wee Reese, this time I moved to the pitching mound and grabbed the Phillies great Robin Roberts. It’s in better shape than the Reese card and I only paid $16.75. Numbered four in the set, it leaves only Yogi Berra and Minnie Minoso remaining to finished the first ten cards in the set.

It also moves the total cards I now have to 147 (147/252 58.33%).

Collecting Challenge, 1952 Bowman, Post Three

Collecting Challenge, 1952 Bowman, Post Five

 

Collecting Challenge, 1952 Bowman, Post Three

1952 Bowman #8 - Pee Wee Reese

1952 Bowman #8 Pee Wee Reese

My latest purchases from COMC arrived which included a 1952 Bowman. Pee Wee Reese was its subject (#8 in the set).

Pee Wee Reese, a Hall of Fame player for the great Dodgers teams of the period, does not come cheap on cardboard. The ’52 Bowman set is no different (although it’s cheaper than most). I purchased my copy for $7.45 but it is not in great condition (it has a crease line across the center).

This raises my total cards to 146 (146/252, 57.93%).

Collecting Challenge, 1952 Bowman, Post Two

Collecting Challenge, 1952 Bowman, Post Four

Spotlight on Oddballs: 1950 V362 Big League Stars

1950 Big League Stars #45 - Tom Lasorda

1950 Big League Stars #45 – Tom Lasorda

Goudey, through its Canadian subsidiary World Wide Gum Co, of Granby, Quebec, released this set of minor league cards in 1950. The 48 card set measures 3 1/4″ X 2 5/8 and feature players from the International League. Fronts show an image of the player in Blue ink with biographical notes both in French and English. The bottom shows the name of the set and number of the card and the top prints the player name and team affiliation. The backs are blank.

There are two cards of note in the set, Chuck Connors, the actor, NBA and MLB player, and a very early card of Tommy Lasorda. Lasorda is the only Hall of Fame player in the set. You can see the full set below:

 

The Elusive PSA 10 1951 Bowman Mantle Rookie Card

1951 Bowman #253 Mickey Mantle RC PSA 10

1951 Bowman #253 Mickey Mantle RC PSA 10

How times have changed over the past 20-plus years in the hobby. If you asked me back in the late ’80s what would be the most influential trend in card collecting that would affect pricing I would have probably said that Beckett Magazines created and would continue to create a central pricing structure that would attract lots of speculators, investors and collectors. This increased participation would skyrocket demands on product which in turn would increase pricing. I wasn’t half wrong, Beckett did create a marketplace that attracted huge amounts of new people into the hobby, but the card companies also reacted by producing huge amounts of cards to match or exceed the demand. Over time this suppressed pricing on all newer cards and the trend in pricing upward stayed only in the vintage area of the hobby.

The overall biggest influence on the pricing for cards wasn’t actually Beckett Magazine. The largest trend that pushed pricing upwards was the introduction of third party grading services.

The best example for this trend can be seen in one of my all-time favourite cards. A card that, once graded, quickly moved out of my budget and into the realm of the rich.

The card I’m speaking of you probably have guessed from the title of this post is the 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle RC. It has the distinction of being one of the very few seminal vintage cards that has a PSA 10 population of only one. It, over the last 22-23 years (since it has been graded), has remained unique. Other important vintage cards either have no PSA 10 examples or more than one which makes this card highly desirable to high end vintage collectors.

1951 Bowman #253 Mickey Mantle RC PSA Pop. Report

1951 Bowman #253 Mickey Mantle RC PSA Pop. Report

The card first came to the public’s attention in an article written by Michael Payne for Beckett Baseball Card Monthly back in 1994 (the November issue). Two University of Miami students (Dan Forman and Jerry Schwartz), who came across the card (the article didn’t give any specifics), sent it in to be graded by PSA.

The card came back a 10. They informed a Mantle collector who they had sold cards to before, by the name of Rick Skurnik, that the card would be put up for auction. Skurnik, with some financial help from his wife Gail, won the auction with a bid of $30,000.00.

