Sunday, August 7, 2011

First report from the 2011 National in Chicago

I was fortunate to spend three days at this year's National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago, about a half of its week-long gathering of cards, memorabilia, and people from the sports world. Few shows can span the range of Bill Russell, Carlton Fisk, Bo Jackson, and Ric Flair under one roof; the National's pretty much it.

You could hear Ric Flair's entrance from across the convention center

The convention hall's 600+ dealers covered a huge expanse of concrete, itself better suited to robots or airplane tires than tender human feet wearing normal shoes. Walking and shopping its quarter-mile span meant taking frequent breaks on chairs or the floor, lest you blow yourself out with blisters and limp around like a car accident victim. Visitors to corporate areas (Topps, Panini, Upper Deck) benefitted from carpeting underfoot, but few small-time sellers opted for the additional $600 price tag on top of their $4000 booth fee.

1909-11 American Caramel, Red Dooin ($30)

My legs did tire after hours of circling Chicago's convention center, but the pursuit of quality cardboard heals most ills and there's more than enough old or new stuff to go around. Many bloggers dig into fresh wax boxes offered up by the big-name companies; I stick to pre-1980 vintage, which now stretches back more than a century.

1934-36 Batter-Up, Chick Hafey ($15)

For this week, I'm going to break with tradition and profile National show pick-ups, some of which will be sets without #5s and thus outside the type collection. (Such standards to hold for a simple hobby! Well, I'm also picky about cookies. No raisins.)

1970s J.D. McCarthy postcard, Jamie Quirk ($10)

The National's not strictly a card show, as most vintage dealers expand beyond these familiar 2"x3" rectangles of cardboard into related ephemera, be they books, player advertisements, gear, autographs, or what have you. One such postcard dealer provided two take-aways when I stopped by on Sunday afternoon.

  1. What looks like a postcard isn't always that. "Postcards" technically say POST CARD or POSTAL CARD on the back and demarcate a writing area from an address area. "Team issues" or business promotions often use postcard-sized paper, but lack any way to mail them.
  2. The above J.D. McCarthy postcard, a hard-to-find hit for my Jamie Quirk collection.

I'm not picky about condition and opt for affordable over presentable. This fact alone explains cards like this.

1929 Zeenut PCL #29, Art Koehler ($8)

Pacific Coast League baseball, baby. Hard to go wrong buying cards from the league that spawned a trio of DiMaggio brothers. If that image looks familiar, it might be because Poor Old Baseball Cards profiled his own Art Koehler just last year.

That's it for my first group of cards. Look for more this week and a vintage giveaway on Friday. If you attended the National, add a comment with your own thoughts or blog post links!


Nathan said...

Some interesting stuff there, thanks for posting the scans. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest.

Sooz said...

Nice pick ups. Good to see you too.

Matthew Glidden said...

Likewise, Sooz, good to see you! Read your article about the expensive pieces stolen during the show. That's a big downside for in-person dealers. :-P