I haven’t spoken of it much, but my lockout-inspired dalliance with the EPL hasn’t stopped despite the return of the NHL and the pending start of real baseball. I’ve made great strides on my 1975 Topps set and am well into 1978 and both have provided great fun at limited expense.
In fact, “great fun at limited expense” seems to describe most of the football collecting hobby. I’m sure that the modern releases contain lots of limited-edition manufactured patches and relics of dubious origin, all of which costs scads of money, but I’m primarily into vintage and this stuff is scandalously cheap.
Case in point here is Arsenal’s Charlie Jones, part of the 1928-29 Player’s Cigarettes set. This was a multi-sport set as opposed to football-only, which I understand depresses the value a tad. Still, it’s 85 years old, in immaculate condition and quite interesting in appearance, particularly considering the dour portraits that commonly graced hockey and baseball cards of the era. A 1920s hockey card in this condition would start well north of $100, no matter who was on it. Charlie Jones cost me the princely sum of one pound, plus two more to ship it.
The other thing I find interesting in football cards is that there is no significant premium placed on star cards. Where a Bobby Orr or a Mickey Mantle can run for dozens of times the cost of a common player, star cards in football simply don’t. If they were on the same print run as a standard-issue player, they tend to cost the same.
Charlie Jones above was a good player, a useful starter for a number of years on a top-quality side, but he wouldn’t be named among the greats ever to have played for the team. Cliff Bastin, on the other hand, most likely would – yet his card cost the grand total of three pounds. This card is from the 1936-37 Gallaher set, another cigarette release. I wouldn’t say it has the visual appeal of the Player’s set, but it’s nice all the same.
I don’t know whether it’s that pre-war Brits simply smoked like chimneys or nobody cares about the old cards, but the availability of these things at nominal prices is staggering to me. It’s like collecting hockey back in the mid-1980s. I can dabble, pick up whatever is interesting to me, learn something new and have a load of fun, all without breaking the bank.
Strikes me as how it all should be.