Friday, January 11, 2019

A tale of two boxes

Over the weekend I bought a box of cards from a Craigslist seller. All I knew was that it was a 1,600-count box of commons from 1972 to 1975. The 73s-75s were mostly in a pretty rough state but the '72s were pack fresh. The guy's house was a few towns over, and in the next town from that there was a collectibles show at the American Legion hall. Without having a chance to take a look at the cards from the first box, I went to the show to see if they had cards.

I had been there once before, years ago, and didn't see any cards. This year there was one guy with a binder and a box. The first couple of pages of the binder were some really big-time cards - there were two '70 Nolan Ryan's, a '70 Ernie Banks, '72 Mays, '72 Clemente, that sort of thing. After the first couple of pages it was on to minor stars, Luis Tiant/Tony Oliva type of stuff. By the end of the binder (maybe 15-20 pages) it was stuff like '81 Donruss. He also had a box of commons that appeared to be '71s and '72s. It wasn't a standard size box - I would say there were about 400 cards in there, and in good condition. He wanted $400 for the binder and the box. He claimed the two Ryans were worth that alone (turns out he wasn't wrong - it's a high-number card, books for $200 in Beckett and in a quick look online I didn't see any under $120). When I asked about just the box he said $40. I told him I had just bought a much bigger box for the same price, he said he was selling for someone else and couldn't bring the price down.

I decided to decline. I might have bought that box for $40 if I hadn't bought the other box a short time earlier. Not an easy decision but I can't buy every box I see! Here's a comparison of the two boxes, what you might call the "amateur" box and the "professional" box.

1,600 cards
400-500? cards
1972, 1973 (lots of needs for me); 1974, 1975 (few needs for me)
1971, 1972 (lots of needs for me)
Condition highly variable
Condition good
Loose definition of common card
Strict definition of common card

Not any easy choice; the amateur box had more volume, but the professional box would have had a greater percentage of cards I needed. Also, the dupes from the professional box would be more easily tradeable. However, Hall-of-Fame and star cards in vintage are always tough to find. In a lot put together by a pro, there is not way you will get a card like that. However, I've gotten some really good cards by amateurs just looking to get rid of their cards. So I think I made the right choice - when it doubt go for the amateur vs. the professional every time.

I took a picture of the whole box but accidentally deleted it after I had already taken everything apart. Here is a year by year look at the highlights for each set - cards that would never have made it into the professional box.

1976: Though the description said '72-'75, there were a few stragglers from earlier and later. Didn't need any these though.

1975: For the main years of the sets, I'm not showing the cards I needed, I'm showing the Hall-of-Fame cards that were in the box. None of these would have slipped by the professional. Highlights include Carew and Killebrew. Overall of the 400 '75s there were about a dozen or so I needed; '75 is the one I'm closest to completing. Most of these are available for trade.

 1974: I got about 30 cards I needed for '74; it's catching up to '75 for me. The biggest one for me by far was the Willie Mays World Series card. I didn't even realize he had a card in this set. OK Munson is not a HOFer but he might as well be in NY, he'd be pricier than almost all of these. Again, almost all up for trade as well as hundreds more. Overall the '74s were in the worst condition of the cards in the box.
 1973: I got about a hundred new cards for my '73 set out of the ~400 in the box. Look at some of these "commons" - Billy Williams, Tony Perez, Juan Marichal!
 1972: This set was the highlight of the box for me. I got almost 200 cards for my '72 set - pushed from 33% to over 50%. And they were all in great shape - so if you need '72s I've got some good ones for you! Even better - there were 33 high numbers! I had almost no '72 high numbers before this. That Mazeroski card is a high number. There were two Fergie Jenkins cards - I've already flipped the dupe to Al (subject of a later post). The highlight of the whole box, for me, was the Clemente World Series card, which I think was in the other guy's binder. It may not be the base card but no way in the world is that a common. Also I love the boyhood photo of Joe Torre at his home in Marine Park, Brooklyn. That gives me an idea for a future blog post series - something like "things you wouldn't expect to find on a vintage card" - what do you think?
 1971: A few '71 snuck in. Some Orioles commons, Bert Campaneris, and two league leader cards with some serious star power.
1970: Yes, even 1970 Topps found it's way into the box. Young Lou Piniella and Bobby Bonds, and some more big-time league leader stars power.
After this pickup and my recent eBay purchases, I have a lot of cards from '68-77 to trade, though a lot of them (66-75%) are in fairly rough shape or written on. Anyone building a set, especially if not condition-conscious, let me know! My tradelist isn't updated yet but the wantlist is.


  1. Agreed, you chose wisely! Great pickups!

  2. Congratulations on the nice vintage haul!

  3. Nice choice, indeed! I don't find deals like this. Must be looking at the wrong craigslist, or something.

  4. Nice boxes. Never have done a Craigslist transaction before, but very cool!