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LouMarcon

Classic 50-year-old AHL Gamer

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Thanks to the urging of one of the long-time regulars on this board, I got into buying gamers late in 2012 to supplement my extensive collection of replicas.

My reluctance to get into the gamer collection had been purely financial. Since my hockey heydays were the AHL of the 1960s when I was in high school and college, I reasoned that gamers from this era would be too expensive.

So I started via the relatively inexpensive IHL route, purchasing six Fort Wayne Komets gamers over the next 14 months. Then came a Cleveland Barons throwback gamer from the early 2000s that resembled the Mr. Peanut sweater the now defunct Barons wore in the 1960s at the long-gone Cleveland Area.

That Barons gamer is the one I blame. It planted the seed to get my hands on one of the real deals from the 1960s. For months I monitored the Web sites of the various auction houses, but what I initially suspected was true. An AHL gamer from this era was going to cost $1,500 minimum. That's a lot of coin.

Then a couple of months ago I saw on ebay the topic of this post, a white/red/black all-wool Providence Reds gamer, circa mid-1960s. It was listed as Buy As Is. There was no bidding or "make an offer." The cost was slightly less than the minimum mentioned above, but the description was sketchy and nobody was buying through three listing cycles.

I asked a couple of questions, the seller provided some background on the jersey's history and suggested we talk via the phone. He was asking more than twice what I'd ever paid for any of my other jerseys, so I let the offer to talk pass. But, that ###### Reds jersey wouldn't go away. When it appeared on ebay for a fourth time at the same price, I started doing my research. Everything I found on the Internet and in books and old programs acquired through the years indicated this was the real deal.

And, to top it off, it appeared to be in unbelievable condition for a 50-year-old all-wool. In the ebay pictures, it appeared almost pristine with none of the moth holes that I saw on other jerseys from this era that regularly sold in the $2,000 range. Yeah, the white was faded due to repeated washings back in the day, but despite a couple of black marks on the front (undoubtedly from the black friction tape all of the players of this era used on their sticks) this one appeared undamaged.

From my research, I learned that this style of jersey was worn by the Reds for about four seasons, beginning in the mid- 1960s. Digging further, I learned that No. 10 was worn by journeymen forwards Len Ronson (1964-65) and Doug Senior (1965-66).

My interest now legitimately piqued, I sent the seller a message: Let's talk. And, talk we did, for more than an hour one Saturday night after there were still no takers during the fourth for-sale cycle.

We went back and forth on the price, and I kept pressing for some kind of documentation. The seller did not have a LOA, although he said one of the Canadian auction houses had looked it over shortly after he bought it from a Boston dealer and concluded it was totally legit. I had concluded before we talked that the jersey was the real deal (it matched exactly all of the Internet pictures I found and it had a tag from WA Henry Inc., the now defunct Providence, RI, sporting goods company that supplied jerseys to the Reds in the 1960s) and I further concluded this guy was a straight shooter. At one point, he offered to have a guy at the Hockey Hall of Fame he mentioned by name look it over for a fee. If the HOF concluded it was the real deal, they would provide the LOA that I desired. It was at this point that I began to realize that this guy was also in no hurry to sell.

So I had myself a collector's dilemma. If the seller got a LOA, I reasoned the jersey was worth perhaps 50% more than the price he had listed on ebay. And, if I let him have some expert look it over, there was a good chance that someone in Toronto would buy the jersey before the seller made the three-hour return drive to his home in Rochester, NY.

And, to top it off, I quickly concluded that this guy had deep pockets (much deeper than mine, I reminded him during our conversation), was very deep into collecting old AHL gamers and he didn't need to sell this jersey. And, it became clear he had the means to buy my entire collection of 30 replicas and gamers on the spot.

So it was put-up or shut-up time for me.

