Archive | Collecting

Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – 2013 Topps Series 1 Review

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – 2013 Topps Series 1 Review

Posted on 26 February 2013 by Tim Danielson


Per box items:
36 packs per box
10 cards per pack
1 autograph or relic per box

The standard sized base set cards feature a full color action shot of the player. Bordered in white, the card fronts have the player name and team logo at the bottom. The card fronts are trimmed with the team’s primary color. The card backs are photo-less and are horizontal in design. The backs include moderate biographical information, a ‘career chase’ statistic, complete career statistics, and brief career highlights or a player quote. The backs are also trimmed with the team’s primary color.

What I Pulled:
338 unique cards, no duplicates. Packs with thicker cards had fewer total cards in them.
287 base set cards, 287/330, 87% of the base set
50 inserts, parallels including 3 die cut cards and 4 gold cards #/2013
1 relic card

Base card front and back:


Inserts and parallels: (not all scanned)
The Greats: Henderson, Pujols
Gold #/2013: Clipparo, Holt, Encarnacion
Green Sparkle: Capuano, Rasmus, Downs,, Zito, Hill, Venters
Calling Card: Chapman, Youkilis, Pujouls, Sabathia, Ortiz
Chasing History: 5, 6, 20, 22, 25, 28, 29, 33, 47
Chasing the Dream: 2, 3, 7, 12, 13, 21
Cut to the Chase Die Cut: Jeter, Hamilton, Lawrie
Minis: 7, 8, 13, 20, 26, 27, 42, 45, 47
6 Million Dollar Chase cards
1 Spring Fever redemption card


The Hit:
Proven Mettle Roberto Clemente copper #2/99


I really like the design of this year’s Topps cards. The very simple clean design is very appealing. I think that the photography from Topps has really improved over the past couple of years. Topps again uses occasional horizontal card fronts when the shot dictates. We also see checklist and league leader cards. Topps has issued several short prints cards of players. These alternate variations show the player making a play at or over an outfield wall. The Topps base set is again loaded with inserts and parallel sets. I would have liked to see a few less inserts to get that many more base set cards. That being said though it will not be difficult to complete the base set and some of the inserts look pretty cool!

The Bottom Line:
I give 2013 Topps Series 1 a buy rating. It will be very easy to complete a base set with a box, a few extra packs and some light trading. There are lots of inserts and parallels to chase.

The Final Score:
Final Ratings (Out of 10):
Base set collect-ability: 8/10
Big-hit Hunter: 8/10
Prospector Hunter: 10/10
Value: 8/10
Overall Quality: 10/10

Overall: 44/50 (88% = B)

Thanks to Topps for making this review possible!

Until next week, keep collecting, collect for the joy of the hobby and collect for the fan in all of us.

Comments (0)

Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – Beckett Grading Service Review

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – Beckett Grading Service Review

Posted on 22 February 2013 by Tim Danielson

We have already discussed reasons for having your cards professionally graded. Today we will look at the services provided by Beckett Grading.


Becket Media has long been the premier resource for collectors of sports cards.  Starting with their monthly price guide magazines, Beckett Media now offers on-line price guides, collecting forums, a safe on-line trading environment, monthly, quarterly, and yearly publications.  Beckett also offers pricing guidelines for cards, autographs, figurines and more for all sports, non-sport and entertainment cards.

Two very popular features offered by Beckett Grading are the simple but detailed grading scale and sub-grade report card.  In addition to just giving a card a grade of 8.5, Becket assigns grades to the four different attributes the card is graded on.  This way you can see that a card graded 8.5 has sub-grades of 10 for centering, 8.5 for corners, 9 for edges, and 8.5 for surface condition.  Beckett also offers the industry’s first on-time money back guarantee.  Either your cards are returned to you on time or you get a refund on the grading services.  Other features offered by Beckett grading can be viewed here.

When staring a submission to Beckett grading collectors have several different options to chose form.  They offer standard grading and encapsulation, vintage card grading for pre-1981 cards, an economical Collector’s Club Grading and a raw card review.  Details and pricing of each can be viewed here.  Both the on-line and printable submission form are very easy to use and understand.  As with other companies, Beckett offers several different tiers of turn around time at varying costs and monthly specials.  Beckett allowed me to send in four cards at the 5-day service level.  My cards were returned in exactly five business days from the date Beckett received them.

