Undocumented Error Card: 1961 Nu-Card Mel Melin

January 18th, 2014  |  Published in error cards, Where They Are Now

1961 Nu-Card Mel Melin football cardError card collectors, here is another error card that is not marked in the price guides: on Mel Melin’s 1961 Nu-Card card, his last name is misspelled “Mellin.” Thanks to Philip, a visitor to my web sites, for pointing that out.

After starring at Washington State, Melin went on to play four seasons for the CFL‘s BC Lions. He appeared on at least one football card with BC, a 1963 Post Cereal CFL card. I don’t yet have the 1963 Post CFL set in the Vintage Football Card Gallery, but you can probably see the Melin card on eBay.

For more on Mr. Melin, check out “Where Are They Now: Mel Melin” on the Washington State University web site. To see more errors on old football cards, see the error card search page of the Vintage Football Card Gallery.

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Another Unlisted Error: 1961 Nu-Card Dave Hoppmann

December 24th, 2012  |  Published in error cards

1961 Nu-Card Dave Hoppmann error football cardError card collectors, here’s another error that isn’t marked in any of my price guides: Dave Hoppmann’s last name is missing an “n” on his 1961 Nu-Card card. I noticed the misspelling last week, when adding Hoppmann’s 1964 Topps CFL card to the Vintage Football Card Gallery.

For more undocumented error cards, see my previous articles on the subject. You can also search the Gallery for all of the error cards I know about. If you know of others, drop me a line.

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Billy Neighbors, Patriots and Dolphins Guard

May 2nd, 2012  |  Published in Player Deaths

Billy Neighbors, who played guard from 1962 to 1969 for the AFL’s Boston Patriots and Miami Dolphins, passed away on April 30. There is a story and a recent picture of Neighbors on the AL.com web site. Neighbors was voted to the Associated Press and UPI All-AFL teams in 1962, 1963, and 1964. In college, he played for Bear Bryant on Alabama’s 1961 national championship team. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003.

The cards pictured here are Neighbors’s first two cards. The first, a 1961 Nu-Card, shows him still with Alabama, and the second, a 1963 Fleer, is considered his rookie card. (I don’t know why 1961 Nu-Cards are not considered rookie cards.) He appeared on several other cards and stamps, as well.
Billy Neighbors 1961 Nu-Card football cardBilly Neighbors 1963 Fleer rookie football card

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Bobby Dodd Sr. and Bobby Dodd Jr.

December 27th, 2011  |  Published in Fathers and Sons, Football Card Trivia

Bobby Dodd 1955 Topps All-American football cardBobby Dodd Jr. 1961 Nu-Card football cardIt’s not unusual to encounter football cards of players who have the same name. Among others, I have cards of two J.D. Smiths, two Gene Washingtons, two Bob Boyds, and three Bob Browns. I also have cards of two Bobby Dodds, but it was only yesterday that I learned that they were father and son. Bobby Dodd Sr. appeared on a 1955 Topps All-American card, and Bobby Dodd Jr. appeared in the 1961 Nu-Card set. I believe these were their only cards.

Dodd Sr. was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame as both a player at Tennesse and a coach at Georgia Tech. Dodd Jr. was a quarterback and defensive back at Florida. From what I can tell, they met on the field three times, when Georgia Tech played Florida in 1960, 1961, and 1962. Florida won the 1960 game on a last-minute two-point conversion, and Georgia Tech shut out the Gators in 1961 and 1962.

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Future NFL and AFL Players on 1961 Nu-Card Football Cards

November 16th, 2011  |  Published in Football Card Trivia, Halls of Fame, New in the Gallery

Every wonder how many players in the 1961 Nu-Card college football card set went on to play in the NFL or AFL? I wondered, so I looked them up. I also marked them in the Vintage Football Card Gallery. Before you look, what is your guess? There are a total of 80 cards in the set.

Here’s a hint: it’s at least two. John Hadl played sixteen seasons for the San Diego Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers, and Houston Oilers. He is a member of the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame. Curtis McClinton played eight seasons for the Dallas Texans and Kansas City Chiefs. (The Texans moved to Kansas City and became the Chiefs in 1963.) McClinton is a member of the Chiefs Hall of Fame.

Have your guess? See my 1961 Nu-Card page for the answer.
John Hadl 1961 Nu-Card pre-rookie football cardCurtis McClinton 1961 Nu-Card football card

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R is for Rookie Cards

December 24th, 2009  |  Published in ABCs of Vintage Football Cards

As I wrote on my pre-rookie cards page, “rookie card” is an unfortunate term. Years ago, most players’ “rookie” cards were not printed in their rookie years, but sometime later, after they were established as pros. Many players, even Hall of Famers, didn’t appear on cards until well into their careers. Some didn’t appear on cards until long after their playing days were over. Dick Lane, for example, had 14 interceptions–still a league record–as a rookie for the Rams in 1952, but he didn’t appear on a card until 1957. Don Hutson played for the Packers from 1935 to 1945, but no one printed football cards from 1936 to 1947, so Hutson’s rookie card is a 1955 Topps All-American.

So “first card” would be a more accurate term than “rookie card.” Even that isn’t quite right, though, since players sometimes appeared on cards in minor sets before their rookie cards were issued. To be a rookie card, it is understood that a card has to have been printed by a major card company, such as Topps or Bowman. And it has to be a regular issue card, not an insert. So “first regular issue card printed by a major card company” is more precise, though it would make for a long abbreviation. And there’s even some contention about that: PSA’s Pro Football Hall of Fame Rookie Players registry set accepts either 1950 Topps Felt Backs or 1951 Bowmans for the rookie cards of Lou Creekmur and Ernie Stautner. Why? Perhaps because the 1950 Topps Felt Backs are small and ugly. So the registry’s definition of rookie card is “first regular issue card printed by a major card company, unless it’s small and ugly, in which case you can substitute a different one.”

