I am in the final stages of completing the 1973 Topps baseball set.
In fact, if I do a little fudging, I've basically completed it.
-- No, I don't have all of the cards in hand. The Cleon Jones, Joe Niekro, Leo Durocher and Yankees team cards are on their way. So is the elusive final checklist card, ol' number 588. But more on that later.
-- No, I haven't acquired an extra Walter Alston card (a high number) or an extra Mike Schmidt rookie (Ron Cey's second-year card). Both reside in my Dodger card binders and I'll consider the '73 set complete even without the two extras, although I do intend on getting both at some point.
-- No, I haven't grabbed all the non-numbered team checklists. I still have the Red Sox, Indians, Twins and Padres to go. I'll get them, but I'm not going to delay my announcement of completing the set for them.
-- No, I haven't bothered with the manager variation cards or the team checklists with extra stars on the bottom. This is trivial stuff that I can't possibly believe I would have cared about when I was a kid collecting cards, therefore, they're meaningless to me and not part of the completion task.
So that's all of my fudging, but basically I'm finished and when those final five cards arrive, I will create a completion post for '73 Topps the way I have for every other set I've completed since the start of the blog.
This set marks my third encounter with vintage sets that contain high numbers. It's been interesting.
The 1971 set wasn't terribly tough, I was able to get some good help from other bloggers as far as high numbers go. The 1972 set was rough and took a long time just because that set is easily the most challenging out of all the non-1960s high numbers sets.
The 1973 set is proving to be something different with its high numbers -- basically what it's been is annoying.
The '73 high numbers aren't all that hard to find when compared with the sets that immediately preceded them. However, I've had to be rather resourceful when acquiring them.
First of all, my go-to place when I'm down to the final few high numbers -- the card show -- has been fairly useless. Every time I check the usual dealer tables, the spots where that high number is supposed to reside has been missing. Just about every time.
So I'm forced to rely on trades or online means. Trades tend to be nonexistent when high numbers are concerned, unless I get some sort of surprise mailing. Collectors don't just have extras of those cards lying around.
That means going online and that's where it gets stupid.
Here is what I paid for the Dave Concepcion card at the top of the post:
It came from Sportlots.
I went there after viewing what was available on COMC:
There is no way I'm paying those prices for the Concepcion card.
A revised search shows that there is now a '73 Concepcion available for $7.44 in poor/fair condition. There is also another one for $23.54. But neither of those are $4.95.
I'm sure someone is saying, "but your Concepcion isn't CENTERED!"
Yeah. I don't care.
Centering is the biggest scam perpetrated by the graded card industry, with the exception of graded cards themselves. I don't know how many times I've seen videos of vintage pack openings or people showing vintage cards -- almost all of these people I'm sure didn't grow up in the 1970s or earlier -- and them pointing out immediately that the centering is off, LIKE IT WAS FOR EVERY CARD BACK THEN.
It was no big deal. In most cases, the centering wasn't off drastically and we barely noticed. It wasn't until price guides and then grading came along where centering became an obsession. People say "quality control" was terrible in the '70s. Well, no, not really, they were just working with the equipment they had. And there weren't collectors beating down their doors if their Reggie Jackson card wasn't centered anything better than 60-40.
OK, that was a tangent rant off my original rant. Back to inflated high-number pricing.
I picked up this high-numbered '73 off of Sportlots, too. It perfectly fits my needs.
This is what I paid for it:
Now, here are the current prices at COMC.
Those are the cheapest of the bunch. There are also Reds team card prices of:
My Reds team card may be off-centered (god that quality control in the '70s, didn't anybody back then have pride in their work?), but it looks beautiful to me and I didn't pay 20 bucks for it.
That's good because I did pay 20 bucks for the 1973 Topps final series checklist card, #588.
This is the card that I was warned about a few months ago from a fellow blogger (I can't remember which one, possibly Baseball Card Breakdown or Cardboard Catastrophes). They said, much like the case of some 1960s high numbers, the final-series checklist was being bought up by a few select collectors, creating a premium for the card -- a freaking checklist.
After hearing about that, I basically resigned myself to getting a marked up copy of the #588 checklist, because I didn't want to pay big prices for it.
However, yesterday, I was scrolling through ebay and seeing the monster prices for that checklist:
In the middle of those pricey things was a single unmarked checklist for 20 bucks.
Well, after seeing the prices on those, the cost of a blaster seemed pretty good to me, so it is now on its way to me (by the way, Bo of Baseball Cards Come To Life just posted about an extra #588 that he has in his possession so you might want to see what he wants for it if you're interested).
This is the weirdness of high-number land.
I'm pretty glad I'm finished with it (for now) because I'm getting this suspicion that people are boosting up the prices on high-number vintage cards and other vintage stars just because we seem to be in a renewed sports card boom in which people are thinking all over again that all their investment dreams are going to come true from little pieces of cardboard.
Meanwhile, I'm just a little ol' collector just trying to finish off some sets, stepping very carefully through the high-numbered minefield.