Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Post cards: A separate hobby or just big trading cards?

I've had post cards on the mind as of late, spurred on by my own finds in the wild, and no doubt influenced by the postings of Doe MG (Hope you are still around!) The Shlabotnik Report and Fuji.

So it begs the question: Are post cards a separate hobby, or are they just large trading cards? And, to an extent, what defines a trading card? I am going to see if putting it in writing in this post helps me determine if I should combine my three collections that end in the term "Cards".

So far I've mostly resisted the urge to start buying post cards. I know they have a very long history, A quick trip to Wikipedia shows me that post cards actually predate trading cards by a few decades- the first being from 1840, where the earliest trading card I am aware of dates to 1868...and there's even some debate about if that was a post card or a trading card. The post cards with pictures, what I am interested in, they came later. I would say the long history is a plus with a negative aspect. (Older = harder to find and most expensive)

And the variety is endless. There is literally a postcard for every topic, from baby animals to naked ladies and everything in between. That, to me, is where the hobby has the most interest, the wide variety of topics. There are some things that never appear on trading cards- but there are post cards of them. Specifically, I'm speaking of architecture and buildings, which is something I have a great interest in but have never really been able to talk about because there's almost no trading cards that show them. Vehicles are also heavily covered, and most of my modest collection is (not surprisingly) automotive themed. Topical variety is the biggest plus of all.

The two have clearly crossed over as well. Post card size has been used for oversize cards in every sport, and Press Pass even once issued a box topper with space for a stamp! (although full 90s glossy coating, so good luck writing on it) The most well-known post card sized set is probably the 1976-77 Topps NBA set. Several sets have issued oversized trading cards and referred to them as Post cards in the packaging even though the backs were full of text- no space for a stamp. Familiarity with the size and proper storage is neutral. Storing the oversize cards has always been a challenge.

The writing aspect of post cards is a bit of a quandary for me. I dislike writing on cards. Post cards are, however, designed for just that. Finding un-marked vintage cards is not really commonplace, from what little I've seen, and there are even people who collect based on where they are sent from and when...being a long time Stamp collector you would think that would appeal to me, but other than dating the issue, it really doesn't... I'm going to count that as a negative, while at the same time saying it's interesting if the writing is to me or a family member, for instance, I have a card sent to my great-grandmother in 1947 in my collection.

And that's another thing. Trading cards, for the most part, are easy to identify and build a set. Post cards, although there are exceptions, are standalone issues that are generally not numbered and almost never dated. That...will drive me nuts. Not knowing the year of something, it makes my OCD go a little wacky. Having an undefined set with no years...not sure I could handle that. I'm also going to say this is a negative.

One of the big negatives has been the lack of printed material on the back. I'm used to the back having stats or text, and post cards generally have a VERY brief writeup. But, now that we're in year 10 of Panini having the exclusive NBA license, a back not having anything to read or look at is pretty much the norm. That hurdle has been overcome.  I no longer consider this a major drawback but now pretty much the norm. Neutral.

There's the cost factor. I can barely hang on with the collections I already maintain. Do I want to expand that even further?

My nature is to compartmentalize things. My OCD is well documented. Until 2016 I didn't even count Panini Stickers as part of my card collection. I didn't really count playing cards until 2018 until I took in a couple of TCG cards via trade. I still count and document multi-sport cards in a different total from the single-sport issues. Can I mentally handle three disparate concepts mixing together? I think so, because that will allow me to bring in the third collection that ends in "Cards" that I mentioned above. Since 1955, NASCAR teams have issued handouts- they started out as traditionally sized post cards, with blank backs and stamp space- and today have grown to come in a variety of sizes and shapes, ranging in size from smaller than a standard post card to so large that I could not fit it on my scanner tray even if my scanner was twice as wide as it is, and feature full color printing and text on both sides. They also come in diecut shapes as well, such as one that is in the shape of a car battery. While the vast majority of my collection is NASCAR, I also have some from drag racing, sprint car racing, and other forms of racing. Furthermore, there are drivers who I have represented in Hero cards (one of the accepted names for them. Some people call them post cards, autograph cards and handouts) who not only are not in my trading card collection- they never got a single trading card! This would allow me to add minor league drivers that never got to NASCAR to my collection, it would allow me to add some Indy drivers...and it would allow me to do something not possible in any other aspect of my sports card collection- it would allow me to say I got cards in my collection at an actual sporting event. I've never attended any basketball or hockey games- but I have attended auto races. As an added bonus- they are all scanned already. And there's a lot of them. When my local diecast dealer was closing his doors in 2010, he cut me a great deal and I added hundreds of them to my collection in a single day. Combined with the collection I had previously, I have about 1000 of them. Unfortunately, I have not added to the Hero Card collection since I believe 2011. With my local dealer closed, and my friend who used to go to the races at Pocono not going anymore (he always brought me back copies), and not having a show car in the Hudson Valley since 2010, they have dried up here. Some teams do give them out for free if you ask, I might have to go that route.

