Putting a can in the binder

One of the strict rules I keep with my collection is that I only want things that I can binder. There are a lot of cool things out there but aside from a few autographed baseballs I’ve been very good about sticking to this. Whether it’s memorabilia like jerseys and bats; oversized items like posters and calendars; or stuff like figurines, cups, and cans; I know better than to go start that path.

I actually have a bunch of this from my youth that I still haven’t figured out what to do with. I’ve a ton of pins which need a display/storage solution and all my posters are in toploaders so I can see them but they’re not on display. I’m really glad I didn’t get into Starting Lineups (the two I had are with my kids now) or bobbleheads. The idea of adding more bulk* just feels insane to me.

*That space is for camera lenses and art books.

Still, I have to admit that I feel a bit jealous when I see people building sets of RC cans or Slurpee Cups from the 1970s. There’s something about seeing how the card collecting stuff bleeds into other areas which I find very cool in how it demonstrates a certain level of cultural penetration.*

*My wife pointed out recently how those mass-market valentines which our kids bring home every yeah and which we all toss as soon as the candy is all eaten are one of the best slices of generic mass-culture relevance each year.

Anyway, a month or so ago I was on Ebay and came across a seller who had a bunch of flat RC cans. Probably a little expensive for those cans but since this was the first time I’d ever seen one that was potentially binderable I decided to grab one.

I didn’t look at the Ebay listing that closely and just assumed that this was a can which someone had manually flattened and that the price I was paying included the copay for at least one ER visit to stitch up a laceration.* It turns out that it’s probably a lot cooler than that.

*No it wasn’t thaaat much. Came out well under $10. It’s just that I see guys desperately trying to give these away on Twitter in order to clear up space so the idea of actually buying one at all felt a little wrong to me.

As a child of the 1980s I’m used to cans being formed from discs of Aluminum so that everything except the tops is a single drawn piece of metal. The RC cans from the 1970s weren’t made this way and are instead pull-tabs where the top and bottom of the cans are separate components in the same way that fruit and vegetable cans today are.

This means that the can walls were made from flat sheets of metal which were subsequently rolled into can shape. What I have looks like one of these cans before it became a can. The top and bottom edges are unprinted and show the registration and color separation information. This would normally get covered up by the top and bottom of the can as would the unfinished edges which would get crimped together and sealed.

It’s really cool to have the extra information. It’s also really cool that this is pre-rolled so it defaults to being flat already. The edges aren’t sharp either and as a result I can absolutely binder it. It’s just over 8 inches wide so it fits without issue in a one-pocket page and is right at home with the other MSA discs using the same image.

1989 Donruss

1989 Donruss has been a topic of discussion recently on Twitter in part due to the existence of a mysterious Jose Canseco bonus card. While everyone who knows about it knows that it’s a hand cut card from some kind of blister pack, none of us knew what those actual packs were. Searching for blister packs turned up 1, 3, and 4 blister packaging in multiple colors but none of them showed a Canseco card on the backs.

Finally Joey found and opened the right kind of pack. Turns out the Canseco card is only part of the yellow (not the red) 3-blister “display” packs. Anyway, since 1989 Donruss was in the wind I mentioned again that I was building it and got a few requests for my searchlist. Not much later I found some packages in my  mailbox which reminded me that as silly as it is to set build junk wax, there are a lot of guys out there with a ton of duplicates who are dying to tackle someone’s set building needs.

The first package came from Greg/Night Owl and contained 18 cards I needed. Nothing hugely noteworthy here although the Ken Williams is one that could also slip into my Stanford album.* The Williams also shows some of the printing inconsistencies of this set where things just get printed too dark. Orosco, Franco, and Carpenter may also be in this category but it’s most noticeably a problem with black players since their entire faces end up in shadow.

*He’s in the grey area of guys who attended Stanford but did not play for the baseball team due to having already turned pro.

Greg also slipped in this very cool Chrome Buster Posey insert. Buster retired late enough in 2021 to slip into a lot of 2022 products due to lead time issues. Normally this kind of thing is annoying since it results in a player showing up in the set who’s playing for a different team but when it means you get a set of “sunset” cards it’s pretty cool.

Joey sent me a bunch of his duplicates too.* Yes there’s some overlap with Greg’s package but that’s the way things go when you get close to the end of a set.  I don’t mind them either since it wouldn’t at all surprise me to find that I much prefer the printing on one of the duplicates compared to the other.

*All in penny sleeves, sandwiched by Ding Defenders. Joey doesn’t mess around.

No huge names in either of these piles. Gossage is the only Hall of Famer and everyone else are guys like Oil Can Boyd or Mookie Wilson who evoke a specific era of baseball for me.

