The Vintage Cleveland Collection; Capturing Karma!

Partial Sets from 1948-1952 Leaf, Bowman and Topps with Short Prints
  • August 24, 2018


The summer months have been very hot and very busy and August is usually a very full month for Just Collect.  We attend the National Convention at the beginning of the month and usually spend the weeks preparing material for the show and the balance of the month processing the cards and collections that we've purchased at and around the National.  Additionally, when we return, we focus on catching up on the work that we missed in the office during the week that our specialists were away.  This year, the National was even more hectic with Vintage Breaks' amazing 1955 Bowman Baseball Cello Pack Break that resulted in a PSA 9 Mickey Mantle.

1952 Topps Billy Martin

Not Everyone Is Ready to Ship Their Cards

One of the great things about attending shows out of the area is coordinating with collectors that have contacted us but were hesitant to forward their collections to use for inspection.  We understand the trepidation and concern collectors must feel about packaging their collections up and sending them off to someone that they may have never met.  We've had a great many people put their faith in Just Collect and send their collections.  We receive many collections weekly for review and have reviewed and evaluated all of these collections without incident for more than 10 years (knocking on wood).  But we are also aware that not everyone will have the comfort level to ship their cards and prefer in-person meetings.  When possible, we will do everything to accommodate these collectors, but it is not always possible.

Our travel schedule does allow Just Collect to be in many parts of the country at different times of the year.  Recently, we were headed to Cleveland for the National Sports Collectors Convention that was held at the IX Center.  We had contacts from several collectors in the Cleveland area that were interested in getting an evaluation for the possible sale of their collection.

The Meeting

One such contact ahd spoken with us and forwarded a few images of a collection that consisted of a partial run of 1951 and 1952 Bowman Baseball, 1952 Topps Baseball and a few images of 1948-49 Leaf Baseball.  From the images that were provided, mostly the Hall of Famers and higher value cards, our specialists were able to provide some ball park conditions and valuations which were met with agreement from the gentleman with the cards.  We arranged for an appointment to meet at our hotel one evening after the show to review the entire collection and finalize the evaluation and make a purchase offer.

The 1951 and 1952 Bowman were incomplete and while they contained most of the cards from the low series runs, the partial sets ended at cards number 180 and 190, respectively.  Additionally, the 1952 Topps run was complete through card number 190.  Interestingly, this did not correspond with any low number series, but just seemed to be where the gentleman cut off his collecting for the year.  He supposedly would collect the cards during the summer and trade them with friends and he would put them away at the end of the summer when school began.  This this is a double-edged sword in that  putting them away kept the cards in very good shape, but not completing them leaves us wondering what would have been the condition had he collected the higher numbers in 1951 Bowman which featured the Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays rookies or the 1952 Topps with Mickey Mantle and Jackie Robinson in the High Number Series.  Alas, he didn't, but he did take surprisingly good care of the cards and many appeared to be pack fresh albeit, with the inconsistent centering associated with the Bowman issues.

1952 Topps Baseball

Knowing that there wouldn't be a Mickey Mantle in the 1952 Topps may have been disappointing, but it didn't curtail our excitement in reviewing the first 190 cards of the set that were included in this collection.  All of the first 80 cards, often referred to as the Low Numbers, were the Black Back variety.  These included the #1 card Andy Pafko (unfortunately in only GOOD condition), Yankees legend Phil Rizzuto and two of my favorite cards in the set, the peach background card of Gil Hodges and the bold red background of the Dodgers Billy Loes.


1952 Topps #1 Andy Pafko 1952 Topps Phil Rizzuto


1952 Topps Gil Hodges 1952 Topps Billy Loes


1951 Bowman Baseball

Don't get us wrong, there were plenty of great cards in the collection.  The 1951 Bowman was highlighted by Ted Williams, Yogi Berra and the Whitey Ford rookie card.  The condition of the cards was very nice once you got past the first few.  Centering and wax stains on the revers were the primary issue with the cards from this incredible run.


1951 Bowman Ted Williams 1951 Bowman Whitey Ford 1951 Bowman Yogi Berra


1952 Bowman Baseball

One of the amazing things was the condition of the 1952 Mickey Mantle.  As you can see from the image below, the centering was extreme with an extremely thin right border, but the corners and the surface were truly pack-fresh.  In all honesty, if the card were centered, it had corners and surface condition that would've challenged for a PSA 10 GEM MINT, but given the centering, the card's technical grade is EX to EX/MT (or NM OC). Other stars like Pee Wee Reese, Yogi Berra and Duke Snider were also found in this portion of the collection -- some equally as nice and some exhibiting some light wear.


