Cycleback’s The Vintage Collector





(With all the talk about fake cards and everything else on eBay, Frank Ward is specialist at obtaining unique cards online) 


QUESTION: Where are you from and currently live, and how did you get into collecting?


ANSWER: Im originally from Kaneohe Hawaii, but have lived in the North San Francisco  BayArea (Santa Rosa) for many years now.  I got into collecting in the late 1970's mainly because I played little league baseball at the time, and  collected the Topps, Hostess, Kelloggs, etc., cards of the time.  I was a lefty pitcher (low to mid 90's, at 17 years old) I got as far as Jr. college ball, and was drafted in the 4th round, Jan 1985 draft, by the Montreal  Expos.  I blew arm out in summer American Legion ball that year, never signed, and lost full ride to Pepperdine (ranked #2 in those days). My teammates on a few High School/American Legion All Star teams of the time included Gregg Jeffries (best player Ive seen in HS level), Matt Williams, John Wettland (teammate for many years).  And played against players like Barry Bonds (fast 175# base stealer), Devon White (very fast), Ed Sprague  Jr., Gregg Vaughn to name a few.


QUESTION: The reason I'm interviewing you is because you have the proven ability to find extremely rare and previously unknown baseball cards.  Please describe some of your finds and how you got them. 


ANSWER: 1926 Holland Ice Cream cards (Peckinpaugh, Harris).  This lot was auctioned in early 1999 on eBay in the Pre1950 category by a non collector in the Manitoba Canada area. She said she found the 2 cards while cleaning out an older home in the area.  At first I saw the auction, but didnt know much about the Holland Ice Cream cards, as I never owned a single card from the set before.  I took a look in the 1999 SCD Catalog, and was very surprised to see that the #16 card was listed as "unknown", not knowing the name of the player, as no #16 has been cataloged before.  I did one of those last minute max bids of about $500, and lucked out and won the 2 cards for just over $300 (later selling the Bucky Harris for $100).  I then wrote Bob Lemke the editor of the SCD Catalog, and showed him photos of the card, hopefully expecting it to be cataloged in the 2000 edition for close to what the 1923 Maple Crispette #15 Stengel ($12,000), or the 1932 US Caramel #16 Lindstrom ($90,000) go for.  I was disappointed to find it listed at only 10 times the common card value ($2,500 NRMT), expecting 2-3 times the value they came up with.   I have had a few tempting offers in trade/cash, but passed on all at the time.  A few months ago Lew Lipset had what he thought to be a complete set of 19 Holland cards (missing the #16), as a single lot in his auction, so I decided to write him.  I showed the Peckinpaugh card to Lew, and he was surprised to find out the #16 did exist, and wanted to feature it in his Oct auction.  I thought about it, but decided to hold out for a good offer.  Just recently I was in need of some money, and have since sold the Peckinpaugh for a fair price (equivalent to a $8,000 NRMT value, since card is in VG condition). Sold last month, on a lay away down payment/monthly payment deal.





* 1933 Blue Bird Soda Babe Ruth unknown "side view" pose variation.  This auction was found on eBay in late 1999, lost in the large Baseball Memorabilia category, listed as a Spalding Babe Ruth picture.  I wrote seller for a better picture of the card, front and back (only the front was shown in auction, and it was a blurry picture). I also asked a few questions, like what was written on the front/back, and what the size paper stock was like, and where did they find it?  The lady from North Carolina who was selling it said it was removed from a 1930's era scrapbook, and she thought it to be an advertising photo for Spalding (the ad on back says to save Blue Bird soda caps for an offer for a Spalding ball or glove).  I was familiar with the 1933 Blue Bird Soda Ruth cards, but always remembered seeing the "practice swing (Goudey #144) pose", never seeing the "side view real game swing pose" before (except on an Exhibit card of the time).  I wrote back to seller and offered $50 for the card (no one had bid on it),and she accepted it happily, not thinking it was worth much at all.  When I received it in mail I was happy to see it look original in every way, exactly the same card stock and size as the other pose. It did have a light glue residue on the back corners, but this was removed surprisingly easily with a damp tissue.  Since then I have had the chance to compare (in person) this unknown card to a couple of the more common Blue Bird pose variations, and it matches in every way, as far as design and paper quality, only having a different Ruth photo on front.  Again I wrote Bob Lemke, and was disappointed to find the 2000 catalog value only slightly more than the more common variation.  I have never seen or heard of another Blue Bird with the same picture as mine, since finding this one 2+ years ago.


