It’s been less than a year since I first showed my 6 of 5 H&P Bailey Patches and I feel the issue has now been resolved with the release of Final Vault. With all the drama that we’ve seen in this discussion, a Springer-esque “Final Thought” seems appropriate.  I’ll address some unanswered questions sent my way and share some points of interest I discovered. 

Hobby Insider is the best!

I posted the original 6of5 thread on several hobby boards, and HI was the only board to give it traction to the point of resolution.  The passion expressed by the ITG “Lovers” and “Haters” and all in between is fantastic.  Gomaz and the mods exercised extreme patience to let the thread run its course.  There were several times I thought the HI thread was going to be locked down because of disruptions to the fact finding mission. Hobby Insiders rock!!

The Bailey Patches

During our chat at Fall Expo 2015, Dr. Price offered to re-acquire one of the 6 patches to restore the population back to 5/5.  I respectfully declined for the following reasons:

  • It’s a damn cool accomplishment
  • The 6 cards have been documented independently in the PSA POP Report, which can’t be easily undone.
  • I had other expenses tied into the Bailey patches which were by my choice, and would not be as easily compensated (PSA Grading and costs of my website).  So I’d rather keep the 6 Baileys as the memento of the extra costs incurred.

The 6 Bailey patches are still in my possession and I have no plans to move any of them.

The Vaive Emblems
In the same chat, Dr. Price asked about the 4 Vaive emblems to restore their population to 3.  After the Fall Expo, I consulted gallinator (who owns the other 2 copies) and we agreed that I would return one of my cards to Dr. Price.   Dr. Price and I did an in-person “trading card” swap at Spring Expo 2016 to pass 1 Vaive back to him.  The trade was fair for both parties, and certainly not excessive.  I want to make it clear I never held the cards hostage, nor asked a King’s ransom in return.  I was only looking for what I had spent on the card from Dave & Adam’s.  Additionally, gallinator now has my other Vaive emblem, so he has the complete 3/3 population.

Legal Beagle
When this story first broke, I received encouragement from hobbyists and outsiders to seek legal consultation.  This was in the early stages last summer when there was no feedback from the old ITG camp as to what had transpired.  Legal action was considered as a method to publicize the issue and hopefully get some answers faster.  Let me just say it is amazing how disinterested lawyers become in a potential lawsuit when you mention “hockey cards”, despite how much they would charge in fees.  Thankfully, resolution to this issue came outside the courtroom and I didn’t have to pay any lawyers, who would have been the only winners in the end.

Patrick Englert vs Topps
While considering the legal avenue, I researched the original Englert vs Topps case involving the 159 copies of the 1995-96 Topps Finest Gold Refractor Jaromir Jagr card, with a stated print run of 150.  Here are some interesting findings that are outside the common Google search on the topic.  

Missouri Court Records

You can see some of the legal activity of the court case here and search for Case Number 00CV126161

Patrick Englert’s “Topps Fraud” website

The archived website sharing Englert’s experience with his case is here.

Take away:  Yes, Englert won the case and was awarded $167,000 but the trial took 4 years and his legal fees were over $135,000!!

Valerie Schremp-Hahn (Reporter, St Louis Post-Dispatch)
Ms. Hahn reported the Englert vs Topps Court Case for the local newspaper.  I reached out to her to see if she had any notes, etc about the case.    She was only able to provide these 2 articles she wrote at the time:

Take Away: Topps never disputed their advertisement of only 150 copies nor the fact the Englert had collected more than 150 copies of the card. Yet, they went to trial and the lawyers were paid $100,000s over 4 years.  

David T. Hamilton, Lawyer
Mr. Hamilton was the primary lawyer that represented Patrick Englert in the Topps case.  I reached out to Mr. Hamilton requesting any information from the case.  Here is his reply:

"I’m sorry, but that file was closed in 2003 and I no longer have access to any of the materials.  There was no transcript of the trial testimony because there was no appeal by Topps.  I can tell you, however, that the main issue that persuaded the jury to find in favor of the Plaintiff was the fact that Topps made specific representations that the number of cards would be limited to 150 and the evidence was clear that they did not make a serious effort to make sure the number of cards sold was limited to 150 and they had no way in their production system to even monitor conclusively that only a certain number of cards were produced.

 There were no expert witnesses.

 Sorry I cannot be of more help."

Take away:  Englert won the case simply because he proved he had more copies than the stated print run.  There was no onus on the plaintiff to prove the “how or why”.  It didn’t matter if they fell in the hopper or if they had been backdoored.  Their existence was PROOF enough.

Englert’s Jagr Sales
Shortly after the trial, Mr. Englert broke up his Jagr collection and sold individual cards on eBay and the Newsgroups.  I seem to recall he sold packages that included the card along with copies of legal documentation from the court case.  Did anyone happen to purchase these packages from Englert?  Anyone have access to the copies of legal documentation he sold?

Paul Lesko

Mr. Lesko is a lawyer, hobbyist and blogger.  He reports on the underbelly of the hobby writing about various court cases involving hobby companies (Beckett, Panini, UD, Topps, etc).   I reached out to Mr. Lesko and although he found my story intriguing, he was not able to report it.  He only writes about filed lawsuits “to avoid any allegations of business disparagement, etc…”  You can find his articles here.

Save the drama for your Mama!
There was a lot of criticism that this entire issue was over-blown.  With the release of Final Vault containing the liquidated cards at the heart of the matter, we now see the quantity and the quality of cards involved.  Sure, there are a lot of “Dollar Bin” cards, but there are also a LOT of amazing cards of considerable cost and significance.  Vezina BAP Memorabilia pad card.  Wayne Gretzky BAP Autographs.  McDavid autographs. Vintage memorabilia.   Just to be perfectly clear, please take careful note of the following:

ALL the cards in Final Vault were liquidated to the secondary market last year in their unstamped state, compromising the checklists and integrity of their sets.  We’re talking about 1000s of cards!! Our research only uncovered the tippity-top of the iceberg. 

The Harsh Hobby
This Hobby is more than just collecting hockey cards.  We each have different collecting styles; player, team, set, rookie, what-have-you.  Some of us enjoy the comradery of trade shows and online communities.  We all find enjoyment in different aspects.  Some of us also enjoy the “behind the scenes” aspect of the hobby.  If you find these topics annoying or too negative, I suggest you move along to another thread or stick to Show & Tell threads that are less controversial.  There is no need to try to censor contributors.  

We also value the hobby differently.  It’s not always about $.  The integrity of our collections and the time we invest are also valuable. The fact that you are on this board right now, reading this long winded summary means you value your hobby time more than your work, friends and family at this exact moment.  The time you took to read this note could have been spent elsewhere – but it wasn’t.  And that’s OK.

The ITG Loyalists
I was often frustrated with your unconditional loyalty to Dr. Price & ITG and even wondered if you were being deliberately obtuse.  Regardless, you forced our research to be more factually accurate and compelling.  Without your staunch support of ITG, we may never have exposed the truth. Thank you for your participation in the discussion -- and enjoy eating your crow. 

Final Thought!

Grassroots Grievances
This thread proves collectors still have power with our voice – assuming the target of discourse is actually listening and willing.  I give Dr. Price kudos in this regard for taking responsibility and trying to undo the damage from the liquidation.

So, what’s next?   Will others be as willing to listen and respond to collectors’ voices? 

‘Til next time, take care of yourself – and each other.