WOW! That’s all I have to say about the recently announced Panini Flawless basketball issue with the $1250 pack. That is a lot of money, and let’s see, for $1250 you should be able to buy the 1974 through 1980 Topps baseball sets with some change or a near complete 1972-1979 Topps Basketball run and those cards would include such stars as the Julius Erving rookie card. Thus to me, this is just an insane price. Shoot, that price per pack is more than my paycheck from work. And if I’m going to spend that much, I want some real value, not some manufactured value.
However, I do know of some collectors who are eagerly anticipating the arrival of Flawless next month. When I stopped in Triple Cards in Plano, TX and asked the owner about this release, his answer floored me. I expected to hear about how crazy these pack prices are and how will anyone get their money back. Instead, he informed me that he could sell five cases if he could get that many cases into his store. I stopped and did a mental double-take but after a couple of days’ reflection, I should not have been surprised by that number.
A few years ago I was discussing how easy Check out my Cards (now COMC) was as a venue to sell cards compared to eBay. Yes, I was trumpeting the services of COMC long before I became associated with them. Most of the store’s regulars really did not want to send to COMC because they are always hoping for the usually mythical EBay bidding wars instead of being happy to set their own prices. With that type of steady customer, no wonder Triple Cards has customers for this product because if you like to gamble—I mean really gamble– and have the money, why not go for the most expensive product on the market?
Back in the early 1980′s when I wrote something like this for Baseball Hobby News when Donruss and Fleer both won the right to produce card sets in 1981. “A collector will have to be really careful in 1981 as the cost of the three major sets may reach $50,” I wrote.
Of course today, there are several products which are $50 or more which includes almost anything in the Topps Tribute line. The other part of me goes back to articles written by I believe, Lee Tomansen each year in which he totaled up the costs of all the sets issued and then released the information. I think when he stopped around 1984 we as a hobby might have just crossed the $1000 threshold for all sets issued during that calendar year. We sure have come a long way since the early 1980′s haven’t we?
And from the insane prices to the where are they now section… Has anyone noticed the old ”Broders” cards of the late 1980′s to early 1990′s are rarely seen any more? I realize there was much scrutiny of these unlicensed cards but in some ways, almost 30 years later, I actually miss some of those cards. I don’t even remember seeing any of them deep in dealer’s notebooks at the National and I saw none on display. Although I understand the licensing issue and agree with it, I do miss seeing them. Those cards were overall more attractive than many of the major manufacturer issues of that era. Tell me, would you rather look at the1986 Cunningham cards or the yellow mustard-stained 1991 Fleer baseball set? I recently sorted through some 1991 Fleer cards and remembered how bad those cards looked. I still remember when Fleer sent a group of representatives to Beckett to introduce the set. None of us liked the looks of those cards in late 1990, and I can safely say more than two decades later, we still do not like the design.
Thinking about that Fleer rep made me think of a nickname we had for some of our local dealers. We would have some of them over about once a month for a lunch to discuss hobby trends and give us some idea of what life was like outside the Beckett building. We had a dealer with a bad toupee and somehow we thought he did a bad job with his bald spot so his internal nickname was “Aquarium Head” and there was a long-time Dallas area dealer named Fred Barfitt of Plan O (Plano) Sports Cards in Plano. TX (I believe he has shut down due to health issues) and one day he pronounced, “I have two conditions for cards, NEW or USED.” Well from that point on Fred was Mr. Used.
And I swear that must have been a coin dealer idea because my good friends Bob and Arlene Miller who ran a coin and card store in Elmwood Park, New Jersey also called cards those two conditions. I hung out about one afternoon a week in their store and they would buy large boxes of cards from Dave Czuba a few times a year. Bob would let me go through the box and pick out cards usually at a small profit to him but by doing that I would reduce his cost significantly. One time, I started pulling through the box and noticed a 1966 Topps Fergie Jenkins RC. I thought OK, each box needs to be salted a bit. Well, this box was a bit over-salted as by the time I finished going through the box I had pulled 110 Fergie Jenkins rookies.
We did take the high road and informed Dave (who would come by from Pennsylvania frequently as his parents lived in Elmwood Park) what he had put into the box. He agreed that was not what he intended but because of our honesty he did let us keep 10 Jenkins rookies each. For me, that was probably the best percentage profit I could think of because I think Bob would charge me five cents for each card I pulled. Even at the $10 level that is still a nice percentage profit. I see Dave each year at the National and we always ask each other about our deceased parents. I asked him one year why he makes that part of the conversation. His answer is that we need to remember and honor them always. Smart man, that Mr. Czuba.
Returning to the present, there is finally a conclusion to the Dallas Card Show saga. The next show will be on October 12 at the Holiday Inn Express located at Preston Road and Highway 635 (LBJ). I’m looking forward to the show and the promoters asked me to take a second table for the first show and I did agree. It will be interesting to see if the venue change from the successful Craig Ranch location to the new hotel affects the attendance. The show is the day of the Texas/Oklahoma football game as well so hopefully there will be some people drop by early in the day before watching the game or those not really interested in college football. We’ll see how the show develops over the next few months.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]