Like you, the choice of what I want to do and what I need to do with my time on Saturday’s is often a difficult one. In many instances, the choice is made easier for me by my wife or the Pentagon. Cut the grass or work on or take part in a briefing are most typically my selections. This past weekend, neither of these laid claim to my time so I opted to make the drive north to Ft. Washington Pa for the quarterly “Philly Card Show” and boy am I ever so glad I did.
Interview with Bob Schmierer: Promoter of the Show Since 1975. If you didn’t know it, this was the last show in this venue at the Expo Center. Don’t be alarmed as I was at first was when I heard this news as I thought this hobby staple was going away. The “Philly Show” has been a hobby highlight for thousands of collectors since 1975. It has been at the Expo Center since March of 1993. At the center of all this for over 30 years has been Bob Schmierer. I met him for the first time and was introduced to him as he was walking the floor with his young grandson. Bob is one of those guys that has made the hobby what is today and for all the right reasons. His focus has been as simple as it has been consistent for over 30 years. Focus on getting solid dealers and see that there is solid value for the price of admission.
Unlike many of the “mega autograph” shows that seem to leave the collector with little time and money for the stuff on floor, Bob has established a venue that includes an autograph with the price of admission, making the $7.00 price just too hard to pass up. There have been just over 200 different autograph guests over the years and I have to share one story with you that Bob was gracious enough to share with me. Bob had seen an interview in which journeyman St. Louis Browns infielder Johnny Beradino (better known to America as Dr. Steve Hardy from General Hospital) said he would not card shows because he did not like the idea of folks charging for autographs and the like. Bob in turn wrote Mr. Beradino inviting him to be a show guest and detailing just how he ran his shows and why…bottom line is that he got Mr. Beradino to attend his first and only card show.
The “Philly Show” is important for a number of reasons. Its track record is such that it gets a great sampling of dealers and auction houses from all around the country. The location places it in center of things along the East Coast and most importantly, it remains a place where collectors can plan to meet on a regular basis, something sorely missing in this day and age where folks want to “Google” all their information and make all of their purchases on line. While it may sound strange coming from a guy writing for an on line publication, please don’t fall into the trap of trying to live the hobby through the key board and the screen. I had actually hoped to discuss this with T.S. O’Connell from SCD as I know T.S. has covered this show for years, but SCD was not represented at the show.
As far as the future location of this show, Bob told me that they will announce the new venue on their web site: www.phillyshow.org in the coming weeks.
DiMaggio Estate Auction: Staring on 19 May, the Joe DiMaggio estate will go to public auction in NY by way of Hunts Auction. Hunt’s display featured many of the signature items from the life of this American Icon. Cheryl Goyda and I spoke at some length not just about the pieces, but also the process involved in bringing such a collection to public offering. Over the years, Hunt’s has handled many “player collections” including those of Roy Campanella, Leo Durchoer, Bucky Walters, and Clem Lebine. The DiMaggio Estate, according to Cheryl represents something “truly special because of the person involved and the volume and variety of the offerings.” The catalog for this auction is almost 400 pages in length and shot in color. The price of $25.00 is a small price I my opinion for the insight it offers into both the personal and professional life of DiMaggio. There is DiMaggio the “Yankee Clipper”, DiMaggio, husband to Marilyn Monroe, and DiMaggio’s public and private life after both of these.
One of the things that Cheryl said Hunts makes a point of doing, is take the family through many of the aspects the average person does not have to deal with when deciding what to do with personal effects from an estate. They try to get a feel for how comfortable the family is with publicity all this will bring and work to help them through this. The other thing I found extremely admirable, but not surprising coming from Hunts, is that they truly encourage the family to think about what is most important to them and encourage them to hang onto the items the feel most strongly connected with.
MEARS was fortunate enough to be asked to write letters on few select pieces from this historic offering. I encourage you to get a copy of the catalog and track this auction. Hunt’s is a regular at the “Philly Show” and they represent just one more reason why you should carve out time once a quarter to hit this show. Their displays are always striking, they frequently bring older catalogs, and they are always willing to just talk about the hobby and what you collect.
