So, this weekend I attended the Monroeville card show in the Pittsburgh area. For those unfamiliar, this is an annual show that previously had been held out at a local college (Robert Morris). This year, it moved to Monroeville, a community east of Pittsburgh. I went last year but not sure I would have gone again if it wasn’t much closer to my house.
So how did it go? A log (and a dog) for you fine people.
11:18 Drop my aging dog off for his grooming appointment. At this point, he (Chewie) is 12 and doesn’t care much for these sorts of things. So getting his hair (and, particularly, his nails) cut is kind of a chore.
Wife accompanies me and immediately complains about being dragged along to this stupid show. As she sometimes does, she makes almost entirely valid points but is forced along anyway because, well, I’m not doing this alone.
11:51 Pull safely into parking lot only to realize I’m in the wrong lot as the show is in the nearby convention center and I’m in a hotel lot.
11:58 Pull into correct parking lot where I’m met by a security guard only to find there is no actual parking there, so I settle for an adjacent lot.
12:01 Realize my wallet is in the car and return. We’re off to a slow start, people.
12:05 Success! I’m inside. Now what? First, help a poor woman who is trying to find the Polka convention, which is also being held at another part of the center.
12:09 Okay, commence card show type activities. I do this so infrequently that I really have no idea where I’m going and no real plan in mind. That likely becomes evident to anyone paying attention to me there as I stop at one table and briskly make my way down two full aisles almost non-stop before realizing I need to focus. Return to the entrance and start over.
12:13 Stop at a table, which has a small selection of pre-war. Asking prices are roughly double what they should be so I continue on. It then hits me that this is a guy that was there last year and that many of the cards are the same. Price to sell, people. This isn’t a freaking museum.
12:16 Stop at a second table that has some 1939-46 Salutations Exhibits. These are really just barely pre-war but I’ve been passively working on a set for a few months. Find a couple I need before realizing it’s another dealer I saw last year.
He doesn’t remember me despite the fact that I’m the only overweight black guy in the room. For shame. I buy the cards anyway as well as a T207 that I don’t need but is a somewhat tough common and reasonable priced – Schardt. No. No Schardt jokes, please. Said dealer and I had some good discussion on the T207 set last year and also this year again. I indicate I’m about 20 cards away from completing it and we rehash the tougher cards in the set which, of course, only makes me realize I still have a ways to go despite being 90% done with it.
The Schardt card isn’t a super rare Broadleaf or Cycle card but it is one of those Recruit-backed commons that are a little tougher to find in the set for whatever reason. For $17, it was a really good deal.
12:19 I find a guy clearly going to the autograph signing portion of the show as he’s carrying about 20 deflated, white-panel footballs, dropping one on his way. I ask if he needs help and he assures me he’s fine. On my way out I see him with the footballs all over the floor. Whoops.
12:20 One of the things I wanted to find was some wrestling cards to add to my growing rookie collection. I found a table that had a complete 1955 Parkhurst set missing only one card. I was interested in a few singles but didn’t have the interest in buying the entire thing. Considering the dealer dropped his asking price from $1,250 to $600 in one shot, you could tell he had no interest at all in those things.
12:25 About 20 minutes in, I spot my first caramel card. Most of the pre-war I’ve seen to this point has been T205 and T206 or Goudeys. And, surprise, it’s a reasonably priced Eddie Collins E90-1 American Caramel that I need for my set. It’s a low-grade Authentic card with a decent $75 price tag after he chopped $5 off of it for me. It’s still pretty early at this point so I say I’ll stop back. I ultimately decide to pass but probably shouldn’t have. You always regret not buying at least one thing when at a show and, for me, that was probably it. Finding that card that cheap again will not be terribly easy.
12:29 My eyes light up as I spot a low-grade E91 American Caramel I think I might need. Unfortunately, after checking my collection online via my Collector Focus page on my phone, I realize I have it. Ugh. This is going relatively poorly.
12:33 I finally reach the SGC booth, which is one of the main reasons I had for coming. I dropped off ten cards to be graded and had a nice chat with one of the guys working there. I had no idea they were only an operation of about 15 employees. It’s astonishing that their turnaround times seem generally better than those of PSA.
One of the things I wanted graded was my near set of four of the five 1916/1917 Sports of the World baseball cards (one shown here). I have the Wills, MacRobertson’s, Village Maid, and the Anonymous versions, missing only the British American Tobacco card for completion.
While I was there, I spoke briefly with a guy that had a Babe Ruth 1933 Goudey card he claimed was his rookie. Rather than try to explain that Ruth had a gaggle of other earlier cards I just smiled and nodded instead. That seemed easier and less painful on both of us.
12:57 By now my back is starting to hurt. I’m only about halfway through the show and realize I’m not cut out for this. I stop at another table, anyway, and am glad I did.
This dealer had several stacks of Exhibit cards including a bunch of the Salutations. I found a bunch more needed for my set, including Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. Not being prepared, I also bought a few that I thought I needed but didn’t. But at only a few bucks each, it wasn’t a problem.
Ironically, another gentleman came up looking for Salutations at the same time I was there. Talk about needle in a haystack. Salutations aren’t too obscure but to have two people there looking for them at the same time was kind of surprising. Said elderly collector was none too pleased I was already flipping through them. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
1:14 I stumble upon a dealer that has probably the largest pre-war selection I’ve seen so far. Mostly a bunch of T206s but a few caramels with most priced pretty well. Strike up a conversation and it’s actually a guy I’ve bought from on eBay before. End up talking with him for about 20 minutes or so. Didn’t buy anything but extremely nice guy. He indicated I was the first person that stopped by that was actively looking for pre-war. By this point, it was in the middle of the day on the second day of the show and he said things were going terrible with few sales.
The show did have vintage but also had a lot of people there just looking for Pittsburgh stuff so I could understand that. I don’t think the show has much of a vintage reputation these days, even if it did before. A couple of dealers that had a good amount of pre-war last year were not there this time around. It’s often advertised as a card show with autograph guests but, really, it’s the other way around. This struck me as more of an autograph show with cards as a supplementary deal.
1:35 At this point, I’m in fast forward mode, hastily brushing by tables and not expecting to find much else. I’m old, tired, and my back hurts more. Sue me. Stopped at a few random tables but didn’t buy anything else and I got through the rest of the show in about 20 minutes.
I headed to the back and the autograph room just to see what was going on. It was jam packed and, like I said, that was clearly the main attraction. I felt sorry for the few dealers stuck back in that room because anyone not doing the autograph thing would be inclined to skip over it entirely.
All in all, I had a good time. It wouldn’t have been worth it for me to travel a long distance to get there but living only about 15 minutes away made it easy. The pre-war selection, as it was last year, was relatively light. And probably 70% of the pre-war stuff I did see was T205 and T206, things I didn’t need. But hey, it’s still better than killing your Saturday inside of your house doing nothing, right?