Lionel Carter, a hobby pioneer and one of the legendary collectors in the history of the hobby, died last Thursday at the age of 90. Carter had been in and out of a nursing home for the past several months with long-standing breathing and circulation problems.
Carter’s legacy as a collector dates back to the 1930s, when he started collecting by buying Goudey packs as a teenager during the Depression. He subsequently amassed one of the most extraordinary accumulations of vintage cards, assembling complete sets from as far back as the turn of the century.
Along with extraordinary figures such as Jefferson Burdick, Buck Barker and a handful of others, Carter helped shepherd the hobby through nearly four decades by actively networking with hundreds of collectors via pioneering hobby publications, several of which were his own production.
In November 2006, a trio of scam artists stole a tiny sampling of his revered collection from his home in Evanston, Ill., leaving Carter and his wife, Irma, visibly shaken. Within months, he had consigned virtually his entire lifelong accumulation of cards, perhaps 50,000 in total, to Mastro Auctions, which featured the amazing collection in several auctions the next year.
Carter, who had appeared on the cover of Sports Collectors Digest in the past, is featured on the cover of next week’s issue, dated Sept. 26, and is remembered in an extensive tribute by SCD correspondent George Vrechek.