Somewhere around 30 years ago, I went to my parents' house while on summer break from college.
My dad and one of my brothers took a trip to nearby Owego where my grandmother lived. She was in her 80s at the time and we were there to do some house chores for her. One day we drove over to the small downtown area for some shopping and ducked into a second-hand bookstore, which was easily the highlight of the trip for me.
There were some oversized discount books for sale and one of them was the 35-year picture history of Topps cards in which every Topps card issued between 1951 and 1985 was displayed. This book was fascinating since the day I heard about it (I imagine any collector would be fascinated). I always wanted to own it.
The book was 15 or 20 dollars, a good deal even then. But either I didn't have the money or didn't want to spend the money and so I walked away without it, even though the book was destined for me.
As the years went on, that book began to grow in stature. Every time I thought to look it up, the prices were always too much. And then when buying things on the internet became a thing, it really went up. I remember asking for it for Christmas one year and my mom looked around and then dismissively announced, "oh, that book. That's expensive."
And so it was. I knew I could search for deals, get a used copy, etc. But even those seemed too much.
So the years went on and, you know, maybe it's finally time to put that thing on my wish list again. So I did.
My birthday came and went. The book wasn't purchased ... or so I thought. It actually arrived yesterday, six days after my birthday.
My daughter had bought it. Found it for 30 bucks, because she is really good at finding online deals, everybody her age is. (Those college textbooks are a racket).
And I now have a book that I have wanted for longer than she's been alive. Heck, I wanted it 10 years before she was born.
This book is huge, heavy and an excellent reference tool. Sure, it's not as fascinating as it was when I was a much less experienced as a collector. A big part of the attraction of this book is that you've NEVER SEEN THESE cards EVER. It was your one chance to see the images (because, also, what was the internet?). But I still love it.
Look at that inside cover! Ron Cey's 1978 card is front-and-center!
The book is very well-done with an introduction to each card set year, recounting the basics of that baseball season and the Topps set. I love the newspaper clippings on the outer edges in which articles from that year are used. That continues every year.
That is an example of the layout on every page. Just spectacular still. And, yeah, I've completed this set. It's still nice to look at.
Of course you're never too experienced. Nobody has all the cards and that's why there are these two pages of 1952 high numbers that I can drool over for the rest of my life because the chances of even owning a couple of these cards are remote.
Let's all stare at that Mantle and Robinson for awhile.
This is about the only way I'll view the McMullen rookie in paper form.
But I could probably leave this page open as inspiration like exercisers do when they put pictures of radically in-shape athletes on their wall. This is the final page of the 1967 set with all those brutal high numbers.
The later pages -- everything from 1971 on -- contain nothing but images of cards I already own. However, I have not completed the 1984 Traded set and it's nice to see these. The book includes all the Traded sets through 1985.
The back of the book contains lifetime stats for every player pictured on a Topps card from 1951-1985. Another nice touch.
This book was updated twice, once after the 1987 set and once again after the 1990 set. But 1985 is good enough for me. I've completed those other junk wax sets and see them plenty.
It's a fantastic book and you can tell it was put together with care (can't say that for current-day Topps with most of its stuff). I'm still in search of the perfect place to display it and I'm sure I'll be looking through it again and again.
The more I think about it, the more I can't believe I have it. Or that my daughter found it for $30.
It was definitely worth the wait.