Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Update - 1974 Japanese Yamakatsu Bruce Lee & Chuck Norris Mini Cards

This was a good month for me in working toward my 2018 Collecting Goals in terms of my 1974 Bruce Lee Yamakatsu sets.  I was able to knock out a large portion of The Way of the Dragon set checklist with 22 nice looking mini cards.  I was also able to add a few cards to the Green Hornet set as well.  Bring on the furry-chested Chuck Norris (aka Colt) and some great 1960s vintage Bruce Lee as "Kato" in the Green Hornet.  Is there anyone else collecting these?






Thursday, June 14, 2018

c1901 Japanese Woodblock Sumo Wrestling Menko!

A few weeks ago I showcased an early 1900s Japanese Woodblock Baseball Menko.  In total there are close to 50 menko in this entire set including famous actors, sumo wrestlers, children playing games, and folklore story scenes.  I've since narrowed down this set to likely 1900 or 1901....more likely 1901.  It's hard to describe in detail how gorgeous these woodblock menko are with their vivid colors and gold gilding.  Absolutely beautiful.  In this set are at least 8 sumo wrestling menko...I'm trying to confirm several more that I have as coming from this set or another one.  Right now I'll base the sumo subset off the January 1901 banzuke for cataloguing purposes.

Yokozuna Konishiki. Sumo's 17th Yokozuna, but was actually more dominant before he attained the rank of Yokozuna.  He retired in 1901.

Ozeki Umenotani (Future Yokozuna).  The great rival of Hitachiyama and was promoted to Yokozuna at the same time.  They brought sumo into the modern era along with increased popularity!

Sekiwake Hitachiyama (Future Yokozuna): The great rival of Umenotani!  He eventually went on to head the Dewanoumi Stable and train three Yokozuna himself.  At the time of his death, he was the most successful and influential Yokozuna.


Sekiwake Araiwa (future Ozeki):  Not a particularly dominate Ozeki.  He retired in 1909.

Maegashira Sakahoko: He bounced around the high Maegashira-ranks and sanyaku ranks before retiring in 1907.


Hidenoumi:  I haven't been able to find out anything about this wrestler, but he could have been part of the Osaka Sumo Association.


Yokozuna Hachijin: He was a Yokozuna in the Osaka Sumo Association although he retired in 1874 and headed up that organization until 1899.


Abunomatsu:  I believe this gentleman was a gyoji looking at his hair style.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Meet Billy Kingsley - Fellow Card Collector Interview #1

I love to read autobiographies....I like to understand where people are coming from and their history if you will.  Since I started blogging, I've wanted to start a series of interviews of fellow bloggers to get to know them a little better....get to know their life behind the computer screen a little more and some of their card collecting stories.  Billy Kingsley over at Cardboard History has a great blog and agreed to be my first interviewee.  With that, grab your favorite drink and let's learn a little more about Billy.  At the end, I'd like to open it up for any additional questions you might have.  Thanks!



[Ryan] Hi Billy!  First, thanks for taking the time to do this.  You are well respected in the card-blogging community and I am a huge fan of our writing style and content.  Second, I am a little nervous staring at your blog and see you have passed the 500-blog mark with 49 followers and voted "Best Blog in the 2017 Trading Card Database Awards."  Hopefully these questions do justice in capturing who you are as a collector for the readers.


[Billy] Hi Ryan, I'm glad to do it.  I like to talk about cards and will take any opportunity to do it!  I'm not someone who sees myself well-respected, but I appreciate that.
[Ryan] Well I know you don’t like to toot your own horn, but for the readers, Billy did an excellent 3-part “My Cardboard History” series where you can read his detailed account about his life as a card collector. Billy, you talk a little bit in there about starting the blog back in 2014. What was running through your mind on Saturday, November 22, 2014 at 1:55pm when you hit “publish” for the very first time to start the Cardboard History blog?


