Monday, January 14, 2019

W590 Follow Up - Uncut Strip

I recently stumbled across an image of an uncut strip of W590 cards.

I did a post just before Christmas last year about the W590s and how a friend of mine picked up the Jack Johnson card.

Well, I just recently happened to find an image of an uncut strip of these cards from the October 2013 Huggins & Scott auction archives and wanted to share it with you.

Here is the image of the strip.  Click on it to enlarge.

Image courtesy of Huggins & Scott Auctions
It includes the nine wrestlers and Jack Johnson.  The nine wrestlers are:

  1. George Calza
  2. Strangler Lewis
  3. Pat McGill
  4. Joe Stecher
  5. Ivan Zaikin
  6. Earl Caddock
  7. Wladek Zbyszko
  8. Nat Pendleton
  9. Renato Gardini
I love uncut strips of cards like these.  I have a couple of non-sport strips and had a half a strip of W529 Boxers at one time but sold it.  Maybe I'll do a post on those at another time.

Enjoy the hobby's a great one.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

High Grade Prewar Cards vs. Beaters

Which do you like better?  High grade or beaters?

High grade prewar cards are selling for crazy prices these days and investors are all over them.  There are record prices being realized all the time.  But shouldn't a card that is 100 years old show some wear?  Do they look better crisp and clean or with a story derived from creases and dinged corners?

Here is an example of a PSA 10 E98 Honus Wagner from the famous Black Swamp Find.  The card is sharp and bright but I feel like it's missing something.

It just doesn't look like it's 109 years old.  And that's what bothers me about high grade prewar cards.  Am I amazed that this card exists in this condition?  Yes.  I can't deny that.  It looks like a reprint though, like it was printed yesterday. 

Also, what about the real possibility of high grade cards being altered (trimmed)?  I'm not saying the Black Swamp cards are trimmed, but there are many examples of high grade cards that look trimmed to me. 

Take a look at this T213-3 Christy Mathewson PSA 8.  Look at how it is swimming in that holder.  It looks too small to not have been trimmed down. 

Someone will likely tell me that the Type 3 Coupons are known to be smaller like this.  Kind of like the American Beauty T206s are known to be slimmer.  It still looks trimmed though.

There is one high grade card that I do like more than the beater examples I've seen of it.  The PSA 7 T206 Eddie Plank is one really nice looking card and I don't even care that it doesn't show it's age.  I am drawn to this card in general for some reason, but this one is particularly sweet.

This one was auctioned off as part of Heritage Auctions' high grade T206 collection last year.  The Plank sold for $690,000. 

And how can we discuss high grade prewar cards without mentioning the PSA 8 Honus Wagner.  The holy grail of baseball cards.  And it is known to be trimmed.  Doesn't seem to matter to buyers though.  It continues to sell for record prices every time it's available. 

Well, the other side of this discussion is the world of beaters.  Cards that show their age through creases, tears, pinholes, missing corners, missing paper, etc. 

I have always liked these beaters.  I think they tell a story about their journey over the last 100 years.  They've been loved by children and adults alike, tossed around in collections in boxes, wrapped in rubber bands and banged around as bricks of cards rounding the corners.

They are what they are.  Beaters.  They sell for hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of dollars less than their high grade counterparts.  I would much rather have an entire T206 set of 520 cards than that single PSA 7 Plank.  But I don't have the funds to drop $690K on one card so I can't relate to the guy who bought it. 

I know it's because of my budget that I collect beaters, but I actually do like them more too.  There are some that are so bad that I wouldn't want them, but not many. 

Here are a few of my cards...


You see.  These cards would cost hundreds or thousands of dollars more in high grade but I am able to own them at reasonable prices because they are beat up. 
So what do you like?  High grade or beaters.  What do you collect?  Tell me in the comments.
Enjoy the hobby's a great one.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

T206 Back Stamp Project Gets Recognized

For several years now I've been documenting T206 back stamps on my website dedicated to them at

The project is my attempt to showcase as many different T206s with back stamps as I can in one central location on the internet.  There is a healthy collector base for this type of T206, whether it is a specific stamp or just stamps in general. 