Cards that I submitted for grading:

1980 Topps #482 Rickey Henderson RC – Beckett Vintage Grading  7.5 Near Mint+

Beckett wolf 1

This card came back pretty much what I expected it would.  I was hoping for an 8 based on my comparison to other graded Henderson RC cards I have seen.  After reviewing Beckett’s grading scale, the grade this card received is very consistent with the guidelines they have established.  I was a little disappointed that the vintage grading did not include the sub-grades for the different card attributes.  These are not included on any vintage graded cards, but it still would have been nice to know these sub-grades.

2009 Americana Stars Material Gold Proofs #1 Jackie Chan #/25 – Beckett Grading 8.5 NM-MT+

Beckett wolf 2

This card has sub-grades of 10 for centering, 8.5 for corners, 9 for edges, and 8.5 for surface.  This card received the grade that I thought it would.  I submitted this card to show that Beckett also grades memorabilia cards.  I was very pleased to see that the thicker memorabilia card was placed into the same thickness holders as the rest of the cards.  The recessed area inside the holder is just deeper to allow for the thicker card without adding thickness to the holder itself.  From the side though you can see where the inner sleeve is separating on the edges.

1997 Magic the Gathering 5th Edition Wyluli Wolf  (Rare)- Beckett Grading 8 NM-MT

Beckett Chan

One of my geeky pleasures, Magic is a collectable card game in the genre of  Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, and other non-sports cards.  Magic players often put more weight on the playability of their cards rather than the collect-ability of them.  The super rare and valuable cards are usually put in a case never to see the light of day and  a “proxy” card is used to represent them in a deck.  If you actually want to play with your cards, people may just put every card of a deck into a penny sleeve and use them that way.  All this in mind though I submitted this card to illustrate that Beckett also grades non-sport cards.  This card received sub-grades of 9.5, 7.5, 9, and 8.5.  I was impressed that Beckett was able to identify not only the edition this card is, but also the rarity.

2010 Topps Allen & Ginter Mini National Animals #NA26 Gray Wolf – Beckett Grading 9.5 Gem Mint

Beckett Henderson

Receiving sub-grades of 10, 9.5, 9.5, and 9.5, this is practically a prefect example of this card.  I was very pleased as this came back graded a little higher than I thought it would.  For collectors and dealers looking to flip and make money off their graded cards, grades of 9, 9.5, and 10 often command higher premiums.  The illustration here is that Beckett grades and has holders for 206, Tobacco, and Allen & Ginter sized cards.

Beckett has many strong points for collectors to consider when shopping for a grading service.  From the very beginning both the on-line and printable submission forms are among the easiest I have used.  I was able to track the status of my submission with e-mail updates of when Beckett received, graded and shipped my cards.  I was actually able to log in and view the grades before they were shipped.  In my opinion the two best features of Beckett grading services are the sub-grades and color coded labels.  The sub-grades printed on the front of the label sticker give much more detailed information about your card.  The highest graded cards, 9.5 and 10 receive a gold colored label and 8.5 and 9 grades receive a silver label.  All other grades have a white label.  This makes for easy identification of the highest graded cards.  Compared to other services, Beckett’s holders appear to me to be a little less secure.  The holders are nested and stack-able.  Thicker memorabilia cards do not require thicker holders which is nice.  Three of my four cards all had damage to the bottom left corner of the holders though.  This damage is visible in the pictures above.  The Allen and Ginter card which received the highest grade suffered the most damage, compromising the seal of the holder itself.  I assume that this damage occurred in shipping  as the damage is all on the same corner.  Dealers who pay for insurance will not want to receive a Gem Mint card in a cracked holder.  For collectors who plan to keep their cards will enjoy the ease of use, service and features offered by Beckett Grading services.

Until next week, keep collecting, collect for the joy of the hobby and collect for the fan in all of us.


Comments (0)

Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – PSA Grading Service Review

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – PSA Grading Service Review

Posted on 20 February 2013 by Tim Danielson

Continuing with my series of card grading services, this week we look PSA.


Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) is the largest and most trusted third-party grading and authentication company in the world. PSA is the preferred choice of collectors, dealers and auction houses worldwide. PSA has processed over 16 million cards and collectibles with a cumulative declared value of nearly a billion dollars.

Founded by PSA in 1998 in response to widespread counterfeiting, forgery and piracy of autographed collectibles, PSA/DNA is the world’s leading third-party authentication service for autographs and memorabilia.