[Billy] Honestly, I'm not totally sure...I don't think I thought it would be a successful as it's become, that's for sure, and I didn't think I would stick to it...I have a history of starting projects and never finishing/going back to them...see my "Nothing But Nets" secondary blog which hasn't been updated in about a year now for an example!
[Ryan] I, for one, am glad you’ve stuck through on Cardboard History. Looking at the “Best Blog Award”, what advice do you have for up-and-comer sports card bloggers?

[Billy] Write what you are passionate about. Make an attempt to use proper grammar and spelling. Personally speaking, when I start reading a post and see about how much you sold it for being the main focus of the post, I stop reading. Only complain about things that are actually bad...most of the internet is nothing but complaining non-stop these days and it gets old really fast...in my 530ish posts I've written, I think I've kept the complaining down to less than 10 of those posts.

[Ryan] That’s a good point and probably why your blog is so successful and popular. You also brought up good points about passion and success which I think go hand-in-hand with the good blogs, but I also believe you’ve managed to make your blog unique. Have you changed or morphed your approach/content to blogging as you’ve “felt” out your readers over the years to make it is what it is today?

[Billy] Only a very little. I've dropped two series I started, "Hot off the Scanner Tray" or HOST, due to lack of interest...it was where I was posting scans that I found interesting but not enough to get their own post. It got almost zero response and I decided to drop it when I learned there was an image number limit. I also dropped my "NASCAR special paint scheme of the month" due more to lack of images to use rather than lack of interest, but that wasn't very popular either. Mostly I write about stuff because I want to, and it seems other people are enjoying it...sometimes I still feel like I'm shouting into the wind but I don't mind.

[Ryan] I tend to agree with you that if you write about what you want to write about, the followers will come.  Let’s talk about your memories that are evident throughout your blog posts. You have an amazing memory and your ability to recount stuff that happened weeks, months, and decades ago is fascinating. What’s the secret? What vitamins are you taking? [chuckle]

[Billy] Actually, I have a TERRIBLE memory, partly related to health reasons. I have a tendency to forget literally everything post-1998. That's one of the reasons I began Cardboard History, actually...so I would be able to pull up an old post and read about what was going on and what I had to say when it was going on. (Something that actually doesn't happen often enough...I've actually found myself writing up a post and then realizing I've already done it in the past, when I go to enter the Labels.) What I DO do, though, is keep very detailed notes on my collection. Since Christmas 1998 I have been entering the dates acquired and subject matter of every card in my collection onto looseleaf, which is now up to 12 binders- 4 NBA, 4 NHL, 2 NASCAR, 1 Non-Sports, 1 NCAA/WNBA/Multi-Sport. I also track in Excel, since 2014, the exact order I get each and every card, and what number it is for my collection. Although I'm pretty sure the number is off, I treat it as if it accurate.

[Ryan] Oh dang….that is commitment. Speaking of commitment, I’m amazed at your commitment to scanning and the contributions to The Trading Card Database. What does a typical day look like behind the scanner, computer, and blog webpage?

[Billy] Nothing too interesting, actually, it's kind of tedious, but I enjoy it. I scan most of the time I'm at the computer, which is most of my time. I scan three pages at a time, (both sides) and then edit them in PhotoScape, which is a free program. I have to adjust the color, because all scanners put a "film" over each scan, then crop each scan, rotate it to proper alignment, and digitally remove and dust or things that appear on the scan that shouldn't be there. It sounds like a lot, but if I really work hard at it, I can do both sides of all three pages (54 individual scans) in about 15 minutes. I don't really work that hard at it- I usually end up reading the backs of the cards as I'm editing them- and I usually check the Trading Card Database, or Facebook, or both, between each page, which slows me down. When I was working on uploading my scans to the Database I would label the images and upload them after about 18 scans. When I was making the big push to finish in November and December, I was doing the whole process so fast I did more than 2100 cards in each month.

