You may be wondering why there’s an article on our website about a sports card convention. This is the largest sports card convention held on a yearly basis in different parts of the county. For many years, we set-up at this convention in places like L.A., Cleveland, Chicago, Arlington (TX), Houston, San Francisco and Atlanta. There were two reasonably close east coast (New Jersey) shows: Parsippany and Atlantic City. When we first set-up at the National, there weren’t any strictly non-sport shows and this was a great place to try to get non-sport cards on the map.
In the beginning, it was a lot of fun and an event we looked forward to every year. Eventually, it became too commercialized for our taste. Getting the material to these various places was hard enough but getting it back was even worse. You almost wanted to throw away any leftover material rather than going to the expense of shipping it back.
We decided to attend the recent National held from August 4-8 because for the first time ever, it was being held in Baltimore—about an hour or so from Harrisburg (home of NSU) and we wanted to see some old friends. We’ve been going to the San Diego Comic-Con for around 17 years but we did not go this year. In the early years, we set-up at the Con but soon decided it wasn’t very profitable to do so when you only had a magazine to sell and your booth was lost among all of the Hollywood hoopla. It was a lot more fun just to visit the Con and have more time to visit with manufacturers and advertisers.
The reason for mentioning the Comic-Con is you can’t help but compare the two shows. Preview night at the Con used to be so pleasant because the big crowds did not attend and you really had a chance to talk with prospective advertisers and friends. Eventually, preview night was just as crowded as the rest of the show and "crowded" does not even describe the amount of people who attend Comic-Con (around 125,000 in the five days!) It is difficult to walk around the place and outside of the building there is a sea of people going in all different directions. There was a time when the National attendance was about the same as the attendance for Comic-Con—around 30,000 but Comic-Con has far out-distanced the National in attendance.
The Baltimore Convention Center is very large. We attended on Friday—probably an off-day for the show. Because the building is so large, it’s hard to estimate the crowd but it was easy to walk around. At Comic-Con, the corporate booths are front and center but at the National they were in the back. We went to the back of the room first to visit with some of the manufacturers and to see if they were promoting non-sport cards. There were a few booths with sizeable crowds waiting in line for giveaways but again, nothing like Comic-Con.
Paninin/Donruss only displayed sports products as did Topps. Upper Deck had a display with some of their unusual butterfly and hair cards. Press Pass had a nice display of KISS and Elvis. Beckett and PSA were in the corporate area grading cards right on the spot. Heritage Auction Galleries had a large presence both in the room and in the free program given to all attendees. Artist Brian Kong had a nice display.
The last National we attended was in Cleveland at least five years ago. There was a lot more non-sports at this show than the Cleveland Show. We took notes at some of the booths and were amazed at the rare pieces and amazed at some of the prices. Most of the material was vintage and graded. We didn’t see any large displays of newer non-sport cards not even at Blowout Cards or Dave & Adams Card World. Several of the dealers with incredible displays of vintage non-sport were Scottsdale, Glenn Pedicord and Steve Sabow. Dealers at the National who do the Philly Shows were Bob Ragonese, Joce Kaligis, Randy Kniffen and Peter Lalos (and also Steve Sabow).
Click for a gallery of photos from the 2010 National Sports Collectors Convention and a second gallery of photos showing Beckett Grading Services' card encapsulation process
Here is a small sampling of some of the items we saw and their prices (other than the graded material, it is not possible to list condition):
Funny Valentines display box GAI 9 - $855
Flying Nun display box GAI 8 - $600
#2 ‘59 Three Stooges NM7 - $315
Beverly Hillbillies #? M9 - $125
Wacky Packages Rinkled Wrap 8 - $55
’66 Superman #? 7.56 - $12.50
Hogan’s Heroes #? 7.8 - $48.00
Outer Limits #? 7.09 - $22.50
Wacky Packages die-cuts - $295 ea.
Daniel Boone test cards – two different - $450 ea.
Flipper test card - - $375
Bewitched test card - $750
Weird Ohs full box - $450
Not Graded Material
McHales Navy set - $70
Gomer Pyle set - $60
’59 Three Stooges set - $600
Indian Gum singles - $12
Brady Bunch singles - $10
Krazy People Poster display box - $100
TV Western display box - $150
Yellow Submarine singles (England) - $15
Mars Attacks card - $20
Look ‘N See set - $1,500
’49 Wild West set - $1,800
Civil War set - $850
Indian Gum set 75% complete - $8,450
GPK I unopened box - $1,150
Wacky Packages Pupsi Cola - $85
Mars Attacks marked checklist - $80
Batman orange set original painting/#28 card - $18,000
Twiggy uncut 36-card sheet - $1,450
The Saint unopened box - $1,150
Funny Monsters 1 cent uncut wrapper sheet (several) - $450
Frankenstein Stickers unopened box - $5,800
Rat Patrol proof sheet - $450
Cap’n Nice proof sheet $1,250
G-Men singles - $40 ea.
Silly Stickers unopened box - $2,250
Feature story by Roxanne Toser for Non-Sport Update; (c) 2010 Non-Sport Update; Posting of this article on other websites without permission is strictly prohibited.