Cards that I submitted for grading:

1980 Topps #482 Rickey Henderson RC – PSA Grade 7 NM

1982 Granny Goose #35 Rickey Henderson – PSA Grade 7 NM

1990 Score McDonald’s #5 Rickey Henderson – PSA Grade 7 NM


I will admit that some of the cards I submitted for grading I was hoping I would stump the researchers at PSA.  These were some of the easier ones though.  The 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson RC is one of the cornerstone cards to own from the 1980′s.  Common printing problems from the early 1980′s include off centering, printing marks and rough edges.  This Rickey Henderson RC card has evidence of all three.  I am surprised with a grade of 7.  Compared to other graded Rickey Henderson RC cards I have witnessed I was expecting a grade of 6.  Possibly a little challenging was the 1982 Granny Goose Henderson card.  This is a good example of a regional food issue card.  Cards in this set were distributed on the west cost in potato chip packaging.  The centering is better than on the Henderson RC card but still a little off center.  There is also some yellowing on the card.  I was expecting a 7 and satisfied that my suspicions were verified.  The 1990 Score McDonald’s is another example of a regional food issue.  These cards were available only in select Iowa McDonald’s locations.  To my untrained eye this card looks pretty good, perfect centering, sharp edges, good eye appeal.  There is a little fuzzing on one of the corners.  I was expecting a grade of 8.  Upon closer inspection, it appears that the corners are a little more damaged than I thought.  Still a nice grade, I am happy to have it protected from further damage because of how rare it is.

1910 E29 Philadelphia Carmel Zoo Animals, Wolf – PSA Grade 1 Poor

1937 Ogden’s LTD Zoo Studies, Wolves – PSA Grade 5 EX

1937 Gallaher LTD Wild Animals, The Wolf – PSA Grade 6.5 EX-MT+

1978 Brooke Bond & Co., Vanishing Wildlife, Wolf – PSA Grade 6 EX-MT


My next few cards I submitted I hoped would prove more difficult to identify but the research team at PSA was up to the challenge.  Pre World War Two tobacco cards are very popular.  Some of the highest realized auction prices of graded cards have been of sports figures from this era.  Maybe slightly less popular are other subjects and themes on tobacco cards.  The 1910 card deserved the grade of 1  besides the very obvious layering of all four corners, there are three pin holes in the top of the card.  The 1937 Ogden’s card has really great eye appeal and looks very clean.  It is very slightly off-center from the top to the bottom of the picture.  I thought the card would be graded a 6.  The corners are not noticeably bad to me.  Inks, papers and printing techniques have changed in the past 85 years and PSA grades accordingly.  This is the one card I do not quite understand the reason for the grade.  The 1937 Gallaher was graded just as I though it would.  To me this card actually has one worse corner than the Ogden card.  I am very happy with the grade this card did get however.  I thought the 1978 wolf card would grade at a 6 or 7  The physical characteristics of the card look alright but there is some yellowing on the card.  Overall I am pleased with the grades of these vintage cards and like the inserts for the tobacco sized cards compared to regular sized cards.

2011 Goodwin Champions, Animal Kingdom Patches, Timber Wolf – PSA Grade 8 Nr-Mt


I knew that this card would not be difficult to identify, but submitted it to illustrate that PSA will grade memorabilia style cards.  What I did not expect was the awesome display encapsulation case the card was put in!  I did not even know that such holders existed.  The card itself graded exactly like I thought it would.  I just love the holder though.  The recessed holder actually sits 1/2 inch tall.  The arrowhead corner protection design not only provides superior card protection, but make the card pop as well.  This card is now a centerpiece on my desk.

1999 Wizards of the Cost, Magic the Gathering (MTG) Portal Three Kingdoms (P3K), Wolf Pack (Japanese version) – Not Graded

2007 Nintendo Legend of Zelda, Twilight Princess, Wolf Link Gold G6 – Not Graded


I actually thought these cards would have been easier to grade than the vintage cards.  I know PSA does grade MTG cards, however the foreign language may have disqualified it.  Modern non-sport and entertainment cards can sometimes be the hardest to identify.  The sheer number of card sets produced and the lack of checklists add to this problem.  The gold foil chase cards from the Twilight princess are very rare and can command a premium in on-line auctions.  Do not fret though collectors.  If you submit cards that PSA is unable to grade you will receive vouchers for future submissions.  It will help to check out their website however for a list of cards that PSA will and will not grade.

