After eleven years of trying, I finally got my 1953 Firefighters set over the 8.0 mark, at 8.023. You can view the set on the PSA Set Registry at:
For those of you not familiar with this beautfiul series, it consists of 64 cards with color paintings of NYC firefighting equipment, old and current (as of 1953), both land-based and water-based. The art is striking, with the fire-fighting vehicles in blazing red, and the backgrounds soft pastels of blue, green and yellow. I don't believe there is another series quite like it.
The backs of the cards provide some informative narrative about the equipment depiced on the fronts. There are two back variations, one with wide print, and one with narrow print, but I don't pay too much attention to them in collecting the series. It is very difficult to find high-grade cards of many numbers in this series, particularly numbers 49-64.
My Dad loved this set, as he was a confirmed fire-engine chaser on Long Island, which has volunteer fire departments. I remember as a kid he kept the police radio on and at the announcement of a nearby fire, we were piling into our cars and running off to the scene of the fire. It was exciring, and always impressive to watch the fire crews do their work. Now that my Dad is gone, this set is a particuarly poignant remembrance of him. I can feel him looking over my shoulder as I pore through the cards, one by one.
I want to thank Marty Quinn and Mike Bobrow for helping me upgrade my set to the 8.0 level. Quite frankly, i had about given up that it would ever happen, as there are barely enough cards graded to produce a single 8.0 set. I feel privileged to be the steward of this set.
Best in collecting, Bill Bengen