Monday, August 3, 2015

Set-Building '61 & '63 Topps - Vintage Lot Pick-Ups

While wandering the endless digital card aisles of eBay, I came across a couple of vintage lots that I just couldn't turn down. They were two separate listings, one consisting of 1963 Topps cards and another with a bunch from the 1961 issue. Each lot averaged about $1 per card and after my recent experience at the local [card shop] mining for 1960 commons, this price point was instantly much more attractive than it had been before. Perspective!

As you guys know, I've been leaning more vintage anyways, despite my flirtation with some Bowman a few weeks (months?!) ago. Man, how time flies. I don't think I'll ever truly kick the new card vice, but I am trying OH so hard to maintain discipline and stick to old cardboard, graded or beautifully raw.

As it were, these cards were raw but the pictures sure did lead me to believe they were in fairly decent shape. Ha! "Fairly decent"...I am falling victim to one of my very own pet peeves - personalized grading terms. I love some of them that you see in the marketplace! But seriously, the cards in the pictures seemed to hover in the mid-grade spectrum. There's always a risk with buying lots when it comes to the condition of cards unseen...but I was feeling frisky. And for once, I really feel like it paid off!

Here are the two stacks:

Mr. Golden on top in honor of Night Owl

I call this the AL East stacking method

Not too shabby, right? I gotta say, there is something extremely satisfying for me about handling decent-sized stacks of these old cards and fanning them out like this. The colors of the '63 design are really cool to behold and provide some insight into just how revolutionary this issue must have been more than 50 years ago - particularly after '61 and '62. But man, is it TOUGH to imagine solid corners and edges along the bottom half! I feel for any of you who are seeking these in high grades!

But don't let that comment lead you to believe that I don't appreciate the 61's. This set has always been on my radar as a very "achievable" vintage release to chase. I managed to come across a great looking Billy Williams a year ago or so, so that was a big pick-up. The Mantle will probably be the final card, as usual, but that's okay. It's the building process that delivers the fun.

The excitement didn't end there, though. I carefully picked my way through the stacks to discover that the '61 pile in particular came with some 'hidden' gems that didn't make their way into the pictures or headline of the listing. For starters, how about a slick #1:


As many of you probably know, the first card in any vintage set is usually a solid find. When you go WAY back into the history books, this can equal a tremendous amount of value based on rarity. Since the #1 cards were always on the top of kids' stacks or at the front of the shoe box, they usually endured t he greatest amount of wear and tear due to rubber bands, grubby hands, etc. Many went missing or are in some pretty bad shape.

There I go again with the official condition terms!

This copy of Dick Groat is really nice, however, and I was elated to see it emerge from the package. A couple of print marks and touched corners might deter others, but the color and centering (for this set) are very nice. I was quite happy to slip it into the pole-position pocket of page #1 for the set! Sure, it's the only card on the page...but I dream big. To a fault.

Here's the back:

I did NOT know that Dick brought home the NL MVP Award the previous year? I suppose this is what garnered him the #1 slot? Does anybody know if Pafko pulled off the same feat in 1951? He also won the batting title? Amazing! A twitter friend was very kind and filled me in on another tidbit - that Groat's number was the first one to be retired at Duke University. Solid!

My fortune didn't end there! Here were some other great cards in my 'lot':

Team leader cards are always welcome - particularly ones with Hall of Famers! Remember...about a $1 for each of these...

So what's up with this Del Rice? Well, besides featuring a gloriously old-school catcher's mitt, this Rice is a high series card that is a little tough to find. I am sure that I will learn more about this obstacle as I progress through the set, but I'm happy to at least be able to check one off the list.

And finally:


DUPLICATES! When you're spending on vintage cards for older, more expensive sets, it's kind of deflating to pull two of the same card from a lot that is supposed to be nice and assorted. That means it will require one more purchase or trade to get it all done in the end. Ouch! Of course, if that one set of doubles happens to be Mr. Billy Martin....well, fine diddily-doo with me! This Martin card is awful from a photography perspective (fairly common for the set, though) but big on Yankees fan appeal. I'll have to decide which one I am going to keep for my collection and which one I will trade away fro more progress. I'm leaning towards keeping the copy on the right - what do you think?

I need to tally up my totals so far from the two sets. Don't get too excited (even though I am!), we're talking single-digit progress here towards set completion - but I am happy to finally kind of make a commitment. I expect it to take decades, but now that what I do have is paged and in a binder, I feel content from a collecting (OCD) aspect.  My favorite are the pages with as many as three cards on them - looking strong!

I am stoked to shore up the vintage collection just a little bit more with these two lots. I'll also try and get a NEEDS list started on my "Sets" tab in case anybody wants to start swapping. Actually, may be more logical to just list the few dozen cards that I actually have vice the hundreds that I don't...

Yeah, that's what I'll do.
Thanks for reading!



  1. Looks like a great pickup! You could do worse than Billy Martin dupes!

  2. I never believed this "Card #1 gets the rubberband damage" theory.

    What kid was wrapping his entire set of cards (up to 500+ cards) in ONE stack?

    I remember using rubberbands, but each team had their own banded stack.