Well, just posted an article about these T206 back stamps and mentions the project in the article.  I couldn't be more happy about the recognition by the site.  They even used images from the project for the article and link to the project's website.

So far, I've documented over 70 different stamps and have 34 pages of collections of stamps that are of the same type.  So when I have two or more scans of the same type of stamp, I start a new page for that stamp and start a new "collection" for that stamp. 

There are many different types of stamps that can be found on T206s.  Names are a very common thing to find stamped on them.  Collectors would've stamped their name on the cards for any number of reasons.  The most common reason would be to claim ownership.  However, I have one card stamped by an agent for the Saturday Evening Post that was used to make a type of business card.

T206 Wagner back stamp
There are also date stamps.  Perhaps the date the card was acquired.  All of the dates I have ever seen stamped on a T206 were from the 1909-12 period so a acquisition date seems logical.  There is even a Wagner with a date stamp on it; Oct 16, 1909. 

Other stamps are of any number of different objects or designs such as a castle, carriage, stars, pointing finger, dog or old time "Bobby" cop, just to name a few. 

In addition to stamps, there have also been tattoos or transfers found on these cards.  These are much more colorful and ornate that a typical one color stamp would be.  I have a clown, hot air balloon and boxer as examples on my site. 

I personally collect one specific type of back stamp.  They are purple numbers in a specific shade of purple, always the same size and font.  Here are some examples of this type of purple number back stamp below.

If you ever see one of these back stamps, please contact me as I would be very interested in it.  They don't seem to show up very often however. 

The Project is an interactive one.  In other words I rely on other collectors to help with it and supply scans/images of stamps that I don't already have.  If I don't have the image provided by a fellow collector then I update the website with the new image.  If it is the second example of a particular stamp then I'll set up a new page for that stamp. 

I also give credit to collectors that have helped on the Contributors page.  I'd be happy to add anyone's name who helped with the Project and isn't already listed. 

Let me know what you think of the Project and if you can help, please do.  Also check out if you haven't already been there.  It's a great site for prewar collectors of all sports, not just baseball.

Enjoy the hobby's a great one.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year and Goals

Happy New Year to all of you!

Well, it's a new year and time to start thinking about my collecting goals for 2019.  Of course I want to continue my blog and post something every month of the year.  I get into a funk from time to time, either due to work or family taking most of my time usually, and don't post for a period of time, but I want to be sure to make time every month to post something.

I made some collecting goals for 2018 and failed at them for the most part.  I had a good year of collecting and picked up a bunch of great stuff, but I didn't focus on my goals really.  So I'm going to try to make goals I can stick to.  Right, here we go.

I have a habit of keeping everything I get in my collection and I have a real hard time parting with it.  But I'd like to come to terms with this and sell some of my collection so I can fund some bigger purchases.  Last year I made a goal of acquiring a Cobb or Wagner, but I need to be realistic and remember that those two guys are priced in the stratosphere compared to my budget.  So for 2019 I'll set the goal to pick up another Matty, or a Lajoie, or an E93 Joss.  Something comparable anyway.

Here is a list of goals for 2019:

  1. Pick up a Matty, Lajoie or an E93 Joss
  2. Pick up two E93s
  3. Pick up 5 more E90-1s
  4. Finish my 1973 Topps set (2 to go including Schmidt RC)
  5. Start 5 more sets
  6. Send out more packages than ever before
  7. Separate my 1977 Topps Cloth Stickers into * and ** sets (does this count as starting a new set?)
  8. Finish my 1968 Atlantic Oil set (minus the SPs)
Let's keep it at that for now.  Doable I think. 

So here's to a great new year and a new beginning.  I wish you all the best in 2019!

Enjoy the hobby's a great one.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Operation Bullpen

In the late 90's the FBI ran an undercover operation in the sports memorabilia business to investigate the autograph industry.  Specifically, the forgeries. 

During the investigation the FBI focused on Greg Marino who became an unbelievable autograph forger.  I mean this guy was amazing.  He faked sports stars and entertainment stars by the thousands. 

He made a lot of money working with other scammers who even set up their own authentication company to give legitimacy to the autographs. 

