This blog post is (I hope) the first of many in a series I call “5 and 5,” in which I ask collectors 5 questions about their collection, and 5 more questions on the concept of collecting.
I chose to start with my friend Anthony, because I think his collection of unopened packs of baseball cards is amazing.. Also, I chose to start with him because he said “Yes”! So, here we go.
5 Questions on Your Collection
1. What do you collect? Unopened wax packs of baseball cards. I also collect cards, baseball display pieces, vintage California surfing material, African art work, and stamps in my passport.
2. Why do you collect this? It started with the nostalgia of holding a 1970 pack, the first ones I opened as a 9 year old. From there I found an appreciation of the graphics of each year, which are so indicative of the period. The rarity of finding something that old unopened intrigued me, as did the mystique of what lay inside. And as I expanded that run of packs to earlier issues, the thrill of the chase. Some of the ones from the ’50’s and earlier are incredibly tough to find.
3. Is it displayed? No, it used to be. Now it resides in a safety deposit box. Concerns about light degradation and theft caused me to put it in a safe, dark place, but I do bring them out a few times a year.
4. Is there a “white whale?” There has been, and continues to be. My first goal was every Topps nickel (’69 and before) or dime (’70 on, and going up as inflation really took hold in the mid ’70’s). Finally achieved that a few years ago, with the addition of the impossibly tough ’56 and ’58 packs. At this point I’m chasing packs that may or may not exist- I won’t know until I see it.
5. Any great stories as you collected this? Not really, just a slow plod to completion, meeting a lot of great people along the way.
5 Questions on Collecting
1. How do you acquire your material? Auctions? Trades? Dealers? Shows? All of the above. Fraud is a bit issue in collecting packs- it doesn’t take much to fake a pack: a wrapper, a piece of gum, and a stack of cards. So it’s important to know what you’re buying and from whom. There is basically one dealer that can be trusted, and a small network of collectors.
2. Do you have any collecting philosophies/strategies? Just the basic ones- if a deal is too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t rely on “experts” to legitimize an item, but use it as one part of your research. Learn everything you can about a subject and talk to anyone willing to teach. And research past history to see what has been offered and how often it tends to come up. A lot of times another item will come along, but every once in a while that one of a kind item will be offered and you need to recognize the difference.
3. What’s your favorite/least favorite part of collecting? Favorite part is seeing something I haven’t seen before, even if I’m not able to add it to my collection. Least favorite is the quick buck middlemen and scammers. Fortunately those are few and far between.
4. Did you collect something as a child? Baseball cards, for a few years. A check list of beaches I’ve surfed a bit later.
5. Any advice on collecting? Enjoy what you collect, and collect what you enjoy.
Thanks so much, Anthony! What a stunning collection. I think you’re right in that the graphics are indictative of the period. I always thought a great art exhibit would be “The Art of the Pack.” You can really tell the era by the colors and artwork!