Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Unforgetable ""POCKET ROCKET" RICHARD - MONTREAL Captain

Growing up in the 1970's I was a fan of the Montreal Canadiens - starting with Guy Lefluer, Ken Dryden and Larry Robinson were just beginning their Hall of Fame careers. So I collected them pretty actively up until the 1980's.
But looking back now, there were only 12 and then 14 clubs until expansion in 1974. Many of the great Canadian stars were sent to the new teams in the USA. But some remained with the "royal two - Montreal and Toronto. Two in particular were Jaqcues Plante and Frank Mahovolich (from Canadien to Maple Leaf and vise versa).
But one guy stayed with the same club and collected 11 Stanley Cups - more than any other player. Although he was the younger brother of Maurice "Rocket" Richard, he was 15 years his junior and 3 inches smaller. Thus he was dubbed "Pocket".
1973-74 Topps Henri Richard
However, Henri, beside the record Cup rings, also amassed over 1000 NHL points - something his iconic brother did not. I picked up this graded card for a steal. It depicts a gray-haired Richard wearing the Captain's "C" and looking like royalty sitting for a portrait.

Henri Richard also appeared on another card in the set as he lifted the Stanley Cup trophy (which I already had). I still need a few key cards from my 1970's Montreal Canadiens run. Most of these are the squad players in the O-Pee-Chee card sets.
If anyone has some 1970's Montreal players to trade in the above condition or better, let me know.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Trade With Chronicles of FUJI - Japan Goodness

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I am a collector who likes an international flavor. I read and follow other collectors - far and wide, some in other countries, some here domestically.
One fellow blogger in California is "The Chronicles of Fuji" with whom I did a little trade. He sent me an array of Japanese trading cards. The first card we see here is a 1979 TCMA card of Japanese pro baseball. The card is very much like its U.S. counterparts from the mid to late 1970's.
1979 TCMA - Japanese Baseball

The second grouping was some modern Japanese baseball cards. Its hard to red the print as its quite small on both the front and th back. Only one player from this lot played in MLB - spending 2 seasons with the Kansas City Royals organization. He cost $6 million and played 3 games.
(and we wonder why baseball teams go broke ?)
2012 Konami Japanese Baseball cards.
There were also two mascot / checklist cards. These reminded me of Pokemon come to life.  

Baseball Magazine mascot cards.
Basball cards have along history in Japan. Like their American counterpart, the sport enjoys not only trading card company issues, but also food and beverage associated cards.
One such product - CALBEE - makes potato chips and other snacks. They have distributed baseball cards with their product since 1973.
However, baseball has begun to take a back seat to the international game of soccer in Japan. Since co-hosting the 2002 World Cup, the soccer teams and players have enjoyed super star status. Many of the National Team players are signed to lucrative contracts in Europe.
So it is no surprise that Calbee has expanded its premiums to soccer cards (see package below).

Calbee Potato Chip package with Japanese Federation shield on the front.
Fuji included 9 JAPAN International players, known affectionately as "Samurai Blue" in the lot.

The pick of the lot is Shinji Kagawa - who starred with Borussia Dortmund. He led them to the German Championship in the 2011-2012 season. He was sold to Manchester United and won the 2012-13 English Premier League. With back to back title trophies, he is one of Japan's highest profile stars.

2013 Calbee Samurai Blue - Shinji Kagawa.
It is an interesting group of cards. Thanks for the trade Fuji.

Monday, October 28, 2013

BIGGEST Sketch Card Ever !

Sometimes bigger is not always better. But when it comes to art, it is always subjective. One of my clients commissions me every 6 months or so to fill his LORD OF THE RINGS sketch collection.
An avid sketch card collector, he has asked for recreation of scenes from the Trilogy of films. however, the last 2 commissions have been fantasy scenes - ones that did not actually appear as such in the movies. I've usually sketch these on regulation sized trading cards, just like I did for TOPPS.
This time, I went big ...
To date, my largest sketch card -  measuring 17 inches by 14 inches. The reunion of Galdalf and Bilbo at Hobbiton is the scene.
Although its been almost 10 years since I did the cards that went into the Topps packages, it is still one of the most requested themes for my commission sketch cards. Here's a nostolgic look back at some of my cards I found dealers selling on ebay*.
*: Sadly, I cannot afford my own card at some of the asking prices. 

If you have a theme or subject that you might want to see on a sketch trading card, drop me a note.