These two batches take my need list down to being only 31 cards missing.* Of those the biggish names include Cal Ripken, Wade Boggs, Fred McGriff, Joe Carter, Barry Bonds, Eddie Murray, Dale Murphy, Jim Rice, Bobby Bonilla, and Roger Clemens. Finish line is in sight though so that’s exciting.

*At the time of publishing: 51 56 57 62 68 70 81 83 86 92 93 96 99 100 104 107 116 120 122 127 151 157 161 229 280 290 296 319 330 331 470.

Thanks guys for helping me along.

Hawaii Postcards

One of the fun things about collecting postcards is that they’re handy references of the way things used to look like. I’m not a generic postcard collector but I really do like getting ones which depict places I know and places I’ve been to.

A month or so ago I picked up a few cards which depict locations in Hawai‘i I’ve travelled to but look nothing like the way they were when I saw them. Sometimes this is due to development reasons. Other times it’s because of how nature has changed the landscape in the decades between the card’s printing and when I visited.

The first card is a white-borderded card from the 1920s–1930s and depicts the wide spot in the road which would become the Pali lookout. Nu‘uanu Pali Road still exists as the drive up to the lookout but it ends there in a parking lot and this portion of the road is now a pedestrian walkway. Meanwhile the Pali Highway goes through a tunnel bored beneath the lookout.

I have no idea where this image is taken from and there’s no way to access that location anymore. But aside from the size of the road and marveling at how it was the only way to get from the windward side of the island to Honolulu, I can also appreciate how wild that side of the island is. Looking out over Kāne‘ohe looks like everything is completely lush and unsettled.


Pali-1For comparison, these two views from the lookout show how developed the area is now. You can even see Interstate H3 winding around the base of the Ko‘olaus. There is still a lot of green though thanks to Ho‘omaluhia’s existence and the need to protect the city from floodwaters coming off the mountains.

Another view of the lookout this time on a much-older divided back card from the beginning of the 20th century. I love the horse-drawn carriage and cannot imagine making this trip through the winds and falling rocks on the this narrow stretch of road. The view here is looking up at the lookout as you approach it fro the windward side of the island.

pali-3I’ve actually taken a picture from almost this perspective. Yes, I used a wider-angle lens, but the cliffs and mountains are clearly the same. The first couple times I visited the lookout you could walk down the old road quite a way. The most-recent time though they’d fenced that off due to concerns about falling rocks and, I suspect, the fact that it was probably getting instagrammed to death.

DSC_0126.JPGI went even further down that road over 15 years ago and not only caught a view of where the postcard and other photo were captured but also the two tunnels under the pass which we drive through today. This view, despite the clouds, also points out one of the dangers in trusting old postcards as records of the past.

The mountains behind the one prominent peak are vague and sketchy because they don’t actually exist and have been added in to the postcard artwork. The postcard is a colorized black and white photo here the photo is sort of halftoned but all the colors are laid down in chromolithography dither patterns. The background mountains have no photographic information or black ink and are pure color added after the fact.

This linen card from the 1940s depicts the ‘Iolani Palace as it functioned as Hawai‘i’s capitol until 1969. This is an interesting one since not only do I have photos from my trips here, I also have a card from the 1890s which depicts the same building. This is a prime example of how fun linen postcards are since the color is super punchy and the artwork is extra crisp.

Iolani-1I don’t have much to add to my photo except to note that none of the awnings are present and that part of the second floor balcony in the corner closest to the viewer had been enclosed in the 1940s and has since been removed as part of the restoration of the building.

The last card is another linen card depicting Kamehameha Avenue in Hilo. That this is a linen card means that it dates to right before the tsunami* hit and destroyed everything in Hilo right up to one side of this street.

*caused by the April 1, 1946 Alaska earthquake.

UntitledI’ve been looking through my photos and on Google Street View to figure out exactly where on the street that photo was taken but, while certain parts look right, it appears that enough of the buildings have been remodeled just enough to keep me from making a positive identification. My gut sense is that the side on the left of the postcard is the side that remains and that we’re looking roughly North with morning light coming from the East.

I do however have this panorama of the remaining side of Kamehameha Avenue which shows that it’s still very much as-was. Hilo was hit with two huge tsunami in two decades and the scars of that are so deep that the town built a huge breakwater AND never rebuilt on the land which was destroyed.

What was once the main drag through town is now essentially a frontage road and parking lot. Still lots of shops (when they’re open) but nothing like what the postcard shows.

Shlabotnik PWE

So last week I was surprised by a PWE from Shlabotnik Report who appears to going through and purging some of his excess cards.

This latest PWE appears to have been inspired by my updating my Giants search list to have a lot more junk wax on them. For the longest time I was just focusing on Topps but as I’ve started to fill in the rest of the manufacturers it felt right to give people a sense of what else I was missing as well.