If I integrated them into my collection, it would give me a huge boost to my collection totals, and different people, without having to spend a single cent or do any scanning...they are all scanned already (although I am not sure the scans are any good- I wasn't always as thorough as I am now, I used to accept "good enough"). I might even be able to pull full lists from Excel- I had a Excel chart of them but I don't know if I will be able to find it now as it may have died with my 2nd laptop in 2012. I don't know if it shows, but the more I'm thinking about it, the more enthusiastic I'm getting here. Big plus!

One final thought before I post some "trading card" collection already includes:
  • stickers
  • tattoos
  • "coins" (really medals, coins are issued by governments)
  • poker chips
  • iron-on patches
  • cloth
  • pieces of used, dirty clothing
  • pieces of seats, car parts, hockey sticks, balls, and more
  • plastic
  • metal 
  • gum
  • posters
and probably some other stuff I can't think of at the moment. 

Is it really such a stretch to welcome in other forms of cards? Is the fact that they are bigger and may have some writing on them enough to keep them separate? 

What do YOU think?

Now, onto the cards. As you may recall, a few weeks ago my brother and I went to the New York Aquarium at Coney Island. While there were no trading cards in sight, there was a store selling post cards. I brought home three.

We are trying to get souvenirs from each Adventure my brother takes me on, and since this is the closest thing to a trading card I could find, it did the trick. The top card is the Cyclone, which dates to 1927- and is the first thing I saw when we turned the corner before pulling into the Aquarium lot, which is looking right up at the red letters visible on the middle loop. It didn't exist yet when this photo was taken. (Circa 1955)

The second card is of Surf Avenue circa 1920, although to be honest I mostly chose this one due to the cars on the street.

The third image is just a general Coney Island scene. I'm not sure if it's reproduced vintage art or new art made to look vintage.  All three cards are exclusively made for the Brooklyn Beach Shop, which is right on the boardwalk. The cards were a no thinking needed purchase at 99 cents each, as well.

My mom recently renewed my Scale Auto Magazine subscription (as a Christmas present) after I had let it lapse earlier in 2018- something I'm kicking myself for because it's the first time I've missed any issues since I began reading the publication in 2000. For those of you who think I'm organized- I'm not. I didn't realize it had lapsed until I realized one had not shown up in several months! As part of the confirmation of subscription, they sent along this card of a Dodge Challenger, although the builder was not identified.

A few weeks ago, my brother and I hit an antique store, and I don't know if I've mentioned it before- but I'm a big fan of them. I have NEVER failed to bring home something related to models, cards or cars, and this was no exception. (They did have some chewed up -literally- WWI era non-sports cards but were asking too much money for them so I didn't bite...pun intended)
What they did have was a section of Automotive cards and of course I had to look at them- my eyes spotted this bright red Plymouth from an aisle away, but I was prepared to just look....

Until the next card up was...
...this 1969 Chevrolet trucks card, which included the El Camino! They don't call me El Camino Billy for nothing- I knew then and there I would be getting these two cards. They had a third car card, but it was in bad shape. Severe tape damage, possibly a was from 1955, so for the right price I would have overlooked that. They wanted $5 bucks for it, so I passed on it.

I also found a Newburgh parking token, which fits into both my automobilia and numismatic collections, and a book about cars.

So, in 2019 I've already added 6 post cards. That's more than I added in 2018 for the entire year (I don't [yet] keep records on the collection so I don't know exactly, but I think the total for the year is 1) I am definitely a post card collector, and have been for years, albeit low-level. The question is, is it time to integrate my post cards and hero cards with trading cards, and have one big card collection? Or do I continue to keep them separate, three unique, distinct collections?

Whatever choice I make, there is one post card I didn't buy and have regretted ever since. On ebay a few years back, there was an early 20th century post card of the Chrystenah, a cruise ship on the Hudson River that sailed back in the day. The card was water damaged and had some minor paper loss around the edges, but they wanted $20 for it. I didn't go for it, but I've been regretting it since- I've not found a copy for sale again. I want that ship because it was captained by a family member (not by blood, but I still consider him family) If you click on the name of the ship, there is a scan of  an undamaged copy of that very card on Wikipedia.

