Remembering Robert J. Foster - What Are Your Thoughts?

Remembering Robert J. Foster - What Are Your Thoughts?

Joined: April 24th, 2007, 9:14 pm

July 19th, 2007, 4:24 pm #1

I thought I would put out (contribute) my first post!

How many of you remember Robert J. Foster, a dealer from Connecticut. What are your thoughts, stories, etc.?

Many years back, he would set up at the various Paper Shows - Allentown, PA; Hartford, CT; Hackensack, NJ. Prior to his passing on, he also maintained a website, I recollect under the name RJBALROG.

He always had a very scraggly look about him; and certainly his appearance did not match the generally high quality and uniqueness of the material he was selling! He always appeared grumpy and disinterested, often nodding off as he lay in his planted seat!

His prices at the time were out of this world! However, he has ABSOLUTELY GREAT STUFF!!!! He had absolutely wonderful Tobacco Advertising Display Banners & other pieces; in addition to maintaining a healthy stock of Tobacco Premiums – cards, silks, leathers, albums, etc. He was ABSOLUTELY KING of the Pinbacks!!!!

At first his demeanor and prices intimidated me, and I just looks & admired. However, I finally decided to inquire about a couple of items of obvious interest. My father was with me at the time; and was AMAZED at Robert's transformation from grumpiness & disinterest TO Animation & Information/ Knowledge Sharing. I made my first purchase from him that day! I discovered that as a regular customer he would work with me as to his prices

One caution I always had was with framed display pieces, I could not always determine (or trust) whether there was any restoration or the degree of such. Accordingly, I tended to stay away from such items.

I believe Robert J. Foster was ahead of his time......a pioneer! The collecting public had not caught up with his material or prices! I believe he would absolutely thrive in today’s collectible climate!

Again, what are your thoghts...stories?

Glenn Mechanick




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Joined: November 8th, 2006, 6:04 pm

July 19th, 2007, 4:41 pm #2

I thought Bob was sorta remembered awhile back, so I did a search.
It would be great to get some more thoughts of that icon.
What a guy !

He got his tobacco pieces restored from a super restorer in California.
He naver gave me the name, but told me to check with any paper/ephemera
dealer that had posters/prints and they would direct me to his contact.
I never did that either. But he sure was a character

http://www.network54.com/Forum/526604/m ... BOB+FOSTER
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Joined: January 17th, 2007, 4:16 am

August 3rd, 2007, 11:32 pm #3

I thought I would put out (contribute) my first post!

How many of you remember Robert J. Foster, a dealer from Connecticut. What are your thoughts, stories, etc.?

Many years back, he would set up at the various Paper Shows - Allentown, PA; Hartford, CT; Hackensack, NJ. Prior to his passing on, he also maintained a website, I recollect under the name RJBALROG.

He always had a very scraggly look about him; and certainly his appearance did not match the generally high quality and uniqueness of the material he was selling! He always appeared grumpy and disinterested, often nodding off as he lay in his planted seat!

His prices at the time were out of this world! However, he has ABSOLUTELY GREAT STUFF!!!! He had absolutely wonderful Tobacco Advertising Display Banners & other pieces; in addition to maintaining a healthy stock of Tobacco Premiums – cards, silks, leathers, albums, etc. He was ABSOLUTELY KING of the Pinbacks!!!!

At first his demeanor and prices intimidated me, and I just looks & admired. However, I finally decided to inquire about a couple of items of obvious interest. My father was with me at the time; and was AMAZED at Robert's transformation from grumpiness & disinterest TO Animation & Information/ Knowledge Sharing. I made my first purchase from him that day! I discovered that as a regular customer he would work with me as to his prices

One caution I always had was with framed display pieces, I could not always determine (or trust) whether there was any restoration or the degree of such. Accordingly, I tended to stay away from such items.

I believe Robert J. Foster was ahead of his time......a pioneer! The collecting public had not caught up with his material or prices! I believe he would absolutely thrive in today’s collectible climate!

Again, what are your thoghts...stories?

Glenn Mechanick



Most people thought Bob's PRICES were ahead of their time! But he must have sold enough to keep in business, because he was around a pretty long time. He had lots of original art for sale too. I heard someone tell me (I think it was Jim Trever) that he saw Bob at a show with some Mars Attacks original artwork that he wanted $450 or so for, and the person thought it was too much. I think this was in the 70s or early 80s. Of course, later he reconsidered and the piece was gone. Later, (2 decades later?) other Mars Attacks artwork would sell for $35,000 or so.

