Monday, January 18, 2016

Upgrading my 1991 Topps Traded set

Before delving too deeply into my latest set upgrade effort, I wanted to take a step back and provide an update of my busy winter effort.  Beginning during the playoffs last October, I've been on a major collecting binge that led to upgrades of all my sets between 1981-1992, including many other substantial additions.  Below is a picture of my 1991 Topps set, which the Traded set, Debut set, Glossy All-Stars set, Glossy Rookies set, and Wax Box set.  I've divided the set into three 1-inch binders that cost $0.99 each at Wal-Mart, and 130 Ultra-Pro Platinum pages.  I've got 10 new boxes of 1991 Topps Traded sets to upgrade my personal collection.  The first card, Juan Agosto #1T, was already an upgrade for me.

I went through the pile of Traded cards and pulled out 27 of the best cards I could find in the set.  Roberto Alomar and Gary Carter are the only two current Hall of Famers in the set right now, but there are a few more that have a shot of getting in eventually: Jeff Bagwell, Jack Morris, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez.

Well, I'd better get back to set upgrading now because there is still a lot to do.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

1968 Topps Set Formation

Excited about closing in on the last 75 cards needed to complete the 1968 Topps set (523 of 598 total), I wanted to share a little bit on how I've been going about completing this vintage set.

My 1968 Topps set is divided into two 1" binders that I purchased at Wal-Mart for $0.99 each.  Since I intended to fill the binders with 598 base cards plus 33 insert cards, I put 71 total pages divided into the two binders to fill my collection.

I organize each of my sets by team, with all the "special" cards at the end.  When beginning a new set, I'll start a new page for each team while storing all of the extra pages needed to complete the set at the end of the binder. I'll continue pulling blank pages from the end of the binder as needed to build my team sets.  Eventually, I'll start to run out of pages of course.  That's when I put my set into what I call "set formation".

First, a little more on how I organize my teams.  Below is a printscreen of 1968 MLB standings that I obtained from, which is organized by team winning percentage.

I'll start with the playoff teams first when organizing my cards, which means for pre-1969 sets I only have to consider the World Series, the LCS for 1969-1993 sets, and the DS/WC for 1994-present sets.  After the playoffs, I simply organize the teams by winning percentage.  When teams have the same winning percentage, I get to choose the team I like the best (for whatever reason).

Individual players on a team are organized by age, with the team card up front.  Managers are typically next, but not always.  When two or more players are shown on the card (such as for rookies), I use the age of the youngest person to organize the player.

I've tried a few different organization patterns like team ranking within the divisions, or player position of the team to help make my sets more functional, but I continue to come back to this pattern--not saying that it won't change again.  I used to put the special cards in the front, but now I like them in the back.

This is the fun in collecting baseball cards for me; I'm always busy studying and organizing my sets.

The Mickey Mantle card below is part of the 1996 Topps Mantle Commemorative set.  I actually have the original coming in the mail (I think), so this one is not considered one of my 75 missing cards.  I tend to use reprints as fillers until I can afford to get the originals.  As far as the 1968 set goes, the only other reprint currently in my collection is the Nolan Ryan rookie card.

Now, back to set formation.  I seem to have too many checklists used to inventory my sets--so every once in a while I'll make a mistake--which is often discovered during the set formation reorganization.  Below, is a portion of my pocket price guide that I take on my travels.  It's the 2010 Beckett that has all the non-Topps pages ripped out and retaped into a much thinner book (less than 1/2" thick).  It said I was missing 76 cards, but I discovered the mistake through the following process.

Remember the huge picture binder from one of my previous posts?  I don't use it so much for inventorying my cards since discovering the Trading Card Database online, but the book still helps out a lot for classifying my missing cards.  

Below, is how I checked off the missing cards using the book above.  When I went through this the first time, I came up with 3 missing Orioles instead of only 2, so my total missing cards came up as 76.  I had to go back through all of the cards I listed as missing and find the one that actually wasn't.  It turned out to be Tom Phoebus #97.  Since I started with high-numbers first, this process seemed to take forever.

Once I've determine where all of my missing cards come from, I  begin leaving the appropriate number of spaces after each team beginning with the front of my binder, remembering not to leave a space where reprint cards are present.

What you end up with is something that looks like the pages scanned on this post.  Each team no longer starts at the top of each page, but could start anywhere.  I know exactly how many cards I'm missing to complete each team, and don't have to move the cards around too much to add new cards after set formation has been accomplished.

For this post, I chose to display the three teams that I'm missing the least amount of cards:  Giants, Cubs, and Dodgers.  I'm missing only 1 card to complete each of these three team sets.  Organizing my collection this way also tends to provide a little extra motivation to get cards for those mini set accomplishments.  

The pre-1970 sets that I now have organized this way include: 1969, 1968, 1966, 1962, and '54T, and '50B.  Actually, my '53T, '52T, '49B, and '48B sets are also organized this way too because I own reprint sets for them.  The next sets to go into set formation will probably be 1967 and 1960, but probably not by the end of this year.

This process certainly won't work for everyone.  What I'm looking to achieve by sharing this is to inspire others to become more creative with how they store and display their sets.  I recently purchased a 1981 Topps+Traded and a 1983 Topps set that came in a collector's binder with pages.  I could tell the sets were part of someone's personal collection, but the sets were in numerical order.  I just don't see how anything can be gained from a Topps set numerically organized in a binder.  I'd quit collecting and sell off my cards too.  Here's how my 1968 Topps set is being stored.

I have 12 of these boxes containing all of my sets from 1939-2016.  I'm beginning to add Cracker Jack stickers to them for the World Series and other playoff contenders ($0.33/box).  My dog loves Cracker Jacks.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

2016 MLB Hall of Fame: Mike Piazza

Congratulations to Mike Piazza for earning his spot in the Hall of Fame with 83% of this year's vote.

1993 Topps #701.

1993 Topps Traded #24T.

1994 Topps #1.

1995 Topps #466.

1996 Topps #246.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2016 MLB Hall of Fame: Ken Griffey Jr.

Congratulations to Ken Griffey Jr. for earning his spot in the Hall of Fame with 99% of this year's vote.

2010 Topps #85.

2009 Topps Update #US330.

2009 Topps #30.

2008 Topps Update #UH324.

2008 Topps #580.

2007 Topps #450.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

1989 Topps Traded Set #1T-132T

I hope you've had a chance to get your '89TT set already.  This one is quickly becoming a key set from '80s Topps collection, and should hopefully start to finally see its value increase in 2016.  Ken Griffey Jr. will certainly be announced for the Hall of Fame tomorrow, and already had his rookie card valued at $8.00.  When Greg Maddux entered the HOF, his '87TT rookie card jumped from $5 to $10.  Griffey's rookie should have no problem rising well above the $10 mark this year.  The '89TT set also contains Randy Johnson's 2nd card--which although it's technically not his rookie--it was released during the same year as his rookie, and was his first in a Mariners uniform.  Although the '89TT is a longshot from the famous '82TT featuring Ripken's 2nd card, it does deserve some more respect.  In fact, I'd rather burn the set than to sell it for under $10.  I hope the rest of the hobby world would agree.