PSA is the most popular grading service for several reasons.  PSA has been around longer than other grading service.  They have graded a larger volume of and realized a larger dollar amount of graded cards and memorabilia then others.  These reasons make PSA the most trusted and recognized name in the hobby.  Just walk around a card show or search an on-line auction site.  The total number of PSA graded cards is greater than all of the cards graded by other companies combined.  This is especially true with vintage cards.  I have seen entire sets of cards all graded and encased by PSA.  I really like the holders used by PSA.  They are much thinner than other companies holders and in fact seem to by much more sturdier.  PSA’s website is nicely laid out and very easy to use.  There is a wealth of resources available from a graded price guide, population reports, card registry, caparisons of card values before and after PSA grading and even an introduction to third party grading a “collecting 101.”  The customer service was good with e-mail updates of when they received my cards, when the grades were available to view on-line and when they shipped my cards.  Being the most popular and arguably the best comes at a cost though, for customers.  PSA does have some of the highest submission prices.  Unless you are like me and are going to keep your cards no matter what, single and small quantity card submissions can add up quickly.  For dealers looking to flip cards for profit or groups of collectors working together, PSA is the industry standard.  PSA does offer monthly and themed grading special which offer some savings.  I do recommend PSA/DNA services for everyone.  Depending on what and why you collect though will determine if the cost is worth the benefit.

Until next week, keep collecting, collect for the joy of the hobby and collect for the fan in all of us.

Comments (0)

Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – JSA Autograph Authentication Service Review

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – JSA Autograph Authentication Service Review

Posted on 08 February 2013 by Tim Danielson

This week, as part of my on-going series of card grading services, we divert a little and look at autograph authentication and grading.


James Spence Authentication (JSA) does not grade cards specifically, rather they authenticate and grade autographs.  JSA offers this service for sports figures, celebrities, actors, music entertainers, historical and political figures autographs.  From former Presidents to rock stars to sports heroes, JSA is the place to go to verify if the autograph is authentic.

A black eye on the hobby of sports card collecting has been people trying to sell fake autographs.  As the industry leader, JSA has provided piece of mind to collectors for years.  JSA authenticates autographs on cards and other memorabilia including bats, balls, gloves, helmets and jerseys.

Besides the obvious reason of a higher resale vale for graded autographs, JSA’s service can also include a Letter of Authenticity for insurance purposes.  While other grading services may appeal to dealers and resellers, JSA autograph authentication will also benefit other collectors and historians.

JSA does have a partnership with Beckett Grading Services, BGS.  Thanks to this partnership collectors can have their autographs authenticated and graded as well as the card itself graded and encapsulated.  This offers a collectors a ‘one-stop-shopping’ experience where they send in a raw ungraded autographed card and receive back an encased dual graded collectible.  For purposes of this article I will be reviewing the autograph authentication by JSA only.  Among other techniques, JSA authenticates and grades autographs against other know autographs from the subject and considers legibility, penmanship, and cleanliness or neatness of the autograph.

Autographs I submitted to JSA for grading:

2002 SP Authentic #87 Sean Casey – JSA autograph grade – 9 MINT (BGS card grade – 9 MINT)


I obtained this autograph through the mail, (TTM).  I have and have seen several other Sean Casey autographs on baseballs, in person, and on pack pulled cards to be very confident in the authenticity of this one. Sean Casey’s autograph has been very consistent through the years.  Another positive indicator that this autograph is real is that Sean Casey was never a super star that commanded a high premium.  No one is going to make money from selling fake Sean Casey autographs.  It may be difficult to see in the picture, but there is ‘streaking ‘ in the ‘S’ and ‘C’ of the autograph.  This is a sign that the autograph is hand signed with a Sharpie marker and not auto-penned.

1987 Topps #478 Dave Dravecky – JSA autograph grade – 8 NM-MT (BGS card grade 8 NM-MT)


This is another autograph I acquired through the mail.  I have also observed several Dravecky autographs and felt confidant about the authenticity of this when I sent it in.  Although very consistent with his autograph during his retirement, the biggest difference and probably the reason for a grade of 8 is that this autograph was signed with a ball point pen.  Pen ink can be more likely to fade over time than a Sharpie marker.

1983 Topps #180 Rickey Henderson – JSA Unable to Authenticate


This was a little bit of a disappointment for me.  I was not disappointed in the services provided by JSA, rather I was disappointed that I paid a fair amount of money to purchase this card on-line.  This makes me  two for two at buying fake Henderson autographs on-line.  On the contrary, I am happy that JSA has expertise and experience to accurately identify legitimate and questionable autographs.  Rickey Henderson is a Hall of Fame whose autographs and memorabilia can command premiums, if they are real.  Maybe what made this autograph difficult to authenticate, or easy for a scammer to fake, is the fact that it is signed with a felt tip marker.