Friday, October 25, 2013


The good and the bad of a great party is that some people get to go - others do not.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup will be a big party. After all, it will be hosted by soccer's party nation - BRAZIL.
As World Cup Qualifying comes to a close, the end is marked by the final play-offs that pit the many also-rans.
Uruguay, blessed with talented strikers like Liverpool's Luis Suarez and PSG's Edison Cavani, will have to play Middle East upstart, Jordan.
While 8 European teams will battle it out for the 4 final places, the draw pitted two of today's fan favorites:

The home and away series to be played this month was drawn as follows:
While it is a possibility that France, the 1998 World Cup Winners, may miss the tournament, it is a fact that either Portugal or Sweden - with their super stars, will sit this one out.
Zlatan has 46 international goals (93 caps) for Sweden while Cristiano has 43 goals (107 caps). Ronaldo has appeared in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups. Ibrahimovic has made it to the 2002 and 2006 tournament finals with Sweden.
Cristiano scored both of Real Madrid's goals in its Champions League match this week. Ibrahimovic score 4 of PSG's goals in its 5-1 crushing of Anderlecht.
Only one will be in Brazil ...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

CANADIEN GOODNESS - Toronto and Montreal Hockey Legends

As much as I love hockey, I came to realize this week that I am a casual collector. When hockey is in season and when the jet stream blows cool air to Florida - my hockey senses highten.
More to the point, prior to this week I did not own one original Parkhurst hockey card !
1959-60 Parkhurst Boom Boom Geoffrion
Then I saw this card (above) of Hall of Famer "Boom Boom" Geoffrion. The price was right - $5.00
As a week passed and the auction concluded I had purchased other hockey cards (to be featured in a future blog). The seller of this other card filed a non-payment alert after TWO DAYS !
Not a big surprise from ebay. While I duely paid for the second card (I had been away), an email came from the seller of the Geoffrion card. The gentleman apologized for not sending out the card as he and his wife were also away. I wrote back thanking him for the note and told him its ok, that I now know the card is on its way.
Now, I do not have it on any authority, but I think this gentleman was a Canadien. Most of the retires that own vintage hockey in Florida are from North of the border.
So when the paackage arrived today, one envelope was labeled - two cards. One being Boom Boom and the other an odd ball card of BABE RUTH. Its marked 1992 Delphi - and believe it was issued to promote or compliment a limited edition collector's plate.
Although I already have this card it was a kind gesture. The other envelope was marked - coin. I have to say, I love sports coins. So, it was to my delight and surprise to pull this -

1961-62 Shirriff hockey coin of Eddie Shack.
A SALADA FOODS Shirriff hockey coin. It was of a Toronto Maple Leafs player Eddie Shack. Again, it was a first for my hockey collection.
Eddie won the Stanley Cup 4 times with the Maple Leafs and played over 1000 NHL games. But here is a factoid from Wikipedia -
During the 1966 season Shack broke out, scoring a career high 26 goals on a line with Ron Ellis and Bob Pulford, and his popularity was such that a novelty song called Clear The Track, Here Comes Shack written in his honour and played by "Douglas Rankine with the Secrets".[6] It reached #1 on the Canadian pop charts and charted for nearly three months.
Speaking of facts, poor Boom Boom was outed on the back of his card - "a deep growing pain in his groin area slowed him down" and caused him to miss another NHL scoring title.
Growing up near the Canadian border I got my first hockey cards in 1971 (still my favorite set). However, my collection only grew newer from that point. Now, I am enjoying going backwards to vintage. I especially like Canadien food issues.
If anyone has any Canadien food issues you will trade for other sports cards, let me know.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

To BUY or Not To BUY ... That Is The Question ?

After 1980, choosing which cards or which company to buy your favorite sports memorabilia became harder. Topps was given a run by Donruss and Fleer beginning in 1981.
Since then, a hoard of card makers have joined the fray. To add to the madness are the producers of unlicensed cards. To be honest, its sometimes a shame.
A certain company (of thieves) recently flooded ebay (where else can you cheat the market beside wall street ?) with unlicensed merchadise. These almost always come from one seller. The cards have no web site, company address or location.  Ebay is the only place to find them and they have done nothing to stop the illegal products being sold.
Here's the thing -
I really like these cards. They have a nice design, they are cigarette card sized and the selection is quite alluring.

There are all the major sports - baseball, basketball, football, hockey and soccer. In addition, there are notable personalities like master illusionist Harry Houdini (see above).