They sold tons of Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire during their home run race to beat the single season record set by Babe Ruth.  Oh yeah, Marino even faked Babe Ruth autos.  Tons of them too. 

I'm sharing a video of the documentary "The Counterfeiter" which is a great watch.  Enjoy the video.

I was amazed at how accurate these fakes were and the amount of items pictured at the end of the video that were seized by the FBI. 

Kevin Nelson wrote a book about the scandal called "Operation Bullpen: The Inside Story of the Biggest Forgery Scam in American History".

Enjoy the hobby all...but be careful in it too.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Franken-Wagner Fetches $420K

A T206 Honus Wagner slabbed as a PSA Authentic "Restored" example has recently sold in a Memory Lane auction.

There is much debate in the hobby regarding this card between those who accept the card as it is and those who are not happy about the restoration of the card.  Regardless of what you think about the card's restoration, it is what it is.  It's a nice looking example of the most iconic and valuable baseball card in the hobby. 

True, the borders are all newly added and the back has been completely rebuilt, but it is also labeled as "Restored" and only graded Authentic so it's not being misrepresented as it is. 

Let's take a look at the card before the restoration.

Ok, so that's a rough looking card.  Three borders completely trimmed off.  A fairly large spot of paper loss at the top of the front.  The back is either missing or covered in lined paper that is glued to it.  Either way, it's bad.  At least the image of Honus is still pretty decent.
It took $14,000 of professional restoration to bring the card back to where it is today.  Let's take a look at the restored version now. 
Quite a transformation huh?  Seriously, how did it go from the before to this? 
The argument (or debate) is whether or not this has gone too far.  What is too much to add to a terrible condition card to restore it?  Is it ok to add some color here or there?  Or to remove paper that was glued to the back of a card?  Are those innocent enough to be acceptable or is no type of change acceptable? 
Some folks even argued that a person could take an expensive/rare card and cut it up into several pieces and then "restore" each of the pieces to make several new cards and sell them off for huge profits.  I think that's a bit of a stretch personally, but I understand the idea. 
So what do you think about this card?  Is it fair to consider it an authentic Wagner or no?  Would you mind owning this one knowing how much is not original or would you only want a completely unrestored example?  Would you rather have this card in the "before" state?  Let me know in the comments.  I'd love to hear from some of you.
Enjoy the hobby's a great one.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

W590 Jack Johnson

One of my collecting friends recently picked up this W590 Jack Johnson.

W590 is a strip card set featuring multiple sports with black and white photos instead of colorized drawings like many other strip sets from the 20's.  The set is dated between 1925 and 1931 with multiple printings between those years.  There are team change variations due to trades and some guys have a description change to their status in their sport. 

Various sports represented in the W590 set

Baseball is the most represented sport in the set with about 40 players represented.  There are also athletes from wrestling, boxing, football, horse racing, tennis, golf, swimming, cycling, a strongman and some non-sport personalities as well.

One of the most sought after cards in the set is the Red Grange football card considered his rookie card.  Also the rookie card of golfer Walter Hagen is in the set. Within the baseball checklist, there are super stars Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Lou Gehrig leading the way.

The complete checklist is not currently complete as just a couple years ago three new boxers were discovered from the set.  It stands to reason there may still be more uncatalogued cards to be found. 

Well, I wanted to highlight the boxing card of Jack Johnson in this post as that is the card my friend was able to pick up.  He ended up getting it for a steal to be honest.  A seller on eBay with zero feedback had it listed as a Buy It Now (BIN) for $25 but nobody pulled the trigger.  Likely due to the zero feedback.  He then relisted it in an auction format starting at $1.00 and my friend placed a little $7.00 snipe on it.  Well, that was enough to win it in the end. 


When he got the card in hand, he examined it with a loupe and has determined it to be the real deal.  Even in the low grade it's in, it was a great deal for this fairly hard to find HOF boxer Jack Johnson card. 

It was printed after he lost his championship and it used to say "Ex-Champion" where there is paper loss in front of "Heavyweight" and under where it should say "JACK". 

Well I hope you enjoy the card as much as I do.

Enjoy the hobby's a great one.