These two Donruss cards certainly fit this bill. 1981 and 1982 are both years I rarely encountered cards from. Maybe one or two in a repack. And I did buy a wax pack of each of these back in the late 80s. But nothing major and definitely not enough to build a stack of Giants.

The Jerry Martin is of course barely a Giants card but it counts. Frank Robinson though is always a nice one to add. I’m still not used to Donruss having manager cards.

When I actually commence my 1985 Fleer build* I’ll need to double acquire these Giants. For now though they’re in my Giants album. Dan Gladden was on those first teams I followed and it’s always fun to add a Johnnie LeMaster.

*I periodically search for starter lots on Ebay but to-date that’s been not particularly fruitful.

Three 1985 Fleer minis. I appreciate that these use different photos than the regular set rather than just being mini versions of the main set. Where 1985 Fleer is a design I love, 1986 is one that seems to be permanently forgettable for me.

This is the highlight of the envelope. In 1997 Wheaties had cards in its cereal boxes. All the same design as this one but for whatever reason they were branded with different companies. The cards are also more like 2″×4″ rather than the standard size.

Anyway this is a box card in the tradition of classic Post cards only there are stats on the back. Not at all something I was expecting to see from 1997 but very cool to add to the binder.

Three modern cards, all from 2022. The two Bowmans are new to me. The only Bowman I but are cheap singles to take to Somerset so it’s nice to add Giants. The Posey is one I’ll have to check with my kids about to see if either of them has one and, if they’re both missing it, it’ll make my youngest very happy.

And finally a new Metacard for the PC. Rockie Joe Rock is great. If he doesn’t end up in Colorado I hope he gets sent to Texas so he can play for Round Rock. I’ve added a couple aspirational cards (eg a 1933 Goudey or Tattoo Orbit of Red Lucas as a Red and the 1954 Red Heart Red Schoendienst) to the page but this is the first addition I’ve made since I got the Ernie Johnson half a year ago.

Super cool. Thanks Joe!

Liebig 1937 Animaux sauvages du Congo

While I try to have a more intellectual interest in the pre-war sets I acquire, sometimes I get them purely because of the artwork. Leibig’s 1937 Wild Animals of the Congo set is one such example. It leapt off the screen when I saw the cards and it was even better when I got to hold them in hand.

Yeah I had to post the entire set. These are large cards and they’re printed in beautiful chromolithography. The checklist is an all star team of charismatic megafauna, the likes of which I expect to see in any zoo I visit around the world.

Some of these species like the Black Rhinoceros, Elephant,* Okapi, and Gorilla are critically endangered and already extinct in parts of Africa (including Congo). Others like the Giraffe, Hippo, Leopard, and Lion are still endangered but listed as “vulnerable.” While a few of these like the Crocodile, Zebra, Kudu, and Forest Buffalo are not a concern at all.

*Bush Elephant pictured but the Forest Elephant lives in Congo.

They are all facing pressure in terms of habitat loss however so it wouldn’t surprise me if things get worse for all of them in the future. It’s interesting. I’m often unmoved at zoos because they’re all kind of the same in terms of featuring the same animals from the same parts of the world. I usually prefer the much more local focus of aquariums.

I have to recognize though that their missions are often completely different. Zoos in particular are increasingly turning into where species which are extinct in the wild can be bred and preserved in captivity. Many of the cards here show animals for whom that’s the most-likely future. From what I’ve seen so far aquariums aren’t doing that yet.

The backs are pretty basic descriptions of the animals and don’t require a lot of special attention. It is however worth noting that a few of the cards discuss how the “nègres” (negroes) like to eat the animals. Also the Elephant is already being called out as being extinct in some areas due to hunting for ivory and the Lion is noted for being dangerous to natives and even to whites.

The backs also point out the environment depicted, calling attention to birds which eat parasites on the crocodiles and buffalo; that the plants on the Hippo card are papyrus, the ones on the Lion are acacia, and the Gorilla features giant groundsel; and pointing out the termite mound on the Kudu card or the open forest on the Okapi.

There’s also a lot of mentions of, mostly unsuccessful, domestication on the herbivore cards. Elephants can do work. Zebras get sick too easily. And no one’s figured out how to tame a buffalo.

Two PWEs from Johnny!

Johnny started giving away ~nine cards to a random commenter on each post on his blog way back in last fall and is still doing these giveaways like nine months later. I got a couple in the beginning of things but have been skunked for the past five months now.

Some of this is because I don’t comment on every post. I’m not prizehunting so I only comment when I have something to say. That said, Johnny posts a lot of interesting things so I do comment petty frequently. This month though, much to my surprise, I ended up winning twice so close together that I have to combine the mailings into one post.

I’ve mixed the cards together but before I start I have to admit that I’m impressed at Johnny managing to get 21 items into two PWEs and that both of them came with a postcard stamp instead of a forever stamp. Zero chance that my local post office would let me get away with that.

