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  #1  
Old 01-19-2022, 10:32 AM
53toppscollector's Avatar
53toppscollector 53toppscollector is offline
James
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Default Chronicling my T206 adventure

*warning....this is going to be too long and will probably interest no one, but I am posting it anyway*

I no longer have a blog or website, so this is really the only place where I feel like I could write about and try to chronicle my T206 adventure. This will likely be a long post, subsequent updates will be shorter, but really this is just a place for me to explain my process, make notes on my journey, talk about how the plan has changed over time, etc. It may not be interesting to anyone but me, which is okay, I just feel like typing it out will help keep things sorted in my head, and will also help me to stay motivated to continue on what is (I think) a fairly ambitious project.

Last summer, I decided to basically abandon all of my other collecting interests and focus on T206. Previously, I had assembled a near complete set of graded 1953 Topps (hence, my username), and I took about 6 months to sell off that entire set, ending up with a small profit based on where I purchased the cards. About 100 of the 274 cards were items I purchased raw and got graded myself at PSA. It was a fun process, but one that I ultimately fell out of love with. When I got down to about 10 cards left, they included 3 of the big 4 (I had the Paige in a PSA 5.5), and I just wondered if I was ready to spend $6000 on a lower grade Mantle, and another $4k for a passable Robinson and Mays.

Ultimately though, what really caused me to fall out of love with my 1953 set, was that the set was graded, the cards were just in a big BCW cardboard box, and I basically never looked at them. I spent many more hours looking at my Excel spreadsheet, seeing what I paid for each card and when, and what I still needed to collect. I had the full checklist basically memorized, but I very rarely ever just sat down and looked through my big cardboard box of graded slabs.

As I finished selling through my 1953 set, I knew that I wanted to branch out into older pre-war cards, and I knew I wanted to collect T206. In what I think is not too uncommon, I just kind of dove in. I bought 3 graded T206 cards. My first ever purchase was a Krause Portrait American Beauty, and I just absolutely loved it. But as I sat at my desk and looked at my 3 graded cards, I realized I was about to go down the same path as I did with the 1953 Topps set. I was going to accumulate a bunch of slabs that would go in a cardboard box, and this was going to be a much more costly endeavor.

At that point, I decided to pivot to what is now my T206 project. I decided that instead of trying to collect a 520 set, or something close to it, I would instead just collect all of the portraits. I remember going to Luke's T206 site and seeing his banner at the top, with a collage of a bunch of different poses, and really marveling at how the portraits looked so stunning all grouped together. The different color backgrounds really brought the portraits to life. One thing I also sort of realized is that the portraits are obviously much more "life like" and a much closer representation to what the player actually looked like. If you compare, say, the Cy Young portrait with his action shots, the action shots almost just look like generic stock players. Some of them, it is impossible to really even distinguish who the player is. There are some cool things about the action shots, notably the various sunset backgrounds, and the few horizontals. But overall, I was just much more drawn to the portraits, and as I did more research, I realized that if I collected just portraits, I'd end up collecting all the big names in the set anyway, as Cobb, Matty, WaJo, Cy, Tinker, Chance, etc all had portraits.

In version 1.0 of this plan, I was going to try and truly collect a portrait master set, getting every front/back combo with the exception of Magie, Plank and Wagner. However, I obviously realized that trying to find the one or two known copies of some of the Drum, Lenox, Uzit, etc would be next to impossible, and unlike some folks here, I don't have an unlimited budget. So I had to scale things back a bit, but I believe I settled on what is a "realistic" lifetime collecting goal for T206: to collect all of the Piedmont/SweetCap + off backs (everything except Hindu, Broad Leaf, Carolina Brights, Drum, Lenox, Uzit) for all of the portraits, with the exception of Wagner and possibly Plank. I may be able to afford the Plank at some point, maybe.

