How on earth is this a PSA 6?

Glenn Hall - 1957-58 Topps

Looks pretty good, eh?

I have very little use for graded cards in principle, but I am a big fan of the PSA 6.

A good PSA 6 card will still look like it just came out of a pack, but the centering is off just a little too much to earn a 7.  Not being a centering purist, I’m happy to get a 6 for far less than the cost of a 7 or (shudder) 8, crack it out of its case and put it in my set.

1958-59 Topps is yet another set that I’m slowly poking away at, and Glenn Hall is a card that has been avoiding me.

I found this card online and it seemed to fit the bill. The corners were sharp, the surface showed minimal wear (’58-59 Topps wears really badly – not sure just why) and the centering seemed to justify the PSA 6 grade that it got.  My rule is that I want a recognizable border all around the card, but I’m flexible as to just how much of it needs to be visible.  This was OK in my books.

When the card got to me, I was pretty pleased with it overall.  Then I turned it over:

Glenn Hall - 1958-59 Topps back

This just ain’t right.

There are three areas of paper loss on this: one over the card number, one in the cartoon and one over the ‘T’ in “Goals Against.”

Now, first of all, I was pretty ticked at the seller, who in my mind has to own up to the paper loss and not just hide behind the fact it was graded.  I wrote him immediately and – surprise – never heard back.  I started to fight it through eBay but decided I had enough to worry about over the holidays.  So I’m lumping it.

But what on earth happened at PSA the day this thing was graded?  The damage is immediately visible.  This case hasn’t been tampered with in any way.

It’s possible that the damage was factory, but that shouldn’t matter.  It’s not as though a factory crease gets let go.

So what gives?  Was this graded at 4:59 on a Friday afternoon, or is there some caveat that they don’t have to pay attention to problems on the back?  This isn’t the first time.  (Note – I have to fix the images there.  I guess the old hosting server is dead.)

Inquiring minds want to know.

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More mucking about with Orr customs

Orr custom - 1980-81 OPC

I could have lived with pulling this in 1980…

Just a thought – what if the knee had given us a couple more seasons?  This might have been part of 1980-81 OPC…

Orr, all things being equal, should have played until at least 1983.  I should do the rest of them.  :)

Same basic stunt as with Gordie Howe and my earlier Orr – I took the 1980-81 Bob Murray, cut and pasted the name until it said what I wanted, took a picture off the net and hiked the contrast and yellow content, added noise and voila!

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Joy of a completed page – 1952-53 Parkhurst

I got my first 1952-53 Parkhurst in late summer, 1983, from a little card shop in Burlington, ON.  We had just moved to the province and part of the consolation prize was the sudden availability of vintage card shops the like of which I’d never seen.  The shop was five minutes from closing and once I picked my jaw up from the floor, I hurriedly grabbed a handful of gold, part of which was a really nice ’52-53 Jimmy Peters.

The ’52-53 set has long been a favourite, and in 32 years of poking away at it, I now have 76 of the 105 cards in the set.  What I didn’t have until now, though, was a complete page. Thanks to the Fall Expo, now I do.

cards 46-54 - 1952-53 Parkhurst

These are cards 46-54 in the set.  As one can see, they’re smaller than standard and tend to slide around a 9-pocket sheet.  They’re similar in size to 1952 Bowman baseball.

So which card gave me the trouble?  There’s the Armstrong RC, which is tough, and the Delvecchio, but no, I’ve had both since the mid 1980s.  Solinger, Flaman and Sloan have been with me close to 30 years as well.

No, the complete PITA card – the one that escaped me for years – is the lone Hab in the bunch, Dollard St. Laurent.  I finally found a decent Dollard at the Expo.  Overpaid a bit, but it’s worth it just to finally see a complete page of nine.

This set really isn’t close enough to justify a final push – not just yet.  I hope I can get 5-10 more this year and get over 80%.  Then we’ll see.

cards 46-54 - 1952-53 Parkhurst backs

I love the backs of these. Given the lack of space, to get that much text and a line of stats is pretty awesome.  Such a great set.

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Mike Corrigan – the accidental wallet card

Mike Corrigan - 1973-74 OPC

Mike looks primed for the journey

I’ve greatly enjoyed reading the various reasons that people have had for choosing their 2015 wallet cards.  Many have put significant thought into their choice and have deep personal reasons for choosing a card that will accompany them on their journeys through the year.

For me, my card will be this 1973-74 OPC Mike Corrigan.


Because it was already in my pocket.

Our two-year-old was getting into his siblings’ Pokemon cards over the holidays.  In order to spare the older kids further grief, I went into the card room and grabbed the first double that I would permit to be further mangled by a tiny tot (I put it in a top loader – I’m not a complete savage).  This was Mike.

As two-year-olds are wont to do, he played with Mike for a few minutes and then moved on to some other thing.  Mike wound up mixed in with the passcards and assorted nonsense I carry back and forth to work in my shirt pocket.  He has been a good travelling companion thus far, so he wins the nod for this contest.

Look at him – he seems to be up for pretty much anything.  He makes sense.

This is Mike at rest at home:

Mike and Canadiana

This radio sits on a larger radio next to the closet door that held the box that Mike lived in.  (Sounds like part of a nursery rhyme, no?)  That’s a Northern Electric rainbow – but the poshier one with the short-wave band and centre knob.

The journey begins.

Here is Mike on a frozen winter road at dusk next to the latest car I have fallen for – a Saab 900 turbo.  This, of course, is the wallpaper on my work monitor.  This is also known as cheating.  Then again, it’s cold outside.  Real pictures can come later.