Starting off wth a few random Giants cards. The glorious miscut 1970 Rookies card features John Harrell as well as Bernie Williams in his first of three consecutive multiplayer rookie cards. I still need Bernie’s 1972 card.

The 1991 Topps Archives Leo Durocher attempts to fill in some of the holes in the original 1953 Topps set. These “cards that never were” are a nice way of addressing how Topps and Bowman sort of split the checklist that year. They’re also an interesting variation on the 1953 design in that they replace the paintings with a black and white photo that has been given a duotone background. I have no idea why they used a red box for Durocher’s name though since that was only used for the American League in 1953. This takes me to only needing  four cards to complete this team set.*

*#38 Jim Hearn, #115 George Spencer, #303 Sal Maglie, and #323 Wes Westrum. Yes it’s a bit weird that I have the 1953s of Hearn and Spencer and not the 1991s.

And in a similar modern take on a old design, the Topps206 John McGraw expands one of McGraw’s T206 cards to fit a modern trading card’s size and dimensions. I’m not a huge fan of this in part because the reproduction looks pretty bad. My bigger issue though is that Topps’s branding suggests that the T in T206 stands for “Topps” instead of “tobacco.”

A half-dozen parallel-designed Topps Flagship cards. The 2020 camo pattern is numbered to 25 and features a player who didn’t make the team out of Spring Training. Is interesting that the camo is a digital camouflage that suggests the Universal Pattern which the Army stopped using in 2019 (and whose replacement had been announced in 2014). I also don’t like using camo for what Topps calls a “Memorial Day” parallel since Memorial Day is a day of honoring the dead.

I’ll lump the handful of 2021 and 2022 Holiday cards together since I don’t have a lot to say about this set. This set is so stupid but it’s stupid in a good way where I wish it was even stupider. I love that Topps has been branching out into baubles and holly instead of just snow. Maybe one of these days we’ll get holiday lights around the border.

My kids love these and if I could ever find a blaster for them for Christmas they’d be so happy. Alas all we get are Giants cards in trade packages months after the fact. Plus the truly-fun SPs with the the santa hats, candy cane bats, and snow balls all go for prices more than I’m willing to spend.

Oh, I do need to mention that that Kris Bryant was the only US-released card on Kris Bryan on a 2021 Flagship design as a Giant. So it is nice to add one of those to the team for that year.

A half-dozen rookies/prospect cards from various ages of the hobby. The 2001 Donruss Rookies are from the era of I don’t know how many companies making I can’t even begin to count how many sets. These don’t look like 2001 Donruss baseball but they’re clearly of that era. Three of the names I remember with David Brous being the only one I have no recollection of.

The two Bowman Sterling are from 2021. We’re still waiting for Ramos to make a splash in the majors and we’re still waiting for Bishop to get there. These are nice cards but I have no idea where one acquires them or what the point of the set is.  I have grabbed cheap autographs out of this set though.

A pair of pocket schedules from one of the high points of my Giants fandom before the 2010s happened. Despite the painful ending, 2002 was a magical year and it’s great to have a schedule from that year as well as the 2003 one which commemorates that year. I still have a few two-pocket pages with  vertical pockets* that fit these perfectly too.

*Meant for First-Day Covers.

Johnny included two Stanford cards as well. I didn’t have either of them. No surprise about my missing the Shawn Green Flair insert. I only added him to the searchlist a year ago and Flair is off my radar in general–meaning that Flair inserts aren’t even something I think about. Very cool to add something that different.

Missing the Piscotty is more of a surprise. I have a green(?*) parallel of this card as well as the paper Donruss card but did not have the base Optic card. Go figure.

*Turquoise? Panini color parallels mystify me.

Wrapping up with a few cards Johny sent because of where I live. First off, a fun postcard of Princeton Stadium in the 1980s. It’s cool to see what this area looked like before it got remodeled. I’ve only known it as a two-deck stadium which moved the running track into a fancy shmancy facility located where the practice field is in this photo.

Surrounding the stadium, the building in the bottom left corner was replaced with a very nice chemistry building instead of whatever that warehouse-looking structure was. And the empty space in the top left corner is where the engineering library designed by Frank Gehry now lives.

Finally, the greenish space at the top/top right of the photo beyond the stadium has been torn up for the past year as Princeton is currently building a new suite of buildings for Engineering and Environmental Studies.

And last but not least, Johnny hit me with this Alf card from 1987. Did it make me laugh? Yes it did. Will it make my kids groan? Yes it will.

Meanwhile I’ve yet to make it to Atlantic City. Heck I’ve only made it to The Shore once. One of these days I guess I’ll rectify that.

Anyway, very cool stuff Johnny! For taking a blind stab at my collection, hitting with 19 cards that I didn’t already have is super impressive.

