Saturday, January 28, 2017

A quick talk about The Conlon Collection

If you're looking to dip your toe into the waters of pre-war baseball cards, but aren't interested in having the era engulf your wallet, then you should check out The Conlon Collection.

The 5-series set was issues from 1991-95, and as the name may suggest, features the work of legendary photog Charles Conlon. The photographs are stunning. The set is numbered 1-1430. The backs are just jammed with information. Check out the two sample Gibson cards (his only two in the set) and you'll see what I mean. Career stats on his player card, and a giant amount of writing on his manager card; one he happens to share the photo with the legendary Honus Wagner.

Because the set was issued during what was probably the peak of the junk wax era, most of it can be had for relatively cheap. A 36-pack wax box (remember those?!) for either 1991 ro 1992 can usually be found for $10 or less. When I built the 1991 set, I got within 2 cards of completing the 330-card issue, which leads me to believe the collation was pretty good. By 1992, Megacards (also involved in the issue, though I don't know the exact relationship) and TSN seems to have figured out that good collation  may not lend itself to increased sales. When I bought the 1992 box, I didn't even crack the 300 mark (again, a 330-card issue). Actually, if memory serves, card # 297 was the last card I needed, and it turned out to be more difficult than I would have expected to find.

To this day, I've never even seen wax boxes for 1993 or 1994. I bought both of my sets as, well, sets. The 1993 version came in a blue "collector's tin", and again, followed the 330-card format. The 1993 set is a little more difficult than 1991 and 1992, but is still very attainable at a good price.

The 1994 set got a little different. I think there *is* a black-bordered version of the set, but mine came in burgundy. No big deal to me, though, the photos were still black-and-white, and incredible. Yet again, the set followed the 330-card format. To be honest, I don't recall what this set cost me, but it was more difficult to track down than the previous three years. It still wasn't outrageous.

If you stick with this set after 1994, that's when things get tough. I believe the story goes that a 330-card set was planned for 1995, but Megacards went bankrupt mid-production. Honestly, I have no idea if that's the truth, but it lends itself well to the scarcity of the issue. The 1995 issue is 1/3 of the size of the previous 4 editions, but at 110-cards, it's not easy to track down. The only way I've seen this set issued is in a single "retail-looking" package. The card borders are forest-green, with a bit of gold. Large lots, or the entire set, will cost you a bit of cake, and even the individual singles will run as much as $3-4 per. If you're lucky, you can grab lots of a few dozen cards at a time for a better price (notice I didn't say "good"!).

And of course, there's more. I've never personally gotten into them, but there are colourized promos you can collect (6 of them, I think), 8x10s of some issues, and on it goes.

Honestly, if you're fan of baseball photography or want to learn about the early game, you should check out this set.


  1. I picked up a Jeff Heath from this set..

    1. Don't tell anyone, but I always forget he's Canadian. His card has a great photo on it, though, that's for sure.