Saturday, June 4, 2022

The Frustrations Of 1971 Topps


1971 Topps has got to be one of the most frustrating sets to collect. I can't even begin to imagine what patience it must take to collect the entire set. I'm getting frustrated just collecting the set for one team.

Finding an entire team set with near mint or better qualities is easy, if you feel like skipping your bills for a month. High quality condition cards can cost you a pretty penny. That's not even counting the high numbers, which can be astronomical to acquire. Most high numbers in fair condition will cost you an arm and a leg.

Not only are older cards harder to find in mint condition, the black that was used on the border is extremely prone to chipping. Even the best looking card may be foiled by the black color flaking away. Dinged and soft corners are another problem with this set. The black border really makes this stand out.

I am three cards away from completing the White Sox master team set from 1971 Topps. All three missing cards are high number cards. All three cards I have watched on auctions climb way out of my price range. I understand that the nature of these cards increases the price, but I find it hard to pay inflated prices for cardboard collectibles produced in the same decade I was born. Call it a principle, if you will.

I have this issue with a lot of vintage Topps products. I complete most of the cards in the team set, but struggle to get the high numbers. There are enough listings of these cards out there that I should be able to squeeze a bargain or two. Yes, the high numbers are rare, but not that rare.

I could settle for filler cards, but I don't want to. I shouldn't have to settle for filler cards for cards issued past 1950. Do I want the card just to have the card or do I want a decent example in my collection. If it's post WWII, chances are the answer is going to be best example out there. There just is a fine balance between financially affordable and high grade. It's an issue that I struggle with constantly. It also depends on the day, which I will prioritize.

It's always a good feeling when you hit that sweet spot. There are millions of online listings out there for cards. Not every card is going to sell for insane amounts of money. There will be some that slip through the cracks.

The last two years have been incredibly trying for the hobby, as thousands of people stuck home, found themselves with a lot of time on their hands. They tried to make money at card investing. This created a rabid marketplace, where people would try to swoop in and buy all the cards, so they can sell them online at a drastic markup. I'm all about free enterprise, but there are things that are frowned upon. Pack searching and secondary retail markup are some of the most rampant.

It wouldn't be so bad if the sellers would open the product and sell cards individually, but most of them would sell the unopened box for triple the cost or more. The sad fact is that most of them would get those prices because they had cleared out most stores of product. I work in retail and saw greedy adults swoop in and make children cry. I'm thankful that most of those extreme practices have subsided.

Vintage card collecting isn't nearly that cutthroat, but it can be close. I've had auctioned usurped last second. I've had auctions climb sky high in the last few minutes. I've seen inflated prices and questionable grading. Trust your instincts and your eyes. If it's too good to be true, it usually is.

Eventually, I will obtain the last three cards to complete the set. If I have enough luck and patience, I might just do it.


GCA said...


Those high numbers are out there, and affordable at shows or dealers that have been around for a while. You just have to dig. The online markets are overrun by the flippers, so stick with the old school sources.
If you need the ones numbered in the 700's, I'll be hitting shops and shows next week and can keep an eye out...

Steve Gierman said...

Found a decent and affordable copy of Reichardt. Just looking for Tanner, Maye and Purdin. They will turn up eventually.

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