Rock and Roll legends from The individual Beatles - (John, Paul, George and Ringo) to Elvis are in the set. But seldom seen carded icons like guitar legend Randy Rhoads (see above) is also featured.

Some of the iconic shots of sports stars are used on these cards. All, which I might emphesis, WITHOUT permission.
The makers of these cards are paramount to printing your own money. And like counterfieters, they will (or you will) ultimately regret having them. They produce these as limited numbered cards. But there is no checklist and no way of knowing how many are actually printed.

I am encouraging card collectors to shun these for several reasons.
1. By buying these cards, you are aiding thieves. Thieves are not looking after your interest, but their own.
2. If you buy these, you will encourage others to produce more unlicensed cards. The market will be flooded (even more than now) with fakes, rip-offs and cheap cards.
3. Cataloging trading cards is hard enough without unlicensed products. I've cataloged players and sets for over a decade. Although I wish I could, I avoid adding these to the list. (however, I do make a note as you see in this blog)
4. Without a checklist and a governing of how many cards are actually made, you risk buying something that can be printed over and over when you think you have something special. There is no investment in fakes. You will be stuck with worthless merchandise that no one will buy.
I would really encourage the makers of these cards to get a license. Some of these are very desirable cards. But if they sell well, then I may as well just make copies of these cards and sell them myself. (don't think I won't)
How would you like owning a fake fake ? Its that easy and I would easily flood the market with fake, fakes. After all, what can the makers of the cards do to me ? Can they sue for something they have no rights to use ? If I see these on the secondary market, I will start selling fakes.
So be careful and use common sense. Buy at your own peril. You've been warned.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Record Setter - Albert Brown - 1902 Ogden Cigarettes

Sometimes its not a long career that highlights an athlete. Sometimes its just one season.
Albert Frederick Brown (born April 1879) was an English professional footballer who scored a goal in the 1902 FA Cup Final for Southampton, and also scored a record seven goals in one match. His date of death is unknown. (from Wikipedia)
Although his date of death may be unknown, he is immortalized on this 1902 cigarette card.
1902 OGDEN'S Cigarettes - General Interest Series # F369 - ALBERT BROWN

Brown was born in Tamworth, England and started his career with the local Tamworth club, before joining Aston Villa in February 1898. He only made two first-team appearances for Villa in the 1900–01 season (in which he scored two goals) before moving (along with Tommy Bowman) to Southampton in May 1901.
Brown was reputed to be the fastest sprinter in English football and was known as the "Tamworth Sprinter". His career at Southampton got off to a slow start, scoring only once in his first three games before injury forced him to miss three games in October/November 1901. On his return from injury, he started to score more freely and by Christmas he had scored seven goals. In his next game he doubled his tally for the season as he scored a club record seven goals in a match against Northampton Town at The Dell on 28 December 1901. His first goal came almost straight from the kick-off and within five minutes he had completed his hat trick. By half time Saints were 7–0 up, with Brown contributing four. He added three more in the second half as Saints completed the rout (the other goals came from Sam Meston (2), Fred Harrison and Archie Turner).[1]
He finished the 1901–02 season season having scored 25 league goals from 25 games, as Saints ended the season in third place in the Southern League. He also made eight appearances in the FA Cup, scoring four times including Saints' goal in the replay of the final on 28 April 1902, as Saints went down 2–1 to Sheffield United.
During the summer of 1902, he sustained a serious injury which lost him his place in the starting line-up to John Fraser. Brown only made one further appearance for Southampton, before being sold to Queens Park Rangers in October 1902.
After two seasons with QPR, he moved on to Preston North End in May 1904 and then to Blackpool in March 1906, where he finished his career. (from Wikipedia)

Brown did not have a fantastically memorable career. He did have a great game in a great season. This most likely prompted his inclusion in this 1902 card set. And for that, he is immortalized.

This soccer card is now 111 years old. To my knowledge, any person who found these cards in their original tobacco pack is no longer living. I think it would be amazing if we could trace the history of where this card has been over the past century. Did the individual who smoked keep the card until his death ? Did he pass it on to his son or grandson ? Did it get sold to a card collector or an auction house ? Was it misplaced during the First World War or WWII ? Did it belong to a coal miner, a chimney sweep, a soldier or a lawyer ? I wonder.

Like Albert Brown's date of death, we can only wonder. However, I do know where it is now. But I wonder where will it be 100 years from now ?


