That’s a ‘Lot of Cards’

Local company offering free collectible shows

Photo by Loretta Jackson Lot of Cards collectible card business owner Mike Levine, left, of Nashua, shares a look at some vintage baseball cards with collector Paul Frasca, of Hudson, as collector Matt Morse, right, of Nashua, inspects a stack of football and hockey cards destined for display and sale at Levine’s Saturday card shows, three free events upcoming on April 7, May 12 and June 9 at the Holiday Inn Nashua.

A field of dreams for collectors of baseball, football, hockey and other varieties of collectible cards awaits as a set of three free monthly Saturday Card Shows, hosted by Lot of Cards in Nashua, returns to the Holiday Inn in Nashua.

The events provide card collectors a trio of Saturday opportunities to get an early start on their weekend of sports card collecting. The shows are sponsored by Lot of Cards owner Mike Levine, a Nashuan and possessor of tens of thousands to well over a million collectible cards that are the foundation of his business. That business today takes up a hefty chunk of his time, plus abundant amounts of showroom spaces in an exhibit and sales area within his residence.

“I’ve been collecting since the early 1970s,” said Levine. “There used to be card shows at the Holiday Inn, so it’s good to be back there and to have Saturday shows that have free admission and don’t compete with Sunday shows here or in Massachusetts.”

A highlight of the Saturday, May 12, show will be a celebrity appearance by Deatrich Wise Jr., a 6-foot 5-inch, 271-pound fireball from the New England Patriots. The 23-year-old defensive end was drafted last year and scored his first career tackle by sacking quarterback Alex Smith in the first game of the season, the opener against Kansas City. Autographs and photo opps – a sure bet.

Levine said that card collecting is a hobby that families can enjoy together. Cards often focus on sports but there are cards featuring movie stars, animals and famous places, in addition to cards commemorating television shows, superheroes and cartoon characters, plus many more categories.

“What I love is to watch the fathers who come to a card show with their kids,” said Levine. “It’s a shared hobby that has picked back up as the next generation takes to card collecting rather than looking at video games.”

Levine said there is a wealth of information on the back of every card. He specializes in sports cards and enjoys showing people how to read the statistics, histories and other details about the featured athletes. He consults three companies – Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), Beckett Grading Services (BGS), and Sportscard Guaranty (SGC) for certifications of authenticity and monetary evaluations of selected cards.

“The same companies that have been making cards since the 1930s are still making them,” said Levine. “Most people have heard of Fleer and Topps and Bowman, manufacturers of thousands of collectible cards.”

He pauses to introduce customer Paul Frasca, of Hudson, who has been collecting since 1985. Frasca is assisting Levine in conducting the upcoming Holiday Inn Nashua shows. The events are expected to draw dozens of vendors and hundreds of visitors.

Frasca said he was introduced to card collecting when he went with a neighbor to a card show. He said the suspense of wondering what kind of a treasure might be found in an old box of cards is an excitement that has not waned in more than three decades.

“The hunt is like a rush,” said Frasca. “One time, I bought three boxes of cards for $40 and found – just loose in the box, not even in a plastic case – a Tom Brady rookie card that I sold for $835.”

A quick search reveals other excitements. A Forbes report by David Seideman published on Dec. 29, 2016, cites a 1952 Topps baseball card of Mickey Mantle selling at auction for $1,135, 250. A Topps 1968 Nolan Ryan rookie card of the “strike-out king” brought $612,359. Similar items abound.

Meanwhile, Matt Morse, of Nashua, called ahead to Lot of Cards and soon visited. Levine and Frasca were busy unpacking some boxes destined for the April show at the Holiday Inn Nashua. Morse calls his variety of card collecting a “side hobby” and one that peaked his interest after discovering the Lot of Cards business on Craigslist.

“These shows will be a good thing for Nashua,” Morse said. “It’s good to have something that’s local and free and brings like-minded people together.”

Levine agreed. He said the card-collecting population spans generations. There are many people still trying to complete sets of cards from the 1950s, 60s and 70s, “on up,” he added. The search isn’t over until the last card of a set with a designated number of member cards has been attained.

“There’s certainly something for everyone,” Levine said. “The three shows scheduled at this time will feature newer cards and vintage cards, plus there is free admission, so just walk around and browse.”