The Post War Cards Newsletter #8
Random Thought by PostWarCards: This is a hobby, and it’s supposed to be fun, right? Happy collecting!
Remembering A Find of 1976 Topps Basketball Boxes
If you want to get a good sense of hobby history and learn about what items are genuinely scarce, I recommend searching for and reading about “hobby finds” (previously unknown collections) and coupling that with a look at the item’s graded population and/or recent sales.
One interesting example of such a find is from back in January of 2011 when Dave & Adam’s Card World found a partial case of 1976 Topps basketball cards. Bob Snyder wrote that the discovery came from the former owners of a mom & pop store in Cheektowaga, NY.
At the time, unopened box collecting was a small but growing part of the hobby, and 1976 Topps basketball boxes were ~$850.
Oh, how the unopened market has changed! 1976 Topps basketball boxes now command prices between $8-10k, and you’ll find vintage unopened products at most card shows. A find like this would generate a lot more buzz today because the hobby understands just how scarce 1970s basketball cards (particularly unopened) really are.
But the truly unique part of the find is the case! It’s the only one I’ve EVER seen.
PS, you can see more 1976 Topps basketball photos in the unopened archive.
Great Hobby Writing
The Topps Archives: No Box Left Behind
Night Owl Cards: Head Count: the 1970s
Baseball Cards Come to Life: Art on the Back 1971 Topps Football
Nothing if Not Random: 1994 Skybox USA Basketball
Night Owl Cards: Ranking the cereal sets of my youth
Junk Wax Jay: 1985 Donruss: What is this Strange And Wonderful Beast?
Collectors Dashboard: 15 Industry Trends, Changes, Observations From the 2022 National Sports Collectors Convention
DroidTrader had a great post sharing some TTM and Mail-In Signing Pickups
Bump and Run Football Card Blog: Swimming in Some Junk Wax
Greg Morris Cards: 1971 Topps Tattoos
Junk Wax Jay: Ranking the 1960’s
Significance and Value
Let me start by saying that I treat cards as an expense. But I saw a fascinating comment online last week. The collector shared an image of a very low-grade vintage card that sold for big bucks and said, “When a card is valuable in low grade, that speaks to significance and real value - not value created by the grader’s ‘opinion.’"
I think he was commenting on the price disparity in the modern market for PSA 9/10 cards with thousands of graded examples compared to the vintage market where cards sell for big bucks regardless of grade. Specifically, the situation where a modern card’s PSA 10 sells for a lot when the same card graded PSA 9 sells for less than grading fees.
However people choose to spend their money is fine with me, whether on a modern prospect’s PSA 10 rookie or a vintage Mickey Mantle. But the collector’s comment did get me thinking about something similar; if any vintage cards sell for similar prices, regardless of grade, i.e., a PSA 3 and a PSA 6 selling for the same price.
In the pre-war market, ‘strip’ cards come to mind, like W512 or W519, which often sell for prices commensurate with the card’s eye appeal (and not the cut being on the “correct” line which drives PSAs grades, for example). There are also rare-backed T206 cards that sell for a lot, regardless of grade, because so few examples exist. Other times, a PSA Auth/1 sells for big bucks just because of the card’s iconic status, take a 1915/16 M101-4 Sporting News Babe Ruth card; low or high-grade, they all sell for a ton.
The closest examples in the post-war market are probably oddball cards like Briggs Meats or Stahl-Meyer Franks. Some individual cards would be any of the older George Mikan basketball cards.
I still can’t name a card that sells for the same prices across the entire grading curve, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a few exist. Ultimately, it’s just supply and demand.
Remember, if you always buy things you love, you’ll always be happy.
1986 Fleer Basketball Box Drama
1986 Fleer basketball is one of the most popular products in the hobby today, with boxes selling for north of $150k. WhatNot ripped a box at The National that didn’t have a typical collation (I wrote about 1986 Fleer Wax Pack Sequencing on the PostWarCards Blog back in June 2021), sparking a lot of doubt about the authenticity of the BBCE wrapped box.
On Monday, the 15th of August, Steve Hart published his response to the situation in a post titled "WHATNOT" 1986/87 FLEER BASKETBALL WAX BOX X0851. It's a long and detailed write-up; BBCE stands behind the authenticity of the packs in the box.
My suggestion, as always, is to educate yourself with extensive reading, video review, and discussion before drawing a conclusion; respond, don’t react. I have a lot more to look into before forming an opinion on this box.
T206 Near Set Sale
One of the big stories coming out of The National in Atlantic City was the massive lot of T206 (and other pre-war) cards that a family consigned to Goldin. But amongst all the buzz for that incredible vintage collection and the bustle across social media about the show, an item that I hadn’t about was a near-complete set of SGC graded 1909-11 T206 cards that Mile High Card Co auctioned off.
My focus is obviously post-war cards, but when a collection like this moves, the market usually pays more attention. Though, I have noticed something like this seems to happen to me every year around The National; so many auction houses have catalogs out, there is so much industry news, and there are so many photos on social media that I don’t notice something I otherwise would.
Lucky for the consigner, the completely graded near-set (517/520), with a 4.86 GPA, ended on August 6, 2022, with a final price of $351,570.90, including the buyers premium.
The set did not include the Big Four (Wagner, Plank, and Maggie/Doyle variations). The other missing cards were the O'Hara and Demmitt St. Louis variations ($1k+ cards) and the Hooks Wiltse Portrait No Cap card.
In the News
ESPN: Rare T-206 Honus Wagner baseball card sold for record $7.25 million in private sale
Metsmerized Online: Fanatics, Topps Continue Trading Card Industry Shake-Up
License Global: Lids Announces Retail Partnership with Topps
Lincoln Citizen: Beckett Moves to New Headquarters in New Plano, TX
Remembering Bill Russell and Vin Scully
Unfortunately, the sports world and hobby lost Bill Russell and Vin Scully over the last two weeks. The Athletic's article honoring Russell and the Dodgers’ write-up about Scully are both excellent tributes.