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Sunshine and card shows not a perfect mix ...


I blogged the other day about the show at the Shriner's Auditorium in Wilmington, Mass., that seemed to suffer attendance-wise from the scheduling of two shows in suburban Boston over the same weekend. Veteran show promoter Rich Altman promptly took note of all that by moving the date for next year’s show, initially contracted for the same weekend, essentially back in time a full month to April 1-3, 2011.

“We were unlucky with 80-degree temperatures and the nicest weekend of the year,” Altman noted, adding that Saturday’s attendance would have almost certainly been better without the hockey playoffs competing.

Still, he said both Bobby Hull and Gordie Howe did well on Saturday afternoon, and the Hall of Fame Celtics Bill Russell and Sam Jones were well received both days.

Altman, who has promoted a number of big-time shows at venues around the country, had advertised the show extensively in eight different major newspapers surrounding Boston, along with a comprehensive radio advertising package.

“I was disappointed for the dealers, and our first priority was to make it a show for the dealers,” he added.

Even if the turnout at the Shriner’s Auditorium was disappointing, the roster of big-time vintage dealers and auction houses wasn’t, so the inventory of cool stuff was front and center all weekend. Since SCD hadn’t been to a Boston-area show in more than a dozen years, I thought I’d concentrate of spotting things that I didn’t typically see at shows, or at least not in this millennium.

Fezzes and good show food at reasonable prices top that list. With Shriner’s volunteers pitching in for security, administrative and food service duties, there’s a friendly, old-fashioned flavor to that proceeding that you would be hard-pressed to duplicate anywhere else. Let me know the next time you attend a show that has $2 weenies and hamburgers, Shepherd’s Pie, clam chowder, American Chop Suey and homemade macaroni and cheese.

If it sounds like I just munched all weekend, I didn’t. I toured the show floor. You would expect to find things like chunks of the parquet floor from Boston Garden, to say nothing of prominently displayed old newspapers with blaring headlines like “The Chokes on Us” atop photos of suitably anguished Yankees in October of 2004, but just as a general rule I noticed a far greater presence of pubs, books, magazines and yearbooks, which is a nice hallmark of an old-time show.

Speaking of books, I ran across a gold-leaf limited-edition hardcover copy of the Warren Commission Report signed by President Gerald Ford, which certainly qualifies in the “don’t see it every day” department. Kevin Bronson of Bronson Galleries had nearly a dozen original advertising display pieces from turn-of-the-century tobacco brands (pictured), setting a nice tone for a weekend where artwork nearly ruled.

Dealer John Liffmann of Sports Antiquities was displaying a spectacular original painting of Bill Russell done by Ron Stark, a work that appeared several years ago on the cover of SCD.

But the real art world scoop came from Kevin Savage, who picked up a huge assortment of original pen-and-ink drawings from famed sports and western art illustrator Mario DeMarco. Included in the purchase were literally dozens of original drawings from the man who created the 1950 Callahan Hall of Fame art cards that were sold at the Hall and at major league ballparks for many years. A handful of the drawings are pictured in this week's issue of SCD; for more information go to Savage’s website at:

With light attendance on Saturday, it seemed like the set builders waited until the sabbath to haul out their lists, but there were a number of them on Sunday. And speaking of cool vintage material, Art Smith of Sports Cards Plus in Cooper City, Fla., had the most nostalgic array of vintage sports and non-sports cards I’ve run across in quite some time, including a huge number of non-mainstream complete sets from the 1950s and 1960s in particular.

Like both 1960 and 1961 Nu-Card Scoops, Red Hearts, the 1967 Coke Caps and the two Fleer old-timers issues from 1960 and 1961, plus non-sport offerings like McHale’s Navy, The Beatles, U.S. Presidents and The Monkees.

But what really caught my eye was a ticket from a 1940 spring training game at Daytona Beach, or more precisely I should say two tickets, both in super condition but otherwise hardly equal in the conventional sense of the word. One was for Whites, and the other for Coloreds. Now there’s a sobering bit of sports memorabilia if I’ve ever seen one.

That was only a few moments after I’d run across a super-condition specimen of the “Darktown Battery” Postcard, and at another table a more-aged version of the infamous children’s bank itself.

The final gem I spotted was at Bagger’s Sportscards from Cincinnati: a 1948-signed Babe Ruth photograph, elegantly adorned in an oval frame. While I had seen the image itself before, I thought the unique presentation in this particular oval frame was a nice touch as well.

After that, as they say, it was all downhill, right up to the point where we missed our connection in Milwaukee.

Oh, the hardships we endure on behalf of our readers!

(Note: Just in case anybody might be looking for it, the blog goes on radio silence for a couple of days as I head off to Kansas City for the company. Should be back on Monday. – T.S.)

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