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The year of vintage

Don't just stand there like some slack-jawed yokel!

It's 2013! Time to get moving! Time to act! Time to ignore whatever is new, cool, hip, groovy, fab, gnarly, rad, awesome, dope, sweet and sick about this year's cardboard and focus on vintage!!!

This new year is the Year Of Vintage, and that will be my focus for at least the next 12 months, but probably longer.

Last night on the twitters there was a mild discussion about what constitutes "vintage" in the cardboard world. There are lots of opinions on this. Unlike certain antiques, there is no definite time period in cardboard that is defined as "vintage." "Vintage" is more like a measurement. Select a certain year in the past as the starting point of vintage and everything from that point and previous to it is "vintage."

But when does vintage begin?

I've often thought about it as whatever card set was issued 25 years ago. That's the starting point of vintage. So, for example, when the ball dropped last night, the 1988 Topps, Donruss and Fleer sets, as well as the very first Score set, were crowned "vintage."

I can hear you now, "Wow, that makes me feel old."

Good sir, that's nothing. I remember the bicentennial. Don't expect any sympathy from me because Bo Jackson is 50.

Some people have a more forgiving definition of "vintage." They say any cardboard 20 years old is "vintage." That would mean sets issued in 1993 are now vintage. And that would mean all junk wax is now "vintage." Wow, 1993 Upper Deck is vintage, too! That's too soon for me. Those can't be vintage sets. Twenty-five years sounds like a good cut-off point.

Other people put a much more personal spin on "vintage" and say it's any set issued before they were born.

I've heard this one many times. It works for a little while. I used to do it, too. But when you get to my age, it's a little difficult to tell people with a straight face that sets that included Aaron, Mays and Clemente during their playing days are NOT vintage.

So that doesn't work.

I've also heard some collectors say any set issued before 1981 is "vintage," citing the end of the Topps monopoly as the birth of modern cards. I used to do that, as well. But it's been more than 30 years since then and at some point we're going to have to admit that 1981 Fleer is vintage.

I'm sticking with 25 years ago.

Now if you're not interested in cards from 25 years ago or earlier, I can't help you. That's still going to be the focus here.

I promise I won't totally abandon newer cards. I'll still be buying repacks. I'll still pick up a pack or two of 2013 Topps flagship and Heritage and A&G, etc., etc. And you'll see that here. What you won't see here are want lists for that stuff.

Except Dodgers, of course.

(Wow, this guy has a lot of exceptions, doesn't he?)

But since this is the Year Of Vintage, I should at least feature vintage cards in the first post of the year.

Fortunately, mr haverkamp recently sent me a very vintage-laden package. I'll save some of it for another time. Right now, I'm showing the 1972 cards he sent me.

That's right, cards that are not merely 25 years old, they're 41 years old!

Oh, I hear you moaning already. It's not that bad.

Look, isn't that fun? Psychedelic tombstones are always fun. It doesn't even matter that there's no position on the front.

Mike Kekich. The man always remembered as one-half of the Yankees' wife-swapping duo. He kind of got screwed in the whole thing. He swapped Fritz Peterson for his wife and he and his new wife later split up. All that publicity for nothing.

Bill Melton has a few creases in him. Not to sound ungrateful, but I'll probably replace this card at some point. I don't mind creasing in some older sets -- stuff like creases in 1969 Topps is totally forgivable, it's an old, ugly duckling set anyway. But '72 is vibrant and young-looking even to this day. You can't get wrinkles in '72 Topps.

Milt Pappas. You ever do that thing where you imagine what an adult looked like when he was a kid? I just did that with Pappas. I'll bet he was a hell-raiser.

I'm not sure if Billy Parker is wearing an airbrushed cap, but if he is, he lucked out next to the paint jobs on the other two fellows.

I'm guessing that Jim Bibby is wearing a minor league New York Mets jersey with his painted on Cardinals cap. For a minute I thought he was wearing a Cubs jersey and pondered the cosmic response to someone wearing a Cardinals cap with a Cubs jersey.

There might be more "looking to the heavens" photos of this nature in 1972 Topps than in any other set. I'll have to count them all one day.

As mentioned in a previous post, '72 Topps was issued a couple of years before I started collecting cards. They were the cards that were floating around at my friends' houses -- the friends with older brothers. The 1972 cards just seemed like what a baseball card SHOULD be.

I've always felt that way, from the time I was at my friend's house and he had a few '72 cards.

I also remember the time when he put a record on -- it was his favorite song -- and he started dancing around the living room to it. Spastically.

This was the song:

It's a tradition that I find a 1972 song to go with my 1972 Topps posts. No matter how strange.

Just go with it.

It's vintage.

It'll make you feel good. I promise.



deal said…
Whoohoo!! looking forward to the Year of Vintage.