After I scan each card, I put it into one of 42 clear plastic 200-count snaplock boxes, and when I finish filling the cases, I sort the cards by subject and enter them into my Excel charts tracking what I have for each person. That's actually my favorite aspect of the whole process. I also keep track in Excel what I've done each day, something I started doing when my remote hard drive crashed in 2016 and took a bunch of scans with it- creating quite a mess trying to figure out what I had done but lost, something I still have not finished. On the 1st of every month, I upload everything I've scanned in the past month to my own personal website, which is WAY more than just cards, but this is the direct card link.
Writing blog posts is sporadic. Sometimes I get motivated and write up a whole bunch, sometimes I have to force it or pull from my queue- the Sets In My Collection series posts were all written in 2015, and as an example of inspiration, I wrote 28 of the 30 "30 Day Challenge" posts in one day, and literally started falling asleep at my computer while working on #29! I generally tend to write overnight and schedule them for 4:30 PM EST. I rarely post something as soon as it's written, and I have almost 30 posts in my queue in various stages of completion.
[Ryan] I'm impressed with The Trading Card Database and how well it is self-policing. I don’t notice any shenanigans going on and it is fun for a completionist like me to fill in checklist holes with scans. Addicting for sure. Collectors working toward a common goal have made that a great asset. I see you have 167,042 cards in your collection according to your profile, how close is that?

[Billy] Pretty close actually. The total includes what's on my want list which skews it high, my records show 159,000 something, but I don't think I counted the cards that were not standard size until my hobby renaissance in 2009. I won't know for sure until I finish scanning everything and have it all in Excel. My Sumo collection is not on there yet and there are some promos I can't find a checklist for missing as well, but it's about 99.5% complete.

[Ryan] Ha, I am working on getting those sumo checklists uploaded for you (sorry!)  You started off collecting NASCAR which a good part of your collection consists of these days. NASCAR has arguably struggled with popularity recently and their trading cards reflect that. I mean, who would have ever thought that the France family would actually consider selling NASCAR. If you were King for a day (Not Richard Petty) what would you change to help recover the glory days of NASCAR cards?
[Billy] End the exclusive license! NASCAR was the first to do that, back in 2001, and the cards have suffered immensely since then. Press Pass couldn't be bothered to give us cards of the cars, but they did give us cards of the driver's astrological signs...I wish I was making that up. Panini has done a better job with NASCAR but some competition would be a good thing. A lot of the long-time fans have left the sport, which doesn't help, mainly due to the changes implemented by Brian France. Even myself, I am not as big a fan as I once was, for most of the 1990s and early 2000s it was the be-all-end-all for me, but now it's a distant third behind the NBA and NHL. If we got back to racing for the championship, like was done in 2003 and earlier, instead of the forced drama of the "chase" it would probably solve a lot of the sport's problems. I was pretty firmly convinced that if the forced drama had cost Martin Truex Jr. the title last year, it would have ended my love of the sport. Luckily, it didn't.
Also, every team should have a card of their car. The sport simply doesn't exist without the cars, so why is it so hard to get them on cards? Panini has done a better job than Press Pass did with them, but there is still room for improvement. At least one set a year- ideally the flagship, which I guess is going to be Donruss- should have a card with career statistics. I don't expect full stats, though that would be nice, but career totals. Starts, Wins, Poles, Top 5s, Top 10s, those are the key stats. There are more advanced statistics that I would like but not expect- RAF, (Running at finish), LLF, (Lead Lap Finish), highest career points finish, Laps Lead, Races Led, that's all stuff that should be on cards but isn't. For a good example of proper stats on a NASCAR card, check out 1997 or 1998 Maxx. With each driver getting a person and car card, surely ONE of them could have a career stats line? The last time a set had stats on it for the sport was 11 years ago now, 2007 Wheels High Gear was the last to have them.
Crew chiefs and owners should get cards as well. I'd like to see the entire over the wall crew get cards as well, but I know better than to think that will happen. A nice subset or more likely insert would be to highlight the over the wall crew that used to be in other sports. More than half the teams have former NFL players as members of the crew. That's not the only sport that has people in NASCAR now, but it's the vast majority of them.

It would be pretty tough to do these days, but a year-to-year insert for special paint schemes would be really great...I'd chase that for sure. The special paint scheme subset in 2017 Donruss was great, but very limited.
Although not what you asked and not NASCAR, I would love to see an overall auto racing set that had the other major series in it- Indy, F1, NHRA, but there's so much more out there that is not getting their history covered on cardboard, and that's a shame.


