Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Eye candy for Armour coin buffs

I don't ever recall owning a 1955, 1959 or 1960 Armour coin back in the day when they were being packaged with hot dogs. We were probably an Oscar Mayer family.

When I got active in the hobby in the late 1970s, I became aware of them, but other than an occasional piece that came my way when buying collections, I never pursued them.

As a got involved in card cataloging in the early 1980s, I began to learn more and more about how complex this issue can be for die-hard collectors. Besides common, scarce, rare and one-of-a-kind color variations, there are many major and minor variations in coin details, such as tilt of the player portrait, spacing of lettering, errors and corrections of names and stats, etc.

It would be impossible to catalog the issue in a comprehensive manner, much less than attempt a master collection, even though there were only 64 "basic" coins issued over the three years.

While reading microfilm of 1960 Sporting News issues recently, I discovered that the April 27 issue had a full-page ad on the back cover detailing Armour's baseball coin promotion for the year. I thought that was worth sharing here.

The 1960 Armour issue, of course, was the source of the legendary hobby rarity, the Bud Daley coin. For some reason, while the typical '60 Armour of a "common" player sells for $10-15, the Daley piece is an $800-1,000 coin in even the most common color of plastic.

There doesn't seem to
 be an easy explanation for why the Daley coin is so scarce. He was traded from the Red Sox to the Athletics on Dec. 3, 1959, and spent the full season with Kansas City. So it's not like he was traded or sent down in mid-season and the coin was pulled from distribution.

That leaves only a contract dispute or production problems as the most likely reason for the Daley coin's scarcity. And, since we don't know a whole lot about how the Armour coins were made, other than it was by an injection molded plastic technique, it would be difficult to say why fewer of Daley's coins were produced or released.

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