I started out buying Topps packs back in 1978. In my first pack was Ed Armbrister, a memorable card for a kid who was a Cincinnati Reds fan. I also got a Pete Rose in an early pack. His card had a red, white, and blue shield showing he was an All-Star in 1977. That was very cool to my nine-year-old eyes. Sometime in that Summer of ’78 I had my cards at the dinner table. My dad warned me that I should be careful to keep the cards in top condition so they will be more valuable. Little did I or my dad know that 1978 cards would never be valuable. After six very fun years of opening Topps wax packs I started looking at vintage cards and said goodbye to modern cards. As I drifted in and out of card collecting over the next 25 or so years, I always came back to vintage cards, not the modern stuff.
I don’t have a bunch of friends who collect old cards. Most of my collecting was done by buying on eBay, and I learned quite a bit by reading online collecting forums, mostly Net54baseball.com, a vintage-only forum. On the whole, the people on Net54 are great. The regulars know their stuff and have a true passion for learning anything and everything about old baseball cards. Debates and tempers do flare from time to time, and the thick-skinned moderator shows a lot of restraint to allow free discussion and exchange of opinions. I have learned much by mostly lurking on Net54. Along with a bunch of specifics about various sets, I learned my definition of “vintage” and developed an opinion about modern cards.
What is vintage? I would define vintage as being from pre-WWII – 1941 and earlier. This is the standard (not universal) definition of vintage on Net54. Leaf and Bowman ushered in a new era in the late 1940s. This period was defined by Topps’ virtual monopoly over baseball cards through 1980. I don’t know what this period of time should be called. Some people call cards from the 50s and 60s modern, while others consider them to be vintage. Whatever they are, everyone seems to agree that by 1981, with the arrival of Fleer and Donruss, baseball cards entered the modern era.
What was my opinion of modern collectors? Not very good. Bear with me here. The people on Net54 like old cards. Most don’t have any desire to go to Target to look for 2010 Bowman packs with a chance of pulling a Strasburg. There is a term that gets used sometimes on Net54 to refer to modern cards – shiny crap. I very nearly named this blog Shiny Crap, but I didn’t want to have foul language (even very moderately foul language that I use every day) in the title of the blog. As you might have inferred, the general Net54 attitude toward modern collectors is not very positive. Being a good sheep, I followed the crowd and wondered why anyone would collect “that junk”.
Here I am, now trying to start a card blog about shiny crap. Why the change? I started losing interest in vintage cards for a couple reasons. First, I couldn’t focus on anything. Vintage cards are not cheap, and I certainly don’t have the means to go window shopping on eBay. Second, the Net54 forum, my one real interactive outlet, started getting more combative. The vast majority of the Net54 folks are great, but it only takes a few knuckleheads to turn a forum into a zoo. As I started losing interest in vintage cards, I began poking around the web and discovered modern card blogs. Through the blogs I learned that modern collectors are not buffoons or clowns at all. They are people who enjoy card collecting – just like me! [insert bad self-discovery/reconciliation Disney music here] Once I started reading multiple blogs, my vintage interest fell off quickly.
For the next several weeks, I’m going to put up some posts about vintage cards. These posts will appear in the middle of the week between my box previews and breaks. Next week I’ll post some highlights of my vintage collection, which I now need to sell (as I promised my wife I would do). After that, I’ll cover some differences and similarities of the modern and vintage crowds in a number of posts.