Saturday, February 18, 2017

#288 Chet Nichols

#288 Chet Nichols
Progress: 1st of this card
209 of 407  51.3% complete 
How acquired: 99¢ on ebay
Condition: Poor
When I started this effort, I envisioned a scenario in which nearly every card I picked up would look like this.  That hasn't been the case.  Not for lack of trying or a change in philosophy regarding standards (I'm quite pleased with this Nichols), there just aren't that many of them.  Cards in this rough of shape just don't show up for sale very often, and when they do, they're often not any cheaper than cards in significantly better shape.  And I'm not actively trying to get the worse looking cards I can find, I'm just trying to do this on a budget.  So if it's a difference of 50¢ to a $1, I'm going to go with the nicer card.  

I have a couple theories regarding why finding these cards in extremely poor condition is more difficult than expected.  The first is that the type of people who saved these cards back in 1952, were the type of people who were going to take care of them.  I imagine that the most serious collectors were probably left with cards damaged by tape and glue stains, and the high end Mantles and such that show up in auctions, probably belonged to kids to who didn't really care, and tossed them in a shoe box and forgot about them.  Kids willing to let a card deteriorate to this condition, probably didn't mind tossing them in the trash, or had parents who didn't.

The other working theory I have is the owners of large numbers of cards like these are just sitting on them.  "They're not worth anything in that shape, it's better to just to keep grandpa's cards for sentimental reasons."  I don't like this explanation as much, but I'm sure it's a factor.  A card this well worn, obviously received a lot of handling.  It's a bit of a tongue in cheek cliche we use, "well loved," but these cards really were "well loved." And if they survived in a closet for 60+ years, someone cared about them a lot.  So I can see why kids and grand kids would be reluctant to sell them off, especially given the nominal financial gains to be found.

While I think the first theory is the better explanation, I can relate to the second on a personal level.  My father's cards survived my grandmother's spring cleanings.  It runs from about 1958-1966 on a bit of a bell curve as far as the numbers go.   It's by no means a huge collection.  My own vintage collection from that era has exceeded what he had.  But I keep his cards separate.  On my checklist of set needs, his aren't included.  His cards are in very nice shape (not NM, but VG/EX), but the idea is the same.  Those were his cards.  They're not just vintage Topps cards to be used to complete a set.  Selling them is never going to be an option.  I get a bit of a chuckle at the idea of my theoretical great grand kids trying to decide what to do with 50,000 meticulously organized, worthless Tim Wallach cards fifty years down the road.

Stats: 9 seasons, 34 wins, 36 losses, 3.64 ERA, '51 AL ERA (2.88) Champ , finished 2nd in '51 NL Rookie of the Year voting to Willie Mays

Best Hall of Fame Showing: N/A


  1. I do see a lot of cards in this shape at card shows. Expanding on your "they're not worth anything" theory, I'd say that perhaps the people that own them don't want to put them online and that's more of the issue. Just my two cents!

    I want the 52T Jim Fridley (he played at my alma mater) and I'm going to need one in this shape since it's a high number.

  2. @Kin The high numbers are insane. I refuse to believe they're so scarce that cards looking like this Chet, but often worse, demand $100+.

    I think there was massive market manipulation with this set in the late 70's and early 80's by handful of dealers and the prices are still skewed to this day. It's why I don't think I'll ever touch the Mantle in the off chance I ever come into an extra 10-20K.