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The City Journals

Memorabilia Collectors Search for Favorites at Valley Fair Mall

Jan 28, 2016 08:58AM ● By Bryan Scott

By Greg James | [email protected]

West Valley - Sports card collecting is a hobby that can attract collectors of all ages. The Valley Fair Mall in West Valley hosts its own core of collectors every other month. 

“The mall has been a great place for us to come. We get some hard core collectors and casual fans that wander by and see something that catches their eye,” card show organizer Dave Avila said.

The shows at the mall included 20 tables and approximately 14 card dealers. The next card show is scheduled for Super Bowl weekend, Feb. 6-8.

“They drive some traffic into the mall. We absolutely see an increase in the number of people in the mall. We find a lot of people like to get memorabilia for gifts, and these collectors know a lot about this merchandise. Plus, they all get a chance to get together and talk sports,” Valley Fair Mall director of events Jan Brownstein said.

Sports cards began as promotional items for tobacco companies. In the 1930s, the tobacco was replaced with bubble gum. After World War II, cards began to be produced regularly first by Bowman then Topps. Since the late ‘80s, sports card sets and companies exploded in popularity. Several card companies now exist including Topps, Upper Deck and Panini.

“I like the pictures of the players. When I was younger, I used to lay the baseball cards out in their positions and play pretend games. I even have baseball cards with my picture on them from little league. I have worked with the Bees and enjoy collecting cards of the players I have met,” collector Chris James said.

There are as many different ways to collect as there are types of collectors. Some casual fans may think of sports cards as strictly baseball cards, but there is a lot more than that to choose from. Cards have been produced for most major sports, including soccer, baseball, basketball, hockey, golf and racing.

Many people collect cards by building sets, others collect cards from a particular team or player. One local fan collects only players who played for BYU.

“I collect New York Yankees cards and unique cards. I also like Utah Jazz stuff. That is the beauty of collecting cards. You can have stuff from today that is neat and cards that are 100 years old,” Avila said.

The T206 Honus Wagner baseball card was issued by the American Tobacco Company from 1909 to 1910. Wagner refused to allow production of his baseball card to continue because he did not want children to buy cigarette packs to get his card.  The ATC stopped production of his card and only distributed 50-200 cards (the exact number is unknown).  In 2011 the Arizona Diamondbacks owner purchased the only known remaining card for $2.8 million. The Wagner card is considered to be the most valuable card in history by many collectors.

The shows at the mall have also included autograph tables with local athletes like Ron Fellows (Dallas Cowboys), and players from the Grizzlies and the Blaze.

“These shows are fun. We have started having them at Southtowne and Layton Hills malls too,” Avila said.