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Avoiding The Idiocy Of PSA

When it comes to the logical collector, a certain grading company just cannot help but appear to be idiots. For anyone who has read the book "The Card", many of the fears of a priceless collection become a nightmare of worthlessness.
I've tried to educate some of the people at PSA. However, one cannot make the blind see or the deaf hear. I've featured several of the "boners" that PSA has given us in their ignorance of soccer cards.
So, here is one more to add to the pile ...
Its labeled a "trading card".  Really ?  I thought it might be a flying carpet !  What's sadder, is that the card is listed on evil bay with what I would deem "over priced" - see also insane, nuts, wacko or just plain koo-koo.
I am hoping that my contacts at one of the other grading companies heeds my advice and pays attention to the market. They may just do well as soccer card guides as collecting has the greatest potential of any sport. Here is why -
1. soccer cards are still relatively affordable
2. The sport translates to any part of the world and so does the internet.
3. Because so much is unknown about the early sets, its a challenge even for seasoned collectors.
4. The largest nations for sheer numbers (China, Japan, USA and Brazil) now have the economy to purchase what was once produced for a collecting population of only a few thousand. Demand cannot keep up. The early collectors will have the picks.
 PSA are going to fool some people - but the smart ones will not fall for it. There are many dealers now on the Internet selling false "rookie cards" for good money because there is little guidance.
But that may soon change.
This (insert DirectTV situation here) is what happens when you  order PSA. Don't order PSA.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Breakfast In America - KELLOGG'S 3-D Baseball Cards

One of my fondest memories of breakfast time as a kid was getting FREE stuff inside the cereal box. These items ranged from plastic scuba divers to rubber band aircraft carriers (remember those ?).
Mornings of swilling milk and sweet oats were intertwined with "reading" the front, back and sides of the specially marked cereal box.
But being a sports fan was extacy, staring at these boxes, and wondering who's card was buried deep inside the crunchy sweetness. When the treasure was finally extracted from the bottom of the sea of cereal, I would have a second bowl of breakfast and gaze at the 3 dimentional awesomeness of the baseball card. 
The bluest of sky and the whisps of clouds - distanced in the backdrop of a brightly covered athlete. These were almost like a magic window to a magical baseball diamond outside.
This week up sprung for two 1974 Kellogg's cards from the evil of the bay (ebay). Not that I am an advocate of PSA or their mystical registry sets (another evil), but I have found it convenient to track my collection on their web site. I have a good number of Kellogg's cards - including the complete elusive 1971 set. However, none of them are graded.
A few years ago I traded for about a half dozen PSA 9 Kellogg's cards from the 1974 set. This only included 1 Hall of Famer - Orlando Cepeda.

Picking up the Reggie was great because I was a fanatic Jackson and A's collectors in my hey day. Billy  Williams was once with the Oakland A's, but he is best remembered as a Chicago Cub. Cubs fans are a sad lot - examplfied by the disgraced behavior and treatment of a fellow fan who only reached out to catch a baseball*.
Although I am in no hurry to finish anything these days, I would like to trade for more of these 3-D cards. I have a wealth and variety of cards to swap, so if you have any of these, please contact me - tell me what you collect.
* I refrain from putting THAT fan through any more pain by mentioning his name. If you want, you can look it up. (Cubs fans)

Friday, October 11, 2013

THE KING is Still KING on Cardboard

Almost 40 years after he starred for the NEW YORK COSMOS, the legendary Brazilian soccer star PELE' is still commanding premium money on trading cards.
Having appeared a few years ago in the SPORTS KINGS series, he is now featured in several TOPPS sets. In my opinion, the most outstanding of these is the Topps Archives autograph card.
Ironically, this could have been Pele's American card debut had Topps been producing soccer cards in 1975 (assuming they would use the baseball design of the same year). Sadly, they were not.

I found only two sales recorded of this card:
$482.77 and an offer accepted from a $649.99 listing.
2013 Allen & Ginter included a hodge-podge of Pele cards in their set. A base card, a mini base card, a black border, a Bazooka back, a green back and a blank back.
Then there were the A&G memorabilia cards.

I purchased a pair of the minis for a small price compared to the specialty cards.

The purpose of the black backs ? Fuck if I know.

Then there are the autograph variations - blue autograph (can be found with 2 different border frames).

