Everyone dreads moving, especially a card collector with a massive, priceless collection.
But when Greg Nussbaum and his family got a new house, he added a state-of-the-art display system and a new friend. The move was well worth it.
It all started when Nussbaum posted an unassuming thread on the Facebook group “Vintage Wax and Packs” in August of 2020.
Nussbaum mentioned he was thinking about hiring a carpenter to build custom collapsible shelves to display his unique collection, which is dominated by unopened rack packs. On that Facebook forum, collector Brent Meyer responded that he builds every day for his business, and instead of cash compensation for Nussbaum he would “work for racks and cellos” — a tongue-and-cheek reply. Meyer and his wife, Catherine, own 7th Street Salvage, an architectural salvage company in Macon, Ga.
The two collectors, who didn’t know each other, exchanged direct messages, not knowing if the other was serious about making this happen. Over the next few weeks, the guys came to a mutual agreement that Meyer would custom build cabinets and display cases for Nussbaum to house his collection.
One big obstacle logistically was the two collectors live 12 hours away from each other, with Nussbaum in Ashburn, Va. But the distance wasn’t going to deter this collaboration.
Nussbaum sent Meyer the dimensions and pictures of the room and mapped out what items from his collection he’d like to have on display: his unopened rack packs, unopened wax and cello packs and boxes, graded and raw single cards and some football helmets.
“He was the perfect person to build these displays for me, because he understood the mind of a collector and he’s also a master carpenter and he has a whole team of people who work on making custom cabinets,” Nussbaum said. “This wasn’t a typical project for him, but certainly it was one that he had a particular passion for.”
After learning the specs of the project, Meyer and some guys in his shop sat down and discussed display options. They came up with a design for a rack pack wall and flat files on the back wall with shelves on top.
“He told me about the items that he was interested in showing off and that’s just when the creative juices started going,” Meyer said.
Meyer went through six or seven design mockups on how to display the rack packs and how the shelving could be easily modifiable, so when Nussbaum gets new packs, he can change them out.
Meyer, who purchased red oak from a local mill in Macon, did all the prebuilding in his shop.
“In one of our warehouse spaces, we laid out his square footage and we literally built it as if we were building it in his house so that we could work out all the kinks beforehand,” Meyer said.
Meyer sent Nussbaum weekly updates and pictures to keep him in the loop. The actual build portion of the project took Meyer and his team four weeks to finish.
Meyer said the most cumbersome part of the project was the finishing of 2,500 individual pieces. The specifications from the display cabinets/cases include: four rack pack display doors (holds 96 rack packs in rack holders); 27 flat-file glass display drawers; four bottom storage drawers; bookcase stacks (three moveable shelves per stack); a corner cabinet with four moveable shelves; deep cabinets behind each rack display door (with four moveable shelves per cabinet); and a coffee/sorting table.
After wrapping up the project, Meyer figured out a time in January 2021 to bring the display system to Nussbaum’s house. Along with a crew member, Meyer made the 12-hour trek to northern Virginia. When they arrived at Nussbaum’s house, the guys checked out the room to map out the best approach to get the pieces in the house. The next day, Meyer and his co-worker spent 9 and a half hours connecting the display system together.
The final product turned out breathtaking. It fits perfectly in two walls of Nussbaum’s room that is 18-by-15 feet with 8 ½-foot ceilings.
“The funny thing was, during us installing the cabinets in the room, Greg would come down probably every 15-20 minutes and just sit there and stare,” Meyer said. “The excitement was pushing me through, and it was hard for me not to just sit back sometimes and just watch and look at it. But once it all got installed, it’s not like anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s truly one of those pieces that I’m like, ‘This is incredible.’”
Nussbaum had never seen another display quite to the magnitude of what he had in his house.
“I was in awe of his work and I was excited about what this was and what it would become when I filled it up with all of my treasures,” Nussbaum said. “I couldn’t imagine it would turn out as well as it did. I let him go with it. I trusted his creative process. Even after all the pictures he sent me and everything, I couldn’t imagine how amazing it was until he installed it.”