Some noteworthy pickups

Another post of random pickups of note which arrived over the past month or so.

We’ll start off with my first T206 and T207 cards. I always figured that Fred Merkle would be my first T206 but Fred Snodgrass is similarly infamous. Snodgrass was the Giants’ primary centerfielder from 1910 to 1914 and is unfortunately remembered for “gifting” Boston the 1912 World Series after muffing a fly ball. Reading accounts of that last inning suggest that the wheels fell off all around with multiple Giants missing chances to get outs that should’ve been routine.

While T206 is listed as a 1909–1911 release, the various backs list different series lengths from 150 to 460 cards and can be used to determine what year a card came out.* Snodgrass with the 350 series back is a 1910 release—making it my oldest Major League card now.

*This appears to be the definitive book.

The card is beat up enough to fall into my price range but doesn’t have any horrible paper loss. The only major issue is the way the red ink is rubbed off above his head but thankfully that doesn’t impact any of the image. I like having an intact back even though it’s just a tobacco advertisement. It’s not the most attractive image on the front but it does capture a certain something about early 20th century baseball.

The T207 meanwhile was one of those “I’d regret it if I didn’t get it” purchases. I never really looked into these since I much prefer the T205 and T206 sets but there’s a certain appeal to the T207s too since nothing else looks like them.

Art Fletcher is not known for any muffs or boners. He is however the Giants franchise leader in being hit by a pitch (and is number 30 on the all-time list). He also was a coach for the 1920s Yankees and even took over as interim manager after Miller Huggins died in 1929.

I have to admit that I’m a bit shocked to have a T205, T206, and T207 now. This was such a reach that I would never have even considered it as a New Year’s Resolution in January but here we are only a third of the way through the year.

I never expected to find a 1948 Bowman basketball card in my price range but I occasionally search for them all the same since Jim Pollard and Howie Dallmar are both in that set and it would be nice to be able to have a sample in the Stanford album. Low and behold I came across a very well loved Dallmar which is perfect since I already have a Pollard Wheaties card.

I enjoy the artwork and the way Bowman colored these behind a black ink halftone screen. I also like that the card back mentions Stanford.

Moving to more recent stuff. This is a 2005 San José Giants card autographed by Garrett Broshuis. Broshuis is noteworthy not because of what he did as a player but because of his advocacy for improved conditions for Minor League ballplayers. He at first had a blog which described Minor League life and living conditions but he went to law school, founded Advocates for Minor Leaguers, and is a huge reason why Minor League Players have not only unionized but joined with the Major League Union.

The recent news about what Minor Leaguers have won is hugely exciting even though it’s nowhere near enough. But as a lover of Minor League ball it makes me happy to see that things are moving in the correct direction.

I grabbed a pair of Frankie Albert cards for the Stanford collection. The 1952 Bowman is is great but I really like the 1955 Topps All American card with the two different photos. Albert only played professionally for three years and was one of the first T Formation quarterbacks* in college football.** While I no longer follow the sport, I grew up with it and it’s really weird to find out how new a lot of the “standard” strategies came into existence.

*Something his Bowman back mentions along with the 1940 Sanford Football season.

**And supposedly also was one of the first to run the bootleg.

I also finished my Bobby Brown run by grabbing his 1949 Bowman rookie card. Brown is a grey area for the Stanford collection since he transferred to Tulane (his time in Tulane is mentioned on the back too) but he is in the Stanford Hall of Fame. As with the Dallmar I enjoy having cards that look as distinct as this in the album.

Finally, I grabbed a 2012 Sam Fuld Card Gen which is one of those cards I never thought I’d ever see let alone find for a couple bucks. Card Gens are cool but you just don’t see them around much anymore.  I wanted this one since it’s the only card Fuld got in 2012 and it’s nice to fill that hole in the binder. Now I just have to track down his 2013 Tampa Team Set card (or decide it’s worth spending the money on a complete set) to finish his run.

April Returns

I’ve been hitting my 1986–1988 duplicates a lot recently and have re-sent to some guys I got a few years ago as I build out my signed 1986 Topps and 1988 Topps collections. I was busy mailing requests out in March even though not much was coming back and those efforts really made themselves known this month.

April got off to a great start with a fast 9-day return from Johnny Ray and a pair of 1986 and 1988 duplicates which show off his switch hitting ability. I however really like the 1990 Upper Deck card in his flip-down sunglasses.

I got a 61 day return from Fred McGriff’s cousin Terry McGriff. I had sent him a 1988 Topps duplicate a couple years ago but never got a response. Nice to have success on my second try and, while I don’t do too much with 1989 Topps it looks nice signed as well.

I thought I was about done with spring training returns until this one from David Villar arrived a week into the regular season, 49 days after I sent it out. It’s always nice when it’s obvious the player kept a copy of each custom I sent and even though I asked for only one signature, it’s great to have a signed version of each of the color designs for last season.

