A few months ago I was browsing sales on COMC when I saw this vintage card:
COMC's condition notes described this card as such:
It had always been my goal to own a pre-war card, but halfway decent examples of halfway decent players were way out of my budget. When I first saw this Bottomley card it was priced at around $30. Very reasonable, and within my budget at the time. Not only that, Bottomley is a Baseball Hall Of Famer (albeit a lesser known member.)
But...that "Poor to Fair" label though. It's an 83 year old card. There's got to be something wrong with it that I'm not seeing.
I looked again...and again...and again. I didn't want to get stuck spending $30 on fool's gold.
As you can see from their scan, the centering isn't great. The corners are soft and there's some slight edge wear. Still not seeing a disaster here.
Maybe there's a clue on the back of the card?
Hmmm...so the front bleeds into the back in some places (you can see part of his name in the top left) and the right edge is kind of dirty looking. But it still looks like a G-VG, not a PR-FR.
I added the card to my watch list, where it sat for a week or two. As the seller's prices continued to drop I began obsessing over this Bottomley card. What is wrong with you? I asked of the card - and myself.
Finally, the price dropped below $20 ($19.15 to be exact.) I couldn't sleep. I had to know what the major damage was with this card. And the only way to find out for sure...was to buy it.
Once the card was in my hand I knew exactly why COMC had given it such a tough evaluation: the back of the card looks... cracked. Not creased per se - a crease would show through on the front of the card. But the back was definitely damaged.
It still looked decent enough to get graded, and I sent it in to PSA with a minimum grade of Good 2. That's exactly what I got:
(I tried scanning the back so you can see the cracks, but they just don't scan well - especially now that the card is encased.)
After that modest success I was open to taking another chance on pre-war vintage. Two weeks ago I saw a Luke Sewell card from 1933 Goudey on COMC. Sewell had a long, successful career but he wasn't a Hall of Famer like "Sunny Jim". No matter. Sewell's card appeared to be in much better shape than the Bottomley.. and COMC appraised it accordingly:
I grabbed this card with far less hesitation. At $24.45 it cost a bit more than the Bottomley, but I think it was well worth the gamble:
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Looks clean, eh? The only thing that concerns me is the back has some impression marks that look like words when held up to a light (you can see a straight line along the top of the words WASHINGTON SENATORS under his name. It wouldn't surprise me if PSA gave it the dreaded "MK" designation. Still, I'm thrilled to add a second Goudey to my collection.
What's the oldest card in your collection? Have you had any pleasant or unpleasant surprises when buying condition sensitive cards online?