Tuesday, October 18, 2005

No doubt about 'em

For all of the bloviating about collecting in-person autographs I’ve done so far, as well as the hot air hovering overhead, I still get quite a kick from pulling a definite keeper John Hancock from a so-called wax pack.

There’s something about gently opening a wrapper, sliding out the cards and, as you’re shuffling through them, spying that extra-special card nestled among the commons, inserts and rookies. Not only does it justify the cash you’ve just dropped on a box or pack, but it also provides the motivation to stay in the hobby.

Sure, not every inked card will send you running for a screwdown and a Phillips screwdriver. Lord knows, I’ve pulled my share of dogs (Reto von Arx), cats (Mika Alatalo) and half-eaten rodents (Maxim Sushinsky). But every once in a while, though sometimes they come in bunches, I snag a true gem.

My eyes light up. A smile grows across by razor-challenged mug. And, even if it is a redemption, I get the feeling that I've just won the lottery. Maybe not a megamillion Powerball jackpot, but you know what I mean.

So now, here’s a look at my Top 10 favorite autograph pulls:

Awesome Authentics No. 1

No. 1: 2003-04 SP Authentic Sign of the Times Triple Wayne Gretzky-Joe Thornton-Jason Spezza (SOT-GTS), numbered 05/25 (redemption)
Beckett (Yes, I know I've said the magazine is irrelevant, but what else can I compare it to?) price range - $250-$500 *

I’m hard-pressed to think of another triple auto that could top this. Simply put, Gretzky is the greatest -- of all time. Toss in two of today's premier players and you have a natural autograph hat trick.

There may be cards that carry higher price tags, but when you add the quality of the autographs to the scarcityof this card, the sum is nothing short of pure cardboard gold.

* Beckett Hockey, Issue 205, May/June 2008

Awesome Authentics No. 2

No. 2: 2003-04 In The Game-Used Signature Series Franchise (autograph and game-used jersey) Martin Brodeur (F-MB), print run of 10
Beckett price range - Not priced due to scarcity

Though I'm more of a Patrick Roy fan, I was very happy to add this to my collection. And, as you can see, it holds a pretty special position.

Should anyone have a Roy autographed card they're willing to trade, I'd consider offering my Awesome Authentics No. 6, a 2000-01 Topps Premier Plus Private Signings Martin Brodeur (see below), in return. Sorry, but the Brodeur card shown above is untouchable.

Awesome Authentics No. 3

No. 3: 2003-04 SP Game-Used Edition Signers Bobby Orr (SPS-BO)
Beckett price range - $75-$200 *

Sorry for the rhyming pun, but one has to feel pretty good when they score an Orr.

I've seen Orr in public twice. The first time, at a UNH-Northeastern hockey game in Boston, I had nothing for him to sign. Granted, I could have borrowed a pen and used my ticket stub, but that would have been too bush-league. The other time, outside of a Boston hotel, he simply blew off a bunch of hounds, myself included.

I suppose he's signed thousands of autographs in his lifetime, so that's easy to understand. I just hope to catch him someday when he's in a good mood and I'm better prepared. Until then, this card will suffice.

* Beckett Hockey, Issue 205, May/June 2008

Awesome Authentics No. 4

No. 4: 2004-05 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures Wayne Gretzky (WG)
Beckett price range - $75-$150 *

In my book, at least, one can never have too many authenticated autographs of The Great One. It's such an instantly recognizable signature, and one I hope to secure on a couple pucks (namely on a Team Canada for my 915th) now that he's coaching the Phoenix Coyotes.

I suppose, though, that if someone were willing to offer an authentic Mario Lemieux autograph card (comparable in quality and price, please), this is the card I would tender in return.

* Beckett Hockey, Issue 205, May/June 2008

Awesome Authentics No. 5

No. 5: 2004-05 Upper Deck Legends Classics Signature Moments Bobby Hull (M50), numbered 045/125
Beckett price range - $25-$60 *

Could you imagine being a goalie back in the day and seeing The Golden Jet streaking down the left wing, sneaking a peak at you while winding up and unleashing that rocket of a shot? Forget seeing it. It's my guess goalies only heard the puck.

