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Seeing Mint cards gives me the vapors ...

I know I’ve pointed out a number of times that to my way of thinking, one of the regrettable parts of being so intimately involved in the hobby on a day-to-day basis is that you see so many great-condition cards that your own can start to look a little, uh, disappointing.

And I used to say that before we launched the Auction end of our business (, and now that I see so many pristine cards, sets and partial sets, it’s even tougher. Just to keep the intimacy thing going, I end up writing many of the catalog descriptions for those sets and near-sets.

Writing up the No. 2 lot in the auction didn’t pose that kind of problem, because I had never collected the 1969 Topps Supers. Even so, seeing what is essentially a Mint set was startling, and the set was so uniformly pristine that there was little reluctance to make that kind of sweeping pronouncement.

In this instance there was also a good deal of corroboration from on high: we sent 11 cards off to PSA for grading, though in hindsight we certainly could have simply slabbed every last one of them. They returned with official blessings as follows: two 10’s, seven 9’s, and 8.5 and an 8. That told us all we needed to know, since we hadn’t picked the 11 for grading because they were in better condition than the others, but rather because the roster included names like Mantle, Mays, Aaron, Clemente, Jackson, etc.

Another lot struck a bit closer to home. Lot No. 38 is an unusual near-set of 1959 Topps, unusual in the sense that it defies conventional wisdom a bit. The issue was so consistently Nr-Mt that it made more sense to talk about the exceptions to the rule, which were few in number, and to list the two dozen missing stars.
And that’s the odd part. Typically a set so nice wouldn’t be busted up like that, with stars that must have been in similar condition removed and perhaps sent off to grading. What remains is a near-complete set of a hugely popular issue, and indeed a significant number of big-ticket cards still remain in the lot, like Clemente (super card), Berra, Campanella, Banks and Killebrew, to name a few.

What gave me such pause was wondering how many of the rest would be worthy upgrades for my own 1959 set, which I have been sheepishly improving for, oh, 25 years or more.

And I can promise you that any more upgrading on my part of my 1959 set would be way beyond silly, even for me.