The old adage is, if you can’t find a book about what you want to read about, write it yourself. Brian Powell has done that with a book that is the first of a kind regarding the trading card hobby – a subject on collecting regional-food issue baseball cards, written by a collector with sports fans and fellow collectors in mind.
Never Cheaper by the Dozen: Those Special ‘Free Prize’ Sports Collectibles from the Golden Era of 1947-1971, jumps right into the heart of collecting’s greatest era by looking at the players starring on the field, the games being played and the regional cards passed out at ballparks, in grocery stores and mailed away for. It’s a trip back in time that not only talks about collecting, but the process behind getting the cards, from first-person stories to anecdotes in acquiring the beauties.
This is not a price guide, but a story of collecting past – and why these cards are so beloved and can be hard to obtain today.
“My purpose was to write a book about a niche of cards I knew from long experience to be fascinating, but of which little had been written,” Powell said. “Aside from brief price guide descriptions, even elaborate hard-bound general guides, several entries in a pair of books about important cards that was good yet provided less than a page of commentary per card, only a smattering of good features in 40 years of hobby papers, and a paragraph or two in the better auction house catalogs, there was nothing.
“In September 2011, several bidders fought it out for a partial set (16/26) of the 1955 Esskay Franks Baltimore Orioles, one of my subjects – and the winner’s final bill came to $64,625. While neatly trimmed, most of the cards were creased in some way and had evidence of product stains, ungraded, without one Hall of Famer. For many collectors this result raises the proverbial $64,000 question – why? This instance alone shouts of an undercurrent of deep passion and desire. Undoubtedly there was more left unexpressed about the history, heritage and purpose of the postwar regional-food issues. Surely hobbyists have more than an infantile attention span and would hunger to know about them, the multitude of obstacles faced, as well as the battles waged for possessing them,” Powell said.
Never Cheaper By The Dozen unlocks a treasure chest holding the secrets and sea stories of these “free prizes” for which their beauty and background story were more interesting than their price tag. The reader is treated to re-live nostalgic portions of the Baby Boomer era when he and other baseball card-loving kids collected one or more of these charming sets while living in the distribution region of the company whose promotion offered these dazzling ducats.
To large and small degrees, Powell spotlights at least 13 pioneer and key hobby figures during its feverish growth. They are: Lionel Carter, Larry Fritsch, Buck Barker, Bob Solon, Alan Rosen, Rob Lifson, Dick Reuss, Bill Zimpleman, Jack Urban, George Husby, Jim Cumpton, George Lyons and Doak Ewing. And from these pioneers, readers are treated to these collecting delights (in order of their appearance in the book):
• 1962 JELL-O – Mantle
• 1960 Post Cereal – Mantle
• 1954 Stahl-Meyer Franks – Mantle
• 1953 Glendale Meats Detroit Tigers
• 1962 Salada Tea Baseball Coins
• 1959 Morrell Meats
• 1964-67 Coca-Cola Bottle Caps – premiums
• 1960 Home Run Derby
• 1953 Briggs Franks Jackie Jensen/Walt Masterson Panel
• 1958-62 Bell Brand
• 1953-55 Dormand Postcards Gil Hodges
• 1954 Wilson Franks
• 1953 Stahl-Meyer Franks – Mickey Mantle PSA 9 Mint
• 1955 Rodeo Meats
• 1963 Post Cereal – Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle
• 1971 Kellogg’s 3-D Cards
• 1954 Dan-Dee Potato Chips – Cleveland Indians Find
• 1959, 1961 Bazooka Baseball
• 1954-55 Esskay Franks
• Cards That Never Were: Fantasy 1954 Wilson Franks Jackie Robinson and Mickey Mantle.
The 479-page, full-color book is presented in PDF form on a CD. Cost is $30 postpaid, first class mail, payable via money order to the following: Brian Powell, P.O. Box 743, New Carlisle, IN 46552. For more information on this book, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I must say I enjoyed it from start to finish. I grew up in the late 1960s and early ’70s and remember excitedly pulling cards from boxes of cereal and bubble gum.
Mr. Powell provides wonderful memories of these treasures, and the struggle of trying to get your favorite players, along with just enough background on the companies involved and the products the collectibles came with. I still collect these cards when I can find them, and they never fail to remind me of my childhood. This book is fantastic, and would highly recommend it to anyone who ever chased these treasures.
– Matt Coudriet
“I am a younger collector with a heavy focus on career-contemporary Mantle cards and I own one of the most complete Mantle sets out there. As a younger collector, I did not have the privilege of collecting these at the time of original issue or even meeting many of the pioneers of the hobby. Brian's book really captures these experiences first hand. I consider this a true treasure and gift to the hobby and am incredibly grateful that I have a copy of my own.”
– Chris Debono
All sales are final. Indiana residents must add 7% sales tax, or $2.10, to their money order. For further information, contact Brian Powell at email@example.com.