Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Black Friday Vintage Hockey Purchases on COMC

I've been working on a team set of 70-71 O-Pee-Chee Maple Leafs cards and decided to get close to completion using the Black Friday sale on COMC.

I love collecting vintage cards. There are, however, a ton of vintage cards, particularly if you collect more than one sport and it can became as expensive as you let it. I find the best way to collect vintage is focus on a theme and pick away at that until you are satisfied with what you have.

I decided awhile ago to work on Leafs cards from the seventies. The eighties would be too easy, as the cards are more readily available in higher grades and the Leafs really stunk to high hell that decade anyway. The sixties would be challenging. Doable, but expensive. So, I figured I would split the difference and that although seventies hockey was before my time, I still love the vintage feel.

I then decided to start at the beginning with the 1970 set. There are sixteen Leafs cards in that set. I am currently sitting at nine out of sixteen. Here is what I picked up over the weekend (and a bit before). The images are from COMC, but they are all the actual cards I bought there.

Plante played two-and-a-half seasons with the Leafs while in his early forties. He led the league in GAA during the 70-71 season and made the Second All-Star team that year. He played another full season and a partial before being traded to Boston. He finished his career in the WHA with Edmonton and died of cancer in 1985.

Although Plante has a few cards pictured as a Leaf, it's funny seeing him not pictured with the Habs since that is obviously the team he is most associated with. He's much older here and this was actually after his first retirement in the late sixties. This was a funny transitional time for the Leafs, as they were moving into the Sittler era, but still had players such as Plante leftover from the original six era. Plante was $18.50 on COMC.

Monahan was the first overall pick of the Habs in 1963. He never developed into an elite level player, and spent the better years of his career as a defensive forwards for the Leafs. He ended up playing his final years in Japan of all places and retired in 1982. This was $3.05.

Armstrong was a long-time Leaf, playing 1,188 games for the club with thirteen seasons as team captain. He won four Cups with Toronto, including the game winning goal for the latest Leafs Cup victory in 1967. He also briefly coached the team for part of a season in 1989. He's still alive and well at the age of 88. Armstrong was $4.97.

Dave Keon is another Leafs great from the 1970 set. He played fifteen seasons with Toronto and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1986. In 2016 he was named the greatest player in Leafs history and in 2017 was named one of the hundred greatest players of all-time. He left the NHL in the seventies to join the WHA, but returned when the WHA folded and finished his career with Hartford in 1982. I got this for $7.77.

Paul Henderson is more famous for his Summit Series winning goal as a member of Team Canada, which is one of the most recognizable hockey photographs in history. He spent the best years of his pro career, however, with the Leafs. The Canadian Press named his Summit Series winning goal as the sporting moment of the century, certainly no small praise. This was $8.30.

I have more cards I'll show off in the next post, but as you can see the 70 Leafs set was full of some all-time greats.

Do you enjoy collecting vintage cards? Do you collect stuff from before you were born? If so, what made you decide to collect that vintage?

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Tons of COMC Cards Become One Great Card

I got back into collecting about a year ago after a few years off. During my time away, COMC became a thing. A good thing, too, for the most part. It's the first place I go now to buy cards, because condensing purchases from multiple sellers saves on shipping costs, particularly since I live in Canada and paying to have cards shipped from the US has become prohibitive these days.

Another reason I enjoy COMC, however, is that I use it to clear out a lot of the inexpensive inserts and parallels I don't want and that are otherwise hard to sell or trade. I simply save a pile of them, package them up and mail them off to COMC. They take a couple months to list them. After a few weeks I sell everything leftover as a port sale, which is usually purchased by a reseller (someone who has like ten thousand cards listed on that site).

At that point, I take the COMC credit I earned by selling my nearly worthless cards and purchase something I enjoy. Here is the latest result of that process, an autographed Wayne Gretzky card from 2016-17 Black Diamond serial numbered two of ten.

It is my second Gretzky autograph after I picked up his autograph from the Legendary Signatures set Upper Deck did about twenty years ago. However, I don't really care about having multiple autographs of the great one and felt this Black Diamond card was an upgrade over the Legendary Signatures card. So, I flipped the latter for cash on Ebay, which I will then of course plug back into this hobby to pick up more cards.

The autographed on the Black Diamond card is done in silver ink on some kind of black backing. I'm not sure what the material is, maybe just some piece of cardboard. Gretzky is pictured with the Edmonton Oilers, which is nearly a necessity for me when it comes to collecting Gretzky cards. I will sometimes pick up Gretzky cards featuring him pictured with another team. Team Canada and All-Star Jerseys are acceptable. The Kings are okay. The Blues are a novelty. The Rangers I'm rarely interested in. However, the Oilers are best.

