Sunday, January 31, 2010

Weekend Mail and Garage Sale Pick-ups ...

I have always been fascinated by the idea of tobacco cards. Having grown up in the age of bubble gum trading cards, I guess I wonder about those the same way today's kids think about modern cards. Today's packs are sold without any additional product. This is quite different from the era when cards were just the byproduct of the item to be sold.

I had the chance to get this complete cigarette box of "TURF" sliders. They were named as such because you could slide open the box to retrieve the cigarettes. 

The 1953 "TURF" Cigarettes series of 50 British Aircraft were meant to be cut out after the box was empty. These can sometimes be found through online auctions. I found this one for .99 cents and free shipping.

My garage sale bargain was this complete set of Top Trumphs 2009 STAR WARS: Clone Wars card game.
Tops Trumphs is a British manufactorer that has produced these card games since the 1970's.
The range of subjects run from entertainment and sports to science and history. They are well known around the world and you can visit their web site Planet Tops Trumphs here. My cost - .25 cents.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Out of Africa ....

Anyone who follows the world's most popular sport is already aware that the next World Cup will be played in South Africa this summer. The 2010 FIFA tournament will be unique in many ways with the continent hosting it's first World Cup.

The commonality of cigarette cards from first Europe, then South America is also the progression of soccer itself. With the advent of the North American Soccer League (NASL) the U.S. added themselves to the list of countries that produce soccer cards.

But the European influence had reached Africa even before the Second World War. Proof of this comes with the 1939 African Tobacco Manufactorers Ltd. set. The series titled "The World of Sport" really does include personalities known globally for their athletic achievments.

The 100 card set includes mostly British and American athletes. However, there are Australian, German and Italians as well. The greater part of the cards feature boxing and track & field.  
What makes this group special is their rarity and the inclusion if idolized sporting icons. The most sought after card - the baseball player Babe Ruth. Two African-Americans follow closely in Joe Louis and Jesse Owens who made their mark on the world as minorities. 
One of my favorite cards is of course - William Ralph "Dixie" Dean - the great Everton F.C. and England soccer star. It is said he was given the nickname "Dixie" because his wavy hair and dark toned skin was a reminder of persons from the Southern United States.

Not to be lost in the irony, that the cards are printed in Cape Town, South Africa and written bi-lingually in English and Dutch (Boer). The colonization by Dutch and German settlers is what led to the practice of Apartied - the separation of the people by race.

A great set using modern photos of the day. Every sport collector should own at least one card from this set.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How Many PELE' Cards ? ... PSA Doesn't Have a Clue !

The hobby of card collecting is cumilative. That is - as more people are involved, more knowledge is passed from the center to the outer circle. A subjective look at recent sales of soccer cards and world wide soccer issues, reveal the massive increase in interest.

While grading of soccer cards is still in its infancy, it has just exposed the tip of the iceberg. The biggest hurdle is the lack of knowledge from the grading companies.

For example, the PSA Registry (Professional Grading Service) has a Master listing of popular player cards - from Mickey Mantle Master Lists to Peyton Manning Master Lists to Wayne Gretzky Master Lists.

In my curiosity I peaked to see what they had listed under soccer. Well, well - someone actually had a PELE' Master List ! But wait ... there were only 20 to 25 cards listed ?

We ARE talking about PELE' - the undisputed KING of Soccer ... Football, Futebol, Veotbal, Calcio, Futbol ... everywhere in the world. So how can there only be a couple of dozen cards from a player that appeared on every continent, played in 4 World Cups and had a career over 2 decades ???

My own personal Master List of PELE' cards is over 200 cards - not including sets specifically dedicated to the world's most famous athlete. PSA's list also included a rash of mislabled cards.

The other well know card grading company - SGC (Sportcard Guarantee) - has dabbled into soccer card identification, but still have allowed a few errors to hit the market with their labels.

I have begun to compile a Master List for 3 of the most popular soccer players. I hope to have these available on CD ROM before summer.

Meanwhile, I hope PSA gets to know their goalpost from their helmet.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Winter Olympics and hockey ...

When John Lennon wrote and sang "Whatever Gets You Through the Night", little did he realize how important card collecting and hockey are to people who do not like winter.

I am one of those warm-weather souls.

Hockey is what gets me through the cold winter nights (as cold as it gets in Florida). The World Junior Championships were fun - especially the USA-Canada final. But I am really looking forward to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver (beginning February 12). The showcase will be highlighted of course by the hockey competition.

My classes and disertation research has impeaded my blogging - but sure as ice is cold - I'll be clocking in for the winter games. Until then I leave you with these two gems from the 1924 Willard's Chocolates card set (designation V-122).

Sunday, January 3, 2010

LIFE ... Real Life ... the People on Cards ...

Now that we begin a new decade ... um, no, I'm not going to do one of those features. According to the Mayan calendar we got 730 days from January 1st to live life as we know it. So ... we might as well bring in some important issues, survival training methods ... um ... never mind.

Let's stick to card collecting.

What is always as interesting to me is comparing fact with fiction. Like the following cases, these characters were depicted in real life and also in fiction. WYATT EARP, the wild west lawman, was played by several actors throughout the years. He even made a fictional appearence within a fictional series - played so aptly by Ron Soble in the original STAR TREK tv show.

However, the closest look-alike to a card was Kurt Russell who portrayed Earp in TOMBSTONE. Russell looked just like this illustration on the 1956 Topps Roundup card.

Stranded astronaut JIM LOVELL (seen here on a French trade card from the 1960s) was boldly played by TOM HANKS in APOLLO 13. They do not look alike. One if them is tough and gritty - your call.

Pretty Woman actress Julia Roberts portrayed the big clevage, sexy, fiesty ERIN BROCKOVIC in the film of the same name. Although photographed much later than the movie - Brockovic is no has-been on her Heritage autograph card.

Who doesn't love a mystery ? Who doesn't love money ? Why not have both. The legend of D.B. Cooper(actually named Dan), the name listed on the passenger manifest of the 1970's high-jacked airliner,  reaped a handsome ransom $$$$ without ever being caught.

It wasn't until I was watching the re-runs of the tv show LAS VEGAS that I realized the character played by Tom Selleck (Magnum P.I.) was call Mr. Cooper. He had a mysterious background, was extremely wealthy and had a covert knowledge of many things. Where else would you spend untracked money but Vegas ?

Although he owned the hotel and was a powerful man, he insisted that people just call him "Coop". These were characteristics of the suspect that intercted with the stewardess' of the mysterious flight.

Life ... or real life ?