Great Book References Finds: See just how far $32.00 will go…I have long urged collectors to spend time and money building a reference library, and show like the “Philly Show” still provide a great opportunity to do it on a budget. Because of the environment that Bob Schmierer has created, dealers like Kevin Savage of Kevin Savage Cards out of Maumee, Ohio still brings along hundreds of pounds of paper, and priced right. The sign on the table was easy to see and like, “ALL BOOKS $2.00”. I spoke with Pat Blandford, Vice-President for Book Sales about this and Pat said “while it might not be the best use of our table space, collectors have come to expect this from us. I like to read and collect these types of books as well… If I see a book I think I would like, I pick it up and try to get it to a show. I know how I like to look through these, and I set them up so others can do the same.” Pat’s comments are typical of the collector friendly sentiment of most of the dealers at this show. Pat was good enough to let me buy my initial selections and keep them for me so I could continue to roam the floor. When I returned, Pat had taken the time to dig through some extra boxes for a couple of other books he thought I would be interested in. These where priced a bit higher at a whopping $4.00 each. The point here is that even if could find the book on E-Bay for $4.00, the shipping would be at least that. In addition, the seller on E-Bay is probably not going to go back through the other boxes to try to get me something else. I will be adding these to the photographic reference section as I have a chance to go through them in detail, but here is a listing of what I picked up:
Baseball: Diamond in the Rough by Irving A. Leitner
Greatest World Series Thrillers by Ray Robinson
Star Pitchers of the Major League by Bill Libby
The Image of Their Greatness: An Illustrated History of Baseball from 1900 to Present by Lawrence Ritter and Donald Honig
The Story of Football: A Lavishly Illustrated History of America’s Exciting Gridiron Sport by Robert Leckie
Great Teams’ Great Years: The San Francisco 49ers by NFL Books
100 Years of Hoops: A Found Look Back at the Sport of Basketball by Alexander Wolf
Basketball Legends by Angus G. Garber III
Basketball by Wendell Rydell
Great Centers of Pro Basketball by Bob Rubin
Great Rookies of Pro Basketball by Zander Hollander
Great Teams of Pro Basketball by Lou Sabin
Pro Basketball’s Little Men by Raymond Hill
Unsung Heroes of Pro Basketball by Raymond Hill
Purchased from Kevin Savage Cards: www.kevinsavagecards.com
Offering’s by SCP Auctions. One of the principle reasons I made the trip was to see the Walter Johnson jersey that I was asked to do imagery analysis on. In short, the jersey was everything I could have expected and more. Any time you get a chance to actually see and examine an item of this caliber, you have to consider yourself fortunate. I wish I had been able to drive up Friday night, as Dan Imler from SCP told me that Walter Johnson’s grandson, Mr. Hank Thomas was brought by to see the jersey. Much to their credit, the folks at SCP took the jersey out from behind the glass and actually encouraged Mr. Thomas to try the jersey on. SCP will also feature a number of other historically significant items in their upcoming auction including a Jackie Robinson 1949 All Star bat, a 1955 Mickey Mantle home jersey, and a recently added Babe Ruth Boston Braves cap sourced from one of Ruth’s team mates.
Talking Shop with Veteran Dealer and “Just Plain Hobby Good Guy” Kip Ingle.
It’s experiences just like this that make going to shows so important and enjoyable for collectors. Kip’s booth caught my eye because, amoung other things, he had a couple of batting helmets. I am working on a piece along these lines for early June. Kip has been setting up at this show since the early 1990s and sees it at one of the best opportunities for dealers like himself to reach both collectors and auction houses. Kip and I talked for some length about the show concept as well as the hobby in general. I told Kip that I have long considered the card show to be to the hobby, what the Barber Shop was to American males in decades past; a gathering place for like-minded and interested people to gather and discuss the things they enjoy. Kip was quick to inform me that he could not agree more and noted that on Friday, two New York Baseball writers, both whom have votes for the Baseball Hall of Fame came by his booth. Quickly a debate ensued about who they felt where deserving players yet to be enshrined. As they discussed the relative merits of one over another, passer’s by heard the conversation and felt at ease in just joining in. This again represents just another example of something you just can’t get from behind the keyboard at home.
As we continued to talk, Kip went behind the table and produced a very interesting item he had obtained from Cardinal’s Shortstop Dal Maxvill. It was Maxvill’s kimono from the 1968 post World Series Tour of Japan Exhibition. A very visually appealing and rare item, the kimono featured a wonderful color Cardinals logo on the back and Japanese writing on the front. Kip said at first he thought the writing represented some wonderful tribute to the Cardinals recent World Series victory over the Tigers. When he actually had it translated, it turned out to be the name of the Department Store in Japan that was helping to sponsor the event….talk about marketing and product placement.
Kip is not your average dealer by any stretch of the imagination. Kip has 10 years experience in front office sports management with the New York Yankees as editor of their team publications and with the St. Louis Cardinals as the team’s Director of Public relations. He is also employed by the United States Golf Association each year to use his professional sports management skills in tournament operations for the U.S. Open. Kip wrote a wonderful piece for MEARS on collecting Master’s Golf Items and Autographs. If you have not read it, take some time do so.
Advance Information on What Could be the Earliest Thurman Munson Gamer to Hit the Hobby. While MEARS was not set up at the show as an organization, I was there to cover it and Dave Bushing was on hand as well, Dave Bushing. Dave has and still enjoys going to shows as he remains an active collector and dealer himself. It just so happened, that a collector walked into the show with a Thurman Munson bat and started asking around if Dave was on-hand. The gentleman had wanted to submit it to Dave and MEARS for an opinion. The bat is a Hillerich and Bradsby Thurman Munson signature endorsed bat, model S44 from the 1965-1968 labeling period. Munson signed his endorsement contract with Louisville Slugger in 1968 and made his major league debut with the New York Yankees on August 8th 1969. In talking with Dave, he thinks this could very well be the earliest Munson gamer to hit the hobby. After Dave finishes his evaluation and grading of the bat, he will let people know his formal findings.
What I have covered here in just over 2400 words holds some important thoughts I would like to leave you with.
1. Get out to a show and plan to do it with some regularity. Despite the obvious benefits of the “on-line” hobby, I remain convinced that the personal contact between collectors and dealers needs to remain the life blood of the hobby.
2. Define Value: If you define value as cost savings and enjoyment, then trips like this can and will produce results.
3. Benefits of on-line Publishing: 48 hours after returning from the show, this article is up with color images. Until such time as we get a daily hobby newspaper (yeh, I’m not holding my breadth either), this represents a significant advantage over print publications.
4. Celebrate the history of the hobby: This is a hobby built around those who enjoy collecting items and artifacts related to publicly held contests of sport. Its origins are in events like the “Philly Show.” Most of the long-time knowledgeable folks in the hobby began as show guys and a very solid core remain so today. They are willing to talk to those willing to listen and learn, and I for one have benefited greatly over the years. Think about establishing contact with your “on-line” and suggest meeting at show. Bring some of your items for show and tell.
MEARS Auth, LLC