Blue ink have been recorded with $306.58, $315.08, $290, $304, $305, $292.89, $299.95, $311, $276.12, $311.01, $302.22, $318.03, $321, #338, $312.58. Its not certain if some of these were resold as they were not numbered.
The red ink rip cards have fared well being only #'d 1 of 10.
Red ink records were $760, $516.57, $632.57 and $476.00
Allen & Ginter autographed box toppers have shown around $400
Topps Tier One autograph cards numbered to # 50 have also sold as follows - $224.72, $274.99, $229.39, $247.50, $237.50 and $219.07
These Pele cards are part of the modern glut of variations, especially the Topps Allen & Ginter.
If I had the money that these high end cards are bringing, personally I would opt to get some of the vintage Pele cards from the 1960's. But I understand the chase of modern cards.
However, whichever the collector chooses, it only proves that PELE is still King ! 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Making My Own Cards - Sketch Art

Sometimes the answer to the simplest dilemas are right in front of us. I have been pre-occupied with my comic book art and making sketch cards of super heroes. While I still have a soft spot for sports cards, the disillusion of many of the products and the high cost of vintage has been prohibitive.
So, I decided to make some of my own cards. My heroes, my favorites, my opinion of the most significant players in the sports I like.  After finding my BOSTON BRUINS signed pennant, I was inspired to have a Bobby Orr autograph.
With the price of BOBBY ORR cards holding at premium value, he was the first choice to produce my own 1/1 sketch card.
To be fair, I caught a glimpse of the LEAF sketch cards that have popped up on ebay. Oddly enough, some of these were done by artist I started out working with on other sets for  Topps and Rittenhouse.
But to be honest, the quality was not what I expected. That is not to deminish the talent or styles of any artists - art is and always will be subjective.
I leave the opinion of my own art to those who look and, in some cases purchase the cards. I stopped working for the card companies that paid me only $5-10 per card and began selling my own at a substantial increase to my pocket.

Still the All-Time homerun king in my book, HANK AARON was drawn after watching ESPN Sports Century espisode that featured him.
Since I've started on the record holders, I had to include the greatest hockey scorer in my lifetime - WAYNE GRETZKY.

Last of the group is the hero of my childhood, and part of the Montreal Canadiens dynasty - KEN DRYDEN.

The design on the Orr card was left in that stage as I my have grand thoughts of having them signed by the players themselves. Although this is highly unlikely, one can dream, can't one ?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Just in time for the start of the NHL season I  found this BOSTON BRUINS pennant at the flea market last week. It had a wonderful NHL seal dominating the pennant with the year 1924 - when the Boston Bruins entered the NHL.

I know I hadn't been able to afford a Bobby Orr autograph on the regular market, so this was paramount in landing a great white whale. Someone took a great deal of time to put these signatures together.

The pennant was encased in a hard plastic sleeve. On the reverse were some old school lable maker tags identifying most of the autographs. Tucked in there was a ticket for a 1990's signing for Vezina winner Jim Carey.
Apart from the last Bruins' Stanley Cup winners, there is a good representation from all of the club's successes from the 1940's to the 1990's. 
 Here are the 23 Bruins fan favorites including (ten) 10 HALL OF FAMERS *:

Ray Bourque *
Johnny Bucyk *
Lyndon Byers
Jim Carey
Jon Casey
Gerry Cheevers *
Phil Esposito *
Fern Flaman *
Stephen Heinze
Sugar Jim Henry
Ken Hodge
Al Iafrate
Tom Johnson *
Joe Juneau
Rick Middleton
Cam Neely *
Bobby Orr *
Barry Pederson
Brad Park *
Milt Schmidt *
David Shaw
Bryan Smolinski
Cam Stewart

Some of the more interesting non-Hall of Famers are Lyndon Byers, who is known for his post-hockey career in film and radio. He is known in Boston for his on air radio antics.

Joe Juneau held the rookie record (1992-93) for most points in a season by a left wing. He was an Olympian who won the Silver Medal at the 1992 Albertville games.

Barry  Pederson was part of the historical trade that sent Cam Neely to the Bruins. Pederson returned to end his career with the Bruins.

Bryan Smoliski played over 1,000 NHL games.

My favorite group from this pennant is the 1970's super team Stanley Cup winners - Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Johnny Bucyk, Ken Hodge and Gerry Cheevers.

A close second are the early Bruins - Fern Flaman, Milt Schmidt, "Sugar" Jim Henry and Montreal Canadian great Tom Johnson who coached the Bruins to the 1970 Cup.

1951-52 Parkhurst "Sugar" Jim Henry card.

If I could have had Eddie Shore's autograph on the pennant it would be the entire history of the club on 15 inches of felt !