[Ryan] Amen! What I think NASCAR has resorted to is getting a check cut to them to issue a license and then not following up to make sure the branding meets the company’s long-term strategy. I mean if people are dissatisfied with the product, it can hurt the company in the long run. WWE (wrestling) is famous for controlling lots of aspects of branding and image. NASCAR should take a page out of their book.

[Ryan] I like how you brought up the “odd-ball/non-NASCAR” auto racing series needing sets. I’d love to collect an NHRA set for sure. Your collection has a wide range of sports, non-sports and years, so what would you consider the most underappreciated cards in the hobby today?
[Billy] Ooh, good question. I'm going to say, with much deliberation, sports cards for the non-big 6 sports, meaning, anything not Baseball, Football, Basketball, Hockey, Auto Racing, and Soccer. The sports not listed above usually don't even get any cards, but the ones that are out there...they're nearly impossible to find. Most people don't even know they exist. I come across some sometimes that I would love to collect- if I only knew where to find them. I was recently given a pack of Handball cards (by you!) and I had no idea they existed. I've seen the sport on TV and it's basically like hockey without sticks, played on grass. A lot of fun to watch.

While not part of your question, I have to say that there are two sports that I would collect just as heavily as I do the NBA, NHL and NASCAR- that's professional volleyball and Rugby 7s, both of which I got hooked on during the Olympics. Unfortunately, neither get cards. A little-known fact- after Wilt Chamberlain's NBA career ended, he played a year or two in the professional volleyball league.
I was going to say non-sports cards as the answer to your question, but they are having a surge of popularity again, and more new research is being done about non-sports cards than any other aspect of the hobby- even baseball- so I can't say they are more underappreciated than the other sports.

[Ryan] Oh wow, I didn’t know that. Does Wilt have any volleyball cards?

[Billy] No, as far as I know. I don't think there have ever been any cards for professional volleyball.

[Ryan] My favorite blog series at Cardboard History are your “In Memoriam”, “Card of the Day”, & “Error Gallery.” What are some of your favorite series other bloggers are doing around the blogging universe?
[Billy] Although I missed most of it since I hadn't discovered card blogs yet, $30 A WeekHabit's Serial Numbered Insanity is a favorite. Shoebox Legends' Buyback project is great fun to read, and I even basically adapted his 10-card per-post layout for some of my projects, as it makes for a perfect size read and still allows me to tag every person in the labels. I think I'm forgetting a couple that I enjoy as well...I read most of them even if I don't always comment.

[Ryan] What’s the backstory on this person called HotrodMama “trolling” your blog? [chuckle] My Mom's and Wife’s eyes gloss over when I talk cards. What’s it like having your Mom so involved in the hobby with you? I, for one, am jealous.
[Billy] It's awesome, really! My mom has been my biggest supporter in the hobby my whole life...and not just this hobby, all of them. It's because of my mom that I'm a car fanatic, it's because of my mom that I collect NASCAR and the NBA. She bought me my first cards for each...and 30 years later, she still buys me cards on a regular basis. It's not uncommon for me to check my COMC account and see she's deposited $10 or $20 just because. And since I don't drive for health reasons, she and my brother regularly take me to Target to add new cards to the collection. I'm not sure she would have gotten me started collecting the NBA if she knew what it was beginning, but I'm glad it happened that way. She actually tried to talk me out of leaving the NBA in 2006, something I now consider one of the biggest mistakes of my life, and when I was not watching- she was. I think she may actually be more of an NBA fan than I am- mostly I just listen while I do cards, she actually watches.

[Ryan] Here we are, almost 4 years after starting your blog. So what’s next on the horizon….what’s next for Cardboard History?
[Billy] Well, hopefully I will be able to continue to provide the same things I've been doing for a while now. I will be restarting the Uniform History series once I get the new NBA jerseys that debuted during the 2017-18 season in my collection. The NBA Encyclopedia will resume shortly- before the end of May, I hope- and the NASCAR Encyclopedia will begin shortly. Or rebegin in the same style as the NBA Encyclopedia, anyway. (Those are my two favorite series- despite the fact that Uniform History takes me 7 hours per post to create on average, and gets 4 comments or less each time!) Eventually I will probably do an NHL Encyclopedia in the same style but still too many people missing from my collection for that to be a reality- but I've not even been collecting for a year and a half yet!

