View Full Version : Woody & Richard Gelman and Card Collectors Co.

10-06-2007, 12:09 AM
Posted By: <b>Dave Hornish</b><p>These important hobby names seem to require their own thread. If anyone has stories, legends, myths, facts etc they would like to post here, I would be very interested.<br /><br />Woody of course was art director and scavenger par excellence for Topps and also the driving force behind Nostalgia Press and his son Richard carried on with dad's baseball card concern into the 1980's at least. I know they had a warehouse fire at some point that destroyed a lot of cards, including a bunch of 69 Supers. I think a lot of Topps rarities and test issues are around today because of Woody and also a lot of (potentially correct and incorrect) information that has been accepted as fact for many decades can be traced, perhaps indirectly to Card Collectors Co. as well.<br /><br />So, anyone have a tale or two?

10-06-2007, 04:15 PM
Posted By: <b>jackgoodman</b><p>Used to receive their catalog in the early sixties. At one time they were selling #68 from the 1959 Fleer Ted Williams set for $1 each (a large amount for one card - at that time). I gritted my teeth and ordered two of them. And have been so happy over the years that I did. Here are scans of the front/back of one of their catalogs along with the center pages. Check out the prices. If only...... (insert wistful sigh here)<br /><br /><img src="http://i121.photobucket.com/albums/o208/ocjack/ccc0001sm-1.jpg"><br /><br /><img src="http://i121.photobucket.com/albums/o208/ocjack/ccc0002sm-1.jpg">

10-07-2007, 05:12 PM
Posted By: <b>boxingcardman</b><p>I can't recall how, but around 1974 or 1975 I heard about the Card Collectors Company, Jr. Gelman's company. I found their address and sent for a catalog, my first ever foray into mail order (I was 9 or 10). The catalog finally came and it said that they had a warehouse fire and would be selling off their damaged cards cheaply. I didn't want those. The regular listings had the stars at various prices and assorted lots you could buy for a few cents a card. After much detailed study, I decided to buy some assorted lots of commons from old Topps issues (being a frugal lad, I wanted to be sure that my bucks were well spent on the most cards i could get). I sent in a few bucks via my parents for some assorted lots and a few weeks later an envelope arrived. <br /><br />To this day I remember a lot of what I got. I ordered mixed lots of 1950s and 1960s hockey and a 1963 Mays. Every card I got was dead centered crisp as though from vending but every one had smoke damage, sometimes very slight, but there, which greatly disapppointed me. What I realized later on was that they simply threw the superstars with minor damage into the mixed lots. I remember that for a few cents each I got a 1958 group with Glenn Hall, Norm Ullman, Alex Delvecchio, Harry Howell and a couple of others, a 1962 lot with multiple Bobby Hulls, Stan Mikita and a few others, and some 1960s lots with Jacques Plante, Terry Sawchuk, and a bunch of other HOFers. I wish I'd ordered a lot more from a lot more issues. <br /><br />Ah, the days of $1 superstars...sometimes I really miss it.

10-07-2007, 06:44 PM
Posted By: <b>Anthony</b><p>I used to order from them about '73-74 as well (Think I'm about a year or 3 older than Adam, although he looks much older <img src="/images/wink.gif" height=14 width=14> ). T206's were .50 as I recall, T205's a buck. I ordered 8 T206's on my first order, got a Bergen with a Uzit back, and flipped it for the unheard of amount of $10. <br />I've still got a catalog, could never afford the Delongs and '71 Topps GM's I always wanted.<br />

10-07-2007, 08:19 PM
Posted By: <b>boxingcardman</b><p>I fart in your general direction, you son of an animal food trough washer!<br /><br /><img src="/images/happy.gif" height=14 width=14>