Before sending an autograph into JSA be sure to visit their fees page to not only check their prices, but also to verify then can take and authenticate your autograph.  There are several benefits of having your autographs authenticated by JSA.  Some of these advantages are: Quick and simple online confirmation of your certification number.  Increased value, for faster sale of memorabilia.  Secure, virtually impossible to replicate proprietary watermark James Spence Authentication Letter of Authenticity with corresponding high-resolution image and a unique certificate sticker.  Guaranteed acceptance of our Letter of Authenticity by collectors, dealers, and ALL auction houses worldwide, or your submission fee will be reimbursed.  Peace of mind that your memorabilia is deemed authentic and ready to be sold, passed along to a family member, or cherished forever, and all numbered Letters of Authenticity are fully transferable without resubmission.  For these reasons, I recommend James Spence Authentication services for collectors, dealers and historians alike.  The piece of mind and protection offered by JSA when coupled with Beckett Grading services will be worth the money.

Until next week, keep collecting, collect for the joy of the hobby and collect for the fan in all of us.


Comments (0)

Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – Off Season Blues

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – Off Season Blues

Posted on 01 February 2013 by Tim Danielson

Editor’s note – portions of this article are credited to the Internet Movie Database,

OK, so it is the middle of winter. the MLB Winter Meetings are over and pitchers and catcher do not report for a while yet.  What is a die-hard baseball fan to do?  For many of us simply collecting baseball cards is enough.  You can troll your favorite baseball sites for tidbits of baseball news and information, but that can be like teasing yourself by smelling a steak on the grill but not eating it.  When collecting baseball cards is not enough for me (gasp!)  I turn to my collection of baseball movies.  The following are my list of top six movies I use to survive the off-season blues.  This is by no means an authoritative or exhaustive list, so please comment and tell us what is your favorite baseball movie and why!

#6 – Major League – 1989


The new owner of the Cleveland Indians puts together a purposely horrible team so they will lose and she can move the team. But when the plot is uncovered, they start winning just to spite her.  Starring Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Corbin Bernsen, Wesley Snipes and Bob Uecker.

A funny storyline and funnier acting and antics.  Maybe not a top choice for baseball purists, but always good for a laugh.  Usually after watching this movie I always feel like eating a bucket of chicken and rocking out to “Wild Thing.”

#5 – Eight Men Out – 1988


A dramatization of the Black Sox scandal when the underpaid Chicago White Sox accepted bribes to deliberately lose the 1919 World Series.  Starring John Cusack, Clifton James, Michael Lerner, D.B. Sweeney, and Charlie Sheen.

Great film for a baseball historian.  Maybe not the happiest of all baseball films, but superb acting help make this a great movie about one of the most controversial teams in MLB history.

#4 – Bull Durham – 1988


A fan who has an affair with one minor-league baseball player each season meets an up-and-coming pitcher and the experienced catcher assigned to him.  Starring Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, and Tim Robbins.

A romantic comedy rich in baseball and love triangles.  While not necessarily a ‘chick-flick,’ this is still a good movie for anyone who like baseball and love.

#3 – A League of their Own – 1992


Two sisters join the first female professional baseball league and struggle to help it succeed amidst their own growing rivalry.  Starring Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Lori Petty, Madonna, and Rosie O’Donnell.

Historically based movie about the All American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL).  A feel good story that has produced one of the most famous baseball movie quotes ever.  “Are you crying?  There’s no crying in baseball!  An interesting side note, I have a baseball card with a personalized autograph of Jackie Mattson.

#2 – Field of Dreams – 1989


An Iowa corn farmer, hearing voices, interprets them as a command to build a baseball diamond in his fields; he does, and the Chicago Black Sox come.  Starring Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones and Ray Liotta.

This was a real toss up between my top 2 favorite baseball movies as this has been and is THE baseball movie for many a fan.  James Earl Jones’ monologue near the end of the movie still sends tingles down my spine every time I hear it.

#1 – The Rookie – 2002


A Texas baseball coach and former MLB prospect makes the major leagues after agreeing to try out if his high school team made the playoffs.  Starring Dennis Quaid, J.D. Evermore, and Rachel Griffiths.

Based on a true story with a bit of Disney magic thrown in, this is always the last baseball movie I watch just before Spring Training.  A great family film where hope springs eternal and you learn to never give up on your dreams.

Please comment on what your favorite baseball movie is and why!

Until next time, keep collecting, (and watching baseball movies!) collect for the joy of the hobby and collect for the fan in all of us.

Comments (1)

Advertise Here
Advertise Here