Available for Trade (3/14/2010) Cards I Need (12.10.2010)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Almost got 'em

One of my favorite episodes of Batman the animated series was an episode called "Almost Got 'Em" (or something to that effect).  The episode consists of most of Batman's villains sitting around the table telling their tale about how they "almost got" Batman.  Well, I'd like to add my "almost got 'em" story to the mix.

I set up an eBay filter looking for the 1990 Donruss Aqueous Test Don Mattingly card.  For those of you who are unaware of what this card is I will try to piece together some of the information I found of the cards.  Pre-Google search, my knowledge of these cards consisted of Donruss made these cards as a test and they somehow left the factory and they shouldn't have.

Aqueous is actually a specific printing process, I found this definition on a blog (I think it's also on Wikipedia):

An aqueous coating is a fast-drying, water-based, protective coating which is applied in-line on press to attain a selection of finishes more economical price than varnish.
This clear coating provides a high gloss surface which protects the surface from dirt, smudges, fingerprints and scratch. Aqueous coating improves postcards durability as they go through mail or inserted in pockets. It is also applied on brochures, catalog covers, flyers and other visual ads.
So that's the scientific definition.  The story of the cards is that Donruss apparently made these cards as a test and I believe the majority of them were obtained when Donruss/Leaf went out of business by employees.  I found a story here of a guy who interacted with a former Donruss employee and bought a lot of boxes he had taken (legally I presume) when the company closed.  The guy opened the boxes and he had a box of cello packed Donruss cards with the AQUEOUS TEST statement printed across the back.  So these cards were packed but not released.  His collection also included even rarer Blue and White Donruss cards which are another story in and of themselves.  Apparently a very short subset of the 1990 Donruss set were printed with the AQUEOUS TEST text on the back.  Something like 264 cards from the set, I believe.  All continuous and included some Diamond King cards.

Fast forward to about 7 days ago and guess what shows up on eBay?  Yep you guessed it.  For the first time in my 5 years scouring eBay I found one.  So I watched the auction like a hawk.  I was so excited I bought a one-month subscription to Beckett to get the price information on it.  $100 hi value for that card.  You gotta be joking.  Talk about being out of touch with the market.  See, to me this would be the end-all card to own.  I contemplated ending my collecting career on this card because I couldn't do any better.  I thought about the significance of the Aqueous Test cards in our generation of collecting.  Right in the middle of the Junk Wax era there is a set that has a Honus Wagner type story.  Those player collectors that know about these cards feverishly chase after them on eBay.  Considering a George Brett card sold for $3500 (yes three THOUSAND five hundred dollars), should be evidence enough that these cards are a big deal to those who are collecting.

Anyhow, getting down to the last few minutes the card was a little over $200.  I thought I may get lucky and on a Saturday morning people may have completely missed this rare card.  At the final seconds I put in a bid a little over $1000.  Yes, I was willing to fork over A GRAND for this card.  Alas, it was not meant to be.  One of the many Don Mattingly collectors swooped in and out bid me and spent a total of $1,026.25 for the card.

I was really depressed and partially relieved.  I didn't have to shell over $1000 of my hard earned money for one single card. But then again, this amazing hard to find card was not mine.  I had dreams of getting this holy grail slabbed and putting it in a safety deposit box.  Holding onto it for years.  Perhaps when I passed on my hypothetical children could put it up for auction and it would have the same type of excitement that old cards from the 1900's found in attics have now-a-days.

But it's not meant to be.  I'll keep looking out for one on eBay.  But I'm fairly certain I will never own that card.  I sit here and think about the 1/1's, the autograph cards, prime relic cards I own and they all pale in comparison to this one Junk Wax era unintentional anomaly.  

But I can still hope and daydream about the day when this would be mine....


William Regenthal said...

First of all, welcome back man, you have been sorely missed. Secondly, wow, I had never heard of the aqueous test cards, or if I had, it was really vague. I wouldn't mind owning the Ripken, but for me to shell out a grand or more, well, I can get Jimmie Foxx on a ball for that (or get pretty close to one). Good luck in your quest. I'll keep my eyes open for the Mattingly at the National. You never know.

Head eBay Lister said...

How about the BLUE/WHITE or the RED/RED version???