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The Evolution of a Collection

July 19 2017 at 7:40 PM

Jack J.  (Login fallbrookjack)

It is my observation that my collections go through a predictable evolution. I collect both wrappers and cards, and the process appears the same for these and any other collectible I can think of.

My first "collectible" gum wrapper was probably purchased thirty years ago, and I think it was for the 1935 Mickey Mouse set. I had many of the cards because I was a Disney Guy, and I thought the wrapper was cool and a nice "goes with". Some time along the line, I discovered "The Wrapper Magazine" and the card and wrapper bug bit me in a big way. I've been on the vintage wrapper hunt ever since and the Net54 Gallery and Chat Board have really fueled my enthusiasm. I have especially enjoyed the hunt and have found my share of classic wrappers, but it's getting harder and harder to "score".

Now that the collection has more in it than I still need, I'm finding that my commitment to this hobby is being financially tested. I remember years back when I would find a desirable wrapper on Ebay and put in what I considered a reasonable bid. I wouldn't even make it on the list of bidders. The wrapper would go for 10 times what I bid. "How can they spend so much money on one piece of paper?" I would ask myself. So, I went along getting neat wrappers for not much money and missing out on wrappers I would love to have ... but the collector monster inside me was being fed by the wrappers I was getting. I now realize that those "whales" were probably at the filling holes stage of their collection.

I now look back on the records I kept for wrappers I wanted and how much they sold for, and I kick myself. Many of these wrappers come up for sale so rarely that I haven't seen one for sale since. Well, fast forward a decade or two and I find myself spending more than I used to. There's no longer an unending list of wrappers I need. There are still plenty of holes in the collection, but it's getting harder and harder to fill them. I'm finding it more difficult to say to myself, "If I don't get this one, maybe I'll get the next one." I may not live that long.

It seems there is a cross-road up ahead when I must decide that the collection is as complete as it's going to get. It's still a ways off, but how far? ... I don't know. In the mean time, I still get some wrappers (lately, more than I expected) and I still miss out on the rarest of the rare. I do really enjoy looking through the collection, especially when there is a new addition.

I hope to keep collecting for some time. - Jack J.

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(Login flubadub)

Re: The Evolution of a Collection

July 19 2017, 11:03 PM 

I think "You the Man" Jack when it comes to wrappers but like almost all of us you missed the boat years ago. Now pay up or shut up, just the way it is. I kick myself in the ass for many things I have passed on in life, not just cards, but you can't get it back. Boo Hoo.

Jason R.
(Login a71678)

Re: The Evolution of a Collection

July 20 2017, 12:35 AM 

+1 to Jack's keen observations. Before Legendary went down, I went back and looked at some of the cards I passed up because they were going for "way too much money" and shudder to think about what I willingly turned down for what was a mere drop in the bucket. (Of course, maybe I would have been shilled, too, but I couldn't have known that at the time.)

I vividly remember the first time I spent three figures on a wrapper and the first time I spent three on a card (and four, too, though that wasn't all that long ago). Who knew those 25-cent packs of "Dinosaurs Attack!" I bought so religiously as a kid would be a gateway drug?

(Login rasnel)

Evolution of a Collection

July 20 2017, 9:14 AM 

Hello Jack J/Fallbrookjack please contact me at thank you


(Login Monsterwax)

Re: The Evolution of a Collection

July 27 2017, 12:22 AM 

Jason, you mention the Dinosaurs Attacks as your gateway drug. They bought me back into the hobby as a teenager in a big way as well. (I was going to school at Auburn at the time. I should have been spending my money on girls, but that Dinosaur story was a REAL adventure and the cards soon took over my meager budget!) I was later told that when that series first came out, it was tested by Topps in a limited releasee and went over really well. And that a dealer (or dealers) got ahold of them and took them to one of the big shows and sold the "test sets" for $100 each! Then Topps went into high gear with them and made waaaaaay too many-- but the follow up printings were identical to the earlier release. No differences at all. So the people who paid $100 a set were royally SCREWED because the same set eventually sold for just a few bucks. (But how were they to know that before?)

Still, to me, I find this story very revealing. (Assuming it's true, and I'd love to hear feedback about it from anyone who remembers one way or the other.) But if true, it demonstrates what a GREAT series it really is, and if it had been pulled in those early days (instead of being over produced and later, dumped by the truck load) it would be selling for hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars today. It also proves how we tend to be snobs about card "rarity" in this hobby, when we really should be more interested in card CONTENT.

