Who are these men? Are they the latest bach of Million Card Giveaway redemptions? No! They’re a lot of 16 1958 commons I kind of accidentally won on eBay for an average price of under $.50. Beat that Topps!
I won these kind of accidentally, really. I was just poking around looking at some guy’s auctions and he had several lots of these up. I don’t collect this set (well… not yet, anyway) and the only other 1958 card I have is a Don Zimmer I bought at a show in 1989 because I was 8 and liked the idea that then-current Cub manager was once a young man. Even after I bought the card, I still wasn’t convinced of that, really… I mean, the guys on these cards look like they’re about 45 years old. Guess that’s what a life of hard livin’ and fighting in a war or two will do to an era of ballplayers.
I don’t know much about this set, but someone was nice enough to set up this site to help guys like me out. Looks like the set has 495 cards, not including some yellow team name variations and a couple of corrected error cards. At an average of $.50 a card, I figure this set will cost me $250 to put together. Sound reasonable? Oh wait, there are three Mantles and an Orlando Cepeda RC? What do those book for, $50 or $6- OH GOD! Well, I guess that’s why I’ve stayed away from sets this old all my collecting life- it seems entirely possible to put together a set until you get to the names that even people like my decidedly non-sports-fan brother know.
The thing is, looking at these cards and that sweet Mantle I just linked to, I can imagine how much more valuable I feel these cards are than most modern stuff. I mean, do I want a sweet Sandberg patch? Of course I do! But when I imagine, say, telling my girlfriend that I just spent $300 on a baseball card, I have this image in my head of me having to explain the whole concept behind “Game-Used” (“No, you see, he actually WORE this in a game! He might have sweat on it!” “…That’s gross.”). If I get the Mantle, it seems much more simple (“Well, it’s a Mickey Mantle card from 1958 and it’s in really good condition.” “It’s a piece of cardboard.” “Yes, but.” “Whatever.”). Those of you in long-term relationships know immediately which of those is preferable.
The point is, if I have to explain why something is valuable, how valuable can it be? It reminds me of walking through card and collectible shows when I was a kid, with dealers pushing their wares on me (I have a bunch of 1986 Fleer Star Stickers that were supposed to have put me through college…). “Oh, this will be valuable you say? I’ll take two!” Past performance is no guarantee of future gains… but, if you ask me, the market on vintage cards will be longer-lived than the market on something like game-used- no matter how cool they look.