The old adage is, if you can’t find a book about what you want to read about, write it yourself. Brian Powell has done that with his new book on collecting regional-food issue baseball cards, written by a collector with sports fans and fellow collectors in mind.
Never Cheaper by the Dozen: Those Special ‘Free Prize’ Sports Collectibles from the Golden Era of 1947-1971, examines the players starring on the field, the games being played and the regional cards passed out at ballparks, in grocery stores and mailed away for. It’s a trip back in time that not only talks about collecting, but the process behind getting the cards, from first-person stories to anecdotes in acquiring them.
It’s not designed as a price guide. It’s focused on telling an important story from the hobby’s past.
“My purpose was to write a book about a niche of cards I knew from long experience to be fascinating, but of which little had been written,” Powell said. “Aside from brief price guide descriptions, even elaborate hard-bound general guides, several entries in a pair of books about important cards that was good yet provided less than a page of commentary per card, only a smattering of good features in 40 years of hobby papers, and a paragraph or two in the better auction house catalogs, there was nothing.”
“In September 2011, several bidders fought it out for a partial set (16/26) of the 1955 Esskay Franks Baltimore Orioles, one of my subjects – and the winner’s final bill came to $64,625,” Powell stated. “While neatly trimmed, most of the cards were creased in some way and had evidence of product stains, ungraded, without one Hall of Famer. For many collectors this result raises the proverbial $64,000-dollar question – why? Surely hobbyists have more than an infantile attention span and would hunger to know about them, the multitude of obstacles faced, as well as the battles waged for possessing them,” Powell said.
Never Cheaper By The Dozen unlocks some of the secrets and sea stories of these “free prizes” for which their unique design and background story were more interesting than their price tag. The reader is invited to re-live nostalgic portions of the Baby Boomer era when baseball card-loving kids collected one or more of these sets while living in the distribution region of the company.
To large and small degrees, Powell spotlights at least 13 pioneer and key hobby figures during its feverish growth. They are: Lionel Carter, Larry Fritsch, Buck Barker, Bob Solon, Alan Rosen, Rob Lifson, Dick Reuss, Bill Zimpleman, Jack Urban, George Husby, Jim Cumpton, George Lyons, and Doak Ewing.
Here’s a quick peek at some of the cards and sets that are featured (in order of their appearance in the book):
- 1962 JELL-O – Mantle
- 1960 Post Cereal – Mantle
- 1954 Stahl-Meyer Franks – Mantle
- 1953 Glendale Meats Detroit Tigers
- 1962 Salada Tea Baseball Coins
- 1959 Morrell Meats
- 1964-67 Coca-Cola Bottle Caps – premiums
- 1960 Home Run Derby
- 1953 Briggs Franks Jackie Jensen/Walt Masterson Panel
- 1958-62 Bell Brand Dodgers
- 1953-55 Dormand Postcards Gil Hodges
- 1954 Wilson Franks
- 1953 Stahl-Meyer Franks – Mickey Mantle PSA 9 Mint
- 1955 Rodeo Meats
- 1963 Post Cereal – Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle
- 1971 Kellogg’s 3-D Cards
- 1954 Dan-Dee Potato Chips – Cleveland Indians Find
- 1959, 1961 Bazooka Baseball
- 1954-55 Esskay Franks
- Cards That Never Were: Fantasy 1954 Wilson Franks Jackie Robinson and Mickey Mantle
The 479-page, full-color book is presented in PDF form on a CD, distributed in a half-inch thick DVD case. Adobe Reader is needed to view, with the book viewed in a dual-page format and flipped through like any digital book. The cost is $30 postpaid, first class mail, payable via money order only to:
P.O. Box 743
New Carlisle, IN 46552
Indiana residents must add 7% sales tax, or $2.10, to their money order. Paypal is not accepted. For further information, contact Brian Powell at [email protected].
Update: The Kindle version of Never Cheaper is available for $9.99 on Amazon.com or free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.