What a strange time we are living in. During these past couple of months, I’ve added new terms to my vocabulary like social distancing, Zoom Happy Hour and flattening the curve. Like many others, I’ve been working remotely from home and practicing social distancing for weeks. Both my county and state has been battling the spread of global pandemic Coronavirus. My family has kept to ourselves. Besides picking up our weekly curbside grocery order or odd trip to the Post Office after hours, we haven’t gone anywhere in weeks. We haven’t had any in-person social interactions. Instead, we’ve become very skilled at the Zoom Happy Hours. I am very grateful to live in a quiet neighborhood and have a beach on the shores of Lake Erie that is only 5 minutes from my house. So we are able to get some exercise and fresh air daily. However, it is easy to get overwhelmed when watching TV or reading articles. There’s only so much information and new conferences that you can take before you’re in a dark place. Everyone needs a release or distraction, so I’ve decided to focus on cards. I try to have a Cardboard Therapy session everyday. This helps to clear my head and think about a simpler time during my childhood.
With more quiet time, I thought this would be a great time to finally start my 1974 Topps set build. Going in, I knew that this vintage set build would be the most ambitious to date. It’s easily the oldest set that I will have attempted to complete and could only be done through already opened product. Previous sets, I’ve always used unopened packs or boxes, then filled in with singles. I feel that it adds more personal experience to the set builds. While at the 2018 National in Cleveland, I wanted to pick a vintage set to work on. I ultimately chose the 1974 Topps set due to its design. This is also the 1st Topps set that was released as a whole set, so it should be a bit easier to build. Prior years, Topps sets were released as different series. Later series are more rare and therefore more difficult to put together.
There was something about the design of ’74 Topps that drew me to the set. The cards are printed on grey card stock and the front of the card uses a solid white border around the entire card. Inside that is a thin colored border and banner type boxes at the top and bottom of the photo that lists the city and team name. These are color specific for each team. The player’s name and position is also stated. The set has a mix of staged poses and a few action shots. Some of the action shots are memorable due to the wide angles used and distorted backgrounds that appeared on the cards. The card backs use avocado green as the dominant color, with black as the accent. The card backs are loaded with information. Besides the player’s bio, his full stats are printed, there’s a couple of interesting bits and a cartoon.
It’s now July, the area is calming down and things are starting to open up. My family still isn’t doing a lot, but we are outside as much as possible. I am well into this set. I knew from the beginning that this vintage set build would be different from previous sets. In order to keep cost down, I would need to be more liberal with the condition of the cards that I collate. I want a nice looking set, ideally with all of the cards VG/EX. I’d rather have cards with soft corners or OC, then ones with creases. The toughest cards would be Dave Winfield rc and the Washington Ntl League cards. Starting with the 2018 NSCC in Cleveland and then again the 2019 NSCC in Chicago, I was able to find dealers that sold vintage cards at great prices in bulk. I was able acquire quite a few stacks of commons and semi stars without having a checklist to work off. When I started to binder the set this past spring, I had a good start. After the initial upload on Trading card Data Base, I was around 45% complete. I was able to knock more of the set off from my LCS in Buffalo, Bases Loaded. During the early weeks of the pandemic when businesses were closed, Jeff made home deliveries. I added two 100 ct snap cases of cards for the set. At the time of writing this post and completing a couple of trades, I am 72% complete. I have 480/660 cards and 483/678 with the short print errors included.
When picking up stacks, I’m not too concerned with dupes. I’m constantly upgrading cards that are already paged. Also, the 1974 Topps set is perfect for autographs. I have used a lot of dupes for ttm requests. With the white borders and photos that are used, autographs really pop on these cards. This has been a fun set to build. I have a bunch of HOF and star cards, but still need to add more. I’m constantly searching eBay for car that have nice eye appeal, but at a great price. I know that this will be a long term build. Definitely a marathon, not a sprint. Happy collecting!