If you were to track what I buy at my local card shows, you would be certain that I'm a Chicago Cubs fan. Cubs cards and oddball items frequently make there way into my purchases but it's not for my affection for the Cubbies, it is that I'm building another trade package to send to my trading partner Reader Mike D. We've been going back and forth with our trades since 2010 and we even got to meet up in person in 2013 and the National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago.
More than a year ago, Mike wrote to say that he was starting a project to collect all of Ernie Banks Topps base cards that would ultimately be combined into a gift to Mike's Dad who loves the Cubs as much as he does, if not more.
I ended up contributing a few Banks base cards to the project through trades over 2015, as well as an early Banks on-card certified autograph that was a mail-in redemption from Hillshire Farm back in 1999 that would serve as a final bonus to the collection.
I enjoyed getting updates from Mike as the project continued and the year went along and I knew that the big hole in the collection was Banks' 1954 Topps rookie card. It is that set's most sought after card, meaning Cubs fans and non-fans alike would be hunting for that one.
As Christmas was getting closer, Mike sent an e-mail announcing that he had actually found a Banks rookie and he sent me some of the amazing details that went into the collection. In total, it took him 15 months to complete the project which in its final form totaled 30 cards, starting with the 1959 Topps base card.
The project spans from 1954 to 1973 and through Mike's hard work piecing together trades, he spent about $700-$800 on the entire project with the Bank rookie coming in at $106. The cheapest overall was Banks' manager/coach card from 1973 Topps that Mike found for 18 cents.
Here's an amazing photo of all the cards before the construction of the larger project began.
Here's what Mike wrote me when he finally tracked down the allusive Banks rookie.
"Unofficially, I lost seven auctions for the Banks RC in the final day. As I remember, three were sniped in the final minute, including one from a $41 bid with less than 20 seconds to go.
I physically shook when I won the online auction to get the Banks RC. I did not open the envelope when it was sent; I worried it wouldn't be true in the envelope."
Thankfully, it was real and here's a closer look at it.
Mike attached the cards in penny sleeves onto a vintage poster of Mr. Cub. I hadn't really thought it through as to how Mike was going to attach the cards and I think it is a pretty innovative solution. I'm happy they weren't just taped on as 10-year old me would have done!
And here is the project with Mike's Dad on Christmas Day!