The First Pieces of Another Project, and Challenges of the Project

Kin Kinsley
September 18, 2016

I envy vintage baseball card collectors.  They have it easy.

I figure many will disagree with me.  However, when you’re trying to find cards that you need, it’s likely easier if it’s baseball than any other sport.  It’s been “America’s Game” for 100 years now, leading to more cards produced and available.

I’ve started collecting vintage open-wheel racing cards and it’s proving to be a challenge on two fronts, price and availability.  After a few months, I believe that the two are intertwined.

The 1954 Stark & Wetzel Indy Winners set is one on my project list and has been for months.  The reason I haven’t picked any up before is the price.  There are numerous cards available online, but they just set online because of the prices sellers are asking.  Off the top of my head, the lowest I’ve seen is $49 for one card and the highest are graded copies with an asking price of over $200.

Fortunately, some of them came up for auction (a rarity anymore) on eBay a couple of weeks ago.  I believe there were eight available from the seller, but I did not win all of them.  I was sniped on two of the first three and took the same action myself for the rest of the items.  Ultimately, I came away with three cards from the 37 card set.

The limited availability of the cards is also due to the distribution.  They were both a regional and food release so it’s difficult to say how few survived.  I’m not even sure that I’ve seen all cards come up for sale.  From Beckett.com:

“Stark and Wetzel Meats produced and distributed these cards in 1954. The issue features past winners of the Indy 500 and their cars. Since the cards were distributed in packages of meat products, they were produced with a wax covering that is often found stained making Near Mint copies especially tough to find. The cards are blankbacked and have lightly perforated edges. The cards are unnumbered and listed below in order of winning year.”

1954 Stark and Wetzel Indy Winners #1915 Ralph DePalma
1954 Stark and Wetzel Indy Winners #1915 Ralph DePalma
1954 Stark and Wetzel Indy Winners #1927 George Souders
1954 Stark and Wetzel Indy Winners #1927 George Souders
1954 Stark and Wetzel Indy Winners #1926 Frank Lockhart
1954 Stark and Wetzel Indy Winners #1926 Frank Lockhart

This is a long term project for me and I will just bide time until more of these come available at what I consider a reasonable, going rate.  I picked up all three of these for less than the $49 I mentioned above (the lowest price of cards available currently).  I did also learn that there ARE others out there looking for these.  As I write this and think about it, I need to see if it was only one additional bidder or numerous.

Also, while I’m not in the hobby to make money, I’d ideally like to not lose money.  By collecting vintage and only buying at reasonable prices, I should be safe.  If I were to some on hard times and need some money, I should be able to get what I paid for them back.  However, I can only do that if I’m not overpaying.

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