Long term goals, I want to work towards the Museum/Hall of Fame I've mentioned a few times, and I also would like to begin creating my own custom cards, but that's a little beyond my skill level at this point. I would be doing cards of people that have been ignored by the main card companies, there are about a thousand NBA players who never got even a single card, for example, some of whom have been in the NBA for several years and are currently active...most are older players, harder to find images for. Did you know that there are 9 TEAMS that have never had a single card? I'd like to fix that. And for NASCAR, except for the superstars most of the pre-1988 era is not well covered on cardboard. Something else I'd like to fix...and I have a lot more photos saved up for that sport.

I've considered making some cards of my own creations - I've taken thousands upon thousands of photos- and possibly of my model builds, and maybe offering some sets for sale, but so far I have not really put those wheels in motion. Yet!
I do not have an end date planned for Cardboard History. It will go as long as I am able to create it, and I have a lot of things left to post! I'm trying to do 10 posts per month this year- just to see if I can- but in actuality I am usually reining it in- I could very easily post every day, but it wouldn't have much talking, just scans. And since the Blogger format limits you to 2000 photos per "album", and I have no idea how they determine when an album begins, I don't do that.

[Ryan] Wait, what? Are these some of the older basketball teams before the leagues merged back in the day?

[Billy] They were old school teams, but most were in the NBA era. The most recent folded in 1951. A couple of the teams actually split off into another league and continued into the 60s, but all are long gone now. Interestingly, two of the team names were reused, but in different leagues! That would be Denver Nuggets and Washington Capitals! The Nuggets would of course come back to the NBA when it absorbed the ABA in 1976.

[Ryan] That’s what I was going to ask you about….The Sports Card Museum. For those readers not familiar with the concept, can you summarize what you are thinking here? Also, I think it is a great idea…how do you start taking bites out of that elephant?

[Billy] Well, this hobby has been around since the 1860s, but there is nothing at all that recognizes people who have achieved greatness in the hobby. How many people today know who Jefferson Burdick is? 70 years from now, will people remember the contribution of Bob Lemke? A Hall of Fame would honor them and so many more people...ideally, the Hall of Fame would have a place of honor for them, where people who care can learn about the greats of the hobby. Two of my other main hobbies have not only a Hall of Fame, but also an organization that you could join and get a magazine from, and other perks like conventions, guides to local clubs and dealers, and more...this hobby has absolutely none of that and it should. The museum part would be a way to show the cards to people...it would be basically like the Trading Card Database, but if all those cards were in one place. Unfortunately, I don't really know how to get it off the ground. It would require money that I don't have to rent a building and connections to hobby insiders I don't have. Nor do I have the skills to actually build the displays I've envisioned. I actually have a building in my hometown that I've got my eye on...it dates partially to the 1700s and would provide plenty of room for a good startup display...as a bonus, it once had cards for sale in the late 80s/early 90s. Even better, I could walk to it! The museum would be based off my own collection, but I'm hoping people would be willing to donate cards to it...I figure most people would be happy to send off their duplicates from the early 1990s, hah.
[Ryan] When people tell me that money can’t solve all the world’s problems, I always tell them “Let me try.” Hah!

[Ryan] Can you summarize your collection in 10 words or less?

[Billy] No! (LOL) Documenting History via Cardboard.

[Ryan] Well, let’s wrap it up here and get this out to the readers. I can’t thank you enough for taking the time!

[Billy] I am really glad to do it...it was a lot of fun to me. I am always willing to talk about cards. I hope I didn't go too long-form on my replies, I tend to write a lot, as you know from reading Cardboard History! Thank you for choosing me to be the first in the series.


Billy has offered to answer any other questions that an of the readers might have.  Enter questions in the comment section below.  Thanks!