Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Maybe as close as I'll get to owning a W600

Every now and again (read: late at night when the house is quiet, and I'm too tired to do anything productive, but too stubborn to just admit that it's time to go to bed), I'll end up on eBay or Google searching things that are only peripherally related to Gibson in hopes of finding something unique.

More times than not, I come up very empty. And even if I do, I'm okay with it, because I feel like I've accomplished something by confirming there is positively nothing Gibson out there that I can add to my collection. But every once in a while, I find something.

Two weeks ago was that once in a while.
While searching for just anything and everything Pittsburgh Pirates related, I happened upon an issue of Sporting Life Magazine, and on the cover, was a composite of the 1905 Pittsburgh Pirates. The actual issue was dated November 5, 1905. Since Gibson made his major league debut in 1905, I guess that technically would make it a rookie year issue. It ended up going for nearly $150, far more than it's worth to me, so I didn't get it. I did, however, grab an image of it to share:


Gibson, in case you can't see him, is located in the second row from the top, third from the left.
The seller claims to be selling thousands of issues of Sporting Life over the next little while (The Hall of Fame in Cooperstown digitized their copies, let the "digitizer" keep them, and now, through Lelands.com, they are selling them all). This was enough to pique my interest. I started looking through their other auctions, and low and behold, if I didn't find this beauty:


The best part? No mention of Gibson anywhere in the auction listing! But, it wasn't a BIN, so I had to wait for about 4 days for the auction to end. When it did, I came out victorious -- with an opening bid of $19.97! And while it's not a 1905, it is from August of 1906, and features *just* Gibby on the cover! The magazine, if I can call it that, is very brittle, so I'm afraid to even try to scan it (took this image from the auction listing), but I'm very excited to have this in my collection. This page is about 11x14, so pretty giant compared to my usual pick-ups, but man is it awesome.

Adding this magazine/newspaper to my collection is probably as close as I'm going to get to ever owning a W600 Gibson. It's the same image, the same issuer, and almost the same issue date. I don't even know what a W600 Gibson would cost if one came up, but I imagine it's north of $1000. So to get this as an alternative, for 1/50th of the price, suffice it to say I'm happy. This is probably as close as I'll get to owning a W600.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Ever heard of a U1?

In my last post, I talked about B18 Felt Blankets. It's an issue I had not seriously considered collection previously, but ended up picking up because I could on the cheap.

Today, I want to show you an other fairly obscure issue. 1934 U1 Diamond Matchbooks. Diamond Matchbooks were issued in 5 distinct sets over a 4-year period (1934-1937). The subsequent years are catalogued as U2, U3 and U4, but it's not a one-to-one match between the year and the "U-number". The matchbooks were issued in 4 different colours: red, green, blue and orange, but not all colours are available for all years. I would classify Diamond Matchbooks as one of those sets where it's easy to find an example, but not necessarily easy to find a particular player/colour combination. If you search eBay, you'll find plenty of these Matchbooks on any given day, and you can easily get an example of one for under $20, but a particular player/colour combination isn't so easy.

For George Gibson specifically, he's only available in the 1934 U1 set. In theory, you can get matchbooks of Gibson in red, blue, green and orange. In practice, orange seems to be the most common, in my experience. After orange, is green, which shows up, but not quite as often. Then there is a sharp drop-off. I've seen exactly one blue matchbook cover, and I've never ever seen a red.

Here are a examples of the two Gibson matchbooks in my collection. Just like the felts, these are not something I had really considered adding to my collection, but when the well runs dry, you gotta drink something, right? For the right price (I paid under $20 for each of these), I'll happily add these to my collection. Truth be told, now that I have them, I hope to find the blue and red, and preferably with the striker still on them.

Someday...

Saturday, June 10, 2017

So. B18s. Are these things cards?

Had a friend over last weekend to catch a local ball game. Given that he is also a Gibson enthusiast, it was a perfect opportunity to bust out my George Gibson collection to show off. Most people don't even know I collect baseball cards, so showing old cards to people isn't something I do often. Ever, really.

One thing we ended up talking about briefly was B18s. I figured it might be a good "card / non-card" item to post about. Until recently, they weren't even a part of my collection. I consider myself a card collector...and I don't really see B18s as cards. They're made of felt after all, so they can't be cards, right? The things is, it's been increasingly difficult to add Gibson items to my collection as of late, so when I was able to grab the "purple pennant" variation for less than $30 a few months back, I jumped at the chance. And I didn't really know what to expect when I got it in the mail. I was pleasantly surprised.