I had been burned once in my collecting career, by the owner/operator of the former Vintage Hockey Classics out of Tonawanda, NY. George still owes me $209. But, that was a case of allowing my heart, rather than my brain, to dictate my actions. I saw several warning signals that said beware of VHC, but I allowed my desire for a replica of that ##### 1960s Cleveland Barons Mr. Peanut jersey to overrule my common sense. There were no such warning signals coming from the Rochester guy. He is a highly successful professional whom I began thinking was kind of interviewing me (a retired journalist) during our conversation, almost like he was looking for a worthy person to pass his prize jersey on to.

And, I wanted the jersey -- badly. ###### the cost!

So, after sizing up each other during our discussion of the hobby, our professions, our families and the subject at hand, we cut a deal just before midnight.

My prize arrived a couple of days ago. The quality, the construction is mind-blowing. As another old-timer, much wiser than I, once said: "They don't make them like that anymore." There is one small tear around the waist, and the white, as mentioned, is faded. But, like the wool carpet that was in my late mother's living room, if this jersey is given proper care (ie. keep it away from the moths), it will wear like iron.

The seller suggested a couple of days in the freezer will provide peace of mind by resolving any potential problem of hidden larva. Right now, it's hanging in my cedar closet along with a half dozen other all-wool replicas.

In conclusion, I'm now broke (four replica projects are officially on indefinite hold), but happy I pulled the trigger on a big one. And while I've come to realize that collecting replicas is an enjoyable hobby, several collectors have told me you will never get your money back when it comes time to sell (replicas). Collecting gamers, on the other hand, can be enjoyable as well as an investment if done right. And, this 1960s Providence Reds gamer would appear to be an excellent investment.

(1/6/14 NOTE: At an ice jersey show in Pittsburgh on Saturday Joe Tomon, who is the distributor of the Pittsburgh Penguins' game used jerseys and equipment, gave me some tips on how to care for an all-wool, plus at my request he estimated that this jersey could command as much as $3,500 in the New England market. The estimate, which is about three times what I paid for the jersey, was sight unseen based on my description, but it was still nice to hear. I've seen enough game worns from this era to know that the condition of this one has to be rated as exceptional. Joe also cautioned that the type of thread used in this era to attach the twill numbers/letters often deteriorates over time and the numbers/letters often loosen and eventually fall off. At this point, I see absolutely no evidence of that, but it's certainly something to keep a close eye on).

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wow great story and awesome jersey!! congrats keep her safe

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Excellent story.

One small piece of advice if you're planning on hanging them for a long period of time. The weight of the wool might make stretch points on the jersey shoulders with that style of hanger. They sell a nice heavy gauge rounded tip plastic hanger at wal Mart or target that will preserve the shape without any issues.

Awesome jersey, thanks for sharing!

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Awesome jersey. I used to live less than a mile away from that Providence address on the jersey and have been by there many a time.

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That is really cool and Im definitely glad you went for it. Yeah its tough to pay more for these jerseys but its so worth it in the end. Would you rather have 5 replicas or one of the real thing? For me, its a no brainer! I remember making the switch from replicas to authentics and in recent years authentics to gamers and my only regret is not doing it sooner. Great jersey and congrats!

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Beautiful jersey and beautiful story! I love the detail in your posts and your nose for accuracy. It's great!

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Great story! Let me know if you've got leads on anything from Cleveland, please, Lou!

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Check this one out:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/1947-48-Game-used-Wool-Cleveland-Barons-jersey-/221314242958?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item33875b598e

A wool Barons gamer from the late 1940s. But, it certainly is not cheap.

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Check this one out:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/1947-48-Game-used-Wool-Cleveland-Barons-jersey-/221314242958?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item33875b598e

A wool Barons gamer from the late 1940s. But, it certainly is not cheap.

I had seen that on before! Fantastic quality considering it's age!

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Very cool story Lou. Awesome find and great for your collection! Very nice of you to post a pic too. So cool. I wish some day to find one similar to yours of those ol wool sweaters that the Ft Wayne Komets used to wear from the 50's or 60's Spaceman jersey. I am no way rich by any means so I struggle pull the trigger on some of my past jerseys.

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Awesome story and sweater Lou congrats

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