10-08-2007, 03:12 PM
Posted By: <b>DaveL</b><p>I started collection in 1973. I had probably 90% of the Topps set of that year and the guy that got me started on collecting told me that if I write to Topps, they would sell me the missing cards. If I recall, he told me that I could use the checklists as an order form (I'm thirteen at the time). So I write to Topps, and they inform me that no, they don't sell individual cards like that, but they refer me to The Card Collector's Co. I wrote to them, and they send me a catalog. Through them, I was able to complete my first Topps set. <p><br /> So I figured I start working my way backwards through the topps sets. I ordered an assorted block of 200 cards for Topps '72 (this must be around 1974). They come back and most of them have a noticable black scorch on the top edge of them. Needless to say, I wasn't happy. I wrote them and, if I am not mistaken, they refunded my money. They didn't ask for the cards back. They explained about their fire, and had an offer for other assortments of (potentially) fire damaged cards at a deep discount. I did not take advantage of the situation. I do remember ordering some of their older cards. I got a T206 Hal Chase blue background in terrific condition for just a couple of bucks or so.

10-08-2007, 03:39 PM
Posted By: <b>Eric Brehm</b><p>I ordered from Card Collectors Co. back in the mid 1960's through early 1970's. I remember that I got complete 1967 and 1969 Topps sets, in factory fresh mint condition, for about $11 each. The company would mail each series of approx. 100 cards to me as it was issued by Topps during the season. I also ordered the 7th series "high number" cards for my 1966 Topps set from them, since these cards never appeared in our local grocery stores (Washington DC area).<br /><br />Also during that time I bought older cards from the 1950's and early 1960's that Card Collectors Co. had in their catalog (all in mint condition). I remember that initially they charged the same price for cards of star players such as Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax, etc. as they did for common cards! Eventually they caught on to this, however, realizing that the demand was higher for the star cards, and began charging a bit more for them, maybe a dollar or two.

10-08-2007, 04:14 PM
Posted By: <b>peter chao</b><p>Eric,<br /><br />Those were the days. I don't know of a single dealer that has those type of prices anymore. Are the dealer's making a fortune. They say no, of course. They have to pay a lot for the cards also.<br /><br />Peter C.

10-08-2007, 04:43 PM
Posted By: <b>Eric Brehm</b><p>Larry Fritsch is the only person I am aware of who had the foresight to sock away a warehouse full of mint cards from the 1960's and 1970's, back before the hobby really took off. I remember he was selling some of these off during the 1980's, at then-going rates. I'm sure he is a millionaire many times over as a result.<br /><br />By the same token, anyone who bought top quality cards during the 1980's and has hung on to them until now would also have experienced quite an appreciation in value. I remember in the mid-1980's buying Mickey Mantle cards in mint condition for less than $100; some of these are worth as much as $10,000 now (especially if they can get in a '9' holder).

10-08-2007, 05:35 PM
Posted By: <b>Anthony</b><p>I read that Fritsch had some deal with Topps where he'd get their overstock for basically the cost of shipping. Not sure if it was forsight or just cheap warehouse space that got him all those cases of cards.

10-08-2007, 07:08 PM
Posted By: <b>boxingcardman</b><p>prewar, postwar and modern collecting bought at retail at the time. Anyone who got into prewar more than 10 years ago has done very, very well. Anyone who got into postwar has done squat unless it has been at the 9-10 level. And those with modern stuff over that time are for the most part losing their over-financed homes in foreclosure.

10-09-2007, 07:59 AM
Posted By: <b>AL</b><p>Eric--my experience was similar to yours. I bought cards by the pack starting in 57 but in 63 started buying the sets from the Card Collector's Company and receiving them in series as they were issued. Getting those packages was something to look forward to all summer.<br><br>I also have one of the Catalogs, I think from 64, which offers all the 52 high number cards for $ 90. Great prices on T 206 and other tobacco cards as well

10-09-2007, 01:56 PM
Posted By: <b>Eric Brehm</b><p>AL -- yes I looked forward to receiving those packages containing each new series of cards too. It was so exciting to see what players you would get, what cards of your favorite players looked like in the new issue, etc. As I remember you would get the new series cards in the mail before they arrived in the stores.<br /><br />The cards always started out in Mint condition, but in my case at least, they didn't stay that way. The ones of mine that have survived are now mostly VG-EX because of all the handling they were subjected too. The proverbial card #1 and the last card in the set always took the biggest hits.<br /><br />It is funny to think how cheap the cards were back then, compared to what they are worth now, but getting them all by buying gum packs at the store (and trading for the ones I didn't get), or ordering them through Card Collectors Co., set me back by at least $10, which was a pretty big investment for a kid back in 1966 making $5 a week during the summer mowing lawns.

