Andy Huntoon doesn’t care if that T206 card doesn’t please the grader. He’s collecting the set in his own way.
For many collectors, condition is the key to happiness. For Andy Huntoon, it’s a big purple ink stamp.
He’s got a passion for pre-War baseball cards and a curiosity about where those old pieces of history have been. Sometimes the backs of the cards provide a clue; other times they just deepen the mystery.
Stamping one’s name or identification on the back of piece of personal property has been a popular thing to do for years. It may have sounded like a good idea at the time, but today, the marks won’t help the value in the collector market, lowering it significantly in most cases. For Huntoon, the stamps give the card character.
The T206 cards he looks for carry a marking on the back, created by someone who collected them long ago. It’s possible the stamping was done in later years, but Huntoon also owns date stamps that do place the card in the hands of a collector during the deadball era. Others simply carry a number or letter.
I’ve learned a new way to enjoy the hobby that I love, collecting pre-War baseball cards. It’s taught me that I can really enjoy these cards without getting caught up in the condition. I’ve been able to look at cards and see the life they had before they got into my hands. I can imagine some kid with a bunch of these cards with an ink pad and his stamper having a great time putting completely random images on his card backs. Or an older collector who might be cataloging what he’s got so far with his purple numbers on the back. And another collector placing his name on the back of his collection, one card at a time. Then all the dinged corners and creases, all the paper loss and pencil marks; all the things that some people don’t want become things that I do want. They tell the story of the cards. Now I’m telling the story of those cards in my way.