As somebody who always targets "cardboard", it was neat to see and be able to actually handle this issue. Compared to tobacco cards, these things are huge. They measure just over 5 inches by 5 inches. They are a really thin fabric. If you look closely at them, you can see the individual stitching that makes up the image, borders, etc.

B18s, according to OldCardboard.com, were issued in 1914 by the Egyptienne Straight Cigarettes company. I believe they were folded in half and inserted into the packs. There are 90 players in the set (9 players from each of 10 ten major league teams), but there are variations.

Not more than a few weeks after I picked up the "purple pennant" version, a "red pennant" version showed up on eBay as well. Again, normally I don't go after this kind of stuff -- but after the first one, I was kinda intent on completing the pair. I got this for a minimum bid of like $25, I think. As you can see, there is a bit of fraying on the "third base corner" of it, but it doesn't take away from the overall aesthetic if you ask me. The only real difference between the two is the replacing of purple with red. I'm not actually sure if any of the players in this set have more than two variations -- but now that I've got this pairing, I wish there were more than just two Gibsons in the set.

Even if they're not cards ;)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Never judge a card by its corners

In a perfect world, every card in my collection is flawless.
Sharp corners, no creases, no writing, crisp images. Of course, in that perfect world, I already have every George Gibson card, because I also have unlimited funds, and a time machine. And right now we're talking about how awesome my seats were at the 1909 World Series.

Alas, this is the real world.
In the real world, I collect cards that are over 100 years old. And in that world, there are cards that I just don't expect to be able to add to my collection, either because they are too rare or too expensive (often both). In the real world, though, there are collectors that are just as interested as helping a fellow collector add a card to their collection as they are in adding cards to their own.

Such is the case with this card. A long-time collector over on the Net54 Baseball Forum, had this card as a type in his collection. He and I have traded in the past. It's not uncommon for a collector to offer of a specific type in their collection to a collector wanting that specific player. It usually just comes down to finding a comparable card from that set to trade (ie. same issue, comparable calibre player, comparable condition). Truthfully, I've had many collectors make me this offer. But many times the issue is just too tough, or expensive, that making the trade work is difficult. That's why this deal was unique. Realizing the difficulty of making that trade, but understanding how well this card would fit into my collection, he was willing to sell me the card (at a very fair price), realizing it would put a hole in his type collection, but allow me to fill one in my Gibson collection.

So what card is this? The ACC designation is T216 Peoples Tobacco. The cards feature white borders and tobacco ads on the backs like T206 White Borders, but were issued later. The SGC slab that this card sits in attributes it as a 1911-16 issue. Other sources say 1911-14. I do not know which range is correct. Some things I do know: This set features three different ad backs: Kotton Cigarettes, Mino and Virgina Extra. The set also features Federal League players in addition to American and National League players. Oh, and this issue is very tough! Finding them at all is a challenge.

So to add this card to my collection, in any condition, is awesome. I'm thrilled with it, to say the least! I realize there are some creases, and the top right corner is missing, but really, the creases don't take too much away from the image and the ad on the back is complete even with a partially missing corner. Considering I never ever thought I'd own a T216, to add this to my collection at all is a miracle, but the details on how that miracle came about make this card the leading contender for pick-up of the year!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Strike a pose

One thing about a prewar player collection that I've noticed: Eventually you'll run out of cards or you'll run out of money. George Gibson, thankfully, has quite a few cards, many of which, are affordable. But if you collect him long enough, you'll eventually pick up most of the common/inexpensive stuff. That can lead to long gaps in between pickups.

And if you're a collector, then you understand what that's like.
In order to keep adding to the collection you might find yourself expanding the definition of "card".
In my case, I started to collect felts, which I had never really been that interested in. I find myself looking at pins and discs and chips a little more often now, too.
Postcards have always been on my radar, but they are rather expensive and show up rarely.

And then there are photos.

Photos can be an interesting way to expand the player collection, and can be affordable. In the case of Gibson, that doesn't really apply to photos of his playing days, but if you're willing to collect photos from his managing days, then you might be surprised what you can find.