Not having to track down the one or two Drums or Carolina Brights makes this task somewhat achievable, and there are still a bunch of very tough (and very expensive) backs to track down, like some of the very scarce Old Mills or Sovereign 150s, the low pop Tolstoi's and American Beauty's, etc. Based on the checklists at T206 Resource, I think my magic number is 1,383. This excludes Wagner, Plank and Magie (for now). This number is subject to change, if theorized cards end up actually being confirmed in the course of me collecting.

The key to making this work, was to settle on a way for me to actually be able to see my cards, to look at my cards, and to stay connected to everything. As I noted above, I lost my desire to complete the 1953 Topps set because the cards were just stored away in a box and I never looked at them. To prevent that happening again, I spent weeks researching different types of binders. I ultimately settled on the Lighthouse binders with 15 pocket pages. I was initially kind of scared to put these very old cards into binders, but having now done this for 5 months, it was 100% the right decision. Knowing that I needed to collect almost 1,400 cards, the idea of buying PSA or SGC 4s and 5s quickly went out the window. I started to look for lower grade cards I could snap out (and I have become an expert at cracking open PSA and SGC cases) and put in the binder. I also embraced the idea of buying raw cards. I think it took a bit of time for me to feel comfortable buying raw, but I've since acquired 100+ raw examples, and I am confident all of them are authentic and just fine. The single most helpful addition, however, was a pair of stamp tongs, used to put cards in the sleeves. Using these tongs, I've had absolutely zero issue inserting a card into the pocket pages, or removing a card when needed. They have honestly been a lifesaver, and I can't imagine collecting cards in a binder without them.

So that brings me to the current day. Based on my tracking, I have collected 207 of the needed 1,383 cards. Here is a breakdown of what I have so far:



As I said, I used T206 Resource for almost all of my background and lists. They do not consider the Bridwell with Cap on their portrait list, but I included him, because I think it is a portrait, or close to it. Their portrait checklist also omits Davy Jones, who is clearly a portrait.

My plan is to use subsequent posts in this thread to show my "completed" back runs. Since I am omitting Brown Hindus from my project, that means I only need 2 cards for the Southern League portraits, and I have 2 of those complete now, but waiting for those cards to arrive in the mail. I will try to scan and upload when they come in.

The most important thing to me, is that I am truly enjoying this collecting project much more than any previous attempts, and I think the binder is a big reason. When a new card comes in the mail, I don't simply file it into a big cardboard box. I take my binder off the shelf, and slowly page through to find the appropriate slot in the binder for the card. I remove the placeholder piece of paper, I slowly slide the card into place, and then I continue to leaf through the binder and admire what I have already collected. I've already gotten more joy out of this collection in 4 months than I did in the 2+ years when I was working on the 1953 set.

So, if anyone actually read through this, thanks for your time. I will be adding more pictures later, and periodic (monthly maybe?) updates to my overall progress. Eventually, I will work out a way to make a video of my flipping through the binder, page by page, but that will have to wait until I have a way to film it properly, and until the binder is more heavily populated.
__________________
Progress tracker:

520 set: 254/520
Off back 520 set: 91/520
OMSL: 29/48
SC 150/649 OP: 5/34
SC 460/42 OP: 6/109

Last edited by 53toppscollector; 01-19-2022 at 10:33 AM.
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  #2  
Old 01-19-2022, 10:56 AM
skelly423 skelly423 is offline
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Thank you for sharing. I think you've touched on something I've recently experienced with my own collection, but had never been able to articulate. I've been fortunate to buy some really nice cards, but they sit in boxes or drawers and seldom see the light of day. I don't feel the strong connection I should feel to some very special pieces, and I lack the motivation to complete simple projects that I should really enjoy.

