1990 Topps Cello Box break

23 08 2008

1990 Topps was the last Topps baseball set I started to build before leaving the hobby until 2007. I dabbled in a few sets here and there when I’d find cheap wax boxes at various stores, but nothing was serious, and these cards ended up sitting in boxes until I finally bought a home.

Finishing off the 1990 Topps set for some reason has become a big deal to me, and I was originally going to use the debacle that has become Zeroing In (more to come on that one later) to complete it quickly. Everyone has a box of these cards lying around somewhere, it seems, and I thought I could knock it out in no time.

But when I opened the box of these colorful cardboard captives to catalog and confirm what was still missing, I found they had somehow been tortured. There were two marks each an inch long on the side of about half the cards. It’s as if someone had attempted to pry them open for a hidden treasure inside, but they got distracted before they could really dig in. I’m not sure how this happened or what could have caused it, and none of my other sets have this kind of damage to them. It was a real blow to my set building attempt.

So I found a cheap cello box online and bundled it with some other boxes for free shipping, and had the thing sent my way.

First the results. It’s a 24 pack box with 31 cards a pack:
476 486 cards for the set
165 213 duplicates including 19 33 triples
42 damaged cards
24 sticks of 18 year old gum

If you add those numbers up and do some other math, I seem to be 61 cards off. I’ll have to look into this, and more than likely I misplaced a couple packs of cards somewhere and miscounted by one somewhere else.  (Found the packs that were misplaced.  Numbers updated)

Things I learned from this break:

  • My wife hates these cards. She was very glad to reach the end of this break.
  • Opening packs with no inserts is a very different expereience nowadays. The pack becomes all about the players inside (look, former Reds great Rolando Roomes… awesome!) that give it fun and value, and not a piece of someone’s pants of a shiny refractor card. Can you imagine these cards all refractored up or chromed, though? Wow.
  • Checklists listed by teams is a dumb idea. I hope Topps realized this and stopped doing it in 1991.
  • I had forgotten about the #1 Draft Pick subset. Check out these names I pulled: Roger Salked, Jeff Jackson, Tyler Houston, Paul Coleman, Jeff Juden, and Earl Cunningham. The 1989 first round is riddled with nevermades (including Coleman, Cunningham, and Jackson) and backup players. Frank Thomas is also part of this group, though, and I pulled 2 of him. Both had his name on it.
  • Collation was bad back in 1990, unless this was a repacked box, which I guess is possible. Either way, I foolishly thought I’d get around 700 cards from the set. Instead, I’m at 476, pending the discovery of the missing packs.
  • Finally, if you are getting a box like this, expect some damaged cards. Travel and wear and tear will cause some corner dings on even the best cared for boxes. Even more surprising, in some of the packs the pressure of the gum on the card was so great that it had imprinted itself in the card itself. So I can show you exactly where the gum was in the pack, even after I’ve chewed thrown it all up away.

A long post for such a maligned set. I’ll be merging these results with the set I had started already and finally update the wantlist. And jv, if you’re interested, I’ve got some cards to trade.




2 responses

24 08 2008

Awesome! I was thinking the whole time while reading this that I was going to post the links to my 1990 Topps set building series. I wasn’t sure if you knew about it. Thanks for the “Shout Out”!

The thing that I’ve found with ALL of the 90’s stuff is that it’s really more fun to me to keep the more damaged cards. The set will NEVER be worth anything again and those cards were all damaged by the kid jv. It’s more nostalgic. For instance, I gave my son the “new” cards from the box we busted when we had duplicates and I kept the “old” tattered stuff…

My all time favorite 90’s Topps card will forever be the Edgar Martinez card that had a huge tear in the side in our box bust. The memory of us pulling that card is more important than the card itself. I wouldn’t trade it for 100 gem mint 10 copies of the same card.

Anywho, I’ve gotta go back and invest some time in figuring our what we still need for our sets. I’ll get back to you on the trades…

Thanks again for the mention!

27 08 2008
James B. Anama

Hate to break it to you (no pun intended), but Topps continued the “tradition” of doing their checklists by team in 1991 AND 1992. They went back to the traditional numerical checklist in 1993, when they re-introduced the concept of selling their cards by series.


JayBee Anama

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