10-10-2007, 01:05 AM
Posted By: <b>Troy Kirk</b><p>I first ordered cards from the Card Collectors company when I was a kid in the late 1960s. I probably got their name from the back of Boys Life magazine. I remember going through my Topps checklists and trying to pick out Detroit Tiger players. I remember getting my order back and noticing that some of the 1969 cards I got had little red dots all over the player faces. I remember Dick Radatz in particular had the red dots on his face. I don't know if I still have that card or not, but I probably do somewhere. <br /><br />In the mid 1970s I opened a book and out dropped a credit slip from the Card Collectors Company from 1968. It was for less than a dollar, something like 86 cents. I put together an order for all the 1967 high numbers I was missing, which was most of the series and sent in the credit slip and another couple of dollars. I think they were only about 4 or 5 cents each back then. When I got back the cards, they smelled smoky and they were slightly curled from top to bottom. There was a note that they had had a fire in their warehouse and that's why the smoky smell. Because of the smoky smell, they gave them to me for half price. They said I could send them back if I didn't like them. Instead, I sold them at cost to a friend who also needed the high numbers. He used an iron to flatten out the cards and he told me that worked fine. He probably had his mother do it. Then I sent in another order for the same cards but I said I didn't want smoky cards. They sent back all the high numbers I wanted in perfect condition, and not smoky. Their warehouse fire apparently didn't affect all of their stock, but they were trying to get rid of the smoky cards first, I guess. My high number 1967s are in a lot better condition than my lower numbers because I bought them from the Card Collectors Company and never played with them like I had with my lower numbers. But I have probably about 5 or 10 high numbers that are in pretty bad shape. Those are the ones that I already had before placing my order, so I foolishly didn't buy replacement cards for them. It would have probably cost me an extra 25 cents or so to get all of the cards in the series instead of just the ones I was missing. I guess those are the decisions you make when you are a kid.<br />

10-10-2007, 02:32 PM
Posted By: <b>peter chao</b><p>Troy,<br /><br />That's a great story and that's what makes collecting fun. <img src="/images/happy.gif" height=14 width=14><br /><br />Peter C.

10-10-2007, 08:25 PM
Posted By: <b>David Davis</b><p>I remember Richard Gelman had an auction in SCD in the early 80's. My brothers and I won unopened packs of 67 Pirate Stickers, 73 Action Emblems, 74 Gum (Tom Seaver), and a 74 Gibson Pinup. We of course opened the Pirates pack and were rewarded with Clemente, Clemente for Mayor and Willie Stargell. Easily the best pack of cards we ever opened. But of course, all of them are long gone.