Whenever I approached Bob, I knew I could not afford anything he had, but I always looked. He wasn't rude, or even grumpy, but the fact that he just kind of ignored you probably made many people think he was being stand off-ish. He always had SEVERAL tables, and rarely more than one person at it (if that many). I guess most people viewed it as the Rolls Royce stall at the flea Market. Still, you have to appreciate the fact he introduced a lot of people to stuff they would not normally see, and didn't charge admission to view his traveling museum of wonders. And he certainly supported the Wrapper with a lot of ads over the years.
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Joined: June 20th, 2004, 12:13 am

August 6th, 2007, 10:59 pm #4

I thought I would put out (contribute) my first post!

How many of you remember Robert J. Foster, a dealer from Connecticut. What are your thoughts, stories, etc.?

Many years back, he would set up at the various Paper Shows - Allentown, PA; Hartford, CT; Hackensack, NJ. Prior to his passing on, he also maintained a website, I recollect under the name RJBALROG.

He always had a very scraggly look about him; and certainly his appearance did not match the generally high quality and uniqueness of the material he was selling! He always appeared grumpy and disinterested, often nodding off as he lay in his planted seat!

His prices at the time were out of this world! However, he has ABSOLUTELY GREAT STUFF!!!! He had absolutely wonderful Tobacco Advertising Display Banners & other pieces; in addition to maintaining a healthy stock of Tobacco Premiums – cards, silks, leathers, albums, etc. He was ABSOLUTELY KING of the Pinbacks!!!!

At first his demeanor and prices intimidated me, and I just looks & admired. However, I finally decided to inquire about a couple of items of obvious interest. My father was with me at the time; and was AMAZED at Robert's transformation from grumpiness & disinterest TO Animation & Information/ Knowledge Sharing. I made my first purchase from him that day! I discovered that as a regular customer he would work with me as to his prices

One caution I always had was with framed display pieces, I could not always determine (or trust) whether there was any restoration or the degree of such. Accordingly, I tended to stay away from such items.

I believe Robert J. Foster was ahead of his time......a pioneer! The collecting public had not caught up with his material or prices! I believe he would absolutely thrive in today’s collectible climate!

Again, what are your thoghts...stories?

Glenn Mechanick



He was a real character, indeed, but insofar as nonsports cards were concerned, he really "had the goods".  I bought some great stuff from him down through the years though never enjoyed having to deal with him.  At the time his prices seemed a bit astronomical but in retrospect, they now look like bargains!

Best item I got from Bob was, as I recall, a complete set in high grade of the Rinso Blue "Paladin" soap cards.  Also got a nice Heinz Aviation store sales poster, framed.

His table at shows was always something like a little museum, and everything great from the 1930s was over there, on display.  But as others pointed out, often there was nobody there, no browsing customers, due no doubt to Bob's gruff manner. 

Anytime I was at another dealer's table near Bob, enjoying the slow hunt for cards on my wantlists, if I made the mistake of making eye contact with him he'd holler out with a growl, "So let's go already!  When the hell you getting over here??? You KNOW you need this stuff !!!"  Liked his stuff, didn't like him or his prices.  Bob's table would usually be my last stop, for items I couldn't find elsewhere in the room . . .
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Joined: April 17th, 2012, 2:09 am

April 17th, 2012, 2:38 am #5

I thought I would put out (contribute) my first post!

How many of you remember Robert J. Foster, a dealer from Connecticut. What are your thoughts, stories, etc.?

Many years back, he would set up at the various Paper Shows - Allentown, PA; Hartford, CT; Hackensack, NJ. Prior to his passing on, he also maintained a website, I recollect under the name RJBALROG.

He always had a very scraggly look about him; and certainly his appearance did not match the generally high quality and uniqueness of the material he was selling! He always appeared grumpy and disinterested, often nodding off as he lay in his planted seat!

His prices at the time were out of this world! However, he has ABSOLUTELY GREAT STUFF!!!! He had absolutely wonderful Tobacco Advertising Display Banners & other pieces; in addition to maintaining a healthy stock of Tobacco Premiums – cards, silks, leathers, albums, etc. He was ABSOLUTELY KING of the Pinbacks!!!!

At first his demeanor and prices intimidated me, and I just looks & admired. However, I finally decided to inquire about a couple of items of obvious interest. My father was with me at the time; and was AMAZED at Robert's transformation from grumpiness & disinterest TO Animation & Information/ Knowledge Sharing. I made my first purchase from him that day! I discovered that as a regular customer he would work with me as to his prices

One caution I always had was with framed display pieces, I could not always determine (or trust) whether there was any restoration or the degree of such. Accordingly, I tended to stay away from such items.

I believe Robert J. Foster was ahead of his time......a pioneer! The collecting public had not caught up with his material or prices! I believe he would absolutely thrive in today’s collectible climate!

Again, what are your thoghts...stories?