Not only is the artwork incredible, the sci-fi story sophisticated, and the sense of humor very funny, but the way the backs were designed and the different methods they used to convey the story were some of the most clever backs Topps (or more specifically, Gary Gerani) ever produced. It's hard to imagine how that series could have been any better, and it's little wonder that Tim Burton and Joe Dante both wanted to make a movie out of it -- until they heard Spielberg was doing "Jurassic Park" and got cold feet (Burton did "Mars Attacks" instead). Talk about an impressive full color (55 card) story board!

This message has been edited by Monsterwax on Jul 27, 2017 10:23 AM

(Login imarobot)

Re: The Evolution of a Collection

July 27 2017, 7:19 PM 

I have complete or near complete sets with stickers for $4 ea. How many would you like. Complete junk, They might have been worth something if Topps would have dumped 50,000 cases into the ocean where ever they dumped 52 Topps Hi number baseball.

Jason R.
(Login a71678)

Re: The Evolution of a Collection

July 29 2017, 2:29 PM 

Ha! I probably spent upwards of $30 trying to put this set together as a 12-year-old, at a quarter a pack.

I think "Dinosaurs Attack!" is what really cemented my interest in non-sports cards, but my "gateway," so to speak, was Topps' "Back to the Future Part II" set. I spent a lot of money putting that one together pack-by-pack, as well; it was probably the sixth or so movie I ever saw in a real theater, and it was my favorite for a long time. That led me to the 98-cent Warner's Candy fun packs in the grocery store, which included recycled Topps cards in packs and taped-together lots (I distinctly remember baseball, wrestling and "Masters of the Universe" cards and "Fright Flicks" stickers, and this may be where I first saw "Dinosuars Attack!" as well, as this would have been a couple years after it was originally issued). Then came Topps, Donruss and Fleer 1991 baseball, and the Topps "Desert Storm" sets (our local National Guard unit was deployed to Saudi Arabia, and I knew several kids whose fathers or uncles were over there in that capacity, so these were of particular interest). Then my father bought me the green "Sport Americana" non-sports guide as a birthday or Christmas present, and I learned about all the other non-sports sets out there (post-1960, anyway)... and that was it!


(Login Monsterwax)

Re: The Evolution of a Collection

July 29 2017, 8:55 PM 

Yeah Jason, Fright Flicks was another cool monster series by Topps, but with little resale value because of all the "dumping" of the product. The backs recreated the Topps Terror Tales (but with a different graphic). It's a pity they didn't change the stories as well and do something original (but that would have required some effort on their part, so thanks but no thanks.)

Canada did a version of Fright Flicks (O-Pee-Chee or whatever) that has a different color on the backs of their Fright Flicks (blue, instead of green) and the stickers are part of the cardboard card set (instead of actual stickers). Those are pretty cool and they were never dumped that I know of. In fact, I've only seen one set of those!

Robert T Mruczek
(Login RMruczek)

Collection Decisions

July 30 2017, 5:58 PM 

Hi Jack:

I've been collecting non-sports since originally 1976, sold it all in 1987 (regretting to this day), and picking it back up in 2005, keeping at it ever since.

I'll share with you a few hobby lessons that I've learned over the years.

Ours is a hobby where the Law of Supply and Demand is only one piece of the puzzle...not everything that is super scarce has demand, and some things that are hotly in demand are seemingly available at all times, either because of a plentiful supply or the dealers are asking for too much so they don't sell.

Either way, I'm sure that you have come across some specific items that you've seen once...maybe even twice...since you started collecting, but not again, and maybe not for a very long time.

So the decision to make when such items come badly do you want it ? And when more than one collector is asking the same decision about the same item up for auction, the next question inevitably becomes how much are you willing to pay for it.

The "price guide" is just that, a guide. Don't limit yourself to whatever this "guide" suggests. Back in 1987 one such "guide" priced out "Foreign Legion" (R54) at $1/$2/$4 for VG/EX/NMt. I was buying these cards at up to $12 apiece and sold all of them for around $20 apiece, and these were in conditions that to this day I've never seen again.

In fact, in an old "Wrapper" issue, collector Val DeCarlo was offering his "second best" set for sale at the time for $1,500 citing that he was keeping the best set for himself. Both of those, and some dupes, he bought from me. The lesson being...don't let a guide determine your collecting decisions...use it as a checklist at minimum, to be sure, but let your own budget and collecting heart set the price that you are willing to pay.

