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Our Day at the 2007 National Collectors Convention
Sunday, August 5, 2007
Posted by jaygross
Comments: 0

Yesterday Darrin and I continued our road trip to Cleveland, Ohio. This was the day we planned to devote entirely to the National Collectors Convention.

After breakfast, we arrived at the I-X Center at 10:00 AM for the start of the show. We drove over from our hotel and parked at the exhibition hall ($8.00). I had seen quite a bit of promotion for this event and expected it be a total zoo. When we pulled into the parking lot, there were probably 200-400 cars and I expected many more.

We stood on line for about 3 minutes and each purchased an admission ticket for the day for $17.50. The I-X Center was a pretty big place that usually is used for large industry trade shows. There were roughly 700 booths, with each booth having 2-10 tables of merchandise displayed. I believe there were 15 or so aisles of booths, with a big Ferris Wheel in the middle of the room. Going in I was pretty delusional, as the plan of attack was to walk the show to scout out what’s there, write down the best locations, and then go back and buy. That idea lasted about 3 minutes (maybe less), as we looked at just how big this place was and realized that we don’t have that kind of will power. So I went out of character and became an impulse shopper.

Both of our main collecting interests may be very different than a lot of other people there. We were especially focused on finding1950’s-1970’s stars that we can get signed by mail. We were totally fine getting the cards off condition at lower prices.

We entered the first row, and within two minutes find a great box of mixed 1950’s football and baseball in off condition. We each spent $10-15 on this box, and were pulling out cards of good signers or HOFers for about $1-2 each. I got Robin Roberts, Jim Bunning, Bill Mazeroski, Joe Schmidt, Chuck Bednarik, Hugh McElhenny, Sam Huff rookie, etc.

We spend a few minutes BS’ing with the dealer as we paid, and he pulls out a few random cards from a 70’s commons box he has behind his table. One was a 1973 Topps Jack Youngblood rookie in nice shape for $0.35. We spent the next 45 minutes digging through two 5,000 count monster boxes and I think it was the home run of the day. In the 1972 Topps rows ($0.75 each in Ex condition or better) we picked up 4 Ted Hendricks rookies, 2 Larry Little rookies, 2 Joe Greene rookies, and 2 Gene Upshaw rookies to go along with another 25 stars and good signers. There were loads of stars from 1973-1975 Topps (at $0.35-0.40 each). So we walk away from that table in complete amazement – as it now almost 11:00.

We walked around more and made a few more smaller purchases for the next hour. We got 50’s and 70’s football stars in the $1-4 range.

I spotted this table with all sorts of random items piled on top of it with a big sign $1 each, we came very close to passing it by as it seemed to be mostly 80’s junk and appeared so unorganized. I am very grateful we stayed and looked, as we bought 47 items including – 87 Donruss Greg Maddux, 3 copies of 1964 Topps Giants Al Kaline, 1972 Topps Rick Barry, 2 1950 Callahans, a T218 card, 1960 Topps Chuck Bednarik, 1966 Philly Ray Berry, 1972 and 1973 Topps Dan Issel, 1973 Topps Jerry West, 1979 Topps Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and some 1974 Topps Basketball Leaders.

I was planning to meet another SCN member (Jim) at the end of aisle 5 at 2pm. I got there at about 1:30, and found the booth of Main Line Autographs. While I was going through their selection, I bumped into Jim. He’s been on SCN since 2001, and is a really knowledgeable collector.

Main Line had an incredible selection of autographed cards, like nothing I have ever seen. If I had to venture a guess, they must have 50,000 signed cards in binders. I nearly collapsed when I came to the Pro Line binder – as I saw a few I needed for my sets for $1-3 each. I picked up the Monte Coleman, Bill Fralic, Mark Bortz, David Whitmore, Darryl Williams, Lance Smith, and Bobby Ross. I am now 4 away from finishing the 1991 Pro Line set.

So we continue to go down the rows for the next few hours and notice a few things:

  • 700 booths is huge amount! It took us over 5 hours to get through all of them, before going back. We spent the full 8 hours the show was open browsing and buying.

  • I know it's obvious, but eBay has completely changed the hobby. Just about every dealer does a significant portion of their on business on there. I heard so many people (both dealers and buyers) talking about whether they could or could not do better on eBay - especially when you factor in shipping. I bought a few cards from simsclassicsports at the show, who I have bought from on eBay several times over the years.

  • There were very few buyers. I expected to have to manuever my way to tables, like at many of the card shows I have been at in NJ and NY over the years. Here that was really not a problem. It may have been hurt by the football Hall of Fame inductions being held that day in Canton. The dealers did not look too thrilled, and I heard many of them complaining. I’d also heard the Chicago shows were almost as big but much busier.

  • Even though we had very little time to look, there were some amazing museum quality items here.

Just to name a few things, we saw 2 different T206 Honus Wagner cards, a handful T3 Turkey Red Proofs (with no player names on them), and a guy with signed checks of the inaugural baseball HOF class (Johnson, Ruth, Cobb, Young, Wagner). One auction exhibit had the most amazing 1915 Cracker Jacks that were all SGC graded between 85-94 (I am not sure how is that even possible to get cards that old that sharp).

  • Card Grading has truly taken over. There were thousands upon thousands of Lucite slabs with big time cards in them. I’d bet over 50% of them were done by PSA alone. Even though I am not interested in slabbed cards, one guy had a full table of various (mostly vintage) PSA and GAI graded cards for $5. I thought hard about picking a PSA 6 1964 Topps Ron Mix (Tallboy), but decided to pass.

Speaking of the grading companies, I didn’t realize grading was such a secretive practice. The GAI booth had an area behind their tables that closed off to collectors with drapes over so it could not seen into. The PSA company took it further, by building a 10x20 room (with it’s own door) where their graders did their magic.  Both companies booths looked busy for most of the show.

The last 2 hours of the show I circled back and plowed through a few dime boxes, looking for mostly 80-90’s stuff. I picked up a few hundred cards, it was a lot of fun.

After 8 hours on my feet, I was tired and sore. We had a great meal at House of Blues for dinner and while we recounted just how well we did. The apple tart with vanilla ice cream was the best dessert I have had in months. 

Overall the show was really fun and I am very happy with my haul. A show like this has just about everything you could want, and caters to just about all collecting interests. Now I have a nice load of cards ready to send out. Even though I spent 11 hours driving home today, it was a great trip and one I will always remember.

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