I figured South Bend was about an hour drive from my folks’ place in New Buffalo, MI, so I drove out to New Buffalo on Friday night for the Saturday show. As usual when traveling southeast through the Chicago area, highway traffic was terrible.
Traffic on the Edens Expressway came to screeching halt around Cicero Avenue, so I decided to exit and work my way east to Lake Shore Drive. I forgot what street I was on but flashes went off as I passed a random light pole, so I am pretty sure a camera caught me speeding and a ticket will be in the mail shortly. I forgot about those stupid Chicago speed cameras, courtesy of former mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Needless to say, I was a little frustrated driving through far North Side neighborhoods. Before long, I found myself in the Bowmanville neighborhood where my wife and I lived in the mid-1990’s. My frustration increased as I learned the hard way that the city has installed speed bumps on all the side streets since I was last there.
While driving slowly through the neighborhood to avoid the speed bumps, I was reminded that this is a hidden gem of a neighborhood with artsy shops, wonderful restaurants, beautiful old bungalows, an expansive park, and the enormous Rosehill Cemetery. The wife and I used to regularly walk these streets, especially along the gates of the cemetery.
I always thought the neighborhood was named after the old Bowman dairy, located nearby on Ravenswood Avenue for close to 100 years, from about 1871 to 1966. However, multiple web pages claim the neighborhood was named after an 1850’s Innkeeper named Bowman, who fraudulently sold the land which he did not own.
Either way, it is currently a tremendous neighborhood, very safe, despite what they say about Chicago on Fox News.
As I was traversing over the speed bumps on Balmoral Avenue, I stopped when I saw the Spiteful Brewing Tap Room, located in an old warehouse, about a block away from my old apartment. The tap room has a huge beer garden along Balmoral that looked so cool. I told my wife about it when I got home and we are planning a visit.
Before long, I entered Lake Shore Drive from Foster Avenue, and felt my blood pressure ease as I enjoyed the view of Lake Michigan on my left and an endless stream of parks and lagoons on my right. I don’t get to the city as much as I used to and forgot how beautiful it is.
I saw the beacon from the old Palmolive Building for the first time. For most of my life, the beacon has been dormant and I had only seen the light in pictures. The light stream from the beacon is hauntingly cool. It was so awesome to see it in person!
Traffic, however, was not awesome as it jammed up in front of the Drake Hotel, located on the northern edge of Chicago’s famous Michigan Avenue, and was slow moving until the Field Museum, located on the southern edge of Grant Park, and onto the Dan Ryan Expressway.
I had a much easier time on the Dan Ryan than last week and cruised to the Skyway and to my final destination in Michigan.
I lost an hour due to the time change from the Central to Eastern time zone and woke up at 7 a.m. Eastern. I hit the snooze a couple of times and finally managed to get showered and ready by 8 a.m.
Problem was my pops, who was supposed to set up with me, was not nearly ready. He has some terrible back problems and it took a while for his meds to kick in and provide some relief. I had wanted to be on the road to South Bend by 8 but we did not leave until 9.
I plugged the address into the GPS and we drove along some beautiful country roads weaving through farmland. Pops was critical of the GPS, claiming it was taking us the long way. I was more comfortable with taking directions from SIRI rather than pops.
We arrived around 9:40 a.m. The show was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. I found Ben, who operates the show with his lovely wife Haley. Ben directed me to my tables. We were one of the last dealers to arrive. Seemed like everybody else was set up and conducting business already.
After I finished loading in, Haley came over and offered me another table for free, since the dealer that reserved it cancelled. I was grateful and took the extra table. My dad spread out his stuff on two tables and I placed eight display cases on my two tables.
Over the years, I have set up at card shows located in every type of structure you can imagine, including many fairgrounds. This may have been the most rustic fairground building of them all — which is the way I like it. I love when a show is located inside an old building, it just seems so right for a card show, especially since I am a vintage dealer and like all that is old.
This building in South Bend is huge. I believe there were 150 tables. I think you could probably fit 250 to 300 tables in there. The building does not have any air conditioning or heat but we lucked out with a beautiful fall day and the temperature in the building was perfect all day long, even as it really warmed up outside in the afternoon.
I thought I would know more dealers here but the only one I knew was Tom Kummer, who was set up nearby selling wax. I think a lot of these dealers regularly set up at the Fort Wayne show, also located at a county fairgrounds. I heard lots of discussions about Fort Wayne, a show I occasionally set up at.
As usual, as soon as I started loading up my display cases with cards, folks were hovering over me watching and observing my every move. After I loaded up three of the eight cases, a guy wearing a White Sox cap and shirt, asked to see my 1955 Topps Jackie Robinson. I continued to load while he checked out the card, keeping one eye on him.
I loaded up a few more cases and he asked to see a few more cards including my 1955 Topps Ernie Banks and a few others. I loaded up another case when, surprisingly, the White Sox guy purchased the stack of cards. Woot! Nice sale to start the day.
I bragged to my dad, who had some business of his own. He sold a couple of autographed post cards.
When I finally finished loading up all the cases, a young guy asked to see a bunch of my pre-War cards. He ended up purchasing my T207 Rube Marquard along with several others. Woot!
Wow, I never expected to have these kinds of sales out here in the sticks of South Bend, Indiana. I was cooking!
Then an older gentleman approached and asked if I buy cards. Ha! Do I buy cards? I live to buy cards! He handed me a small binder. When I opened it, I swear angels appeared and I heard heavenly music as the first page contained 18 T206 cards, mostly Tigers.
When someone hands me T206 cards, the first thing I have to do is make a determination as to whether the cards are real or fake. Unfortunately, there are a lot of fakes out there and even cards slabbed by the graders are not guaranteed legit. It has been well documented how fake cards or altered cards slip by the graders. You gotta give every vintage card you purchase a real good look over.
