Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Pile of 1975 Topps Commons

 Coming home from work to find a box full of vintage baseball cards from the 50s, 60s and 70s has arrived in the mail is a pretty hard feeling to beat!  I bought a lot of about 500 cards on Ebay a couple of weeks ago.  The shipping ended up costing twice what the actual price of the cards were, but it was worth it to get these babies.

 The majority of the cards were from the early to mid 70s and included a smattering of hall of famers (Johnny Benches from the 1970 and 1977 set being the highlights) but were for the most part commons. 

I love flipping through lots like this.  I remember in the early 90s when I started trying to collect vintage cards.  Nobody sold them in lots back then and of course Ebay didn`t exist so you were forced to go to shops and shows buying them one at a time for high Beckett price since they were so in demand and hard to find at the time.  This one box, which cost me less than $50 with shipping, has more vintage cards in it than I was able to accumulate (at much greater cost) during my 1989-1993 peak collecting years combined.  1990 Sean would be so jealous of 2014 Sean if he could see me getting these.

Included in the lot were about 60 cards from the 1975 set. 
That set seems to divide collectors pretty sharply - you either love it or hate it, no middle ground.  I am decidedly on the side of loving the set.  I can see some of the criticisms as being valid - the borders are really big and the photography is pretty weak in general.  But man do I love those colorful borders.  This set just looks reallly cool when you hold it in your hand because of them. 

I also like the bold font used on the team names at the top:

And scattering them about the dining room table they make an excellent collage:

This lot didn`t have any Hall of Famers, though it did have Dick Allen and Luis Tiant who I think are both pretty solid Hall of Very-Gooders.  It also had 3 cards of my beloved Montreal Expos:

 I also kind of like the way that they varied the color patter for teams rather than making them all the same.

I`ll probably write something about my 1972s at some point, that being the other big colorful 70s set that people either love or hate and which I also got a ton of in there.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Economic Irrationality of Sports Card Magazine

 Sports Card Magazine is Japan`s version of Beckett.   It is a monthly about sports (mostly baseball) cards that includes a price guide.

I haven`t actually bought one of these in a few years, the one in the photo above is from 2005 which I just picked up at random at a used book store for 100 yen.  The only time I bought one new was in 2002.  At the time I was living in Himeji and a sports card store had just opened up downtown.  I used to go there after work a lot and bought packs of 2002 BBM from them pretty regularly, I came close to finishing both series entirely through packs.  My business wasn`t quite enough to keep the store going though and it was closed by 2003, thus putting an end to my foray into baseball card collecting for a while.

Anyway, to get back to the magazine, I only bought one copy of it for two reasons.  One is that it cost 1000 yen, which is a bit pricey.  More importantly though is the fact that the prices in it just make no sense at all.  Nothing in it makes sense.

 I noticed this at the time.  Take a look at the 2002 BBM set for example.  Common cards are listed as being worth between 50 and 80 yen each. 
That is about 50 to 80 cents each for common cards in a very common set.  Every set they list the common cards as being worth at least 50 yen each, no matter how easy they are to find or how much demand there is for them.

Now a pack of 2002 BBM with ten cards in it cost only 200 yen, or 20 yen per card.  So by Sports Card Magazine logic, if you got a pack entirely filled with nothing but commons you would still be getting between 500 and 800 yen worth of cards.  What?

When I read criticisms of Beckett pricing and how it bears no resemblence to reality I always have to laugh.  You Americans think Beckett is bad?  That is amateur hour.  If Sports Card Magazine was pricing American cards, your 1991 Donruss commons would be worth 50 cents each and a complete set of 1989 Topps would probably be listed for about the same as the blue book value of a recent model Toyota Corrola. 

I really have no idea what they think is driving the price of these cards.  I mean, I bought a 3200 card box of random BBM cards including stars a few months ago for 2000 yen (about 20 bucks), which works out to less than 1 yen each. These are not rare cards nor would anyone be well advised to be paying that much for them. Also, valueing these cards so high actually kind of undervalues cards which are actually hard to find and might be worth that much.  Calbee commons from the extremely hard to find sets of the early-mid 1990s they price only slightly higher (100 yen each mostly).  Those cards are several orders of magnitude harder to find, and much more sought after, than BBM cards from mass produced sets and yet according to Sports Card Magazine they are only worth 20-50% more. 

The next logical question is do dealers actually price cards that way?  Actually, some of them do.  Which begs the question of whether or not anyone actually buys them.  I could see buying one or two to finish your set at that price, but that would be it.  And dealers can`t survive off of the odd one or two collectors buying the odd one or two cards for 50 to 80 yen each, so why would they even bother stocking these?

OK, this is making my head spin a bit.  I haven`t bought a copy of Sports Card Magazine in a long time, I`m not sure if they are still this bad or not.  Some of the articles are at least kind of interesting, but that is about all I can say for it!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

550 Calbee cards from the 1970s

Sadly these are not mine.

I was just browsing on Yahoo Auctions and came across this listing.  550 Calbee cards from the 1970s.  The current bid is up to 15,500 yen (about $160) and I expect it will go way higher than that by the time it is finished.  According to the description there are a few doubles and the condition varies, though the ones in the picture look pretty good.

I have never seen so many vintage Calbees in a big pile like that before, so I thought it was kind of impressive.  Calbees from the 1970s usually sell only 1 or 2 at a time on Yahoo Auctions, I`ve never seen a lot of more than 50  before.

If I had the money to spend I would love to bid on these because the per-card price will probably end up being pretty reasonable and I would LOVE to be able to flip through those.  My collection is sadly pretty short on Calbees  from the 1970s, I only have about a dozen or so cards from that era.  I`m guessing this will go for at least 50,000 yen, in which case it would blow my baseball card budget for pretty much the whole year in one go, so I`ll have to give it a miss!

Also as a side note there is something I really love about what the seller did with this photo.  I don`t know if it was intentional or not.  1970s and 80s Calbee sets are notorious for being overloaded with Giants players.  In some sets the Giants almost have as many cards as all the other teams combined. 

Notice that the photo has 8 cards arranged on top and not a single one of them is a Giants player!  This guy might be a fellow anti-Giant!  Or it could just be coincidence, but I think not.