I will now end the post with some interesting post cards that I have had in my collection for quite some time.
 I bought this on Cape Cod in 2003, my first visit to the ocean
 I have no idea where I got this post card of cows.
 My three favorite ships on my favorite lake.
 The Thruway Rest stop actually sells Thruway post cards. I have been on every mile of the Thruway, it runs from the Pennsylvania line by Niagara Falls to NYC.
 I saw these two replicas- that's the Nina and Pinta- in 2017 when they came to Newburgh, and got three post cards. (every design they had)
This is a classic. You can find these in every tourist trap shop in Lake George, and I love that fact. This design has been in production probably longer than I've been alive, and this copy could have been bought in the 1980s or 1990s- I have more than one. I could drive up there right now and get more if I chose to.

Here's some examples of the NASCAR and other racing Hero Cards I discussed.
 1973 Vic Parsons. A driver who has no traditional trading cards produced
 Here's the one shaped like a battery Note it's too large to fit fully on the scanner.
 I got this one at a show car appearance in South Glens Falls, NY in 1998.
 Another driver who does not have any traditional cards.
 My local team!
Another big plus for the Hero Cards is that they are NOT censored like traditional trading cards are. The Budweiser, Crown Royal, Jack Daniels cars, the tobacco cars....they were shown as they really were, not some made up crap.

Now, if I do decide to integrate the collections, how much work would this entail for me? To be honest, not much. I'd have to move two albums on my original Fotki- the Post Card Collection album would be moved from Other Hobbies to Non-Sports, and the Hero Card Album would be moved from NASCAR by Me to the NASCAR section of the trading card folder. I'd have to check each scan to make sure they are up to my current standards- and then I'd make a copy of each of the relevant images and sort them into the folders on my remote hard drive for posting into the Cardboard History Gallery. It would probably take me about 2 days to fully integrate them into my card collection. Oh, I would also have to adjust my totals in my Excel collection charts. That might add a third day. Maybe less time if the scans are good and not needing to be fixed.

Not hard stuff to do, if I choose to do it...and it leaves me only one more item with cards in the name to reconcile as part of their own collection, or part of my overall Cards collection, and that is the GI Joe file cards...but I will save the talk of them for another day.

Monday, January 28, 2019

December Error additions via trade

I've taken in a few Error cards in trade last month, which is the first time that's ever happened, so I wanted to give them a spotlight. You may recall that I love error cards from my Error Gallery series.

These two football cards were unexpected bonuses from Berton Russell of the Trading Card Database. We completed out first trade that month and I was pleasantly surprised to find these included. Not only are they both off center, by a wide margin, but they have the wrong player's name stamped on in foil! A double error, doesn't get much better than that!

This James Donaldson card from 1990-91 Hoops came to me from Database member Splinter_9.
Note that the other card is ALSO James Donaldson. This was my Card of the Day, and when I posted it, Chuck - C2Cigars- did some research and found out that Hoops printed at least some of the players on 4-card panels of the same player. It's interesting, but this is one of the most common NBA sets, and this is my first off-center example of the set... Although I have not been able to determine what I have to send him back yet, he will be getting a mailer from me sometime in early 2019.

I don't have many NHL errors- I have not even been actively collecting for 2 years yet- but these three are from 2013-14 Upper Deck. I got them in trade from WBaker on the Database, and I doubt he even noticed they were off center. To me, that's even better than the standard cards I was expecting! All three are shifted slightly up, with the Tlusty shifted right due to the horizontal nature of the card front. (the back is shifted up). Most noticeable on the Semin. The foil should go to the bottom of the card.

Right before Christmas I got an unexpected mailing from RJ Smith of the Database, who sent me some cool baseball errors in a Christmas card.

 Five of the 6 were off-center, and this one is clearly missing foil.
That was a very nice unexpected surprise, thank you RJ!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

I've made myself obsolete

I've been going on about Cardboard History Gallery lately, because it's taken up most of my life since August. I've worked hard on it, and it's important to me. It had an unexpected, unforeseen consequence that has kind of changed my outlook on stuff.

Since 2009 I've been typing everything into Excel charts, and as you may recall from previous posts, I only typed stuff into the charts once it was scanned.

I generally used the charts to look up what I had of each person. My scans were all stored by set, so if I wanted to see, for an example, what cards I had scanned of, say, Ryan Blaney, I would go to my NASCAR Excel file, scroll to his listing, and then see the cards I had of him. I would then go to my scans sorted by set, and go to each one to see it. If I wanted to see, say, what cards I had scanned of the New Jersey Nets, I would go to my NBA by team file and click on the Nets, then go find them in the albums sorted by year.

