Thursday, November 5, 2020

Vintage Frankenset kickoff! Page 1

Here's a new collecting project of mine I'm really excited about.. a Vintage Frankenset! 

Three simple rules for consideration:

  • Pre-1981 
    • Seeing as 1981 was when non-Topps cards became mainstream, this felt like a good cut-off point, and so cards released up through 1980 are eligible, though generally speaking "the older, the better" for this project.
  • Must fit in a standard top-loader
    • I've decided to house this project in a box, not binder. This will allow cards from different sized sets to be intermingled. Just have to fit in a standard top-loader, ruling out large cards.
  • No flagship Topps baseball allowed
    • This is sort of a sister project to my active Topps Flagship binder-- attempting to fill one page from each flagship baseball set, 1951-1980-- so it would feel redundant to allow those cards into this frankenset.

Those are my working guidelines. Oh, and I'm tentatively capping the frankenset at 333 cards, so any card numbered 334 or higher wouldn't be eligible. I'll try to not repeat sets and players too often, but won't go as far as to prohibit a little repetition. It'll be a "living project" in that a card is never permanently "locked in" and any incoming challenger will be evaluated in good faith. This is my first real frankenset, as the only other one I've got going is my 2011 Topps parallel frankenset, but that doesn't really count since at the end of the day it's all 2011 Topps cards.

This project will hopefully span a wide range of sets. I've got a subgoal to include at least one card from every Bowman set (1948-1955), every Hostess set (1975-1979), and maybe even one card from every eligible O-Pee-Chee baseball set (1965-1980), as well as all Topps football, hockey, and basketball sets from that period. Non-sports are welcome, too. This project will hopefully satisfy my interest in all these vintage sets and save me the undertaking of actually trying to complete any of them. I'm kinda thinking of it as a catch-all for all the non-Topps vintage sets I might consider collecting at some point. Now I can erase them from the "maybe someday" mental list and just get a sampler of them into this frankenset. I've got way too many setbuilds in the works already, so this should help.

I came up with this idea and started drafting this post back in September but waited to post it until I moved because I figure this'll hopefully stir up some trades. And then it took me a few days to find it after the move because it was buried in a box within another box, but now I've found it. 

"It's coming along pretty well and it's helping spice up my collecting headspace for the moment. Always fun to be excited about a new collecting project!" is what I drafted last month. The move has caused me to not spend much time on cards the past couple weeks, but as we get settled in, I hope to have more quality time to spend with my collection.

Though this isn't a bindered project, for blogging purposes, I'll plan to treat it how frankensets are typically handled on the blogs, which is to say each 9 cards are considered to be grouped as a page. So like, when I complete a new "page" is likely when I'd do a post featuring those 9 cards, you know? So when you see that I posted a new Vintage Frankenset post, you know you'll be in for a blast of 9 random-ass trading cards from back in the day. I think that'll make for some fun posts for us!

My plan-- at least to start-- is to take the frankenset in order.. like, today's post will contain "page 1" (cards 1-9). Then soon enough, I'll do "page 2" (cards 10-18), and so on. But I might have to start jumping around depending on how quickly I'm able to fill empty slots and complete pages. I'd like to rely heavily on trades rather than going out and purchasing cards specifically for this project. That would feel like going against the spirit of the idea, but perhaps I'll make an occasional exception and snag a neat card with its place in the frankenset being a motivating factor. We'll see!

But with all that out of the way, let's check out how "Page 1" is looking so far.

As this project kicks off, all these cards were pulled from "unincorporated" areas of my collection.. meaning I didn't raid PCs or setbuilds, rather they're essentially random cards in my collection that didn't really have a good "home" prior to this.

Now let's take a closer look at each of these 9 cards.

1 1934 Gallaher Champions Series 2 #1 L.F. Townsend

Card #1 goes to a British tobacco mini featuring cricket player L.F. Townsend. I like going old school to start the frankenset with a pre-war card.

According to Wikipedia, Leslie Fletcher Townsend (8 June 1903 – 17 February 1993) "was the leading all-rounder for Derbyshire between the wars and at his peak probably the most deadly bowler on a sticky wicket Derbyshire ever produced, owing to his perfect length and ability to turn the ball back from the off." 

Ha, I don't really understand what any of that means, but his name calls to mind Pete Townshend of The Who, which is another point in the card's favor.

2 1971-72 Topps #2 Bill Bradley

Gotta love that 1971-72 Topps Basketball design. And Bill Bradley has lived quite the life. He won a gold medal as a member of the 1964 Olympic basketball team, then won a couple NBA championships with the Knicks on his way to Naismith, and became a US senator after retiring.

3 1971 Topps #3 Marty Schottenheimer

1971 Topps Football is a fun design with cartoons on the front and back. I'm familiar with Marty Schottenheimer because he coached the Chargers back in the aughts during the height of my interest in football. He actually ended up retiring before the '71 season, so this is a true sunset card as a player. Went on to be an NFL head coach for 21 seasons.

