OK, that’s a bit over-the-top melodramatic, but it turns out that I may have been inadvertently deluding myself for 30+ years.
Since sometime in the late 1970’s, the cornerstone of my collection has been the run of complete sets I have from 1974 to 1978. I completed each of those sets within a year or so of their release, and they’ve always been at the top of my list of “binders to grab if the house is burning down”.
Without getting into great detail, I had an incident the other day where I thought I needed a card for 1989 Topps, only to find not one but two copies of the same card already in the 89T binder.
This got me depressed about the organization of my collection, and it also got me a little concerned… I’d read about other bloggers who discovered that a set they thought was complete turned out to be missing a card or two.
I figured I’d put my fears to rest by starting with 1974 and counting the # of cards in the binder. The regular set is 660 cards, the traded set is 44 cards. If I disregard the “Washington Nat’l Lea” cards and other variations, I should have 704 cards in the binder.
So that’s what I did… and I came up with 703. And I counted again. And it’s still 703.
My older sets are all in their binders by team, not by card number… So I took an electronic copy of the checklist, sorted it by team, and then worked my way through the binder. By doing that, I found that my binder was missing Fred Norman of the Reds.
I thought “Eh, it’s probably just misfiled somewhere, or I thought it was a double when it really isn’t”.
So I went to COMC to see which of the cards I’ve looked at 500,000 times I’m looking for, and…
1974 Topps #581 – Fred Norman – Courtesy of COMC.com
…And I said “Oh.”
“I… I don’t remember that card.”
“Maybe I’ve never had a complete set of 1974 Topps”.
What really makes this weird for me is that I thought I had a MASTER SET of 1974… All of the “Washington Nat’l Lea.” cards and the other variations, plus all the team checklists. I even wrote about it here very nearly a year ago.
I’m trying not to get too worked up about it; I’ve got enough cards in monster boxes to know that just because Fred Norman isn’t in the binder, that doesn’t mean this card isn’t in the house somewhere. I just haven’t had a chance to go digging through my stack of boxes.
…and part of the reason I haven’t had a chance is because I got really concerned and started double-checking my other 1970’s sets. Much to my relief, I do have a complete 1975 set. I haven’t gotten to the others yet.
If anybody else has a story of “I thought it was complete but I was wrong”, please make me feel better and share it in the comments.