Spotlight on Oddballs: 1976 A&P Brewers & Royals Sets

1976 A & P Royals #NNO2 - George Brett

1976 A & P Royals #NNO2 – George Brett

Throughout baseball history confectionery businesses and food chains have used baseball cards to increase sales of their products or visits to their stores. In 1976, the A&P grocery chain used paper-based picture cards of MLB players from the Kansas City Royals and Milwaukee Brewers to increase the number of sales for certain products they were promoting in those two cities.

The 1976 A&P Royals set consisted of 16 over-sized semi-gloss paper (5 7/8″ X 9″) and as the name indicates was distributed by the A&P grocery chain around the Kansas City region. Customers received a set of four cards with the purchase of certain weekly specials.

The cards show 16 players, of which George Brett (a second year card) is the only Hall of Fame player. The unnumbered cards show a portrait of each player without cap. The fronts have a white border with a black facsimile autograph and the MLPA logo on the top-right. The backs are blank.

1976 A & P Brewers NNO15 - Robin Yount

1976 A & P Brewers NNO15 – Robin Yount

The 1976 A&P Brewers set had the same number of cards and same design. The player list included two Hall of Fame players, Hank Aaron and a second year Robin Yount. Unlike the Royals set, the Brewers set included a card of County Stadium which reduced the player selection by one (15 players instead of 16).

Both sets have fallen into the background of hobbyists’ minds, of those that even remember these sets at all given their regionalism and 30 year history, and justifiably so. Presently, the Yount, Brett and Aaron cards are the only ones worth any significant amount of money (if you call $20.00 or less significant). The rest are only interesting to individual player, or team collectors.

For a full checklist and image catalog, see below:

When Graded Cards Become Ridiculous

Is there so much mistrust in the hobby that graded cards have become the norm for collecting vintage cardboard? It serves its purpose, in that, it gives you a card in a grade you wish to have, but cant you use your own two eyes to see the approximate grade of a card and avoid the premium of a card graded by a third party? The most annoying thing about graded cards is how people who send the cards they have in to get graded think that it makes their cards worth so much more than a non-graded card. Not just the 5-10 dollars more, but sometimes hundreds of dollars more. It cracks me up.

I figure that everyone who collects cardboard would have a brain in their head. They would, like me, look on a graded and ungraded card as similar items with the graded card having a slightly higher price because of the cost to get it graded. In other words if I see a mint card that’s ungraded (by my observation using the standards that have been in the hobby for decades) and the same card that is graded, I would want and assume that I could pay the same price for both cards with the added amount it cost the seller to grade the card put on the graded version.

Depending on what grading company you use, how many cards you send in, and what discounts you take advantage of, the cost to grade 1 card is less than 20.00. So why do i see a non graded ’89 upper deck Ken Griffey Jr. mint card selling for $40.00 yet a graded one selling for $350.00? It’s a joke right?

1989 UD #1 Griffey Jr. PSA 10 eBay Listing

1989 UD #1 Griffey Jr. PSA 10 eBay Listing

You collectors out there aren’t falling for the greedy seller’s need to fleece people of there hard earned cash are you? Or, perhaps I’m the idiot and people don’t mind paying a hefty premium on cards that are graded, especially those that gain Gem Mint status., even when there are literally 1000s of those exact cards graded and ungraded that already have or will have the same designation. I always thought scarcity was one of the main drivers of price, but it seems it’s more the grading of cards that is the most important thing.

Is a Gem mint graded card that has 100s of copies worth the prices? It seems so. You do realize that just because there are only 5 graded gem mint designations for a card, or 3, or 2, that it doesn’t mean they are the only ones in existence. Especially for cards that are not from the pre 70s. As more and more people grade their collections, more and more cards populate that gem mint area of the hobby.

The perfect example of this craziness was a recent purchase I noticed on ebay with the help of reading an article on sportscollectorsdaily.com.

How much would you pay for a really nice ungraded copy of Nolan Ryan’s 1978 Topps #400 card? If you looked it over and saw that the corners were sharp, the centering was dead-on, there where no stains or blemishes and the sheen was very nice as well, would you fork over 30.00? Perhaps, or you might realize that the card is not even close to being Ryan’s rookie card (its 10 years on) and try and buy it for a more reasonable 15.00-20.00.

Now what about a graded version of the card? If you would pay 30.00 for what looks like a pristine copy of it ungraded, what would you pay for it graded? 60.00? I mean if you would pay 30.00 for an ungraded, why not 60.00 for a nice graded psa 9? it gives the seller 30.00 for the card, 10.00 for the cost of grading it, and an extra 20.00 for his troubles. Sounds reasonable right?

Well looking at the sold and listed 1978 topps Nolan Ryan on ebay, be prepared to pay 500.00 to 1,299.00 for this card. It’s a joke right? You are in agreement with me correct? Well if that doesn’t blow you mind enough, what do you think someone would pay for a Gem Mint 10 copy of the card? A card that is 10 years from his rookie card, in a set produced in large numbers from 1978? Would you believe $17,877.00. No that is not a typo.

21 bidders bid 41 times over 10 days to reach that crazy number. here is the page:

1978 Topps #400 Nolan Ryan PSA 10 eBay Sale

1978 Topps #400 Nolan Ryan PSA 10 eBay Sale

I wonder what will happen to these cards decades in the future. will they keep going up in price, or will they die. what happens when the plastic yellows and the printing fades on these encasing? Will the owner remove the card having it return to ungraded status, or will he send it back to a grading company to have it regraded taking the chance that time has not brought the card down from its gem mint status? It seems a predicament that I would want to avoid especially when it involves 1000s of dollars.

Anyway, I think it might be time to go through my collection and start sending off my cards to get graded so i can charge 1000% more for the cards I own. Hell, I think i might start buying boxes of vintage 70s and 80s cards and start grading all of them so i can make millions lol.

Before Beckett, A Look at The Trader Speaks

The Trader Speaks Front Covers

The Trader Speaks Front Covers

 

The Trader Speaks was a hobby publication that ran from November 1968 until March 1984. Founded by Dan Dischley in Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y., The Trader Speaks was the main card collecting periodical in the 1970s. Dischley was a police officer at the time and began the magazine in his free time. He later founded (along with 15 others) SABR in 1971. Dischley sold the magazine to Sonny and Eric Jackson on August 18, 1983, who then sold it to Krause Publications (the one who publishes The Standard Catalog of Vintage Baseball Cards among other guides for hobbyists).

The contents were a treasure trove for collectors who wanted to fill lists without actually knowing the details of the sets they are collecting. Advertising of sports card conventions, dealer mail order sales, and others made up much of the magazine with articles being few. TTS main purpose was to bring collectors and dealers together, a paper version of Ebay so to speak. They also emphasized the checklist covering the names and numbering (if it existed) of many of the older sets that collectors didn’t have lists for. Another service they printed was error and variations to sets. Here is an example from the August 1975 magazine listing the variations to the Topps sets of the 50s,60s,and 70s.

The Trader Speaks Example Page

The Trader Speaks Example Page

Before Beckett took over, The Trader Speaks was the periodical most collectors used a a source of information. Looking through the magazine is trip through a history. You might want to pick up a few of them just to see what Pre Beckett, Pre Internet, collecting looked like.