He went to Scandinavia! Really!

The Saab 900 is high on my to-do list – unless an awesome 9000 appears first.


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More Topps hockey rescued from the memory hole

Tony Featherstone - 1971-72 ToppsWhen I first found out that OPC had not only added a bunch of players to the Topps set but flushed a number of them as well, one name particularly caught my fancy. For no reason I can adequately explain, I have long wanted a copy of the 1971-72 Tony Featherstone.

I finally have one, thanks to the efforts of Mark Hoyle.  It arrived during a very busy time (which is also how the blog managed to go dormant for so long) and was a very welcome sight.

I think part of it my fascination with this card is that this is the only NHL card Tony ever had (he’s in the 1975-76 WHA set) and he was something of a mystery to me.  Who was he? Why did he only have the one card and why was he pitched out of the OPC set?

Tony was a first-rounder of the Seals in 1969, drafted seventh overall from Peterborough.  He projected to be a decent scoring winger with some toughness and at the time this card was printed, he’d just finished a rookie season of eight goals and eight assists.  The totals aren’t overwhelming, but one can never tell by looking just how much ice time he got.

So what happened to kick him out of the OPC set?  On Oct. 6, 1971, Tony was traded to Montreal for goalie prospect Ray Martyniuk.  Montreal was extrememly deep at forward and Tony would have been buried.  He’d spend the next two years in the AHL.  I guess OPC figured that out and used the card on someone else.  (Card #106 in 1971-72 OPC is Dick Redmond, also of the Seals.)

Tony’s stat lines show some of the most dramatic year-to-year swings I’ve ever seen.  In 1971-72 in the AHL, he’d score just 15 points (5G  10A) with the Nova Scotia Voyageurs.  The following year?  49 goals, 54 assists, 103 points.  That would get him a shot with the North Stars in 1973-74, for whom he’d score 9 goals and 21 assists in 54 games.  (He was slowed up with a hand injury.)  The following year? 25-38-63 for the Toronto Toros of the WHA. He followed that with 11 points in 32 games and was out of hockey the next season.

Tony Featherstone - 1971-72 Topps back

The other card that arrived with Tony was one of the 1971-72 Leaders.  OPC did away with all of them, which is unfortunate as they’re pretty cool-looking.  This one tracks goalie wins, which today has completely fallen off the radar as a stat unless we’re looking at all-time leaders.  Season-to-season, nobody says much about it.

Wins Leaders - 1971-72 Topps

The cast of characters is about who one would expect – the goalies who played the most for the best teams.  The Espo shot is the same as is on his regular 1971-72 card, while the Cheevers would see the light of day again for his 1972-73 third-series card with the Cleveland Crusaders.

Wins Leaders - 1971-72 Topps

What’s really remarkable is that Johnston and Cheevers placed second and third in total wins despite playing on the same team.  It tells you something about Boston’s record that year.  Eddie Johnston went 30-6-2 while Cheevers was 27-8-5.

Thanks again, Mark.  It was a nice surprise at a busy time.

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Leapin’ Lou makes it two!

Lou Fontinato - 1957-58 ToppsLeapin’ Lou Fontinato (so named because he’d jump up and down when protesting a penalty, of which he got many, or because of a naughty tendency to leave his feet during hits) actually broke into the NHL in 1954-55.  Topps, for reasons that are not completely clear (but probably involving licensing fights with Parkhurst, my guess), didn’t issue cards in either 1955-56 or 1956-57, so Lou’s rookie card was released during his fourth season.

Lou was the Rangers’ enforcer and was the first player ever to break the 200 mark in penalty minutes, sitting out for 202 in 1955-56.

Lou played 9 NHL seasons and 535 games, but is probably best known for being on the wrong end of a 1959 fight with Gordie Howe.  Howe and Fontinato had had a number of run-ins over their previous few games and had been trading sticks, stitches and insults.  When Howe got involved with rookie Eddie Shack, Fontinato stepped up.

In one article I read, Fontinato said that in the early stages of the fight, things were going fairly well, but he popped his head up to take a peek the very instant Gordie got his right hand free.  The next series of punches broke his nose, cheekbone, split his lip open and generally made a mess of him.  Googling “Howe Fontinato fight” will bring up no small number of them.  Broken face and all, Fontinato finished the game and only ended up missing a handful of games that season.  Gordie rarely had to fight after that.

The Fontinato RC brings me to 64 of 66 cards in the set.  The last two are Dean Prentice and Vic Stasiuk, neither of which are RCs, so I should probably just spring for them.

Lou Fontinato - 1957-58 Topps back

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1957-58 Topps – and then there were three

Camille Henry - 1957-58 ToppsAt the beginning of the year, when I was looking at projects and goals, I felt there was only one vintage set that I had a reasonable chance of finishing. That was 1957-58 Topps.

This was Topps’ second offering.  It’s not as famous as the ’54-55 debut set, but it has a clean look and a boatload of RCs and has long been a favourite of mine.  I’ve been poking away at it more or less forever.

Camille Henry brings me up to 63 of 66 cards.  None of the remaining three (actually two – one arrived but remains unscanned) are bad ones, though I have four upgrades outstanding and two of those are particularly ugly.

I’ve always liked the backs of these cards, even though the colour choice is a little on the garish side.  I note that Camille is listed at 5’10”, 155.  This is rather slight for a hockey player.  It’s also a lie.  He might have been 5’10”, 155 in full equipment.  He was not a large person.

Camille Henry - 1957-58 Topps back


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