The orange is the base roster card, the white is to commemorate MLB debuts, and the black borders are highlights. Villar was a bright spot last season and I’m hoping he keeps it up this year.

Another repeat request, this time from Floyd Bannister in 27 days. I don’t usually send four cards but when I do it’s because it’s fun to get a card of each team a guy played for. I also like having he 1985 Topps #1 Draft Pick card signed since that’s one of the most interesting parts of that set.

My youngest got a quick return from Rick Reuschel last month and inspired me to give him a try as well. Reuschel is one of my earliest memories in the autograph hobby and getting him on a Mothers Cookies card was something I really wanted to do. He’s always been a notoriously streaky signer at best (when I was a kid the fact that I even had his autograph impressed some of the more seasoned pros) but he’s being very accommodating right now and sent these back in 9 days.

I sent to Danny Darwin again since I wanted to add a few more teams that he’d played for into the binder. I don’t usually use 1991 Donruss but I wanted to try one of those MVP cards just for fun. The 1994 Upper Deck also came out great. He sent these back in 15 days.

I go a 10-day return from Ed Romero on both a pair of he sets I’m hitting as well as a 1983 Topps card. Romero put together a 12-year MLB career playing for four teams (primarily the Brewers and Red Sox) before going on to a carer as a Minor League coach.

I got Pat Sheridan’s autograph at that childhood Philadelphia trip but didn’t have any Giants cards of him signed. So I finally sent a pair of 1990 cards that reflected his time with the 1989 team. I didn’t realize as a kid that I caught him at basically the end of his career. I do know now that he’s p[art of that 1989 team which meant so much to me as a kid* and it was great to get these back in 16 days.

*Updated status of that project is kept on a dedicated page.

A 15 day return from Frank DiPino brought another multi-team mailing to my mailbox. Nice to see the different teams. And nice to add another 1990 Leaf to the collection. I only had one signed before which is a shame since it’s a nice set for it.

For some reason I didn’t send either my 1991 Studio or a Mother’s Cookies card to Mark Lewis last time. Definitely had to fix that oversight, especially because the 1997 team is the one responsible for bringing back to being a baseball fan. He sent these back in only 9 days.

I sent four to Don Robinson because I couldn’t choose between them. I love getting Pirates 1986 Topps cards signed because they’re all about the pillbox caps and I really like the 1990 Upper Deck photo of him sliding. It’s also always nice to get another signed Mother’s Cookies card. Robinson is super reliable and sent these back in 14 days.

Speaking of 1986 Pirates cards, everything from the cap to the sunglasses here is fantastic. Brown only played five years in the Majors but had a pretty good 1985 season after he was traded to the Pirates in in the beginning of August. He slashed .332/.391/.512 and put up 1.5 WAR in only two months.

Brown is also a Bay Area guy who was born in San Francisco and went to school at San José State. He sent this back in 14 days.

I got a pair of cards from Gary DiSarcina in 14 days. 1993 Triple Play is one of those sets I kind of want to build since it’s the perfect for-kids set in that it’s fun without being condescending. 1993 Upper Deck meanwhile is an all-time classic of a design that always looks great signed. I neglected to ask about the photo on the back but googling around explains what Frick, Frack, And Hack mean.

DiSarcina played 12 years in MLB, all with the Angels. His best year was 1995 in which he was an All Star and even showed up on the MVP ballot. He’s now the Third Base coach for the Nationals.

This is a fun one. I pulled this Glendon Rusch card out of a repack in my early days of reintegrating to the hobby and those $5 Target repacks were the best way for me to get a taste of everything I’d missed since I dropped out in 1994. I didn’t give it much thought after I pulled it until Matthew Prigge asked me to help him design the custom cards he was going to use for promoting his book.

After Matt sent me a few sets of the cards I realized that it would be fun to send them out TTM to the guys who were reliable signers. Rusch was one such player and sent these back in only 7 days. I explained in my letter what the cards were from, told him to keep the extra, and he did. Rusch bounced around with 6 different teams over 12 years as a decent, mostly replacement level, pitcher. Matt’s custom though commemorates his first MLB home run though so that was a fun detail to add to the letter.

The very next day I got another of Matt’s customs back, this time from Sixto Lezcano in 8 days. He also kept an extra so that’s pretty cool. I wish I’d had a real card to send him but it’s nice to have the custom commemorating a exciting game. Lezcano had a pretty good 12-year career, most of it with the Brewers, and was a really good player in the late 70s.

I finally sent to Jay Bell. Was nice to be able to thank him for being part of one of my favorite parenting memories and it was nice to add another 1988 Topps and another 1993 Upper Deck to the binder. While I think of Bell primarily as a Pirate it’s always fun to add a rookie card. 1993 is also a good yea to have since that was his best season of his 18-year career. He returned these in 20 days.

