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Friday, October 12, 2007

Bookstore Find

I've been scrounging around lately for a book that has information on nineteenth and early twentieth century tobacco cards. (why the hell would you want that, dayf) Something like Burdick's American Card Catalog, but updated. (seriously, what in the world do you need that for?) I'd go for the original, but I can only find reprints at Fritsch for 30 bucks. The more recent catalogs seem to be just as expensive and just as out of print. I've hit a few used book stores around town looking for something I can use, (use for what?) but not really finding anything. Not surprising, there's not a big demand for such things. I did find one cool book at the Book Nook in Marietta. Have a look:

Now that you all think I'm crazy, let me explain. Why in the world did I buy a price guide from 1982? What possible use could there be for a 25 year old price guide?? Here's a couple reasons why I bought the book:

There's actually 16 pages of color galleries in the guide, but these two from the Lipset and Halper collections really caught my eye. The other galleries show type cards from most of the other sets in the book, including two full pages just for 1981 and 1982 sets. The pictures of the cards are all the size of postage stamps, but it's still a nice handy reference. There's also a few pages of pictures of wrappers, here's the likely designs for the 2007 Bowman Heritage and 2008 Topps Heritage wrappers:

I already have an old Sport Americana price guide from about 1988 or so. The big difference between that one and this one from 1982 is there are no color galleries in the more recent one. There are also a couple of special articles in the '82 book I've never seen before. One is a fascinating article by Lew Lipset detailing a find of uncut 1933 Goudey sheets (!!!!!) and using them to infer the series distribution of cards in the set. The second article is a feature on old-time collector John D. Wagner, a man Jefferson Burdick crowned "the champion card finder". Wagner not only had a T206 Honus Wagner in his collection, he actually had a double that he gave to Jefferson for his personal collection. (Jefferson insisted on giving John a $25 check for the card that Wagner reluctantly cashed after much pestering from Burdick) The foreward of the book also has some neat historical tidbits. It talks about the explosion of card sets and collecting in 1981. From one major issue plus a handful of oddball sets in 1980, the hobby saw 3 major sets plus at least 20 other smaller ones in 81. The author speculates that the trend would continue in 1982 and beyond, and boy did it ever. All those new sets are part of the reason there is no more room for large and numerous pictures of cards or special articles in my later price guide. The book is also a first-hand historical document of the atmosphere around those early days of the card boom. Check out this little guy:

There are tons of ads in the book from dealers wanting to buy, buy, buy. There are almost as many ads to buy as there are to sell and everyone wants to buy something or other. One guy wants APBA games, another wants bread labels. This was a damn good time to be buying too: common mint copies of T206s booked for $4.50 a pop. Common '33 Goudeys were $7.50 each, and '52 Topps commons ranged from $2.50 each in mint to $36 each for the high series. The Old Planter knows about the woes of selling your cards without a price guide though... just ask Cap:

I started collecting just a few months before this book came out, and it's amazing how much stuff in here I remember from when I was a kid. Krause was publishing something brand new called Baseball Cards Magazine. You could buy 100 plastic Sheets from Dick & Charlie's Sports in Springfield Mass, while Rotman Plastic Sheets was too busy buying everything in sight to bother to sell anything. If you wanted boxes instead of sheets, you can buy 25 for fifteen bucks from some guy named Kovacs in Ohio that are totally smooth. Or you could buy anything and everything from Den's Collector's Den, who had an ad on just about every other page. Not surprising since the owner was co-author of the book.

Nostalgia aside, this is actually a pretty handy reference book for vintage cards. Most baseball card price guide books don't even bother with pre-1980 issues anymore. To get them, you have to buy one of the huge phone book sized guides, and it can be a pain slogging through those looking for older stuff. These old guides are also a good way to learn about older sets you like and find new stuff you've never seen before.

Part of the reason I'm writing this is because the Cobb County Library is having their annual Book Sale at Jim R. Miller Park this weekend. I have gotten tons of baseball books and stuff from the now-defunct Goodwill Book Sale at Northlake Mall (which was truly epic back in the day), and I'm hoping to find some goodies at this sale as well. If I find anything I'll post it in the following week, just not in such extreme detail. Until then, I'll leave you with this:

Man oh man. It sure would be nice to be back in 1982.

1 comment:

--David said...

Holy Smokes!! Kovacs is where I went as a kid (late 70's, early 80's) to get my Tribe cards! I had forgotten the name of the place until I saw it here... Man, talk about a flood of memories. I bought my very first card (1951 Bowman Dale Mitchell) at Kovacs...

For whatever reason you bought the book, thanks for sharing a little, goofy ad... :-)