Thursday, April 15, 2010


In this entry, I will try to address a subject that has popped up a lot in my email inbox over the years.

Corky from Washington State writes:

"Hi Chris!
I think I have a Napoleon (Larry) LaJoie #106 Goudey Gum Baseball Card with the Goudey design on the front!
How do I find out its worth and who would buy it?

The 1933 Goudey card of Napoleon Lajoie is legendary among collectors of vintage baseball cards. It is one of the most valuable cards in the hobby as a result of its scarcity, and most collectors of 1933 Goudeys do not consider the card as part of a complete set. Because of that notoriety, the card has also been reprinted quite a lot.

During the 1980s, the Hygrade Sport Card Co. of New York issued a kit for baseball card collectors. It was designed to help younger collectors become acquainted with the hobby (I got mine at a school book sale in 1983, when I was in the 6th grade).  The kit featured a 20-page guide to the hobby, an annotated price guide, a semi-rigid top loader, a nine-pocket plastic page, five cards commemorating great ballplayers of the past (Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Mickey Mantle and Jackie Robinson) and five reprints of rare cards.

The five reprinted cards included a trio of T206 cards: Honus Wagner, Eddie Plank and Sherry "Magie."  Also featured were the T207 card of Irving Lewis (Boston, no patch) and the 1933 Lajoie. Each card was identified on the back and had a value listed (in 1982 dollars). There was also a short description of why the card pictured was so scarce.

When looking at the backs of these cards, common sense should dictate that no original card would explain why it is so scarce or give a listed value; however, in today's lottery-type, "1 of 1" insert-happy hobby, common sense seems to have gone the way of the St. Louis Browns. Novice collectors (who I often refer to as "the uninitiated") often come to the realization that they may have found something quite valuable.

I'll give credit to those collectors who see my website and email me to ask about these cards. The fact that they are doing the necessary research into their discovery should be commended; they are doing the right thing. Unfortunately, many of these cards find their way onto eBay and are put up for auction as the genuine article. Despite the fact that the card backs are often shown, people still bid on these cards and pay good money for worthless reprints.

I tried to notify some of these sellers that they were offering reprints, but most never responded (except for one who told me he'd have me thrown off eBay if I bothered him again). Since that approach didn't work, I'll keep writing about these reprints. Hopefully, my words can help keep an unsuspecting collector from throwing good money after a bad card. Which brings me back to my opening question.

When Corky sent me the message above, I explained that there are a lot of Lajoie reprints floating around. I simply asked him if he could describe the back of his card for me. Sure enough, it was one of the reprints; however, when my email reached him, he had already come across a post I made on a message board and had determined that the card wasn't authentic.

Don't get me wrong. Reprints are great for those collectors who realize that Honus Wagner is never going to make a home inside their T206 collections. I just don't like seeing other collectors get tricked into thinking that they will be getting a rare or valuable card and forking over good money to have it.

No comments:

Post a Comment