IMAGES OF BLUE BIRD RUTH, back and front:



* 1906 Ullman Postcards (Christy Mathewson, Iron Arm McGinnity, Leon Ames, Mike Donlin).  These 4 postcards were found in the eBay Baseball MemorabiliaCategory in early 2000, as 4 separate auctions with a minimum bid of $25 each.  I bookmarked them  and watched for a couple days with not a single bid.  The seller had them listed as just "Mathewson Postcards" etc., not saying if they were vintage, or describing them at all, as far as the "Worlds Champions" line at bottom. The pictures were taken with a low quality digital camera, and the name and wording at bottom of cards were unreadable.  I knew exactly what they were, as there was a listing in the 2000 SCD Catalog for a single card from the series, Mike Donlin.   I made the seller an offer of $160 for all 4, and he countered with $200 for all 4, I was willing to go even higher, so took him up on the offer.  I have since sold all 4 of the cards at different times over the last year and a half, for over $3,000 total. I now wish I had kept at least one for my "type" collection, but I need cash  to further my collection, so need to sell on a regular basis. The cards are all listed now in the 2001 SCD, with the Mathewson at $4000 NRMT.





* ca.1913 E95/E96 "Base Ball Series" Notebook (Clarke, Lajoie, Pfiester, Wagner, Willett).   I found this auction late summer 2000, it was again lost in the large Baseball Memorabilia Category on eBay, with a bad picture.  It showed a worn beat up cover to a childs notebook, with 5 cards printed on cover.  I was drawn to this auction by the key word "Wagner" I used in a search.  I looked closely and could tell right away they were the same  pictures as found on the more common E95 and E96 Philadelphia Caramel Co. cards from 1909/10.   I remembered reading in Lew Lipsets 1984 "THE ENCYCLOPEDIA BASEBALL CARDS Vol. #2", page 19, that "Thin, blank backed E95's and E96's are known and most likely these were cut from display posters. They should not be considered proofs."   I though that if Mr. Lipset didnt know exactly these blank backed cards were from a notebook cover, then this may be a good find, and fairly rare.  So I went and placed a large proxy bid, and lucked out and won this complete notebook for a little over $250.  The notebook is full of homework from September and October of 1913, and the original owner was a young girl, probably saving it from being cut into individual cards the day it was full in 1913.  I have since found a group of 4 cards (3 still connected, Donovan, Chance, McIntyre, and a single Ames) from the same notebook series. These were glued into a scrapbook, and are in low grade, but are proof there are more subjects in this rare notebook series.





* 1926 Schapira Bros. "Big Show Candy" Ty Cobb.  This card was listed on eBay in late 1999 in the pre1950 Category, by a collector who didnt know what it was.  I actually had a tough time locating info on the card at first.  It took a couple days of thumbing through catalogs before I came across the listing in the 2000 SCD Catalog for the Schapira cards. The checklist was incomplete, and had no Ty Cobb listed, but the design, size, caption, etc. all matched, so I was sure it was from same series. It has the credit line "Underwood and Underwood" in small writing at bottom, and the name Ty Cobb in white, all consistent with the other known cards from this rare series.  I was the high bidder on auction, but the reserve wasnt met.  I later found out the seller put a high reserve to be safe, since he didnt know exactly what the cards value was.   Well, about a month later the same seller put 2 Novelty Cutlery postcards on eBay, and I happened to win one of them, he remembered my eBay ID, and offered the Cobb card to me for $300 plus the $80 I needed to pay for the postcard I just won.  I took him up on offer, and was happy to find a card of Cobb, not cataloged yet.  Lemke has the Cobb in the 2001 SCD at $2000 NRMT, which I think is fair.  I have since found a Schapira Ray Schalk card that is also now uncataloged. 





QUESTION: When you turn to sell or trade an obscure card, do you ever have trouble getting people to believe it is legitimate?


ANSWER: I have never had a problem with people not believing the card is legitimate.  But in the case of the notebook cards, I had one collector say they arent even cards.  he said, "If you consider them "cards", then you can cut out any picture from a magazine and call them "cards" too."  I told him the kids determined they were cards, as they cut out the cards from the notebook cover in most all cases, and saved them with the other tobacco/candy cards from the 1910 era.  I know of a few other advanced collectors that have a couple of the blank backed E95/E96 cards in there collection, who were very interested about the discovery of the complete notebook.  There are many cards from that era that were cut from something, most were cut from candy boxes.


QUESTION: What would be the ultimate card not yet discovered (like a T206 Joe Jackson)?


ANSWER: I would like to see another couple cards of Jim Thorpe, and Joe Jackson, that would be nice.  I am always happy to find a card from a known set, but of a player yet to be cataloged.  This week I just picked up a 1909 German Stamp of Hoblitzell, and it is yet to be cataloged in the 2001 SCD Catalog.  The set is cataloged but no Hoblitzell is in checklist.  I picked it up for $10.Those cards are always fun to find.


Cycleback’s The Vintage Collector