1962 Topps from the Texas find

After going through the entire 1971 Topps set card-by-card, we were emboldened and decided to dig into another extremely condition-sensitive issue: 1962 Topps.

The “woodgrain” borders of the ’62 set are prone to chipping, much like the black-bordered 1971 Topps cards.  Atrocious centering exacerbates the condition issues with this set, as do 1960s Topps print flaws like snow, fisheyes and roller lines.

In the case of this set, however, the collector appeared to take great care to find the best possible examples for his set (though centering is still an issue throughout).  Much more so than with other sets, he appears to have taken great care not to handle the cards much at all prior to mounting them in the album.  Further, the cards do not exhibit the indentations from the corner mounts that some of the others have.  The result is a truly exceptional group of cards.  Sadly, many of the Hall of Famers suffered from poor centering, and the Mantle was the only card in the group that appeared to have been handled; its edges are clearly worn.  That said, we pulled a significant number of high-grade, well-centered examples from the set that we’ll be sending off for grading.

Here are some examples, presented to you in slideshow format.

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We can’t imagine that any of the other vintage sets in this collection will be more fantastic than this one, condition-wise.  As we only pulled the best-centered examples (except the Brock in the above slide show) for grading, and rejected more than half what we pulled due to minor flaws, there’s no question that this is as gorgeous a “fresh” 1962 set as we will ever see.

Next up: 1968 Topps.

Some Black Beauties

1971 ClementeOver the past two days, I’ve been delicately removing 1971 Topps from their photo album.  Yet another stunning discovery from the Texas find, these cards were quite clearly collected in 1971, and carefully stored away in the album shortly thereafter.  The set is complete, each card in remarkably consistent condition.  The ever-present edge chipping is kept to a minimum; the primary post-production wear is related to corner dings that occurred when the cards were mounted in their photo corners, and, in some unfortunate cases, minor indentations in the cardboard resulting from the photo corners themselves.

Centering and rough cuts are another issue entirely, obviously, as Topps’ early quality control was clearly poor.  However, we have managed to pull out a significant number of gorgeous examples, each of which will be headed off to PSA for grading.  Whether they grade high or not, they are simply stunning cards, and absolutely need to be preserved in their current condition.

1971 Aaron1971 WS1971 Walton

 

 

 

 

 

1971 Johnstone1971 Monday1971 Quilici

Some 1967 Hockey from the Texas find

Over the past week or so, we’ve been culling through binders of mostly modern material from the Texas find, pulling out some of the key cards for grading.

Yesterday, we opened a binder that contained what we initially thought was a complete set of 1967 Topps hockey.  Upon further review, we discovered that the last 12 cards in the set (the all-star cards) were missing.  However, the remaining 120 were in stunning condition.

Included in the binder was a clipping from what looked like an old ad from Sports Collectors Digest for this collection, which was billed as a complete set and offered as a mail-order auction with an opening bid of $1,000.  The set was billed as GEM MINT, and judging from the condition of the cards in the binder, we won’t argue.  Though many of the cards exhibit flaws that were not considered flaws at the time (centering issues and print defects), the cards are exceptionally bright and sharp.  In this case, “pack fresh” doesn’t quite describe the cards, as they look as if they were taken right off the printing press.

That cards have survived in this condition for nearly 50 years, and have been part of the same collection since long before third-party grading had caught on, continues to amaze us.  Here are some examples of better-centered keys, along with the Gordie Howe.

All of these cards are headed off to PSA for grading.

An incredible find.

Several weeks ago, we were referred to a family in Texas that was interested in selling what was described to us as a “run of sets.”  After a few phone conversations, the family agreed to consign the collection in its entirety to Love of the Game.

During the last conversation, when we discussed how I would be retrieving the collection, I simply replied “I’ll just drive down with my SUV and pick everything up.”  My statement was met with a strange silence.

Last week, I made the journey to the deep south in a whirlwind trip that landed me in Texas late Saturday afternoon.  After a brief meeting with what turned out to be an absolutely lovely family, I was brought into the card room to receive the shock of my life.
IMG_5924

This is a cellphone photo of one corner of a room that contained what is, without doubt, the largest card collection I’ve ever seen.  “Run of sets” doesn’t quite describe this collection, and “I’ll just drive down with my SUV and pick everything up” was, in light of the collection’s size, a laughable statement.

The collection was assembled over a lifetime, by a gentleman who lived and breathed baseball, sharing it with his daughters and also with his community.  Decades of dedication to the hobby were evident in literally hundreds of binders and photo albums, each containing complete or near sets ranging from the collector’s childhood through his unfortunate passing in 2007.  During nearly sixty years of devotion to the hobby, the collector built sets from virtually every mainstream manufacturer, as well as dozens of regional and minor issues, minor league sets, and even “off brand” issues by companies like TCMA and SSPC.

It was almost overwhelming.  Around every corner was another surprise, inside each binder was another set.  In roughly eight hours that we spent rooting through and cataloguing the collection, we discovered a host of rarities, beautifully-stored vintage sets, and diligently assembled modern ones.

From 1951 through the mid 1970s, the collector (whose name we will disclose in due time) painstakingly assembled complete sets, paying closer attention to condition with each passing year, and carefully mounting the cards in numerical order in photo albums, using “photo corners” to help display the collection while still protecting the cards.  We took some photos of the earlier cards to help describe what these cards look like in their albums.

1952 Bowman 1951 Bowman A1953 Bowman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arriving back in the home office in New Jersey, we were struck by how similar this collection was to the famed Lionel Carter collection that was sold at auction in 2007.  While the Carter collection contained a large number of prewar sets, this collection, for the post part, began in the 1950s – yet the display methods were very similar.  We were naturally bursting at the seams, dying to see the condition of the cards underneath those photo corners, and we decided to begin with one of our favorite sets – 1959 Topps.

Back at home in the kitchen, I have a broken steak knife.  The very top quarter inch of the knife has chipped off, leaving a flat top but a sharp edge.  For some ridiculous reason, I have not thrown this knife away – and it turns out that it’s the perfect tool to separate the photo corners from the album.  By sliding the flat top of the knife underneath each of the top two photo corners, we’re able to separate them from the paper without worrying about damaging the card.  Then, the card simply slides out of the bottom two corners, without the necessity of bending or twisting the cards to remove them.

What we discovered was absolutely thrilling:

1959 MantleThe cards were clearly maintained in relatively pristine condition when they were initially collected, with the consignor paying attention to centering during a time when Topps was notorious for poor quality control.  Looking through a pile of duplicate 1959s, we can see that the collector put off-center cards to the side when possible, choosing the cleanest and best-centered examples for display in his album.  It is our impression that the collector probably assembled the sets, and then mounted them in the albums once complete – the cards are ever-so-slightly handled, with a few exhibiting very minor edge wear and tiny corner touches.  While some were undoubtedly touched simply by inserting them into the photo corners, the collector was undoubtedly careful when handling them – many of the cards have retained not only their original color and gloss, but also their crisp, “new” texture.  Some even still have gum residue on the surface!

We are thrilled beyond words to be able to offer the vintage components of this collection in our upcoming auctions.  In the coming weeks, we will continue to share the journey of removing these cards, the surprises we encounter, and of course, the results of those cards we submit for grading.  And of course we are eternally grateful to the family for allowing us a window into the life of an extraordinary collector, and for choosing Love of the Game as the auction house to introduce this incredible collection to the hobby.

Buckle up; it’s going to be a fun ride.