I've recently dabbled in some T206 commons, and found that I really enjoy being able to handle them without worrying about destroying thousands of dollars in value. They're visible, available, and I am interacting with them daily; I've been much happier with this than any set I've worked on in years.
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  #3  
Old 01-19-2022, 11:26 AM
stutor stutor is offline
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Great post! I really enjoyed reading through your thought process. I, too, collect exclusively t206. Most of my cards are slabbed so I understand the frustration of focusing on the spreadsheet more than the cards themselves. For this reason, I started a secondary binder project a few months back. I havenít made a ton of headway yet, but Iíve found that I genuinely enjoy flipping through the pages and enjoying the cards. Thank you for sharing and good luck with your project!!!!
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  #4  
Old 01-19-2022, 11:39 AM
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Is Mudville so bad?
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Very nice post and good luck on your journey. Flickr is a great way to scan, upload and view your entire collection and share it with others.
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Original circulation E98 Master set 120/120

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  #5  
Old 01-19-2022, 11:50 AM
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That is a great story about collecting and how that vision sometimes changes. I look forward to reading future updates to this post. Thanks for sharing!

Last edited by brianclat11; 01-19-2022 at 11:50 AM.
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  #6  
Old 01-19-2022, 11:54 AM
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Nice post James I enjoyed reading it. I'm guessing by your avatar that Bowerman is one of your favorites what are some of your other favorite portraits?
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  #7  
Old 01-19-2022, 12:04 PM
Cmvorce Cmvorce is offline
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Great post! I put my T206s (and my 50s Topps sets) in lighthouse binders too. I love them.
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  #8  
Old 01-19-2022, 12:16 PM
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53toppscollector 53toppscollector is offline
James
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Yeah I love the Bowerman image because of the yellowish green background, there aren't a ton of yellowish green background portraits, I really like that image.

A few of my other favs

Krause - Because he was my first.

Hal Chase Pink - The pink background is distinct, and he looks so innocent in his portrait pose

Doyle

Huggins - his portrait always reminds me of Alfred E Neuman for some reason, lol

Joss - Yellow background, and hes an all time great.

Lajoie - Yellow...I love the yellow

Lipe - Like his cap, a lot of the Southern League portraits are among my favs

Mattern - Like how the red on his uniform contrasts with the green background

O'Leary - I like the pose

Overall - The gradient orange background is lovely

Revelle - I love the background color

Ryan - the light blue background and his rosy cheeks

Street - The gradient green background is beautiful

Walsh - I like the blueish green background and his dark blue jersey pops nicely

Cy Young - A classic image
__________________
Progress tracker:

520 set: 254/520
Off back 520 set: 91/520
OMSL: 29/48
SC 150/649 OP: 5/34
SC 460/42 OP: 6/109

Last edited by 53toppscollector; 01-19-2022 at 12:17 PM.
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  #9  
Old 01-19-2022, 12:25 PM
skelly423 skelly423 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 53toppscollector View Post
Yeah I love the Bowerman image because of the yellowish green background, there aren't a ton of yellowish green background portraits, I really like that image.
I'm sure it's already on your radar, but you owe it to yourself to grab a Bill Donovan portrait for the same reason. It's just electric in person
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  #10  
Old 01-19-2022, 12:30 PM
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Dead-Ball-Hitter Dead-Ball-Hitter is offline
J@E RIT0
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Default Same here.....

I do the same thing - lock all the valuable cards in a large sturdy fire safe or safety deposit box, never look at them, and get bored. Similarly, I spend most of my time in an Excel spreadsheet or Access database crunching numbers like: current value vs. price paid, length of ownership vs. change in value, creating "hot & cold" lists based on price fluctuation, etc, etc. Its the geeky thing to do, but is enjoyable.

One thing that has helped is I always take clear pictures of each item, so I do spend some time reviewing the photo's and smiling!
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Thanks for your thoughts, Joe.

Love the late 1800ís Boston Beaneaters and the early Boston Red Sox (1903-1918)!

