Sometimes, you have to look at what you’re not looking for.
When I went to the Sport Card Expo in Toronto back in November, one of the things I wanted to buy was an Auston Matthews Young Guns rookie card. In fact, there were a few different rookie cards of current stars that I was looking for.
The problem was, they were all more than I wanted to pay. Much of the new stuff was graded. And even ungraded copies of cards that I wanted were in the neighborhood of $500 or more.
That’s when I reminded myself of one of my long-standing card collecting strategies: know when to pivot your collecting focus, because you won’t know what you might find.
For example, I stumbled upon a set of 1961-62 Shirriff Hockey coins, complete and in fantastic shape. I wasn’t necessarily looking for this set at the Expo – it found me – but it was always on my mind as something cool that I wanted to have one day. And it cost me way less than a Matthews Young Guns card.
I spent a lot of time also looking for 1963-64 Parkhurst Hockey cards to finish my set, and found quite a few of them. Now, I’m only seven cards away from competing that 99-card set.
However, when I asked one dealer if he had any 1963-64 Parkhurst Hockey, he told me that he had a bunch of 1953-54 Parkhurst Hockey cards – a set I wasn’t necessarily trying to build. He insisted I take a look and promised to cut me a great price.
I ended up buying 13 different ’53-54 Parkies from him for $110 CDN – that’s less than $9 each for cards that are 70 years old! Some of the cards have creases, but most were in fantastic shape. (Heck, I have a few creases and I’m not even 50 yet!) Included in the lot were cards of Hall of Famers Milt Schmidt, Woody Dumart, Ted Kennedy, and Bill Mosienko.
Needless to say, I did not feel like I missed out because I did not buy recent cards of current players.
The takeaway here is that if the new stuff is too expensive for your taste, pivot your collecting focus and look elsewhere. You will usually find something you like and will never run out of things to collect.
Note: This article is an updated version of an editorial that originally appeared in Volume 1 – Issue 16 of the Puck Junk Newsletter. For stories like these, plus news and updates about hockey cards and collectibles, subscribe to the newsletter here.
Follow Sal Barry on X/Twitter @PuckJunk. ■