1952 Bowman Mickey Mantle 1952 Bowman Yogi Berra 1952 Bowman Pee Wee Reese



1948 Leaf Stars and Short Prints

1948 Leaf Dick Sisler

Many times, when we get images for a collection, they're typically the best cards in the collection. In the case of this collection, a few cards that may have been afterthoughts were the stars of the deal.

We do our very best to evaluate and give estimates based upon quality scans, but until we see the cards in person, the evaluation is only an estimate.  A few of the images from this collection did not provide enough detail to see some flaws that lowered a few preliminary grades.  Additionally, a few of the cards were a bit nicer and the preliminary evaluation improved.  What we didn't expect occurred at the very end of the collection.  In the back of the binder that contained the partial 1951 and 1952 Bowman Sets were a few pages that contained 17 different 1948-49 Leaf Baseball cards.  They were included because the owner recognized Joe DiMaggio, Warren Spahn and Hal Newhouser.  Little did he realize that Newhouser is a tough short-print and nearly half of the cards that he thought were probably commons, were actually very the scarcer and highly valuable short-prints. 

As we addressed the short-prints and explained the much higher value, even though they are otherwise mostly common players, the seller soon realized that they were more than making up for the value that may have been lost on a few of the cards that were in lesser condition than first anticipated.  In fact, the short-prints added a significant amount to the new final value.  A final value that the seller was more than pleased with and gladly accepted.

Here are a few more of the 1948 Leaf cards that were part of this exciting collection including a couple of standard print stars (Joe DiMaggio and Warren Spahn) and a couple of short prints, including the very scarce rookie card of Hall of Famer and back-to-back AL MVP winner Hal Newhouser and the tough to find rookie card of Frank Gustine:

1948 Leaf Joe DiMaggio 1948 Leaf Warren Spahn
1948 Leaf Hal Newhouser 1948 Leaf Frank Gustine


Cardboard Karma

Interestingly, the seller asked why would we mention the short-prints when he wasn't aware of the value. Simply put, we want to do the right thing and we believe in cardboard karma. And that karma may have led to the incredible good fortune when the 1955 Bowman cello pack was broken later in the week.


Schedule an Appointment to Meet Just Collect at a Show Near You

Just Collect travels to several shows on a regular basis. In the New York area, we often attend the White Plains Show at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, NY. If you're in the New England area, you can make an appointment to meet with one of our specialists when we're in the area for the Shriner's Show at the Aleppo Auditorium in Wilmington, MA. We also visit the Metro-DC area when we attend the CSA Show in Chantilly, VA. If you're in the South Jersey or Delaware area, you can also schedule appointments while we're in the Philadelphia area when we do The Philly Show in Valley Forge, PA.

We set up at The National Sports Collectors Convention every year and this year, it will be at the IX Center in Cleveland, OH and it has been in Chicago, Atlantic City and Baltimore in recent years. Additionally, we travel to the Sports Card and Memorabilia Expo in Mississauga, Ontario for those of you in the Toronto area that want to meet with us in Canada.

We would love to meet with you and schedule a private appointment to assess and value your collection while we are in your area, so please check out our show and travel schedule to see when Just Collect will be in your area!

Our Buying Philosophy

We've run into a wide range of people and collections over the past decade. Although we are known for buying vintage sports cards and especially vintage basketball cards, we are also extremely interested in buying non-sports cards, also!

Every collection and every collector is different and we treat EVERY collection with the respect and attention that we show for our own collections. We understand that many have put their heart and soul into building their collection. So when you're ready to sell, Just Collect understands the feelings that you're going through and we will work with you to help you reach a decision that is a WIN/WIN, because if you're not happy, we're not happy.

Won't They Be Worth More if I Grade Them Myself

We discuss all of the selling options with everyone that we meet with. In most cases, selling the collection on their own will put the most money on the bottom line, but it will also take an large commitment of time and energy and one that most are not ready or able to undertake. Another misconception is that grading the collection will return more money. When I hear people say, "You're just going to grade them and get ten times the money," I almost cringe. Grading a collection can be a money losing proposition, especially if you don't know what you're doing. And most times, we grade very few, if any cards, from average collections that we buy.

We value a collection based upon the condition and the value. If a card is worth $100 in a PSA 7 NM, we're going to value it at $100 whether it is ungraded or graded. You can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars grading your cards, but we're still valuing them the same and paying the same regardless of how much you've invested in grading them.

We Are Always Buying

Just Collect is always buying vintage sports and non-sports cards from 1879 to 1979 as well as select modern cards. If you have a collection that you are considering selling, contact us today to discuss your collection and get our industry leading purchase offer. If you have a collection that you want appraised, please contact us and we would be happy to discuss your collection and help you understand the real cash value of your collection in the current marketplace.

Don't hesitate to check out our Google Reviews left by many of the great people that have considered selling collections to Just Collect.


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