Señor Pafko…

It’s the most well-known condition sensitive card in existence, hell they even made a movie about it. Card #1 of the ’52 set, Andy Pafko.
Photobucket

The legend goes that when kids back in 1952 collected cards they often wrapped them together with a rubber band so the card on top got all beat to heck. Sine old Andy was card number one he was the card most often on top, therefore he got the brunt of the damage. As a result the center fielder from Wisconsin is one of the more valuable cards form the classic ’52 Topps set.

Andy had a decent career, he was a 5 time all star and retired with a lifetime .285 batting average, pretty solid.

I wonder how true the claim his card is one of the most damaged cards is?

The two key points to the story are that kids kept their cards in numerical order and that they used rubber bands to keep the cards together. I think both claims have some holes.

As a kid when I collected cards I didn’t pay any attention to the numbering on back. The cards on top of my stacks tended to be the guys I liked most. Most guys I was friends with as a kid did the same thing. I would imagine that even 30 or so years earlier kids did the same thing. When I was looking at my neighbors cards from when he was a kid it was the same thing. His favorite players were on top. I am not convinced that most kids kept their cards in numerical order, so Andy wouldn’t have always been on top.

The rubber band thing is also questionable. I am sure kids did this, but I am not sure about the prevalence of the practice. When I talk to collectors from the pre-card suplies era the storage means of choice was a cigar box, not a rubberband.

The Pafko story is a great story, and gives attention to a guy that would be otherwise forgotten. I guess I could look at grading info to see if the Pafko grades are lower than other ’52 card, but I don’t vare that much.

The card above is from “The” collection. He just picked up a handful of cards to start the final set in his quest. It’s in pretty good shape. Retail it would probably be a $1000-$1500 card, he got it as part of a lot for far less, so thats cool.

I scanned a few other ’52 cards that I will be dropping over the next few weeks.

-K-

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4 responses to “Señor Pafko…

  1. Mine were kept in an old Pumas shoe box, and collated by team. I did use rubber bands, but the Team Card was always on top. So, all my 1976 to 1981 team cards have seen some rough times.

  2. If you collected OPC, you could get this funky cardboard locker with slots for each team and space for about two seasons’ worth of cards. It worked surprisingly well.

    That said, as a vintage guy, I’ve had a lot of trouble with the first and last cards of sets. They do seem pretty bashed up.

    • Rubber band induced damage or just general beating?

      • General beating. The first two cards and the last two really got it.

        I do have some checklists with rubber band damage, but I generally avoid those cards like the plague, so I never paid too much attention to which numbers they were.

        Very early on I learned to put rubber bands on the diagonal where they did a lot less damage.

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