I'm a fan of the 80s Edmonton Oilers, not just Gretzky, and plan to expand my collection to include more unique items from that dynasty. I've never been to Edmonton and am not a fan of their team currently, as I live in Toronto and root for the obvious (no, not the Bruins, you wise ass). But I am a fan of certain teams from specific periods of history, like the Oilers of the eighties and the Habs of the seventies. I also like oddball teams (like the Cleveland Barons or the California Golden Seals) and stuff from the WHA. For baseball, I like vintage Yankees players from all eras, even though I don't like the Yankees today.

Do you have any favourite historical dynasty you like to collect, even if it is not the team you root for today?

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Wayne Gretzky’s Rookie Card

I picked this up from reputed vintage cards dealer Martin Sports Cards on Ebay. It’s a PSA 1 Gretzky card. PSA 1 is, of course, the lowest grade given out by the most popular trading card grading service. I don’t mind. One of the things about the Gretzky rookie is the sheer amount of counterfeiting of this card. I would wager it’s the most counterfeited hockey cards ever printed, although I suppose there is no way of winning that wager.

So, having even a lousy example of this card graded by PSA indicates it is authentic. Or, at least probably authentic. The graders that work at PSA or any other card grading company are not perfect people and I’m sure forgeries and fakes slip past their watchful eyes. I’m also sure, however, that a fake Gretzky rookie is quite easy to spot. Even without the PSA grading, this example being in such poor condition lends credence to its legitimacy.

The corners are in bad shape. There are creases. The card’s front is off-centered from top to bottom. That’s all good. The photograph of Gretzky is actually in nice condition. For a card given the worst possible grade by PSA, this one isn’t in such bad shape and it’s so-called eye appeal is better than its flip indicates.

I don’t collect graded cards, per se, but because of the counterfeiting problems with Wayne’s rookie I wouldn’t consider purchasing his rookie card if it wasn’t graded by a reputable company.

The cartoon on the card’s back indicates that
Gretzky debuted in the WHA at the age of seventeen.
I believe the photograph used on the card’s front was from Gretzky’s year playing in the WHA. Edmonton was one of four teams to enter the NHL after the WHA folded, along with Winnipeg, Hartford, and Quebec. Only Edmonton and Winnipeg remain, although Winnipeg remaining in the NHL is a minor miracle considering their sojourn from the league and the franchise’s move to Phoenix some two decades ago.

The 79 O-Pee-Chee cards are difficult to obtain in high grade. They are one of the few O-Pee-Chee releases that featured coloured borders, in this case baby blue. Most cards have white borders, which hides the flaws of a card from a suspicious eye. A coloured border, however, makes flaws along the edges and corners easier to detect, subsequently making higher grade cards difficult to find.

I remain satisfied with my poor example of Gretzky’s rookie.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Joe Carter's Rookie Card

I'm a huge Joe Carter fan. I grow up during a time when the Jays were one of the best teams in baseball. They made the playoffs a few times before winning the World Series twice in a row in '92 and '93.

Joe was part of the play that decided the winning game both years. In 1992, he caught Mike Timlin's throw to first base that put out Otis Nixon of Atlanta and won the Series. In 1993, he won the Series in style by hitting a home run off Philadelphia's Mitch Williams. He was only the second player in history to win the World Series with a home run after Bill Mazeroski did it some thirty years earlier.

I still remember where I was when Joe hit that home run. I was about nine years old. My family was sitting in our car in the parking lot of a donut shop, having just driven back from my Dad's rec league hockey game. We were listening to the game on the radio and stopped to have something to eat. We decided to stay in the car to listen to the end of the game. Good thing we did.

Pictured to the left is Joe's rookie card from 1984 Donruss, the first year that company did their "Rated Rookie" subset. Joe began his career with the Chicago Cubs, before moving on to Cleveland and then San Diego before being traded to the Jays in probably the most important trade in Jays history. It brought Joe and Roberto Alomar to Toronto in exchange for Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez. McGriff had been a star in Toronto and Fernandez was a great player, so it was a bit of a gamble for Toronto. McGriff never returned to the team, but Fernandez would be back multiple times, including winning the '93 Series with the club.

I picked up the rookie from Ebay for about $100. It's the only PSA 10 card I've ever owned. I'm not sure if I could discern between a PSA 10 and a PSA 9, or even a PSA 8. But it's nice to own a card that was graded perfect.

I also picked up the same card, but a graded autographed version. I got this one, pictured right, from Ebay for about $60. The grade of 10 is for the autograph, as the card is more of a mid-grade example. It's also nifty to own an authentic autograph graded a perfect ten.

I'm not sure I would care about owning perfect versions of a baseball card if that card wasn't of Joe. As I wrote above, I don't think I could visually tell the difference between a perfect card and an almost perfect card. But I will admit that these are unique versions of this otherwise nearly worthless card and having some unique Joe Carter pieces in my collection brings out the childhood nostalgia in me.

I have a few more unique Joe Carter pieces in my collection and I am always looking to add more. I'll post a few more in the coming weeks.