I make the distinction in 1973 since that is the last year you had to build sets. From 74 fwd you could just pick up the factory set.

although I suppose I have different levels of vintage - that would be vintage vintage. 74-84 I would consider vintage light or something.
Roy-Z said…
Maybe I'll finally start picking up some 1971 Topps...
I think the classic definition of vintage should probably be around 1980 and earlier, since you can make a case that 1980s cards were overproduced and will never outstrip demand.

Personally, I separate my pre-WWII cards into special boxes as vintage and mix the rest of the cards in together, but I'm odd like that.
Doc said…
I've always put vintage as pre-1986. That always seemed like the natural break to me because of the uptick in production in '86. However, over time, I'd now call 1974 to 1985 the "Classic Era" and anything with multiple series (i.e., 1973 and earlier) "Vintage."
JediJeff said…
If you are listening to Chicago radio during the baseball season, Pappas will always show up somewhere, and he will ALWAYS complain about Bruce Froemming and ho he didn't get his perfect game back in 1972.


Milt - get over it.
Laurens said…
I agree with Doc, anything between 1974-1985 I'd refer to as 'old school' and anything 1973 before I'd refer to as 'vintage' and anything 1986-1992 as sort of 'junk wax era' cards with no distinction as far as age goes, even though the actual cards at least 20-25 years old.
Anthony Hughes said…
I think it's funny how we even use the word vintage at all, being that it refers very specifically to wine and what year the wine was made.

I'm not sure what it's supposed to mean when using it in reference to baseball cards.

If we use terms like antique, instead, I don't think of anything from Topps as being "antique". They certainly aren't rare or obsolete - I am pretty sure that if I have the money, and eBay, I can probably buy any Topps card I chose on any given day.

I don't think you could use the concept of being "out of print" as an indicator. 1986 Topps is certainly out of print, but hardly difficult to find.

But I am looking forward to seeing posts about '72 Topps! Anything to wipe the image of that pink '93 Score card of Eric Karros out of my mind. Please no more of those! :)
hiflew said…
I still subscribe to the 1 year older than me theory of vintage. And to me Aaron, Clemente, and Mays have ALWAYS been vintage because they were all done by the time I came around. I think it is okay that the definition of vintage can change from person to person.

I do have one comment though. I figured if anyone would be into the 1972 minis that are going to be inserted in Topps flagship, it would be you. Are you not interested in them?
night owl said…
Probably not interested. There were no minis in 1972 Topps. But I'll have to get a look at them.
Mark Aubrey said…
Dang, I had that Hot Butter album. It had a popcorn box on the front.

I can't define vintage but I know it when I see it.

And if I see it, want it, and can afford it, it is going in my collection.
Night Owl,

I subscribe to your theory that vintage is 1980 and earlier. Although this is merely a convenient arbitrary cutoff, based on the end of Topps' monopoly.

Deep down, I feel that vintage is really 1973 and earlier. That's when cards were no longer released in series, and is also when I stopped collecting cards as a kid.
It's going to be a great year to read your blog. I'm guessing that my son will read over my shoulder less often since vintage isn't his thing.

Bring on the vintage, no matter how we all define it.
Nick said…
Although I'll still be frequenting newer Topps products in 2013, I'll definitely be looking forward to the "year of vintage".

Should be fun.
I love the Year of Vintage...looking forward to it. I can't give vintage a sliding scale though. I've always thought of vintage as anything older than the year I started collecting, 1981.
AdamE said…
I'm with DOC. 73 and older for Vintage and 74-85 is Classic.

Actually I tink it is Poll Time....
Looking at vintage cards is like listening to one of you favorite albums on cassette.

It may come across as grainier than digital, a pop or a fade here and there, but it's warm and visceral.

And there's no Manny Ramirez.
dayf said…
Convenient past/present/future vintage cutoff lines:

2009: Last year before Topps regains their monopoly, hobby crashes and burns
2005: Last year before useless RC logo implemented, Fleer & Donruss puke and die
2000: The last year before Retro took over everything
1998: The year Score dropped dead, the last year Wacky inserts ruled over relic cards
1991: Last year of grayback Topps, first year of Stadium Club 'high end'
1988: 25-year rule, plus last year before Upper Deck ruins things for everyone
1980: Last year of Topps' first monopoly run, the year baseball card collectors started going insane
1973: Last year of High Number series to piss off set collectors (until 2001)
1963: Last year before Topps murders off all their competition and gets the true Monopoly sweetness
1956: Last year before the standard size card format took hold
1947: Everything after this date you can probably find if you look a while. Before, not so much.
1932: BG: Before Goudey
1911: Unofficial end of the Tobacco Card Era
1890: American Tobacco Company is formed, ending the trading card wars between cigarette manufacturers
Anonymous said…
I have many thoughts on this post and related comments.

1) Vada Pinson!!!! He was awesome! Or so I've been told. Almost as awesome as Ted Kluszewski, also from what I've been told.
2) I too wondered after this post if you were subliminally thinking about the 72 minis that are coming our way.
3) I should bookmark the comments here to have instant reference Dayf's timeline.

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