New York is the home of many great sports franchises, both past and present. Whether you are eating a sandwich at the Carnegie Deli or watching a play on Broadway, the person next to you is always willing to talk about the hometown team. Many great Hall of Famers live in New York.
According to Forbes magazine (2010), Buffalo is the 10th best place to raise a family in America. The waterfront city is home to many art galleries, theaters and culinary influences. As I drove into town last fall, signs of summer had passed. The street signs rattled and the garbage cans rolled in between moving cars.
As the drizzle turned to a downpour, I entered a residence full of antiques. Lights flicked from the porcelain Coca-Cola signs, locomotives hummed across the dining room floor and vintage toys were still in their original boxes. Music from the Goo Goo Dolls (a Buffalo band) was blasting. However, I had come for something special. I wanted to see a vintage Buffalo Bills football collection.
As a child, the owner of this collection attended every Bills home game with his father and best friend. Additionally, all three would buy a nickel pack of football cards from the five-and-dime store. The trading of football cards would typically happen over the weekends, and more children from the neighborhood were invited. The “baseball card aficionados” would have monthly sleepovers and the baseball card trading at times was fast and furious.
The majority of this childhood collection was thrown away by the boy’s mother. However, the gentleman did have a team-signed Buffalo Bills helmet from 1964 – an AFL championship year – so this piece has some value. When valuing any collectible, condition is crucial. Bruising, bleeding and the boldness of the signatures all affect the value. Additionally, the gentleman had every 1964 Topps football card signed by the team. These cards remained tucked away in a special place that his mother could not find. I was able to purchase the helmet. However, the cards had too much sentimental value to the family and they were not ready to part with them.
I enjoyed the conversation. It is always great to unearth vintage collectibles from decades past. Valuing vintage baseball cards is strictly dependent on condition. The corners need to be razor sharp and the centering needs to be 50/50 for a card to be considered “mint.” If just one corner is not razor sharp, the card is rendered “near mint” and the value drastically drops. If a card has four sharp corners, but the centering is not 50/50, the value of the card will be adversely affected. The cards of baseball players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame usually command more money than “common” cards.
It is my responsibility as a curator of vintage sports collectibles to make sure the stories live on. It is my job to rescue these cards before they are thrown away. Children no longer care about baseball cards and collectibles. They are happier playing games on their iPad or cellphone. The demand for these collectibles is dying as fast as the owners are.
As I packed up my belongings and headed outside to my car, I took a peek outside to see if I needed my umbrella. The sun was shining from above and a rainbow lit up the sky. Yes, it was a good day indeed.