One of my favorite old-school players, only the low price range (in my opinion) keeps this from moving up one rung.

* Beckett Hockey, Issue 205, May/June 2008

Awesome Authentics No. 6

No. 6: 2000-01 Topps Premier Plus Private Signings Martin Brodeur (PS-MB)
Beckett price range - $30-$80 *

My first Awesome Authentic, so to speak. I bought a box from J.J. Teaparty’s on Bromfield Street in Boston, walked over to the Boston Common, parked myself on a bench and found this in the fourth or fifth pack I opened.

* Beckett Hockey, Issue 205, May/June 2008

Awesome Authentics No. 7

No. 7: 2003-04 Upper Deck Series One Hockey Autographed Buyback Jeremy Roenick (2001-02 Upper Deck Series One Hockey #131), hand-numbered 4/5.
Beckett price range – Not priced due to scarcity

One of the fan-friendliest players in the league, and never at a loss for words, he earned a standing ovation (much to the delight of his folks) after he signed for the house, including the triple-dipping eBay scum, outside a Boston hotel a couple of seasons ago.

I'm not really sure what's the big deal about these buybacks, other than the scarcity I suppose, but I was wicked psyched to pull this extremely rare card.

For the uninformed, the sideways image is the Upper Deck authentication card.

Awesome Authentics No. 8

No. 8: 2003-04 Pacific AHL Prospects #13 Autographs Kari Lehtonen (1), hand-numbered 301/500.
Beckett price range - $30-$80 *

Actually, I have two of these cards. I used to have three, but traded one to a fellow hound, Jim Pullen of Bangor, Maine, for a 2001-02 Upper Deck Series One Hockey #211 Ilya Kovalchuk.

Though he's a slender guy who's not too shy about asking players to sign, Jim's a huge, huge, huge Lehtonen fan.

* Beckett Hockey Card Plus, Issue 8, Spring 2005

Awesome Authentics No. 9

No. 9: 2004-05 In The Game Heroes and Prospects Autographs Alexander Ovechkin (A-AO2)
Beckett price range - $100-$200 *

Sure, I wanted the Sidney Crosby autograph. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want one from Sid the Kid? Mine is on a framed copy of a story I wrote about him for the Boston (Mass.) Herald.

Still, it's my belief that time will show any Ovechkin autograph to be a pretty sweet consolation prize.

* Beckett Hockey, Issue 205, May/June 2008

Awesome Authentics No. 10

No. 10: 2005-06 Upper Deck Be A Player Double Jason Spezza-Eric Staal (D-JE)
Beckett price range – $12-30 *

Two of my favorite younger players in the NHL. I certainly hope they both have long, prosperous careers and live up the the hype. The value of our collections depends upon it.

That's not to say, though, that either player is inaccessible. Spezza has been very generous in person, signing at least two items. He also signed the 500th puck of my collection. Staal, too, was very gracious in his lockout-induced stint in Lowell, Mass.

* Beckett Hockey, Issue 205, May/June 2008

Beckett rhymes with irrelevant, sort of

I stopped by my favorite card shop a couple weeks ago, Chris' Comics in Seabrook, N.H., and picked up a 2002-03 UD Premier Collection Signatures Gold of Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg, numbered 23/50, for $10.

Once I got home, I checked its value in the Beckett Hockey Card Plus Winter 2004/Spring 2005 price guide. With the multiplier, the card, which would probably rate at Mint, books at the high end for $45. That's a $35 difference. It's also a deal I'd make day after day after day.

To be honest, I've never been a real big fan of Beckett, especially after bumping heads over a piece they agreed to publish, but never did. (Full disclosure - They did send me a check.)

But this discrepancy shows just how they cater first to dealers, and not collectors. Furthermore, it only reinforces how irrelevant Beckett is when it comes to the marketplace, either online or in a store. When the going rate on most items listed on eBay is 25 percent of Beckett's lowest book value, don't you think it's time their numbers truly reflected market conditions?