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A lifetimes collection is stolen in New York ...

It’s what every collector fears the most, I suppose, aside from fires, floods and other natural disasters. A longtime hobbyist and show promoter in Central New York had much of his high-grade vintage card collection stolen over Easter weekend after thieve(s) put a ladder up to a second-story window and eventually carted off a lifetime’s accumulation of tobacco and gum cards to die for.


Which would be a suitable fate for the cretins who perpetrated this. Don Flewelling is a well-known figure in central New York, an antique dealer and one of the co-promoters of the long-running card show in Cooperstown that is held in conjunction with the Hall of Fame induction activities.

His collection included the following, a partial listing which I took directly from a forum posting by another legendary hobby figure and a friend of Flewelling’s, Ted Zanidakis.

100-plus Old Judges, a 521-card T206 set, including Plank (70 cards are graded) in Ex (or better) condition, T201, T202, T205 and T207 sets, 1920’s Strip (W-type) cards, virtually all of which are in the small-size top-loader plastic holders.

That kind of lineup would be distinctive enough and hopefully easily spotted if somebody tried to fence the cards, but the sad tale gets even worse. There were also Near-Mint 1933-36 Goudey sets, a similarly spectacular run of 1951-1970’s Topps sets, including a Near-Mint, near-complete 1952 Topps Master set (the Mantle has a minute pinhole toward the top of the card). Add in most of the HOFers and rookie cards from that same time span, along with all of the Mickey Mantle cards from 1951-69, and you’ve at least got a glimpse of the scope of this travesty.

More importantly, we pass along all this in hopes that it will be disseminated as widely as possible in hopes the thieves might be apprehended in trying to move this vast collection.

I gotta tell you, I would be nearly as appalled by all this if the collection were only valued at $10,000 or $20,000, rather than the hundreds of thousands of dollars that his kind of lineup entails. It’s a visceral reaction of disgust that something so treasured by an individual for more than a half-century could be so crudely snatched away. It, of course, adds yet another dimension for the popular 70-year-old Flewelling that the collection had been earmarked as something to pass along to his children and grandchildren.

That’s a nice touch, eh. A couple of knuckleheads can imperil the college education of somebody’s beloved grandchildren simply by propping a ladder up against a second-story window. I could puke.

“I’m still in shock,” Flewelling told me in a phone interview earlier this week. He and his family have seemingly done a pretty good job of trying to get the word out within the hobby by contacting popular websites and forums, along with the major card-grading services, but ultimately it will still take a lot of luck for this to have a happy ending.

We live in an age when the undeserving on Wall Street suck billions of dollars out of a reeling economy without actually producing anything except heartache for the hoi polloi on Main Street, and what they are doing is ostensibly legal.

Just as those clowns don’t end up with anything close to what they actually deserve, neither do the more visible and less-subtle bandits like these card thieves.

Too bad the latter couldn’t somehow confine themselves to violating their fellow Wall Street bandits and no one else.

Now that would be a modicum of justice.