I sent a bunch of extra Giants postcards out and Manny Trillo returned his in only 9 days. These always sign nicely and I really like the views of Candlestick as well. Trillo was one of my first TTM requests so this is another repeat.

A 36 day return from Rick Honeycutt was a second-times-the-charm request. I really wish I had a duplicate of his 1990 Upper Deck card but getting him on any A’s card works since I definitely remember him from his time with the A’s…well and also the thumbtack incident which was part of the Baseball Hall of Shame books I grew up reading.

Lee Guetterman is a repeat request as well as I decided to hit some duplictes form sets ha I don’t normally send ou. 1988 Score and 1990 Fleer both look nice signed but are not the sets I reach for first from those years. He sent these back in 21 days.

A 10 day return from Jeff Reed was another repeat request. I wanted an Expos card of Reed and once I ran into his 1990 Upper Deck card I couldn’t not send that too. There’s something about catcher action that will always be cool.

Mike Kingery is yet another repeat request and I was happy to get another 1988 Score back in 21 days. Kingery doesn’t have a lot of Giants cards so I went with sets I like to see signed that I haven’t gotten too as often.

Tom Shopay has such a great signature that I picked up a cheap 1972 card just to send to him. He was a sub for seven seasons from 1967 to 1977 but his 1972 card captures the fact that he played in the 1971 World Series. He sent this back in 13 days and reminds me that I’d like to get more 1972s signed just in general.

My eldest sent a bunch of requests out in March, one of which was to Doug Dascenzo. I figured I’d piggy back on my son’s request and put two letters and two cards in one envelope. It’s fun to share a hobby with them and sending to guys like Dascenzo is a chance for us to talk about guys who I saw when I was his age. I’d love to send out his 1991 Score card that depicts him pitching but all I had around was this 1989 Donruss. Dascenzo is a good signer but made my son sweat by taking a longer than typical 57 days.

Joe Margoneri played two seasons with the New York Giants and it’s always fun to write to those guys about being a Giants fan, moving East, and visiting the Polo Grounds location. He sent this back in just 14 days and included a nice note on the index card as well.

I got a nice 128 day return from Carlos Garcia. He had a decent 10-year career in the Majors and has been a coach in various capacities since. Both of his 1992 Donruss and 1993 SP cards feature nice photos which look really nice with ink. This is also my first SP card which I’ve gotten signed.

Bob Johnson’s 1972 Topps card has a passing reference on the back to how he won Game 3 of the 1971 NLCS. This is a bit of an understatement in that he actually outpitched Juan Marichal and only gave up one unearned run in 8 innings. As with the Tom Shopay this reminds me that I’d love to get more 1972s signed. Johnson sent this back in 19 days.

While his 1991 Score is the only card which shows him pitching left-handed, I couldn’t help make “amphibious pitcher” jokes when I got these back from Greg Harris in 33 days. This is another repeat request where I sent cards from some of my favorite sets to get signed this time.

Charlie Spikes is an all-time great name and a similarly awesome nickname (The Bogalusa Bomber). He had a good 1974 and showed a lot of promise but things just didn’t work out for the rest of his career. I really like this 1976 Topps card though and was happy to get it back in 20 days.

The last return of the month was this pair from Jeff Kunkel in 11 days. Neither of these is as cool as his 1991 Studio but it’s nice to have a couple more-traditional images as well.

All in all a very very good month with a great mix of cards. Next month probably won’t measure up but the hopper is still pretty full so who knows what’ll happen.

1935 Cafés Gilbert Colonies Françaises

I picked up a bunch of pre-war sets last year, scanned all the cards, and then only wrote about a couple of them. Some of this is due to getting sidetracked by other projects. Some of it is having one set that is turning into a monster-sized post. But I’m trying to clear out the backlog this year.

This post is about a 12-card set of cards from Cafés Gilbert which feature French Colonies in 1935. Cafés Gilbert is a French coffee manufacturer which released various card sets in the 1930s as well as a number of posters which you can buy prints of on Etsy. I’ve been unable to find more information about the company itself though.

The cards are beautiful vibrant multi-ink chromolithography which still pops 90 years later. I love the artwork and the way it incorporates maps.

The subject matter though is kind of rough. Rather than presenting this set in order (card numbers are in the lower right corner) I’ve grouped things geographically since it helps explain things better.

Tonkin, Annam, Laos, and Cambodia were all part of French Indochina and as such share very similar histories with regards to being colonial possessions and gaining their independence after the Battle of Điện Biên Phủ in 1954. All four of these countries would then get sucked into the Vietnam War as the United States picked up the baton from France without realizing they were fighting people who had been fighting for their independence for decades.

