Unfortunate Backgrounds

July 1st, 2009  |  Published in Funny Poses

Most of us have taken photos in which our subjects appear to have trees growing out of their heads. We shouldn’t feel bad: the professional photographers for sports cards sometimes miss things in the background, too. Here are a few cards with funny stuff happening behind the players.

First we have Bart Starr’s 1961 Fleer card. A stadium light in the background makes Bart appear to have a knob on his head, and there’s a little man with a machine gun shooting Bart in the neck. Fleer also got the Packers’ logo backward, as they did on all of the Packers cards in 1961.

Next up is a 1965 Philadelphia Bob DeMarco card, in which Bob appears to have a few extra appendages. Bob doesn’t seemed bothered by it.

Finally, we have a 1960 Topps Leo Nomellini card, with a couple of Leo’s Lilliputian teammates praising him. Leo, focused on the camera and accustomed to adulation, is ignoring them.

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Virtual 1961 Fleer Uncut Sheets

June 22nd, 2009  |  Published in Football Card Trivia

Today I put together another “virtual uncut sheet” page, this time for 1961 Fleer second series sheets. The 1961 Fleer second series contains cards from the eight AFL teams of the time, including rookie cards of Jim Otto and Don Maynard. It also includes one card with a mistaken identity.

While the price guides do not designate any 1961 Fleer cards as short prints, it is clear that some cards are much scarcer than others in high grade. Uncut sheets can show why some cards are tougher than others.

Virtual Uncut Sheet of 1961 Fleer football cards

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The Team’s Effect on Card Value

June 16th, 2009  |  Published in Adventures in Card Dealing, General Collecting Info

In previous posts and in some of my uncut sheet pages, I’ve noted bits of conventional wisdom that the price guides employ that don’t hold up in practice. For example, the price guides assign a premium to the first and last cards in a set, because presumably those cards got more wear and tear from being on the top and bottom of kids’ stacks. In practice, I don’t find the first and last cards of a set to be scarcer in high grade than the rest, unless they happened to be on the corner of the sheet before it was cut into individual cards. See my 1959 virtual uncut sheet page for some discussion on this.

The guides sometimes also price short prints much higher than they should. See the 1963 Fleer uncut sheet page for examples of this. They even get entire series wrong. For example, the guides price 1961 Fleer and 1961 Topps second series football cards higher than first series cards, but the second series cards in both sets are actually more plentiful.

On the other hand, we can see that a card’s position on a sheet often affects its availability in high grade. Apparently, cards on the corners and edges of the uncut sheets were often damaged in printing and processing. The price guides don’t appear to acknowledge this, even when the guide has an accompanying population report showing that some cards are much scarcer than others.

What other factors affect a card’s value that the price guides don’t consider? The player’s team comes to mind. I find that Packers, Raiders, and Cowboys cards in general will fetch more than vintage cards from the other teams. I assume that this is because these teams have more of a national following: the Packers’ long tradition, the Raiders’ bad-boy image, and the Cowboys’ “America’s Team” label have made them popular outside their regions. Their success in the 1960’s and 1970’s, when a lot of vintage cards were printed, made their players more recognizable, as well.

Conversely, vintage cards from some teams sell poorly compared to others, and thus do not command as high a price. Cards of Houston Oilers and St. Louis Cardinals, for example, don’t sell as well as cards from other teams. Except for the Oilers’ early AFL days, these teams had limited success in the 60’s and 70’s, and both teams have moved since their vintage cards were printed.

The price guides assign these cards the same value. I’ll take the Jeter.

A lot of people treat their price guide as Gospel, as if the guide should dictate card values, rather than the other way around. In reality, the price guides are very rough: they assign value to factors they shouldn’t, they don’t acknowledge factors they should, and they don’t keep up with the market–even after years. Sure, consult your price guide when buying, but don’t use it as your only source when determining value.

eBay is one place to consult when estimating a card’s current value. You need to look at completed auctions, though, not current ones. See my page on sports card values for instructions on finding completed eBay auctions for your cards.

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A Tour of the Vintage Football Card Gallery

November 11th, 2008  |  Published in New in the Gallery

1955 Bowman football card wrapperAs the About page says, the Vintage Football Card Gallery is a reference site. The cards in the gallery are not for sale, but I do have lots of cards for sale on my Nearmint’s Vintage Football Cards site.

You can search the gallery for your favorite set, team, player, or college. To do complex searches, such as “Show all the rookie cards of Hall of Fame players named Bob,” try the Advanced Search page.

On the Site Map you will find links to other miscellaneous pages. Among them:

Fran Tarkenton 1969 Topps football card puzzle piece

I add to the gallery whenever I have time, so check back occasionally for new cards. Enjoy your visit!

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