The stuff is still the star at the National

   The autograph lineup at the National Convention has been the headliner over the last 15 years or so, but, for me, the dealers remain the star of the show. I can’t shake the notion that siphoning hundreds of thousands of dollars off to one corner of the facility is one of those seemingly necessary but less-than-ideal situations.

   And even in the case of the dealers, some of the pizzazz from finding killer stuff is reduced a bit by the fact that much of the material displayed by the major auction houses is not so much of a surprise, since a lot of it appears in online and print catalogs for their upcoming auctions.

   Still, it was fun watching Josh Evans and Mike Heffner of Lelands.com sifting through hundreds more of those spectacular images from the San Francisco Examiner find of a couple of years ago. Evans figures that was around 800,000 or more photos, and perhaps as much as 25 percent or more is still left to be disposed of.

   At the Heritage booth, Jonathan Scheier showed me a Babe Ruth cap from the famed Bustin’ Babes and Larrupin’ Lous barnstorming tour (shown at right). I’ve gotta admit, I’ve never seen the cap offered, though I have frequently seen the Ruth/Gehrig photo that neatly photo matches the cap.

   John Kanuit’s elegant display at his Vintage Sports Collector booth caught my eye as usual, but ultimately it was a lot of little things, including all of the original artwork, that would interrupt my rounds through the 700 or so dealers.

   Right next to the ultra-modern and high-tech eTopps booth, the Topps Vault had samplings of some of the cool stuff that somehow eluded that incredible 1989 Guernsey’s auction of Topps archival material. The neatest ones were the black-and-white photos used for the 1959 Topps “Symbol of Courage” Roy Campanella card and the 1962 Topps Babe Ruth’s Farewell Speech. I wonder where the actual flexichromes from those two cards are?

   Along with admiring all the cool stuff in the Topps Vault, it was nice to talk to Topps’ Mike Jasperson, who so graciously provided some items from the Vault that will be awarded later this month in the random drawing held in conjunction with the Keith Olbermann Topps Proof five-part series.

   I am trying to get the hang of blogging, which in part means shorter bursts, so I’ll have more on the National in a couple of days.  – T.S.

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