Saturday, July 6, 2013

16 Chronological Changes in the 1955 Armour Coin Set

First of all the blog has now cleared 2500 hits....WOW

In the last Armour Coins blog I showed you the  1981 Gold book of BB Coins that listed 24 players in the 1955 Armour coins and only two variations, Mantle correct and incorrect spelling and Kuenn "regular" and condensed.

The question I get a lot is how can a set issued in 1955 and reported to have 2 variations in 1982 now have 13 (that's right 13) variations. To better understand this I thought I'd put down some chronology for you.

Like most Armour collectors I first got my coins in packs of hot dogs when I was a young kid . No one back then could really accumulate the full set since there were 24 players and they were only available for a few months in the summer and at best the average family was only buying a pack of dogs a week. For me, back in Hells Kitchen,  it was Wed night - Armour hot dogs and Campbell pork and beans.

Years later going to BB card shows in Framingham Mass and the surrounding areas I found folks were actually selling these coins and I could pick them up for a few bucks a piece.

My collection really started to grow when EBay hit the internet. I started bidding on these coins around 1999 and made my first contact with SFLA Yank in 2001 when I outbid him for the highly desired 1960 aqua Mantle.
Larry sent me an email saying something like " outbid me " and our 13 year competitive friendship started.

In 2002 I contacted "the Freasle" who was also bidding on these coins and we have also stayed in contact ever since.

In 2004 Laura Salzy contacted me to inform ArmourPhil about the coins she had available. (More about Laura later ).

In 2004 I also tracked down Doug Stultz who I had traded cards with back in the mid 1980's (by snail mail) . Doug had written the only article on Armour Coins up to that time "Armour Coins" which was published in 1987 in Sports Collectors Digest. For you youngsters this was a pulp newspaper like monthly (or maybe bimonthly...I forget) where the latest card info was published as well as adds offering to buy and sell and trade sports material. Doug listed the same (26) 1955 coins but had the only comprehensive (for the time) discussion on common and rare colors for 1955 and the other two years. Without question Doug had the largest and best collection of the day (and still does). I will try to reprint this article in a future blog.

So basically Larry and Doug and I began corresponding and comparing and came up with the fact that many variations had been missed over the years.

By the end of  2004 we had identified (2) Antonelli's, (3) Keunn's, (3) Mantle's, (2) Gilliam's, (2) Jensen's, (2) Jackson's and (2) Trucks or 7 new variations. By comparing all of our coins we were able to tell which were the rare variations and further refine Dougs knowledge about rare and common colors. We were also refining our knowledge abut bust tilts.

We informed Bob Lemke who at the time was editing the Std Catalog of BB Cards (the collectors bible) but he had already gone to press with the 2005 edition, so these new variations didn't make into press till the 2006 edition.

Spring of 2004 was also the first grading of Armour coins by PSA. Larry sent in the first batch and informed Doug and I that they had agreed to grade these coins.  In the summer of 2004 I sent in many of my own and bought a large batch of PSA 10s from Larry who was really just interested in collecting the Mantles.

When PSA first put up a 1955 Armour population report it was heavily skewed to high graded coins since these were the ones that we were sending in. They also only recognized the original 26 variations. I didn't think to keep a copy of those first population reports till May of 2006 when they were able to see that Lemke recognized the new variations and they added them to the composition of the set registry as I had requested.

By then others were sending in their coins and there were 260 graded. That listing is below. The circled coins were the ones I had sent in and/or bought from Larry.


If you compare to the population today ( 1487) you can see that 44 of the current 106 PSA10s were graded in that first year or so. Also, at first you could not tell the rare variations from the population (i.e. Antonelli, Jensen, Jackson, Trucks) since we were sending in the rarer variations since we felt they were worth more.

The next variation to be uncovered was the rare Gilliam thin lips tight variation which Doug had actually pictured in his 1987 article but not called a variation. It entered SCD and then the PSA composite in 2010. FYI ...They seem to be most prevalent in aqua and navy blue

In the spring of 2011 Laura Salzy sent a message asking me to get the gang to compare Snider, Haddix and Finigan coins. After close inspection she had found the Haddix tight variation, the Snider 341 vs .341 and the Finigan Quincy vs Ouincy. The woman has really good eyes  to pick up the Q vs O variation which I still need a mag glass to see clearly.  Haddix tight is the rarer variation. Not sure yet on the other two.

We reported these variations to Bob Lemke but he was no longer editing the Std Catalog.  The current Editors were no longer interested in being "the bible" they reportedly are now  milking the book for cash and didn't want to go changing typeset for some obscure coin set from the 50's.

After sending PSA pics of the diff variations a few months ago they finally agreed to grade them as separate entities and last week entered them into the composite.

So that's were we now stand 24 players with 13 variations ......for NOW !


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