Collecting in low-grade is easier of course than for high-grade. What you need to decide is whether to invest in "filler" specimens or instead save for when the good ones come up. The problem is, at some point even the "filler" specimens become cost prohibitive. Anyone collecting "Superman" (1940) knows all too well the folly of letting go of card #1 or #72 in decent shape if it is a bit more than you are willing to spend. Sure, you will see one again, but in what condition and at what cost ?

The biggest gambles as of late tend to be not just unopened box/pack purchases, for a number of reasons, but also "key cards" of some sets in raw but apparent high grade condition. Such cards, even ungraded, can go for crazy prices in auctions...the question is, how high are you willing to go, and how much of a chance do you wish to take that the card if submitted for grading will get that ultra high grade of 10, 9 or maybe even an 8 depending on the set.

Cases in point...if you've ever seen a bidding war as of late for a high-grade-looking specimen of "Star Trek" (Topps 1976) card #3 (Dr McCoy), or "Lost in Space" (Topps 1966) card #1, or even a "Jets Rockets Spacemen" card #1. Over the years I have seen such raw specimens fetching bids of $200+, $300+ and even $451 for that JRS card years back on Ebay, all based on collectors taking a chance that the card's pic would look as good to the judges of PSA.

As for "Wrappers", the late 1980's in "The Wrapper" truly rocked for wrapper collectors. I wish that I had not sold them, but over the span of 10 years I had built up a sizable collection which included 1 cent and 5 cent versions of "Robin Hood", "Outer Limits" and many more that in the here and now rarely if ever come up for auction on Ebay or anywhere else. Bottom line, just as with cards, if you see that elusive item ,never put yourself into a position where you kick yourself years later.

In 2009 I passed on a "Star Trek" (Topps 1976) card #3 in PSA 9 for $511...I thought that price was INSANE at the time. A few years later one sold for $1,600+ and I had bid as high as $1200-1300 at the time. A few months ago, the next one discovered sold for $4,000 offline. Lesson to be learned...never pass up an elusive buy if the item is either rare in quantity or rare in a specific condition, so long as your resources can handle it.

One more thought...if you've ever wanted to start collecting a particular set but were waffling, don't wait too long. Sometimes a good opportunity presents itself and you will want to grab it before someone else has the same idea.

One addendum - in the here and now, I have a PSA registry set of "Star Wars" (Topps 1977) which is all PSA 9 NQ or better save for one single card...#70. I passed on one in PSA 9 as I thought $300 was too high and tried to nickel and dime it by offering $275. Problem is someone else thought the price was just fine. Now that was 2+ years ago and I haven't seen another since. All for trying to save $25...the cost of 2-3 days of lunch in the city where I work. Not a good decision in retrospect.

A second amusing anecdote...true story. At a comic book convention in NYC back in the day, a dealer had some OLD issues of "Action Comics" for sale. I focused on just one as I was carrying allowance money at the time (I was not even 15 years old). It was issue #80, the 2nd appearance of "Mr Myxlptlyk" or however that imp's name is spelled.

In any event, the dealer had two in lesser condition for $3.00 (I kid you not), and the other in better condition for $4.50. Stupid me bought the one for $3.00 so I could spend $1.50 and buy five new comic books for the $1.50 difference. HUGE mistake.

This message has been edited by RMruczek on Jul 30, 2017 6:05 PM

(Login luckylarry777)

Re: The Evolution of a Collection

August 3 2017, 9:15 AM 

Over on the baseball side, there is often talk of "the thrill of the hunt". For me, with non-sports cards, it's the same thing. As I am piecing my sets together, I am always constantly engaged with the set. Once the set is complete, I don't look at it very much. Into the box it goes. Having my cards in binders might help me look at them more, but that's not an option as binders take up to much room. I thought of starting a blog to talk about the various sets, but there are lots of blogs that do the same thing, and it sounds like a lot of work. I keep telling myself to pull out some of my complete sets and thumb through them once in awhile but I haven't done that either. I could see where a collector would say "I haven't looked at these cards for two years, I think I'll sell them".



Charley Ramone
(Login oldbubblegum)
temporary moderators

Re: The Evolution of a Collection

August 9 2017, 4:26 PM 

JJ, enjoyed the look inside your head. Very nice , honest and realistic.

You are a Textbook example of the seasoned collector.

How much? Should I? Do I? regrets, second thoughts after sale, always thinking of the finish line but not giving up...I'm sure you'll have everything you desire (as far as wrappers) in this lifetime.

Way to go man!


" Showin the love since 1960 "

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