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Few things cooler than old-time dealers catalog ...

In a hobby with nostalgia front and center virtually at every juncture, it sounds weird to think that looking at a catalog can amount to something of a throwback experience, but there it is.


I know the first temptation is to think I am talking about auction catalogs, the massive glossy monsters that rival the Des Moines phonebook for heft and durability. Nope, I am talking about old-time card dealer catalogs, which like old-time card dealers themselves, are become something of a rarity as each day passes.

I’ll talk, er, blog, about the joys of looking at auction catalogs another time, but for the moment I am talking about thumbing through catalogs that might best be represented by those produced by Larry Fritsch Cards or Kit Young Cards. I am aware that by singling those two out I risk offending others, which, of course is not my goal. But those two are probably the largest and longest-running examples of the genre, and surely are deserving as being held up as reflective of the broader concept itself.

Talk about nostalgia! This goes back to the earliest days of the hobby in the 1960s, for example, when I would read the catalogs from Richard Gelman’s Card Collectors Co. in New York, or Fritsch’s from Stevens Point, Wis.

For me, it was the first opportunity to understand that the hobby was broader than I might have expected. Like so many old-timers, I kick myself for not taking advantage of the prices that prevailed at the time; for me it was rarely much more than laziness or, perhaps less harshly, an acknowledgement that I didn’t keep my cards in sets in those days (I opted for a large, alphabetical mass) and so didn’t even know which cards I needed to fill holes.

I can remember ordering the first series of 1964 Topps all as one series from Larry Fritsch, something I undertook because the onset of puberty had precluded my buying any cards that year and I figured this was a nice way to get a sample for my collection without embarrassing myself at the local drugstore. I don’t remember what I paid, and it probably seemed like a lot at the time, but obviously it wasn’t.

What prompted all this was getting one of those catalogs in the mail today, and I can’t tell you how much I enjoy looking through it, though I probably don’t order as much as either Jeff Fritsch or Kit Young might prefer. I don’t buy too many modern cards, but I still like seeing the offerings, and the array of vintage material, from the pricey to the campy, is nothing short of amazing.

So release that mouse back into the wild, shut off your computer and grab one of those catalogs and sit back in your easy chair and go back in time to when the only cable involved with your television was the one that connected it to the wall.

I rarely resort to a blog that sounds so unabashedly like an advertisement, but if you check them out in the fashion I describe, you’ll probably indulge me a bit.

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