This past week was a great one for me, in terms of collecting. I picked up a couple of neat pieces that were pretty important to my collection. One of them was the 1966 Topps Bobby Jancik card, which completed my fully-autographed ’66 set. I have mentioned in the past the difficulty in finding signed Jancik cards, but frankly, the 1966 Topps set is littered with cards that are very difficult to find in autographed form.
Card #18 – Dave Behrman – I have heard that Dave Behrman has been in poor health for several years, however that cannot be the sole reason that his signed cards (he also has a 1964 Topps) are so difficult to find, as there should be plenty of vintage-signed examples. However, there just aren’t. My guess is that Behrman was never a big fan of signing autographs, and likely has not done so in several years.
Card #32 – Cookie Gilchrist – All Gilchrist-signed cards are difficult to find. As he began to deal with mental issues brought about by brain trauma from his playing days, Cookie Gilchrist withdrew more and more from society. With the exception of a signing that he did right before his passing, the vast majority of signed Gilchrist items on the market are going to have vintage signatures.
Card #38 – Charlie Janerette – Janerette is another player that dealt with mental issues in his post-football days. These issues likely played in role in his death in 1984. Janerette was shot and killed by a Philadelphia policeman after he sat in the officer’s squad car when the officer was questioning two moped drivers. The officer was later found to be “justified, but negligent” in the shooting.
Card #75 – Otis Taylor – In a theme that seems to be all too prevalent in this set, Otis Taylor, too, has been dealing with post-football health issues. A longtime sufferer of Parkinson’s Disease and other maladies, Taylor is reportedly confined to his bed now, and can no longer speak. Other Otis Taylor signed cards can be found with a bit more ease. My guess is that the higher price tag on this rookie card kept many collectors from sending it to Taylor in healthier times.
Card #120 – Frank Buncom – Frank Buncom is a key card in any signed set in which he appears. Having died of a pulmonary embolism in 1969, Buncom is one of the AFL’s earliest casualties, and one who had previously appeared on several trading cards (1965-1969 Topps).
While the men listed above are certainly the most difficult signed cards to obtain, there is also a “lower-tier” of challenging cards as well. Bob Dee, Jack Kemp, Tom Sestak, Scott Appleton, Don Floyd, Jerry Mays, Bo Roberson, Verlon Biggs, Dee Mackey, Sherman Plunkett, George Sauer, and Don Norton can all be challenging cards to find. In addition, the popularity of Kemp, Len Dawson and Joe Namath will keep you searching for these cards, even though Dawson and Namath still participate in paid signings, at least on an infrequent basis.