The Beckett Blog

A sad day for our hobby by Andy Broome

You may not know the name but the hobby mourns the passing of a gentleman who was busting packs when guys named Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were still playing and President Roosevelt declared gold illegal to privately own.

Lionel Carter passed away on August 28th at the age of 90.

From that first pack in 1933, Mr. Carter was hooked for life. He began trading cards with the likes of hobby pioneer Jefferson Burdick and Charles Bray and acquiring cards through ads placed in early hobby publications. According to an article by Mastro Auctions, Jefferson Burdick sent Lionel a copy of the 1933 Goudey Nap LaJoie card #106. One of 10 copies Burdick received from Goudey after writing a letter to complain about not finding this short print in packs.

For Carter, it was never about the money. He collected because he was a collector. He loved the cards and according to many he loved the finest condition card he could find. Carter spent Sunday nights carefully mounting cards in his numerous albums.

Lionel served his country in WWII but never forgot the hobby he loved. He picked right back up with the trading and letter writing when he returned from fighting in the Pacific.

According to one account in the Daily Northwestern, on Nov. 2006, Carter’s home was burglarized. While the small amount of cards taken were recovered, his wife’s jewelry was not. Carter knew that the monetary value of his cards made it unsafe to keep the cards in his home. He could no longer invite people over and share his collection without the fear of someone seeing only dollar signs. The Carters decided it was time to sell the approximately 50,000 vintage card collection.

Carter was quoted in the article as saying “I sold every one of the cards because I didn’t want anything to remind me of them,” Carter said. “They meant so much to me (after) so many years of collecting. They were just a big part of my life.

“But you can’t put 50,000 baseball cards in albums in a vault, so I had no choice but to sell them.”

Carter had lost touch with the hobby he loved, or maybe the hobby he loved lost touch with him. remaining a true collector by heart, the hobby grew and expanded and left members of the old school of collecting behind. The value of a card became more important than the joy of collecting and that is not what collectors like Lionel Carter cared about.

If, one day, a trading card hall of fame is established, Mr. Carter surely deserves a spot along side other hobby legends.


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

there needs to be a trading card or sports card HOF. this guy sounds like a great collector.

Comment by rosschrisman2003

I wish I was around during the early days of card collecting. The idea that you could contact a manufacturer and get a response like that shows how much times have changed.

Comment by IVSPORT

Lionel was my Uncle and the last surviving member of my Dad’s immediate family. You have described his collecting correctly. He had hundreds of volumes of cards and he could tell you the story behind each card in his collection. Being able to have people over, show the cards and tell the story behind the card was what he loved. You mention his service in WWII. He served in a cavalry unit (not air cav…horse cavalry) in the pacific theater and collected many items from those days in addition to the baseball cards. Thank you for your kind words about Lionel.

Comment by Randy Carter

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