Thursday, September 20, 2018

Like A "Barn Find" Classic Car

I watch a lot of car shows on TV.  The kind where they take an old wreck and do all the metal work and mechanical repairs and upgrades and turn it into a great hot rod or cruiser.  There are about a dozen shows like that.  Then there are the ones with the guys that go looking into people's barns and garages for old cars to buy and restore.  Sometimes they find some extremely rare models and are able to fix 'em up and sell them for top dollar.

I've always wanted to do that with a card collection.  I've only been blessed with a collection from someone else a couple times in my life.  But I guess every collector dreams of that big find in some distant relative's attic, or cheap buy of a bulk lot of vintage cards.

When I was first starting to collect in earnest, the guy my mother was dating had a cousin or something that had most of a 1970 set in mid-grade condition that he gave me.  It was pretty much my first taste of vintage older than a couple years from the present day.  (That was probably in the late 70's, so they weren't that old at the time.)

The other time was when I bought a collection of mostly Dodgers from a friend of a friend.  I gave him decent money, but when I priced it all out, I got a bargain. Lots of real nice vintage HOF'ers and some other miscellaneous singles.

Those were fine, but they weren't like the Cracker Jack Find from around 2016, or the Black Swamp Find of 2012.  Those made "National" news and netted the finders six and seven figure fortunes.

But I would never be so presumptuous to think I'd ever find anything like that.  I'd be ecstatic just to find a batch of 50's and 60's commons in decent shape, or a T205 starter set in fair condition.  Or even a few extra 70's sets for trade bait.

Where would these come from?

My imagination conjurs up all sorts of scenarios.  I meet someone thru a friend and we go help them clean out their old country store.  The inventory has sat for years.  The parents are gone, and the kids - now in their 40's - are just trying to liquidate the stuff.  That whole pallet of old wax boxes "isn't probably worth much now.  What can we do with it?"

Or you're with your extended family for a holiday or some occasion and Aunt Martha brings you a little package that her friend gave her for you after it came up that you were in some city recently at a card show.  They figured these would be something you'd "get a kick out of."  You take it home and open it up to find The Babe and his Hall mates staring at you.
As I drive the highways back and forth to work, or wherever I happen to be going, I will see something on the side of the road and think, how cool would it be to find a box that fell off someone's truck or was cast out as junk, get it home and have a big stack of great stuff to add to your collection?  Whether it be unopened packs, or stacks of mint singles.

My luck, it would probably just be loose commons from 1987 and '89 Topps and Donruss.

What's your greatest epic find or collection purchase?  What amazing stuff did you get just by chance or luck?


  1. I don't have any great stories to share, but I did enjoy this post a great deal, and will be very interested to see what kind of responses you get.

  2. My only big success story was finding a '67 Mantle (as well as a '66 Hank Aaron and a bunch of other goodies) at a garage sale a few years ago for a song. I've always wanted to buy an entire collection but haven't (yet) pulled the trigger on doing anything like that.

  3. I don't have a "great find" story but a year or so ago a friend of mine gave me the collection his son had as a kid. The son is now early 30s and a week and a half ago or so became a father himself to a girl. So the collection was made up of mainly early and mid 1990s cards

  4. Back in 2013, I purchased a box of cards for $2 at my local flea market. Inside contained a Kobe Bryant patch card, a Lebron James jersey card, a Jerry Rice rookie card, and an uncut SI for Kids Tiger Woods rookie sheet. Two days later, I found an entire collection of basketball, football, and hockey rookie cards, memorabilia cards, autographs, and 90's inserts for $160. That collection was worth at least a few thousand dollars.

    That's a story my buddy and I reference at least a few times each year. Good times.

  5. I have a feeling that for me nothing will top the day my dad came home from work with a grocery bag of 1956 Topps for me and my brothers.

    But there was that time a few years ago when I found a 1961 Roger Maris for 7 cents at a card show.

  6. I've been gifted someone's collection three times, but usually it's junk wax era cards. I did acquire a starter set of 1979 Topps this way. It's in well-loved condition, but I'm working on finishing it anyway. One of those collections had a couple dozen of singles from the 1950's... that was really fun to find!

    FYI, you're not the only one who dreams of finding old vintage under weird/odd circumstances.