There are only two North African cards: one of Morocco and the other of Algeria (Tunisia is absent). Morocco and Tunisia would win their independence in 1956. Algeria won its in 1962.

France’s North African colonies are interesting to me due to their geographic proximity to France and the fact that they’re also Mediterranean. Rather than being some sort of far-flung empire, I can see how they came to be conquered and ruled due to the long history of conquest in all directions around the Mediterranean.

Algeria is also the source for one of my favorite photographic works, Marc Garanger’s Femmes Algériennes (taken in 1960), which sits at the intersection of every thorny issue involving portraiture, gaze, and consent while also being self-aware of those issues. With Algeria’s 1962 independence, the French Empire was effectively gone though many of its former colonies would continue to speak French.

A pair from West Africa with Senegal standing in for French West Africa while French Equatorial Africa gets an entire card to itself. It is worth mentioning here that as beautiful as these cards are, the way they focus on native costume and activities is definitely part of the colonial gaze.

French Equatorial Africa as well as the nine countries which made up French West Africa won independence between 1957 and 1960 though mostly peaceful means as France reorganized its colonies due to problems in Indochina and Algeria. Some, such as Guinea did so by rejecting the 1958 French Constitution while many others reached agreements with France in 1960.

Moving to the Americas and Carribean brings us to three countries that are still technically part of France (and by extension, part of the EU). French Guiana is especially interesting here since most of the non-European parts of the EU are islands and of the ones that are not, it’s the only one that’s not on the Mediterranean. It’s also the largest landmass in the EU outside of Europe (Greenland is apparently not part of the EU) and its border with Brazil is France’s longest border with another country.

Martinique and Guadeloupe are more typical in that they’re small islands which are part of the EU. Both of them also seem to be undergoing a similar sense of limbo between being a colony and a full-fledged independent country that we see with the US and Puerto Rico. Though it also looks like Martinique and Guadeloupe are much better represented in the French government.

The last two cards don’t have much to do with each other I just grouped them together because they’re what’s left over.

Madagascar has a similar history within France as the West African countries do in terms of winning independence in 1960. New Caledonia meanwhile has a much more fraught relationship where it’s still part of France but has come close to winning independence multiple times and is currently stuck with close to half the population wanting to be independent and half wanting to remain part of France.

The backs meanwhile are all the same. Nothing of interest about the card fronts, just the contact information for Cafés Gilbert in Paris and Poitiers. The cards were evidently intended to be placed in albums so the backs are not important. I can confirm that they look great on a 12-pocket page.

All in all a neat set which is very much of its time in both good and bad ways.  It’s one thing to see these “experience the world without traveling” cards and get a sense of how people learned about the rest of the world. It’s another to be reminded of colonialism and empire and its legacy around the world. These are interesting and beautiful enough that they can do both.

We can learn about where France had its colonies and see that places like Vietnam were suppliers of rice, Guiana gold, Martinique bananas, and Guadeloupe sugarcane. We can see images of local clothing even though it’s typically non-white people wearing exotic costumes. And it’s good to be reminded that this is how things were well into the 20th century. And that many of these situations in fact remain in place even today.


One of the things about growing up in California is how earthquakes mark ages of time in the way they reshape the built environment. I grew up seeing photos of places like Stanford or San Francisco as they looked “before the earthquake” with buildings and places that were never rebuilt. Then in 1989 I got to see the same phenomenon in action as infrastructure all around the Bay Area came down after being damaged by the 1989 quake.

April 18th is the anniversary of the 1906 earthquake and was always one of those occasions which was marked in the news each year. No real celebrations or memorials it was just something to be aware of. Which is why when I saw this card I decided it should go into my collection (well, as soon as I found one in sufficiently beater condition to jump on) and decided to use it for a short post to0 mark the 117th anniversary of the quake.

The front is pretty wild but I think that’s City Hall in the background. It was relatively new in 1906 and was completely destroyed by the quake. The back meanwhile has a pretty good description of the fact that it was the fire that did the worst damage and that was because the water supply did indeed get cut off by the quake.

It’s interesting to me that there’s no mention of the quake magnitude since the Richter numbers dominate current earthquake coverage. I guess since those numbers were established in 1935 that we didn’t have them for earlier quakes.

The card is from the 1954 Topps Scoop set which is a weird sort of “if a newsreel were turned into trading cards” set. It’s mostly news items that you would’ve seen above-the-fold over the previous 50 years of newspapers. At the same time, there are a bizarre number of things from before that era including a number which predate newspapers. Super strange though I do love the idea of there being a World Wide News paper which covered the Trojan War.

The idea of such a set is pretty cool and it would be great to see a modern version of these with a much-more-considered checklist covering a specific period of time (or, failing that, an Onion version of this set). I also like a lot of the sport highlights in this set and wish that Topps did more of those in Archives as well.