But since I made copies of literally every scan in my collection- twice- and sorted them by Person and by team, I no longer have to do that. If I want to see the cards of Blaney, the Nets, or literally everyone else I have scanned a card of- I simply go to that sport folder, open up the file for them...and there they all are. I don't have to jump around from album to album, I just pull up that person or team's album. And not only do I have a list of every card already right in front of me, I can see them, instead of just a list of them.

It's...just better. My Excel files are now outdated, antiquated.

Since January 11th or so, (each typing wave takes about two weeks) I've been working on updating each of my Excel files, as I had finished a wave of scanning. (If you don't remember or never saw, everything I scanned goes into a plastic case, of which I have 41 of them. When I finish filling them, I sort the cards by sport, then person, then type them in). The entire time of this typing wave....I've been growing increasingly bored, frustrated and even a little resentful by the process. It just seems so redundant and essentially pointless, now. I only ever used the files to find the scans of what I had, and now I no longer need to do that because the scans are all together- sorted by person, team or season.

My Excel charts are mostly obsolete.

It doesn't help the fact that I'm typing this stuff more than once. I type each card into a chart tracking the order I get them, I type them again when I scan them- ever since my last remote hard drive died and took stuff with it, I'm documenting what I scan each day so I can recreate it if I ever lose it again- and then I'm typing it into the actual collection chart, which I copy and paste into 3 other Excel files, one an overall list, one sorted by team and one by season. Yes, complete duplication. I lost my only copy of my original NBA file around 2004 or 2005, and it played a larger role than I realized at the time in why I walked away from the entire sport in 2006, something I now regret immensely. I also realized that after I created the charts for the other sports, and the non-sports cards, and multi-sports cards last year (I spent most of February and March creating the charts) that I never pulled them up to just look at them. I only ever pulled them up to enter the newly scanned cards. I did not even open them a single time for fun. I almost never go into the NBA, NASCAR or NHL lists unless I'm looking for something, usually to post on here. I created the NASCAR chart in 2009 and I'm not sure I've EVER opened it just to look at it, only to add to it.

This is supposed to be a hobby, not a burden. During this whole wave of listing, I feel like I've been wasting my time. Time I could better serve by scanning, writing blog posts, watching sports on TV, you get my drift.

So, I've made an executive decision. I'm NOT going to list all the cards now. I'm going to put them in a box, label is as scanned but not listed, and get back to creation- scanning, and uploading to the new Cardboard History Gallery, of which I'm not even a fourth of the way through uploading to, although  I have begun to upload in earnest now.

However, I'm not going to abandon the Excel lists fully. I'm still going to track the totals- the number of base, insert, parallel, etc. I have of each person. (You can see this file- the only one I have made public- by clicking the "Complete List of People in My Collection" tab at the very top of Cardboard History). That's still a lot of fun for me, and, importantly, is NOT duplicated in the Gallery. I'm also going to maintain my listing of Serially numbered cards, autographs and relics, which is also not duplicated in the Gallery...well, the images are there, but I would have to go hunting to find the things, and that would be a step in the wrong direction.

In a way, it's come full circle. My original NBA file- now lost, thanks to the floppy disk I had it on corrupting- that was just a total of what I had of each person.  In essence, I am going back to that, but it will be more detailed now than the original file was- the original file was just a total, now I have a total and how many of each kind of card.

I figure that, eventually, I will run out of cards to scan. More than half my collection is scanned already. Perhaps, when I am done scanning everything and have nothing left to do, I will go back and type them in then. I would guess, at that point, I will no longer feel like I'm wasting time I could better spend scanning or working on uploading to the Gallery because that will all be done...typing them into the Excel charts then will give me a chance to reconnect with the cards.

Or I will just be happy looking through the actual scans on the Gallery and just maintain that. Only time will tell...and if I decide later that I made a big mistake, I can always easily grab the boxes labeled scanned but not typed, and enter them in. They will already be sorted by person so I can get the total numbers for the charts I am going to keep updating.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Thinking Game Bat-Around, NBA style

Night Owl's Thinking Game became a bat-around. I can do that! But of course, it will be for the NBA, because that's what I know the best. If you have not seen it yet, it's this: what's the first name that you think of when you think of a franchise?

Atlanta Hawks: Dominique Wilkins. Surprising, as I never actually saw him play live there.

Boston Celtics: Paul Pierce. The only Celtic to ever lead the league in scoring, he was with the team from 1998-2013.

Brooklyn Nets: Brook Lopez. They should have never traded him away.