There are other slight hitches. One is that sometimes cards picture the wrong player. Packer fullback Jim Taylor’s rookie card, a 1959 Topps, actually pictures Jim Taylor of the Cardinals. So does his 1960 Topps card. The 1959 Topps card is generally known as Taylor’s rookie card, but his picture doesn’t actually appear on a card until 1961. Some collectors consider his 1961 Topps and 1961 Fleer cards to be his real rookie cards, and Taylor himself reportedly won’t sign his 1959 Topps card.

Also, how about the 1964 Philadelphia Packers’ Play of the Year and Colts’ Play of the Year cards, which have small images of Vince Lombardi and Don Shula? Are they Lombardi and Shula’s rookie cards? I would say so, but my Beckett doesn’t have them marked as such. It does have them priced like rookie cards, though.

And why aren’t cards in the 1961 Nu-Card set considered rookie cards? Roman Gabriel, John Hadl, and Ernie Davis all appear in that set, but their Topps cards from later years are considered their rookie cards. The Nu-Card set pictures college players, but so do the 1951 Topps Magic and 1955 Topps All-American sets, and cards in those sets can be rookie cards. Is the 1961 Nu-Card set not considered a major issue? To my knowledge, the cards were distributed nationally, and there are plenty of them around, so they seem to me to be a major issue.

Whether or not a card is a rookie card has a large influence on its price, of course. Rookie cards, especially of Hall of Famers, are popular with collectors, so there is a high demand for them. Why are rookie cards more popular than other cards? Well, honestly, I think that someone with an early influence on the hobby–perhaps someone compiling a price guide–said “rookie cards should be worth more,” collectors said “okay,” and so it was. Intuitively this makes some sense, since older cards are generally scarcer than newer ones, and a player’s first card would tend to be his scarcest. This certainly isn’t true in all cases, though, so declaring rookie cards more valuable than others is largely artificial.

Perhaps rookie cards were declared valuable to help fuel the modern card market. Modern card collectors like to buy new players’ rookie cards, speculating that the players will become stars and their cards will become valuable. Collectors in the vintage card market do some of this, too: since rookie cards of Hall of Fame players are valuable, collectors speculate by buying cards of senior candidates for the Hall of Fame. The Bob Hayes rookie card pictured here is an example of a card whose price jumped recently, when Hayes was elected to the Hall of Fame.

Some players have more than one rookie card; this happened when more than one company printed cards of the same league in the same year. Sammy Baugh has a 1948 Bowman rookie card, for instance, and also a 1948 Leaf rookie card. Jim Otto has both 1961 Topps and 1961 Fleer rookie cards. For most years before 1970, though–the years I think of as vintage–only one company per year printed cards for a given league, if anyone printed football cards at all.

It seems to me that the concept of a rookie card serves as a convenient way to identify a player’s most desirable card. Which card is a player’s rookie card can sometimes be ambiguous, but identifying a player’s rookie card is much less contentious than, say, trying to decide on his most attractive card, or his scarcest. Picking a most desirable card for each player helps collectors narrow their collecting focus: they can collect rookie cards of Hall of Famers, Heisman winners, players from their favorite team, etc.

I have 80-90% of the rookie cards marked in the Vintage Football Card Gallery, including those of players who appear on only a card or two. You can use the Advanced Search page to look for rookie cards in combination with other criteria.

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New Cards for Sale: 60s and 70s Small Sets

April 29th, 2009  |  Published in Football Card Trivia, New Cards for Sale

Yesterday I added an assortment of PSA-graded regional, insert, and oddball football cards to my sales site, including 1960 Bell Brand Rams, 1960 Mayrose Cardinals, 1961 Lake to Lake Packers, 1961 Nu-Card, 1968 Topps Stand-Up, 1970 Topps Super Glossy, and 1970 Kellogg’s 3-D. Shown here are a couple of the Mayrose Cardinals cards, Woodley Lewis and King Hill, both wearing number 17. Hill appears to have been the real number 17, since Lewis’s other cards with the Cardinals show him in number 20. Hill’s 1959 Topps card also has him in number 17.

There are eleven cards in the complete Mayrose Cardinals set. They were distributed in the St. Louis region in packages of Mayrose franks and bacon. 1960, the year the cards were issued, was the year that the Cardinals moved to St. Louis from Chicago. Mayrose brand lunchmeats are still produced by Armour-Ekrich Meats, but to my knowledge they haven’t included cards since 1960.

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Pre-Rookie Cards

February 27th, 2009  |  Published in Adventures in Card Dealing, Football Card Trivia, New in the Gallery

Awhile back, a collector called to ask if I had any 1962 Post Cereal cards, because he was interested in the Bob Lilly card from that set. He said he collected pre-rookie cards of hall-of-famers, and that the 1962 Post Lilly was one he still needed. An interesting idea, I thought.

Today I added a page to the gallery that highlights a few pre-rookie cards. I included a few well-known players that aren’t in the hall of fame, in part because I wanted to include a few 1961 Nu-Cards. The Nu-Card set is one of the few vintage college sets, and it contains cards of a lot players who went on to play in the NFL and AFL.

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