Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The Original Wallet Cards

In the time that I was away from Wrigley Roster Jenga, I was still passively collecting baseball cards.  Honestly, the almighty Cubs All-Time Roster Collection has never been fully ignored in the nearly two decades that I've been assembling it.  However, with baseball being absent all spring due to the pandemic and then testing my nerves when it finally came back mid-summer, my true focus shifted to my other prime hoarding hobby - record collecting.

Ever since I was a wannabe radio DJ in college, I've been slowly putting together a record collection that I am quite proud to own.  Of course, it's not exactly a museum-worthy collation of albums because I don't give a damn about resale value and I purchase them for use, not display.  Furthermore, I do most of my shopping at resale shops and garage sales because there's no greater thrill than finding a sought after LP in the bargain bin.  Every now and then, I'll pull the trigger on a "mint in package" repress from a big box retailer or something off of the top shelf at the local record shop; but, my focus is definitely on treasure hunting.  


All things considered, I think I've put together a pretty good library over the last decade plus.  My tastes skew towards punk, cheesy 80's pop, Motown, emo music from the early aughts, and a whole lotta classic rock, so those genres take up most of the space on my shelves.  Just in case you were curious.

With that in mind, the spring and summer of 2020 were spent obsessively sifting through OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace.  After all, being stuck in quarantine, I had nothing better to do than listen to records all day and my need to collect wasn't being satiated by baseball card hunting on Ebay.  One of the black platters than I acquired during this period of obsessive hunting was a marquee release from one of the biggest names in 70's rock:

Alice Cooper - both his solo career and the original Alice Cooper band - is one of those artists that still commands a premium.  Thus, the shock rocker's only representation in my collection heretofore was a copy of his 1989 LP, Trash, that I pilfered from the archives of my college's radio station.  However, as much as I enjoy Poison, that hair metal offering from near the end of Alice's relevance doesn't hold a candle to Billion Dollar Babies, the green goodie that you see above.  

The sixth offering from Cooper was unleashed on the public in 1973 and features several now classic rock radio standards.  Elected, No More Mr. Nice Guy, the title track and a slew of other rockers came to define shock rock and early heavy metal and further pushed the Alice Cooper name into the mainstream.  All in all, I don't think it's much of hot take to say that this album is one of the most significant rock and roll LP's from the decade and I was super pumped to come across a copy in a good condition and price range for my collection.

Lo and behold, imagine my surprise when I opened the gatefold and realized that Billion Dollar Babies has something to offer for both my record AND trading card collections:

Remember, I was a born in 1989 and am a child of the 90's - squarely in the CD era of music distribution.  In high school and college, the iPod emerged and physical media was suddenly an endangered species.  Thus, while I am quite familiar with the discographies of my favorite artists and the trivia and stats of their releases, the album packaging is something I am constantly learning more and more about as I acquire each artifact.

Therefore, I had no way of knowing that the wallet-like design of Billion Dollar Babies was more than just a layout on the outer cover.  One I opened the gatefold, I noticed the raised money clip and I've come to find out that the album originally came with a large "billion dollar bill" to nestle underneath.  That funny money wasn't the only premium that came with the wallet.  Those pictures of the band that you see on the left panel aren't just there to let you know what the group looks like; they're actually a perforated sheet of genuine Alice Cooper band trading cards!

I guess you can say that these were the original "wallet cards!"

I apologize for the fuzzy picture - this is what happens when you rely on a camera phone and are too cheap to buy a scanner.  Perhaps I should crack open my own wallet...

Anyway, these oddballs feature head-shots of all the classic AC band members (complete with facsimile signatures), an array of "in action" stage snapshots, and a promo picture for the Billion Dollar Babies tour/album.  Of the bunch, I'd have to say that pasteboard of Alice and his slithery friend on the bottom left is by far the most interesting.  Shades of 1984 Donruss Glenn Hubbard!  Anyway, the cards themselves are slightly smaller than standard, measuring approximately, 2" x 3" and feature completely blank backs.  Additionally, they're all centered around a logo card for the album itself, which - unlike the rest - is perfectly square.

You sure don't get that from a CD jacket or a .jpg on iTunes or Spotify!

Uncovering these oddballs made for a welcome surprise, one that came completely out of left field.  For now, rather than punch them out and mangle my album, I'll leave them in there so that I can enjoy them every time I spin Billion Dollar Babies. I might not seek out mint condition records for my collection, but I sure don't intend to actively mangle them either.  You might say that would be my "nightmare!"

Okay, so that's a terrible pun based on the wrong album, but it's my blog and I'll ruin the internet in whatever way I so choose.  
At any rate, how would you handle this oddball situation?  Would you punch out these cards and page them up in a binder?  Perhaps you'd tack them to your wall like a teenager from the 70's?  Would you stuff them in your own, actual wallet like pictures of your children?  Or, maybe you'd do as I did and leave them be - they've been there close to fifty years now, why disturb them?  Please feel free to let me know in the comment section below!

Now, while we're on the topic of records, I'm also going to take this opportunity to show off some of my other recent hauls of stacks of wax:

That's just SOME of the albums that I've added to my library in the last year.  Like I said, I'd been a busy boy in collecting while WRJ was on hiatus, just not so much with baseball cards.  And, believe it or not, none of those LP's cost me more than a buck each. 

Thank you for entertaining my humble brag.

Does anyone else out there on the blogosphere also dabble in record collecting?  Personally, I've actually thought about starting up another blog to babble on and on about my other favorite hobby, but I have a hard enough time keeping the cobwebs off of the webspace that I'm managing already.  For now, I'll settle for the occasional tie-ins which meld the world of cards and vinyl into one neat and blog-able package, such as this "shocking" discovery.

It happens more often than you'd think!


  1. Super jealous of Pyromania. Can't remember the first album I ever bought... but there's a chance that was it. Or maybe it was Synchronicity. Owned and loved both of them.

  2. I don't collect records, but I do collect songs. I have the Beach Boys Christmas album on CD.

  3. I have quite a few records, but I wouldn't call them a collection, or refer to myself as a record collector. And mine are definitely for listening, I don't have anything for show. And as for your wallet cards, I'd just leave them in there.