11-28-2007, 02:01 PM
Posted By: <b>MacDisciple</b><p>In 1972 I was 10 years old and sent a letter to Topps Chewing Gum. I enclosed a nickel and asked if they could sell me a Tom Seaver card because mine was wearing out. In return I received a letter from Sy Berger (I think), two cards of Tom Seaver, my nickel, and the address for Card Collector's Company, but I don't think I ordered anything until 1974 or 1975.<br /><br />Mostly, I used to send no more than $5.00 each time for probably up to 20 cards. I would order common numbers from different years without having any idea who they were, from Bowman to Topps, 1950s to the present issue. I just liked getting examples of all the different issues, but preferred certain years as well. When I figured out that Topps assigned the better players to card numbers ending in zero, I ended up getting some pretty good players. My orders would be something like: 1964 Topps #13, 20, 180; 1968 Topps #250, 280. I had no idea what I would get until I opened the package. Orders would take 7 to 10 days it seemed.<br /><br />When I got a little bolder, I bought a 1967 Seaver rookie in mint condition. It couldn't have cost more than $2.00, I am thinking it was 25-cents. I also remember buying a lot of 500 mint 1967 Topps assorted which included a good number of high numbers, and a lot of 200 assorted 1969 Topps which included two Nolan Ryan cards. Both lots could not have been more than $10.00. My biggest purchase was probably a T205 Zack Wheat. I don't remember what it cost.<br /><br />I do remember something about a warehouse fire and that cards with smoke damage were discounted. Around 1975 I started attending a bi-annual card shows in NY city usually at the Roosevelt Hotel. Mostly I stuck to buying star cards of the Mets, Yankeees, and Cincinatti Reds. Years later, they turned out to be a great investment. <br /><br />During the early 1980s, Card Collector's Company was sold to a dealer in NYC - I don't know the name. I visited the small storefront in NYC's Greenwich Village area on a couple of occassions in 1983/1984. I was really disappointed by their inventory and started to get suspicious that the owner wasn't Richard Gelman, though I never asked. Also, at the same time, CCC was running ads on the inside front cover of SCD. Their inventory was largely reprints and the famous Fun Food buttons, and there was something else I didn't like about them...they didn't seem honest.<br /><br />It was great to see the scan of the Card Collectors Company catalog. It brought back some sweet memories. Thx.<br />

11-28-2007, 03:45 PM
Posted By: <b>Paul S</b><p>Mac - Kid's minds must think alike. I sent my own letter to Topps in 1970. However, I received no cards in return, but I did get a letter from Melvin Poreta, Dir. of PR, who also directed me toward the Card Collectors Co. I still have the letter, and also an assortment of card literature from CCC. I still have a .30 cent credit slip with them! Think it's too late to redeem it? No Seaver for that amount for me, I'm sure.<br /><br />edited to add: I went to some cards shows in NYC too, in the 80's. Wasn't there one on the east side, I think in an Armenian Church?

11-28-2007, 05:35 PM
Posted By: <b>barrysloate</b><p>Paul- the first card show I ever went to was at the Armenian Church, in the fall of 1982. It was on Second Avenue around 37th Street. I went to quite a few there and I remember it was a pretty big event.<br /><br />In those days dealers would have Pete Rose rookies on their tables with "not for sale" signs. I assumed it was some great rarity if nobody was willing to sell it. I think at the time the price was skyrocketing, so they were all holding out.

11-28-2007, 06:00 PM
Posted By: <b>Rich Klein</b><p>Was the operator for CCC (along with Don Lepore) for most of the 1980's and early 1990's. However, as late as 1984 Richard Gelman was still the owner of CCC but he was an extremely private man. He did work the CCC table at the 1984 Parsipanny National though.<br /><br />The CCC inventory was still huge, but not at their store by the mid 1980's.<br /><br />Regards<br />Rich

11-28-2007, 06:10 PM
Posted By: <b>Paul S</b><p>Barry - that's the place -- quite a nice place, too. I just went to, I think, only one show there. I was in a non-purchasing phase at that point in time and just checking out the landscape, as it were.<br /><br />Around that same period ('82), maybe one or two years afterward, I remember reading an article in the Times about how prices were really on the rise. The story centered around the whopping price of the Topps '52 Mantle. I went into a card shop on 6th Ave in the Village and the place was packed. No '52s, but the owner had all these late '60s Mantles' -- they were all $100 no matter which year you wanted, and not one customer even asked about condition, they just had to have one. They were handed back and forth, no toploader, no penny sleeve, nuthin'! And they were selling fast.

11-29-2007, 11:23 AM
Posted By: <b>barrysloate</b><p>Rich- has anyone heard from Don Lepore or has he simply fallen off the face of the earth? Don and I worked together every day cataloguing the Halper collection, and we really built up a nice friendship. But he had some demons and I don't know anyone who has heard from him in a long time. I hope he is okay.

