It’s a great feeling when you complete something. Especially when it’s a project that you’ve worked on for several years. This is something that happened to me this past February.
In the Fall of 2016, I decided to build a couple of sets from my early collecting days. I wanted to store these sets in a binder, so I could page through the set and reminisce with the cards of my childhood. I began with a couple of sets that had a lot of meaning to me, 1988 and 1989 Topps. These two sets were the ones that introduced me to the Hobby and started it all. Both of these sets were easy to build, strictly through wax boxes. There is a lot of unopened product, at available for very reasonable prices. After opening a couple of wax and cello boxes for each set, I completed both in a few weeks.
For my next set, I wanted more of a challenge. I wanted to pick a set that was special to me. I decided to go after my birth year set, 1980 Topps. From the start I knew this set build would be very different. The unopened product from this set is a lot more scarce and tends to be expensive. I had some cards in my collection already, but was basically starting fresh. The biggest card in 1980 Topps is the rookie card of HOFer Rickey Henderson. I already had a Beckett graded version of this card, but for this set build, I wanted to pick up another.
Aside from the Henderson RC, 1980 Topps isn’t very popular with collectors. Most of the complaints revolve around the design of the cards. Although, I did not share those views. The card features a single photo of each player, with a facsimile autograph towards the bottom of the card. There are 2 information banners on the card that are color coordinated with the teams; one stating the player’s position at the top and a second showing the team name at the bottom. The back of the card features a blue background with white trim and black text.
Since I was starting this set build from scratch, I had to decide what condition I wanted the set to be in. I knew that cards would be harder to find, so mint was out of the question. I decided that I wanted all of the cards to at least be in Excellent condition; no creases or major dings. I wanted a set that had good eye appeal. I purchased a couple of cello packs on eBay and already had a couple of wax packs in my pack collection. I opened these and hit a few HOFers. These cards were crisp and in mint condition. They were a nice start to my set. Over the winter I picked up several small count lots here and there on eBay; Team checklists, rookie cards and series checklists. If I acquired dupes, always checked to see if I could upgrade cards that were in lower condition. Months would go by and not much work would be done on the set. However, in Summer 2017, my LCS handed me a treasure chest. He acquired a 500 count vending box of 1980 Topps baseball cards and sold it to me at a great price. Mostly full of commons, these cards were in really good condition. I do not think they were handled that much since 1980. More than half of the box were set needs and the rest were used to upgrade a lot of cards that I already had. Then at a card show in November, I made another large dent in my set needs. Between the purchases at the show and some trades made on Twitter, I was within 20 cards of completion of the set.
This would bring me to the spring card show this past February. I picked up the remaining 7 cards that I needed and completed a project that I began in October 2016. The final card that I put in the binder was card #290 Steve Garvey. When I completed this set, I felt great. This was the oldest set that I’ve built and proved to be the most challenging. I enjoyed the process of acquiring the cards that I needed and always looking for set upgrades. This set was loaded with HOF veterans and young stars early in their careers. I obviously knew those guys going in, but there were a ton of players that I wasn’t familiar with. It was fun learning about players of that era. This set build was a fun experience. For my next challenge, I want to try and build a set from the 70s.