Have you ever been on the fence as to whether you should buy a complete set or build it yourself? For sets from the 1980s and 1990s, it’s a no-brainer–buying a complete set will save you time and money.
But with older cards, it is not that simple. Complete sets of older cards are harder to find–and when you do find them, the dealer usually wants a premium because of the effort he has (supposedly) saved you.
Over the past few years, I’ve been causally picking away at the 1972-73 O-Pee-Chee Hockey set, accumulating 65 of the 340 cards. Most cost me $1, some a few more, but overall I did not invest much time or money.
In other words, I could still go either way. Or so I thought.
At the card show on March 16-18, an interesting opportunity presented itself. A dealer had a near-complete set of 1972-73 O-Pee-Chee cards–all near-mint or better. Really a top-notch set.
The drawback? All the big guns were missing. The dealer had acquired a collection, but the original owner put all the best cards in screw-down holders, and they were not included in the collection when the dealer bought it.
So, it was a near-complete set lacking Bobby Orr (both cards), Ken Dryden (both cards), Bobby Clarke, Guy Lafleur, Jacques Plante and all the other guys in the $40-and-up price range. (He did have the Bobby Hull WHA card, though).
Keep in mind that the Beckett value for this set is between $900 to $1,500.
What did you think the dealer wanted?
I probably would not find a set this close to complete or in this perfect of condition ever again.
But so what? All the best cards (except Hull) were missing. I’d still have to hunt down some cards–and they were the expensive ones.
The dealer wanted $1,000 for the near-complete set. Even if I talked him down to $800, I’d be paying a lot of money for a set that would still require lots of money to complete.
At that point, I decided that I would try and build this set myself.