Also collecting any and all basketball memorabilia.
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  #11  
Old 01-19-2022, 12:40 PM
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53toppscollector 53toppscollector is offline
James
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skelly423 View Post
I'm sure it's already on your radar, but you owe it to yourself to grab a Bill Donovan portrait for the same reason. It's just electric in person
Yep. I was pretty disappointed losing out on the Donovan Sovereign 150 over the weekend. It was at like $80 with 10 seconds left, I bid, and then it boomed to almost $400. Really wanted that one. I have 2 nice SweetCaps so far, including the tougher 350/25.
__________________
Progress tracker:

520 set: 254/520
Off back 520 set: 91/520
OMSL: 29/48
SC 150/649 OP: 5/34
SC 460/42 OP: 6/109
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  #12  
Old 01-20-2022, 04:58 PM
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53toppscollector 53toppscollector is offline
James
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(edited)
__________________
Progress tracker:

520 set: 254/520
Off back 520 set: 91/520
OMSL: 29/48
SC 150/649 OP: 5/34
SC 460/42 OP: 6/109

Last edited by 53toppscollector; 08-05-2022 at 08:20 AM.
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  #13  
Old 08-05-2022, 08:41 AM
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53toppscollector 53toppscollector is offline
James
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I thought it would be interesting to bring this thread back almost 8 months after starting it, as my collecting interest in the T206 set has changed quite a bit. When I started this thread, I outlined my plan to collect all of the T206 portraits in as many backs as I could find.

At some point a few months after I started this thread, I was browsing through ebay listings and I think it was the Evers Yellow Sky card just hit my eye differently, and I thought.....its kind of silly to not try and actually put together a 520 set. Collecting 1300 portrait front/back combos was an insanely tall order, what is stopping me from just collecting a 520 set and then expanding on it after that? I went through a few different ideas in my head, trying to figure out how to approach things and what made the most sense.

I ultimately reconfigured my collecting approach to have 1 main T206 project, and within that project, 4 smaller projects (for now)

My main goal now is to put together a 520 set. Within that goal, I want to have each of the 520 subjects containing a non Piedmont/SweetCap back. I'm still avoiding the Carolina Brights/Drum/Broadleaf/Lenox/Uzit/Hindu backs because they are just so cost prohibitive right now, but in my research I've obviously come to realize that I can still add off backs that have 10 or fewer graded copies between PSA/SGC like American Beauty, Old Mill and Sovereign to add rarity to my set without needing to spend $10,000 on a Drum back. So far, I have 255/520, and I have 91/520 with an off back. Making solid progress, despite the big increases in raw, low grade commons in the last year. With this approach, I also give myself plenty of time to upgrade each card. For example, I have Abbott in a Sovereign 350 back. That back is the most plentiful of his non-ultra rare backs. It is still an off back and suits me for now, but eventually, if I can add swap out the Sov350 back for an American Beauty back or an EPDG, I will definitely do it. Incremental upgrades will be possible forever for the 520 set.

My 2nd minor goal is to assemble the full set of 48 Southern Leaguers with OMSL backs. I have 29/48, so I am making great progress there, and I already have a bunch of the really tough ones in Persons, Ryan, Carlos Smith, and Bill Hart.

Goals 3 and 4 are related: I am assembling the 34 card SweetCap 150/649 OP and 109 card SweetCap 350/460 Factory 42 OP subsets. I have a ways to go on both of those, but I really love the overprints and think they look really cool in the binder.

I have reorganized and divided up my T206 binder (Lighthouse binders really are wonderful), to put the 74 Hall of Famers first, then the 48 Southern Leaguers, then the two OP subsets, and then the remaining cards for the 520 in alphabetical order.

The most important thing, in all of this, is that I love taking my binder off the shelf and paging through it, I love getting in a new card and putting it in the binder, and I love spending hours looking through my spreadsheet, going through pages of ebay listings, and refreshing the BST forum here looking for deals. Having a main goal (getting to 520) and having a bunch of smaller related projects keeps this interesting to me. And knowing that I can change my mind at some point, as I've already done multiple times, and still find new ways to enjoy this set is what makes it so much fun for me.

I'll check back 8 months from now and either be close to 520, or I will have changed my entire project again. Either way, I know that I will be having a blast collecting this set in some shape or form.
__________________
Progress tracker:

520 set: 254/520
Off back 520 set: 91/520
OMSL: 29/48
SC 150/649 OP: 5/34
SC 460/42 OP: 6/109
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  #14  
Old 08-05-2022, 09:44 AM
Zach Wheat Zach Wheat is offline
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Interesting keep us posted on your progress.
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