4 1980 TCMA Tidewater Tides #4 Wally Backman

Not all the cards in the frankenset will have much personal connection to me-- often they're just random old cards I've ended up with-- but between the Schottenheimer and this one, the first page has a couple cards with some additional "meaning" to me. Wally Backman is the most-accomplished big leaguer to come out of my wife's high school. I've got a solid collection of cards from players who went to my high school, so branching off into my wife's high school wasn't much of a stretch. Backman is best known as a member of the '86 Mets, but off-field issues dissuaded me from full-on PCing the guy. But I'm happy to fill slot #4 in the vintage frankenset with this terrific 1980 TCMA minor league card. Barely old enough for consideration, and technically number 914 overall in the set, but number 4 in the Tidewater team set, so it counts.

5 1979 O-Pee-Chee #5 Joe Morgan

Major League Baseball makes its first appearance in the frankenset at number 5 with a Canadian twist on Joe Morgan's classic 1979 Topps card. Morgan sadly passed away last month at age 77, but left behind a legacy as a baseball icon. One of the game's all-time greatest second basemen, plus went on to a long broadcasting career.

6 1909-11 T206 Sweet Caporal [NNO] Frank Owen

Oh, one quirk of my vintage frankenset I neglected to mention thus far is that I'm permitting unnumbered cards to be floating placeholders, limited to one per page. I don't have a card for the #6 slot yet, so I've called on Frank Owen to bring some T206 magic to the first page, at least for now. This was a generous surprise from Zippy Zappy back in 2015, and while it probably won't stick around in the sixth slot for very long, it'll be a valued pinch-hitter for the project, likely shaking out somewhere higher in the set where it's tougher to fill holes (hey, #206 is still vacant; it might eventually find a semi-permanent home there). As for Frank "Yip" Owen, he was thrice a 20-game winner with the White Sox and a World Series Champion with the 1906 squad.

7 1961 Post Cereal #7 Roger Maris

This is probably the closest that the first page has to a locked-in card. Even considering the bonus crayon artwork on the back, it'd take something really special to usurp the seventh slot. Roger Maris is of course best known for his thrilling 1961 campaign when he broke Babe Ruth's record for most home runs in a season. Very cool to have a card that some kid cut out of a cereal box during that run of 61 in '61. It's still the top AL mark, and some would say still the legitimate MLB record, if you toss out PED-tainted seasons that surpassed his total.

8 unknown year Famous Authors Game John G. Whittier #8A

Unlike the Maris, card #8 in the frankenset is primed to be replaced by a better fit, but this is the best I could dig up at the moment. I can't find much info on it, but searching on COMC points to a very similar set called 1890s Lion Coffee Famous Authors Game, though the one I've got seems to be a later reprint, probably 60s or 70s. (The originals are layed out a bit differently and have a coffee ad on the back.) But it fits in a top-loader, more than likely came out before 1981, and isn't a flagship Topps baseball card, so it makes the cut.

John Greenleaf Whittier is an 1800s American poet best remembered for anti-slavery writings, as well as his popular book Snow-Bound.

9 1922 Wills Do You Know #9 Do You Know What Causes the Blue Sky?

The first page of my vintage frankenset closes how it began, with a prewar tobacco mini from England. (Back in the day, these were called "f@g cards" [f@g being British slang for cigarette], but that's a bad word for us on this side of the ocean, so we'll just call them UK tobacco minis.) But yeah, these things are awesome for adding ~100 year old cards to your card collection for cheap. Love the artwork on this one featuring a beautiful day at the beach.

To recap, I think it's a pretty solid opening page of my vintage frankenset. I'd love an old hockey card to swap in for the #6 or 8 slots, since that's one major sport I wasn't able to work in with these initial nine.

If you'd like to help find me cards for this project, or simply want "spoilers" to see what else I've got in it so far, I've got a Google Sheets spreadsheet up here. Page 2 could use candidates for #12 and 15.. then expect another post not too long after I've filled at least one of those numbers.


  1. Fun project! I'm sure I've got some cards that will help with this. I'll send you an email tonight.

  2. There's a great poetic justice to having a 1961 Roger Maris at number 7.

  3. Cool idea for a Frankenset. I like the idea of other sports, tobacco cards, and avoiding Topps flagship. I'm sure this will prove challenging as you start getting into the higher numbers.

  4. This is waaaaaay too random for me. But I'll enjoy seeing what cards I've never seen before.

  5. Love the blue sky card. I got that as a bonus from prewarcards and it's fantastic.

  6. This is great! I'm looking forward to seeing this unveiled!

  7. Such a great variety of vintage here. I can't wait to see what else you've got for this Frankenset.

  8. Love this concept, looking forward to seeing what else you select as this comes together!