Installation wrapped up about 7 p.m., but Meyer didn’t want to leave quite yet.
“I told him, ‘I’m off the clock. If you don’t mind, I’m going to sit here and have fun with you just loading these things,’” said Meyer, who figures there were about 1,500 man-hours of work on the project. “He said, ‘Absolutely. I want you to do that.’ We spent the next two hours just loading the cabinets full of stuff.
“We started putting things in the drawers and both of us were like, ‘It literally looks like we’re sitting in the middle of a museum right now.’ This could be like if Cooperstown ever were to do something that was about unopened product. This would be the perfect way to display something like this.”
Nussbaum’s collection could be considered museum quality.
“One of the coolest things is definitely the archive drawers, like the museum archive drawers,” Nussbaum said. “They basically serve as pull-out and pull-in display cases for things like my PSA singles and any other cards I want to display — lots more packs in those things. At this point, I’ve filled all of them up. That was a really amazing feature, those drawers.”
Each one of the 24 drawers feature quick disconnects on the top track so they can be pulled out separately and be their own display case. Nussbaum has the drawers filled with raw and graded single cards — including a Michael Jordan 1986-87 Fleer PSA 8 and a Barry Sanders 1989 Score PSA 10 — extra rack packs, cello packs and wax packs. He has them sorted out in the drawers in chronological order from oldest to newest.
It’s Nussbaum’s unopened rack packs that steal the show. It’s mostly filled with major rookies from the 1970s and ’80s.
“Around 2000, I got interested in collecting more unique items and that’s where the whole rack pack and unopened collection was born from,” said Nussbaum, who has over 300 unopened rack packs. “I sort of stopped so much collecting individual cards and focused on those items.”
His coolest rack packs, a number of which have been authenticated by Baseball Card Exchange, include a 1971 Topps with Pete Rose and Ted Simmons on the top; ’73 Topps with Roberto Clemente on top; ’75 Topps with a Robin Yount rookie and Nolan Ryan on top; ’75 Topps with a George Brett rookie on top; a couple of ’80 Topps with Rickey Henderson rookies on the bottom; a number of ’81 Topps with Joe Montana rookies on top; and four ’86 Topps with Jerry Rice rookies on top.
“It reminds me of being in the toy stores and seeing all those rack packs on the racks and being able to look through them and try to cherry-pick the ones that have the players that I like showing,” Nussbaum said. “Of course, when I was a kid, I would rip them open. I wouldn’t consider keeping them unopened.”
The rack pack cabinet has four doors covered by glass that open like regular doors with small locks on the front.
“He invented this latch that holds each rack in on the back of the glass and when you open up those glass doors, there’s shelving — a ton of storage,” Nussbaum said.
Once the display system was installed at Nussbaum’s, Meyer went on the Facebook page “Vintage Wax and Packs” — the same site the two guys met on — and posted photos of the final product. The response Meyer received was overwhelming. So many collectors expressed their sincere admiration for a job well done.
Meyer thought this would be a one-time project, but he’s been contacted by a number of collectors interested in having some type of display cabinet made. He is in the development phase of making affordable custom cases for rack, cello and wax packs that can be shipped across the country.
“If somebody comes and says, ‘Hey, I’m interested in something like this,’ I’m always open to entertaining the discussion even if we do the install and get it all taken care of.”
Meyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and 7th Street Salvage can be found on Facebook and Instagram.
Nussbaum is so happy he decided to collaborate with Meyer on the project. Nussbaum said his two boys love being in the room, so the family installed a TV in there to allow the kids to play video games.
Nussbaum also has a desk in what he considers a “home office.” He enjoys being in the room and admiring his collection.
“When I walk into that room, it just makes me smile,” Nussbaum said. “It’s just the full effect of it. Sometimes my attention is drawn directly to those rack closets, sometimes to the wax boxes.
“It’s so colorful and so custom made, it’s like a museum. It’s like a shrine to unopened. I just love it all.”