Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Value of a Dollar

There's no question about it.  I'm a bargain shopper.  And that applies in spades when it comes to vintage cards.  The great thing about large shows is that they tend to draw dealers from across the country, which will knock prices down to about their bottom basement price.  The Robert Morris show has done wonders for my vintage team sets over the past few years.  The sheer selection has allowed me to knock out just about every common, with only superstars like Clemente and Stargell remaining from their early sets and those pesky short printed high numbers.

I actually didn't do as well on vintage this year as in the past.  That certainly had a lot to do with the influx of modern dealers.  Last year, I spent a lot of time digging through vintage boxes simply because there...wasn't anything else to look through.  But with more modern this year, most of my box digging was centered around the more recent stuff.  And the vintage bins I did look through mostly just had the same common cards I already had priced at $1 or $2.
But I was going through one dealer's $.25 box.  A lot was more or less junk - late 80's star commons.  A few serial numbered cards.  Lots of 70's commons.  And...half a dozen Pirate cards I needed.  Wait, huh?

The four cards above are definitely of the well-loved variety.  But at just a quarter a piece, they are welcomed placeholders that cross a card off my needs list, and can always be upgraded if a better copy ever presents itself at a great price.  And that's just what I did with the Rice RC.  I had picked up a really, really, really beat up copy off COMC for $.65 as a set filler.  While this copy isn't close to mint, it's a major upgrade in eye appeal at less than half the price.  Just ignore the crop job at the bottom, which is just a result of my scanner being a jerk

I'm always a little amazed how many great looking cards can be found in discount bins.  I had no idea this card even existed, but was thrilled to find a Quasar card of former Steeler and Mountaineer Amos Zereoue.  The design was actually reused in UD's Fleer Retro product, and there is a Geno Smith version I still need to track down.  Now the big question becomes which binder this goes into.

And at a buck each, I was thrilled to find two cards that had been sitting in my COMC watchlist forever, but priced around $5.

This Lemieux/Bradshaw just became one of my favorite cards in my collection, featuring two of Pittsburgh's greatest set in front of a beautiful painted skyline.  How much better can it get?
There just aren't any avenues that provide the kind of bang for your buck that card shows do.  I love COMC.  I love still buy on ebay.  And sites like Sportlots and Justcommons are great.  But there is a degree of maximizing profits that can be avoided at a show.  Most of the dime and quarter boxes I dig through are the leftovers from large deals that were long ago into the black for the dealer.  Anything else they sell out of their inventory is just icing on the cake.  And that always seems to equal great finds for my collections, and is far less irritating than the COMC seller willing to sit for years and years on a card priced well above what anyone is willing to pay, hoping just to find that one person willing to overpay someday.
I don't care how overdone Bowman is, or how watered down the checklist is.  A gold refractor of a Pirate is just too nice looking not to own for $1, even if the player will probably never hit AA.
Or to find oddball sets, like these Cooperstown Orange parallels that were only available in retail.
Or these Pinnacle Artist Proof cards.  This is apparently the blue version, which I didn't even know existed.  And I think I paid 20 times more attention to the set than the rest of the hobby did.  Again, I'd guess it was a retail exclusive.  But I honestly have no clue, and didn't find any info online.  Anyone have the inside scoop?

There's nothing that beats finding a big stack of cards from a dealer, and when all the dollar and quarter cards are counted up discovering that you just nabbed a great stack of cardboard you'd be hardpressed to even find elsewhere for less than the cost of a fast food lunch.  Long live the card show!


  1. A '66 Stargell for a quarter? Maybe I should plan on making a road trip up to this Robert Morris show. Love that Burliegh Grimes as well because Burliegh Grimes is one of the best baseball names ever.

  2. There's always room on my couch, Nick. It's only like a 7 hour drive.

  3. That Zereoue is a thing of beauty. I'm always a sucker for cards showcasing the WVU uniform.

    1. Amos was one of my favorite Steelers back from the days when I hated WVU. I still haven't decided whether to put him with the WVU binder, Steelers binder, or give him his own binder.

  4. Quarter bin vintage Stargells and Rice rookies? I'm very, very jealous.

    1. The craziest part was I didn't find those until Sunday. I was amazed nobody had grabbed them up.