Nov. 1994 Beckett Article

Nov. 1994 Beckett Article

The card periodically came up in dealings, Skurnik didn’t keep the card for too long. It was sold for just under 100k in 1998, then 325k a few years later. In 2008, Memory Lane Inc. set up a private sale of the card for 600k. The 600k sale was the last anyone has heard of the card.

The card, if sold today, would fetch around a million according to most experts in the hobby and I wouldn’t disagree.

To summarize, the card, once graded, went from 30k to 100k to 325k to 600k all within 14 years. If we consider it a million dollar card in 2016 that would be a 33 fold increase in 22 years. That is the essence of the hobby today, the search for high end copies of important cards to then be sent off to be graded and resold at a huge profit.

The Mantle card is not a unique example, it is a regular occurrence. Cards that were priced in the hundreds of dollars back in the ’80s and early ’90s are now sold in the tens, if not the hundreds, of thousands of dollars because they have had the distinction of being graded very high by one of the 3rd party grading companies. The difference between a NM or higher non graded card, to its graded counterpart can run in the range of 10 to 100 times higher in price. That is if you can even find ungraded copies of important cards in superior condition. Most high end cards with some significance have been graded creating a two-tiered system of collecting, those that are graded and high end, and those that are ungraded and are less than NM. In some cases grading has even moved into the lower conditioned cards depending on the card’s significance. Eventually there will be no more vintage cards to grade and the companies will be competing to grade the new and more recent cards only. We will see if another trend comes to the forefront at that time.

 

If I Had A Million Dollars…

I’d buy me some cards. I would have cleaned up at a recent auction hosted by Heritage Auctions. Dubbed the Platinum Night Sports Auction, it was held Feb. 20-21 in New York. If you don’t think that high grade vintage sports cards is a part of the hobby reserved for the rich, then you haven’t seen what these cards are selling for lately. The greatest example of this was the bidding on a PSA 9 1955 Topps Roberto Clemente RC:

1955 Topps Roberto Clemente PSA 9

1955 Topps Roberto Clemente PSA 9

This card shown above fetched, and I kid you not, $478.000. It make my saving up to buy a T206 Roger Bresnahan card at a low grade for $100.00 look infantile.

1952 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 8

1952 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 8

Not to be outdone by the Puerto Rican Hall of Famer, a Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps card graded at PSA 8 realized a price of , and stop telling me to stop kidding around, $501,900.00.

It’s time to start buying lotto tickets if I ever wish to participate in these auctions. Perhaps I have a rich uncle somewhere who will leave me a million in his will. I can just image me sitting in a room with other astute refined men holding numbered paddles trying to keep an air of maturity and sophistication as we bid on cards which were sold to children over 60 years ago.

Two other significant cards were sold in New York those two days as well. A 1916 M101-5 Blank Back card of Babe Ruth graded at PSA 5 realized $191,200.00 and a 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle RC graded at PSA 8 sold for an astounding $137,425.00:

1915 M101-5 Ruth & 1952 Topps Mantle

1915 M101-5 Ruth & 1952 Topps Mantle

Those four cards, some of the more significant cards in the hobby’s history, are ones that will never be in most card collector’s inventory (including not in mine). I will need to stick to high grade cards from the 1990s if I ever want to stay out of bankruptcy court and leave the vintage ones for those that have more money than brains.

Collecting Challenge, 1952 Bowman, Post Two

1952 Bowman #11 Ralph Kiner

1952 Bowman #11 Ralph Kiner

With over half of the set completed it has become more difficult to find bulk lots of cards that don’t include numerous (usually over half) duplicates to my collection. Time will tell if I find any more.

Not one to do nothing I decided to begin buying more of the star cards in the mean time. These cards usually are not included in bulk lots anyway (it’s usually just commons) and these star card purchases will bide the time until another lot comes my way.

The first of these purchases became the #11 card in the set. I found the Hall of Fame Ralph Kiner at COMC for $15.00. It was in good shape and should look pleasing alongside all the other cards on the wall.

With the Kiner card it brings the count up to 145 cards. (145/252,  57.54%)

Collecting Challenge, 1952 Bowman, Post One

Collecting Challenge, 1952 Bowman, Post Three