11-29-2007, 04:17 PM
Posted By: <b>MacDisciple</b><p>Don Lepore...that name rings a bell. Perhaps he is the one I was thinking purchased Card Collectors' Company. Someone mentioned a store on 6th street. That may have been the storefront I visited - although it wasn't the same one that I visited in 1983/84 when CCC first opened up a storefront. It was really tiny. In the late 1980s I used to visit a card shop a few blocks south of Washington Square Park - maybe that is the one on 6th? I left the NYC area back in 1994 and the layout of lower Manhatten is very sketchy in my brain. <br /><br />Is there a thread on Renatta Galasso? What about SSPC? I've got 4 issues of Collector's Quarterly in a box. Keith Olberman was the editor while at Ithaca College, and I believe behind the SSPC sets in 1975/76 in some capacity.<br /><br />I'll look around for other threads, I happened to Google Card Collectors Co. and ended up hre. I didn't know there were forums for card talk, etc.<br /><br />Joe Pasternack...huh, that name rings a bell too.

11-29-2007, 08:38 PM
Posted By: <b>Rich Klein</b><p> About the time he was working on the Halper catalog. He was pretty honest about his past and we had a nice 2 hour chat.<br /><br /> I heard he consulted for REA for a while but not sure about the past few years. Perhaps Rob knows as to his current whereabouts. I remember that because of his illness, that he had to be a little bit out of sight. If Rob knows and wants to email us privately -- we won't post -- but I'd be curious as well as to his health<br /><br />Rich

11-30-2007, 11:18 AM
Posted By: <b>barrysloate</b><p>The last time I asked Rob he hadn't heard from Don in a long time. I always fear the worst.

Rich Klein
09-08-2013, 08:43 PM
and while researching (Googling) this thread came up. I'm happy to say I saw Donny at the National last month.

09-21-2013, 11:53 PM
Rich, you say you met Don at the National. I haven't seen him since he was working with Barry at the Halper Auction. What is he doing now?

Don invited me to the Card Collectors Co. in Franklin Square, NY to see their operation. I only remember seeing women sitting at tables in front of stacks of cards filling orders. Not too long after that time they had the fire. After the fire Don had a second floor office in a building on Hempstead Turnpike in Franklin Square to conduct business.

Rich Klein
09-24-2013, 09:32 AM
Honestly, I was so happy to see Donny erect I did not ask but we had a nice hug and a bunch of smiles. He was hanging out at Leland's booth so I'll ask Josh if he knows what Donny is doing now.


10-02-2013, 12:06 AM
I too go back to the early 70's knowing Donnie. I just connected Don with Herb Ross his old partner. They had not talked for over 20 years. I had a chance online encounter with Herb. Asked if he was THAT Herb Ross who used to be with Don. He said he was.

I had "talked" to Don through eay and gave Herb Don's ebay handle. Don just visited Herb in CA. recently

You can contact Don through ebay. His handle is donlepore714


02-27-2018, 04:39 AM
posted by: <b>anthony</b><p>i read that fritsch had some deal with topps where he'd get their overstock for basically the cost of shipping. Not sure if it was forsight or just cheap warehouse space that got him all those cases of cards.

renata galasso used to get all of topps cards that were leftover and alot more....they had literally stores and basements full of cards from the mid 60's all the way up till 1988, in 1988.

They had hundreds if not thousands of - each - key card in nr mt-mint condition.

I know because i worked there in the 1980's.

They had file drawers full of - each - key rookie.

1000 garvey, 1000 yount, 1000 brett, etc....was really amazing !!!!

Even then, i was like, wowwwwww.....

I remember holding handfuls of all of those rookies back in 1985.

Was unreal....

They were "perfect"....every one of them.

Probably where all the 9's and 10's came from in psa holders today.

02-27-2018, 11:46 PM
Wonder whatever happened to her? Her ads always caught my eye as a kid and I used to order from her each year. I know it was probably less mysterious, but she just seemed to disappear from the card world over night.

02-28-2018, 10:05 AM
Curt-- there is a write up about her on Wikipedia that seems to indicates she is alive at 62 but exited the baseball card market in the 90s. The article is fairly sketchy though.

Rich Klein
03-03-2018, 09:29 AM
IIRC Renata was married to Bill Hongach and I think she left the business when they were no longer together and then the industry changed as well.