I collected modern cards - inserts, autographs, and an (un?)healthy obsession with the Pirates starting shortstop. The few vintage cards in my collection came from generous internet friends who tossed them as an add in to trades or outright gifts.
I've been fortunate enough to find some real deals over the last few years, and combined with the discount vintage dealers at shows I've managed to put a good dent in most of the mainstream Pirates team sets.
But one set has been pretty much off limited: '52 Topps. See, the famed set rarely makes its way into discount boxes. I have exactly two '52 cards in my collection - a Ted Beard that I picked up on ebay for about $5 to get autographed ttm (and boy am I glad I did), and a Vern Law I picked up at the Robert Morris show for $3 this spring.
But this post isn't about '52 Topps. Rather it's about what the '52 set does to its next door neighbors. Anybody who goes to major shows knows vintage is king at these shows, and Topps set builders can easily make a dealer drive home with a big smile after a weekend. But I've always preferred the early 50's Bowman sets. Simple, quaint, and colorful without being too cluttered, the slightly smaller stature of the set both physically and in the hobby landscape has made it one of my favorite things to hunt for at shows. And the lower prices don't hurt either.
I've made a nice dent in the Pirates team sets over the last few years. Better yet, I've been able to find some pretty clean cards for just a buck or two. In fact, I don't know that I've paid more than $2 for any of my early Bowman cards. Granted, the Pirates of the early 50's weren't exactly crawling with star players. But it's a series that has been a lot of fun to chase. And better yet, the cards are kind enough to snugly fit in my nine pocket pages.