The summer of 2013 was a distinctly memorable one for a variety of reasons both good and bad. This wasn't my typical summer but it came with some good experiences. Here's a summary of notable events:
- I secured the hotel and flight for the 2013 National that coincidentally was scheduled on the same week as my brother's wedding in which I later discovered was gratefully assigned Groomsman responsibilities. Obviously the wedding took priority over The National.
- I assumed the Groomsman responsibility again the following month for a childhood friend's wedding.
- I left a job I held the previous two years leaving me with a bit of uncertainty but much relief.
- I successfully made my first loaf of banana bread.
- I approached the end of the relationship with the girl I was dating at the time.
- Using the flight credit originally meant for The National, I took a trip to Fort Lauderdale, FL to attend an Executive Leadership Retreat and give a talk on Organizational Development and Affiliate Marketing.
- A consulting gig I did with a private university concluded with excellent results.
- I bought a new MacBook Pro and began writing the first draft of my book, Student to Founder.
- Two mythic Frank Thomas cards I needed surfaced: 1998 Donruss Elite Master Craftsman, and 1999 Fleer Brilliants 24k Gold - both slabbed BGS9 and listed at around the exact same time.
When I discovered the two cards I needed, I aggressively pursued them and came out winning the Master Craftsman, which made me happy but losing the 24k Gold, which made me sad. I waited many years to see a Frank Thomas 1999 Fleer Brilliants 24k Gold so who knows how long I'd have to wait to see another.
Five years later...
In 2018, another 24k Gold surfaced and to my surprise it was the exact same copy I lost in 2013. I know this because I got to know the winner of the original auction over the years and recognized the eBay username. For corroboration, I reached out to the seller and asked if it was the same example and if so, why it was now being sold raw. He said it was the same card and that he'd cracked it out of the slab because he thought it looked better raw, which I respected.
Had I owned it, however, I'd have kept the slab intact because the beautiful shinny gold really complemented the silver on the flip of the BGS9 case. That and this was the only Frank Thomas 1999 Fleer Brilliants 24k Gold slabbed in a BGS9 case, which made it a Pop 1. Unfortunately, we can't say that now that it's been cracked out of the case. If I were to have it slabbed a second time and it again achieved BGS9 status, the Pop would artificially increase to 2.
→ Related article: 1999 Fleer Brilliants 24-Karat Gold Baseball Cards
Going back to the second auction from 2018, as luck would have it, I missed out on that one too. However, it wouldn't be the last time I'd see it.
The second auction was pulled as the seller accepted a private offer. I knew the buyer of this second appearance and messaged him. I explained what I'd been through with the card and if he ever wanted to move it, to please consult with me first.
In early 2019, the buyer of the second auction reached out and offered the card to me for a little more than I would've paid had I won it in 2013. He indicated he was trying to save funds for a bigger card and was looking for a better example of the 24k anyway. The card has some trivial albeit noticeable printing flaws that aren't shown in the photo above. For stuff this rare, I let a lot of those kinds of trivialities slide. Better to have an imperfect example than not have one at all.
During that time, I was in talks with the owner of a second example that surfaced a couple weeks prior but those talks quickly ended when the owner decided to keep the card.
After which, I circled back with the owner of the example I lost in 2013 and closed negotiations. About a week before I made my first payment in late January 2019, a third example surfaced on which the guy I was buying my copy from was bidding. He indicated that even if the card sells for lower then we negotiated, he wouldn't lower the already agreed upon price. While I respected his decision to say that, it wasn't something he needed to point out as I don't go back on my word once an agreement has been made in a negotiation.
By the end of 2019, I had paid off the 1999 Fleer Brilliants 24k Gold Frank Thomas. However, I was buying three other rare Frank Thomas cards from the same seller and I wanted to pay it all off so the four cards could be mailed together.
The final payment for the four cards was sent in April 2020. The cards were received shortly thereafter. You'll notice the print spot along the top edge near his helmet. For a card with a print run of just 24 copies, this kinda thing doesn't really bother me.
So here we are, nearly 7 full years to the month from when I lost the original auction for this exact card in July 2013, it now finally resides in my PC with the rest of its buddies. Welcome home.
Update 4/24/2020: What a funny situation. So upon closer comparison of the card in the sale from 2013 and the example I now own, they are in fact two different copies. The small black printing mark and the slight cropping difference give it away. I actually think the information I've documented is in fact correct. But I also think the seller of the card from 2013 had two copies of this card and the one he sold wasn't the BGS9 copy he cracked out but instead a second raw copy. This is the one that passed through and eventually made it into my collection. Regardless, however, I'm just glad to finally have an example of the Frank Thomas 1999 Fleer Brilliants 24k Gold.