Monday, July 22, 2013

Card Show report- Reminiscing on the cheap

I have a particular fondness for sets from the mid 1990's as that is when I started collecting. Back when I was in late elementary and middle school I would save up my allowance money for a month or more then beg my mom to take me to my LCS where I would blow everything on packs and the occasional single card. The owner Raymond had a huge cardboard box full of junk wax packs for a quarter apiece. Naturally I thought this was awesome and would usually buy 8-10 packs. Raymond would also throw in a couple more for free if I spent more than $20. Being a young, naive collector I was all about quantity over quality. So when I had to decide between say four packs of UD Collector's Choice with ten cards in each pack and one pack of Topps Finest with six cards in the pack for the same price, I would of course choose the cheaper packs. As a result I feel like I probably missed out on a lot of the better sets of the mid to late 90s. But I really enjoyed my baseball card collecting hobby so I don't regret those decisions. Thanks to the advent of the internet age it is now very easy to acquire older sets if you so desire. Currently I'm working more on catching up on sets from the 2000's that I missed during my time away from the hobby that I have previously written about so I haven't given 90's wax much of a look.

Fast forward to yesterday where I was attending my first ever card show in Hickory, NC. I found one dealer who had a box completely full of baseball, football and basketball packs ranging from early 80's Topps, Score and Donruss to the mid 90s. The majority of the packs were 80's junk wax or 90's sets that I have already mostly completed. However after doing some digging around in the box I found a few packs each of 1995 Topps Finest, 1995 Emotion, 1996 Topps Finest and 1996 Donruss. The first three sold back in the day for $4-6 a pack, and he was selling these at 3 for $1! What a deal! The Donruss certainly wasn't a remarkable series but it was the last baseball set they made as an independant company as well as the last year that Dick Perez produced the Diamond Kings series. As I had not collected much of this set I decided to grab two packs of it as well as three each of both Finest sets and four of the Emotion set. So based on my research and calculations I got 12 packs for $4 when in 95/96 they would have cost me $58. That sounds like a Rickey Henderson quality steal to me!

Here is a sampling of the cards contained in the packs.

Emotion 95

Back in the day I bought a total of one pack from this set and it has ever since been one of my favorites. The photography and editing was well done for the mid-90's but the best part was the double-thick cardboard. The cards have a nicer feel than typical 90's set.

Finest 95

I was a little surprised at the thickness of these cards, or the lack thereof. They feel a little flimsy for what was at the time one of the higher end sets in the hobby. However the protective film on each card does help make up for it. One thing that surprised me was that there were two Albert Belle base cards in one pack. A the same pack!!! I don't think I had EVER had that happen to me before. Topps catches a lot of flack these days for a myriad of things but I can only imagine the hate they would get from collectors if they made a habit of doing that now.

Finest 96

Interesting that they decided to use multiple designs this year. Now you see that David Justice card in the middle? I got three of three packs...and one pack did not contain one. That's right folks! Another case of a duplicate in the same pack! I know these two sets came out 17-18 years ago but what gives, Topps? Duplicates are inevitable when you buy a lot of packs but in the exact same pack? That's no way to treat your customers. Maybe I'm glad I waited nearly two decades to spend money on this set. Ten year old me would have been mighty pissed off about that.

Donruss 96

One of the best things about buying the Donruss packs is that they did yield quite a few HoF/Future HoF players. Though they don't have much monetary value it is always nice for sentimental value to see cards for players that you grew up watching. As an added bonus, all of the inserts in this set were sequentially numbered. The Frank Thomas Round Trippers insert is numbered 2488/5000.

Despite the duplicate annoyance I am really happy I was able to make this purchase. It brought a lot of memories flooding back about standing in the LCS for what seemed like forever trying to decide what to spend my money on. Sadly the LCS closed many years ago and I have to do most of my in-person card shopping at Wal-Mart. At least I have my memories...

Further Card Show reports will be coming in the following days.


  1. Nice packs! 95 Emotion is one of my favorites! I remember when at my LCS when I was younger those finest packs were 5-6 dollars a pack, I could never afford that on one pack!

  2. I was in the same boat. When it took me a month or more to save up $20-30 I wanted to buying lots of cheap packs so I got more cards. Definitely didn't like the idea of dropping $5 on a single pack.