For T206s, I look to see if the name and team name on the bottom of the card are in light brown print and in all caps — check. I then look for centering, as with most vintage cards, real ones are usually poorly centered. Most of these cards were poorly centered — check. Next, I review the backs. Often, T206 reprints will have the word “reprint” stamped on the back. Cheaters will scrape the “reprint” word off. No “reprint” word or evidence of it ever being on the backs — check.
Several of the backs had paper loss, clearly from being pasted into a scrapbook at one time and poorly removed, a regular occurrence with T206 cards — check. One card had a pin hole. Usually fakes will not contain a pin hole — check. Next, I took some cards out of the plastic sleeve and ran my fingers over them to feel for gloss or lack thereof. The fake ones have a heavy gloss, including gloss on the back while the real ones may have a light gloss on the front but never a gloss on the back. These cards did not have gloss on the back — check. Next, I look over the images of the players. The real cards will have a clear image, with sharp coloring, while the fakes have a smudged look from scanning and often contain an odd coloring, often overly bright.
Lastly, the 18-pocket plastic sleeve was evidence that the cards were real because it was an old-time sleeve, probably manufactured in late 1970’s or early 1980’s, made of thicker plastic and smaller in height than the current-made sleeves, evidence that the seller has had these cards in his possession for decades before the current batch of fakes were manufactured. I felt the cards were legit. I wanted them!
Next four pages in the binder contained old-time, small, 9-pocked sleeves filled with 1933 Goudeys. All of the Goudeys were in tremendous shape. Like the T206’s, there were two Hall-of-Famers. One was Rogers Hornsby. I took out the Hornsby.
First step in authenticating a 1933 Goudey, is to look at the red box located on the bottom of most of the cards which reads “Big League Chewing Gum.” That box is never asymmetrical with the image box located above. Here the box was off — check. I like my raw Goudeys to be slightly off center as the fakes are always perfectly centered. The Hornsby is a tad off center, top to bottom — check.
On the back I look for the color of the print to be green — check. I also look for that “reprint” word or evidence of it having been scraped off. No evidence of “reprint” — check. Next, I look at the thickness of the card. The real 1933 Goudeys are very thick, manufactured with layers of paper. Here the proper thickness was evident — check. I then matched up the Hornsby with the 1933 Goudeys in my display case to make sure the size was accurate — check. Lastly, I reviewed the color for the same issues as with the T206s. In the last 10 to 15 years, I observed that a lot of fake vintage cards will have a yellow tint, especially on the back. No yellow tint here — check. I wanted the Hornsby!
I am not quite sure how the seller priced his cards, but he did have a price which is so appreciated. It is so hard to work a deal when the seller refuses to offer a price. I was able to work the price down to where I was comfortable purchasing the cards with enough meat on the bone to make some cash on resale.
There went that nice pile of cash from my early morning sales but I was ecstatic with the purchase. It is so rare that I am able to purchase more than a few T206 cards at a card show. Here I took home 18 cards! Woot! Also, the Hornsby has great eye appeal, you can’t see the tiny wrinkle along the upper left edge.
I had really low expectations for this show, I would have never imaged that I would have had such good sales and a tremendous pre-War purchase. Woot! I was riding high!
The seller had more cards in the binder like some beater 1952 Topps, no high numbers. Some nice 1952 Bowman football cards amongst a smattering of other post-War cards. I asked him to come back later in the show to see if I earned more cash for more purchases. He agreed to come back.
Next item on the agenda was food. There was a food truck outside selling Mexican food. Yum! I went out there and grabbed some steak tacos. I thought the tacos were delicious, albeit a little greasy. Dad did not like the tacos.
Later the room was abuzz with word that a thief was caught and kicked out of the show. Not just any thief, this guy has been caught at several shows and his picture from the Oconomowoc show has been circulating for a year or so online.
As I always say, criminals are some of the dumbest people around. None are like Professor Moriarity from Sherlock Holmes. Real criminals are always dumb as hell. This guy is dumb as hell because he was wearing the exact same outfit he wore when he was caught and photographed at the Oconomowoc show. See photo below. Literally, the picture of the thief that had been circulating for a year was alive and walking the South Bend show, stealing cards. What a douche bag!!
I enjoyed chatting with all the folks that stopped by my tables and the dealers set up around me. Everyone was so nice and pleasant, thus, I had a really nice and pleasant day. Kudos to Ben and Haley for putting on such a great show!
Ben said that they can’t do any shows at the Fairgrounds during the winter because of the lack of heat. He did say that they will do some more next year. Ben and Haley also operate a small monthly show at a VFW Post in South Bend. Unfortunately, their monthly occurs the same time as my Oak Creek show, otherwise, I would attend.
So I am not sure when I will get back to South Bend, but I really want to after today. I forgot to mention that I had another really large sale at the end of the day from a father and son team that drove in from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Thank you!
Man, what a great day!!
After the show, dad and I went to eat at a country club in Porter, Indiana, that he really likes. The restaurant is called Portofino’s. I had a chicken Marsala that was delicious. Dad had a huge steak that looked tasty.
We then went back to his place and napped. I woke up, drove home that night. Traffic was not bad at all but it is still scary driving through all that road construction at night.
Next up is the Oak Creek show. I will have a full house of dealers on 180 tables on October 7 at the Salvation Army Community Center, 8853 S. Howell, in beautiful Oak Creek, Wisconsin. There is a lot of interest in this show. My phone has been ringing off the hook. Should be a great one! Hope to see you in Oak Creek!!
Below are a couple more photos from the South Bend show including my purchases.