Charlotte Hornets 1: Muggsy Bogues. I mean, how could it not be Muggsy?

Charlotte Bobcats: Jason Kapono. Eh, what? For some reason the first card that came to mind was this one, which I believe may be my most recent Bobcats shocker it was him and not Emeka Okafor or Kemba Walker

Charlotte Hornets 2: Kemba Walker. He's been their main guy for years now, spanning two team names.

Chicago Bulls: Michael Jordan. Honestly now, if you don't think of Jordan first when it comes to the Bulls, you are either a) lying, b) truly know nothing of the sport, perhaps spending time in solitary confinement or a monk locked in some cell somewhere or c) are a former or current Bull yourself and thought of yourself first.

Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron. Has to be LeBron.

Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki. They might as well rename themselves the Dallas Dirks.

Denver Nuggets: Carmelo. The most maligned player in the modern era.

Detroit Pistons: Grant Hill. Even though it was really just the beginning of his career.

Golden State Warriors: It's gotta be Steph.
In case anybody asks, that's a mouthguard with the team logo

Houston Rockets: I wish it was Hakeem, but no, it's Harden. I used to be a fan of his but not so much anymore.

Indiana Pacers. Reggie Miller. Blah. Remember I'm a Knicks fan.

Los Angeles Clippers: Elton! I think we all knew that was coming, he spent the best years of his career there. Too bad the team ownership was scum and wasted it. (I hate to insult actual pond scum by comparing it to Donald sterling)

Los Angeles Lakers: Shaq. Probably should have been Kobe, but we're going by first name to pop into your head here.

Memphis Grizzlies: Marc Gasol. He's been their biggest name since I got back into the NBA. Mike Conley gets slighted again.

Miami Heat: Alonzo Mourning. Specifically with Jeff Van Gundy clinging to his ankles. Unfortunately that never appeared on a card.

Milwaukee Bucks: Glenn Robinson. Did I ever write a post about the first jersey I ever bought to wear? I can't remember. if I never did, spoiler alert, it's Glenn Robinson.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Garnett. Gotta be KG.

New Orleans Hornets: Baron Davis. Under rated talent. My first 1/1 is the first card I think of, though that's the Charlotte version of the Hornets.

New Orleans Pelicans: Anthony Davis. Being fairly new, there are a couple players who have been part of the entire history of the franchise as the Pelicans. Davis is the best.

New Jersey Nets: My favorite team. Sorry Mom, not Kidd. It's Keith Van Horn. And those kneesocks. Specifically, it's this very card.

New York Knicks: While I wish I could have said Latrell Sprewell, it's actually Patrick Ewing.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook. Just watched him play a few minutes ago at the time of typing.

Orlando Magic: Penny Hardaway. I didn't really realize how nostalgic I was for that era until I found a batch of his cards in my to be scanned boxes.

Philadelphia 76ers: Allen Iverson. He's not my favorite Sixer of all time (Elton played there) but when I think 76ers, I think of him.

Phoenix Suns: Charles Barkley. I am surprised it was not Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudemire or Devin Booker. I try not to think about Steve Nash.

Portland Trail Blazers: Clifford Robinson. A mild surprise. Would have expected Clyde, Rasheed or Damian. My mid-90s bias is showing again.

Sacramento Kings: Chris Webber. Specifically his chrome sneakers from the 2000 All-Star game, which unfortunately never made it onto any card images. And taunting Lakers fans with cowbells.

San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan. (Or Gregg Popovich). Although I have not really talked about him much, Tim Duncan is a favorite of mine. Odd how his real-life quietness has translated into Cardboard History quietness.

Seattle SuperSonics: Shawn Kemp. More mid 90s nostalgia

Toronto Raptors: Vince Carter. I know the relationship didn't end well, but Vince IS the Raptors for me.

Utah Jazz: Stockton and Malone. You can't think of one without the other. It just doesn't work like that.

Vancouver Grizzlies: Shareef. Mid 90s+star player+cool seafoam green uniform+I added a lot of cards of him lately.

Washington Bullets: Harvey Grant. I always like the Grant twins. Only later did I really realize how much I liked the Bullets jerseys.

Washington Wizards: God Shammgod. Why? Well, I just scanned a college card of him, so he was on my mind in the last few days. Ask me in a month where I didn't have cards of his in hand and I would likely have said Juwan Howard.

And that's all the teams I've seen play.

I am still too new to hockey- I don't have a good grip on past generations of players yet, and the majority of the teams still have the majority of the players they had when I started. Might be fun to revisit this concept sometime down the line.