Below is the photo that I most recently added to my Gibson collection. I found it on a photo dealer's site while searching Google for...I don't even remember what ;)


This is, hands down, my favourite Gibson photo of my collection. The back has a Central News Photo Service stamp and the caption that was included with the photo says:
Specially posed picture of Gibson, manager, taken in the "dug-out" at the Polo Grounds, Ny., Aug 25.
Oddly, it doesn't have a year. Gibson managed the Pirates from 1920-22 and again from 1932-34. At some point I'll go hunting through some New York papers to try to put a year on this. It shouldn't be too difficult, but for now I'm willing to let it remain a mystery.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Almost got rained out ... but didn't

Wednesday was a particularly gloomy day here. It was overcast all day. And given that it's rained off-and-on all week, it wasn't a big deal -- or a big surprise -- that the forecast was predicting an 80% chance of rain.

But I work inside, so as long as I don't have to shovel snow or worry about road conditions to drive to work, I don't pay much attention to the weather. I only really noticed the weather yesterday three times. The first two times were when it was raining so hard that you could hear it banging on the roof of the building that I work in.

Otherwise, I was pretty much oblivious. See, I won a new Gibson card at auction at the beginning of the month, and got the email that it had shipped a few days ago. By yesterday, it was close enough that it could arrive "any day", so really, that's where my attention was. I probably checked the USPS site 8 times waiting for an update. Finally, after work just before heading home, I got the status update I wanted: "Package delivered."

As I pulled into my driveway, I was scanning the mailbox and front porch for signs of my new acquisition. All I could see was some flyers hanging out of the mailbox, and they were soaked. It wasn't until I actually walked on to the porch that I noticed a small white parcel sitting out in the open. It wasn't in the door; wasn't in the mailbox; wasn't under the overhang of my roof. It was just sitting there. And that was the third time I noticed the weather yesterday.

Instant panic turned into instant relief though, as somehow, the parcel was totally dry. Not so much as a raindrop had touched it. I have no idea how the mail carrier timed it to get it there in between rainfalls -- and truthfully, the card was well packaged and protected inside anyway -- but the box was fine. Reusable, even. Until I failed so miserably at opening it.

Wanna know what was inside?

This:

Might not look like much, but I'm thrilled to have it. That is a 1909 E92 Croft's Candy George Gibson. The pose is referred to as the "back pose", as there are some candy issues that contain 2 Gibson cards, the other being the "front pose".

I'm particularly happy to acquire this card as I've never owned a Croft's Candy back before. I currently have a Dockman back, and once upon a time owned a Croft's Cocoa back (the toughest of the four by far). But this is the first time I've owned a Crofts Candy. The black ink on the back is probably the more common variation. Some Croft's Candy backs can be found in blue and red ink though I don't believe the red ink variation has been confirmed for Gibson.

This exact image can be found on Gibson's E101, E105 and T216 cards as well. I have an E101 in my collection and used to have an E105. I'd like to get one again, but they don't come up often and when they do, they are anything but cheap. And the T216s? A whole other level of tough!

But that's part of the fun. If I already had them all what would be left to collect?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Bison or Bisons?

Last weekend, a friend was heading to a Buffalo Bisons game, and allowed me to tag along (and thank you for that, Marty, I had a blast). Going to a baseball game is always a welcome adventure in my world. Having only ever driven past Coca-Cola Field, I was excited to get to step inside and see the facility. I was also excited to watch the Blue Jays farm team, and having recently learned about the Sports Museum inside the stadium, I was curious to check it out on the off chance there might be something Gibson in there.

I'll spare you the suspense. There was no Gibson to be found on this day. It was a long shot at best as Gibson is but a minor footnote in Buffalo Bisons history. He played in 6 games near the end of the 1903 season and that was it. Nonetheless, it was still worth checking. The museum had more than just baseball too. Much more, actually. Football, hockey, boxing, concerts that have taken place at the assorted sports venues, etc. Just no Gibson.

And the game? It was great. What should have been the third game of the series ended up being the season & home opener for Buffalo on account of weather conditions the previous two days. The forecast was cold, but the sun was not to be outdone. I still managed to get a mild sunburn. It was well worth it, though, to watch the Junior Jays topple the Junior Yankees by a score of 4-2, which included Rowdy Tellez hitting home runs in each of his first two at bats of the season.

The stadium is nice. I'm horrendous when it comes to picture taking; I took none. But our seats were up behind the 3B dugout, and the view was great. For a home opener, I'm surprised the crowd wasn't larger, but that just meant shorter lineups for the beef on weck ;)

In the week that has passed since that game, the Bisons have won another 6 games against 2 losses and find themselves first in the International League with a 7-2 record.

But I'm left pondering two things: Is there anything out there besides newspaper accounts documenting Gibson's time with Buffalo -- like a cool RPPC or something? And second, are they really the Buffalo Bisons or should they be the Buffalo Bison?