Glenn Mechanick



I met Robert in person at a non-sports show in a hotel near LaGuardia Airport in New York City within the 1977-1982 range when I was first collecting.

It was amazing what he had with him. I originally showed up to purchase his high quality set of "Foreign Legion" cards for at the time $500 and then saw the rest of his holdings. High quality stacks of cards from "Mars Attacks", "G-Men" and many more.

Amazingly he allowed me to take home my purchases beyond the "Foreign Legion" set as he trusted me. Seems he knew of me from my dealings with a few other non-sports mainstays from that era...Val DeCarlo, Tony Cento and John Neuner (the guy who swapped the light bulbs on top of the Empire State Bulding and sold them in "The Wrapper").

I credit Robert for assisting me in completing my "G-Men" set back then. It was a time when I did not even know what a full set constituted. Now I know better.

Over the years I noticed that he became more active with original art of non sports cards which was way beyond my price range. Never knew what happened to him after I left the hobby in 1982.

I resurfaced in 2005 and was pleasantly surprised to see that Roxanne Toser is still in the hobby. But the few others that I recall such as Jim & Sue Nicewander, Mark Macaluso and Ken Caviness, I have yet to see them in recent issues of "The Wrapper". Seems like it is a whole new generation in the non sports hobby now.

A few years back I made a lump sum purchase from Dennis Casey of "Casey's Collectibles" and obtained all of his high number "G-Men" cards. He mentioned to me that he thought Robert had passed away and that likely so did Val DeCarlo. These were great hobbyists and a collector's dream...such nice people and so very generous.

What I appreciated most about Robert and Val were their attention to detail. In the days before PSA grading these were the real experts. They would teach me the minute differences between Mint, near mint, excellent, very good, good and everything inbetween. A valuable art that every collector should learn, and they were so eager to help a new collector out in that respect.
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Joined: November 8th, 2006, 1:54 am

April 17th, 2012, 11:49 am #6

I thought I would put out (contribute) my first post!

How many of you remember Robert J. Foster, a dealer from Connecticut. What are your thoughts, stories, etc.?

Many years back, he would set up at the various Paper Shows - Allentown, PA; Hartford, CT; Hackensack, NJ. Prior to his passing on, he also maintained a website, I recollect under the name RJBALROG.

He always had a very scraggly look about him; and certainly his appearance did not match the generally high quality and uniqueness of the material he was selling! He always appeared grumpy and disinterested, often nodding off as he lay in his planted seat!

His prices at the time were out of this world! However, he has ABSOLUTELY GREAT STUFF!!!! He had absolutely wonderful Tobacco Advertising Display Banners & other pieces; in addition to maintaining a healthy stock of Tobacco Premiums – cards, silks, leathers, albums, etc. He was ABSOLUTELY KING of the Pinbacks!!!!

At first his demeanor and prices intimidated me, and I just looks & admired. However, I finally decided to inquire about a couple of items of obvious interest. My father was with me at the time; and was AMAZED at Robert's transformation from grumpiness & disinterest TO Animation & Information/ Knowledge Sharing. I made my first purchase from him that day! I discovered that as a regular customer he would work with me as to his prices

One caution I always had was with framed display pieces, I could not always determine (or trust) whether there was any restoration or the degree of such. Accordingly, I tended to stay away from such items.

I believe Robert J. Foster was ahead of his time......a pioneer! The collecting public had not caught up with his material or prices! I believe he would absolutely thrive in today’s collectible climate!

Again, what are your thoghts...stories?

Glenn Mechanick



Robert: Mark Macaluso also passed away a long time ago, sometime around 2000 I think. I posted my memories of Bob Foster in the earlier thread. I also bought a lot of stuff and had good conversations with Val DeCarlo over the years, although my last interaction with him didn't end well. He always asserted that any Dietz Playbucks that was found without a crease was a forgery. In some discussion, I put forth the more likely possibility (in my mind at least) that such play bucks were just uncirculated. He got furious with me for questioning his expertise and wouldn't talk to me again. Sad. He also asserted that there was no McKinley card but I guess he relented on that one once several of them surfaced. Val was a super knowledgeable guy regarding most aspects of the hobby though.
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Joined: June 3rd, 2010, 1:35 pm

April 18th, 2012, 3:20 am #7

I thought I would put out (contribute) my first post!

How many of you remember Robert J. Foster, a dealer from Connecticut. What are your thoughts, stories, etc.?

Many years back, he would set up at the various Paper Shows - Allentown, PA; Hartford, CT; Hackensack, NJ. Prior to his passing on, he also maintained a website, I recollect under the name RJBALROG.

He always had a very scraggly look about him; and certainly his appearance did not match the generally high quality and uniqueness of the material he was selling! He always appeared grumpy and disinterested, often nodding off as he lay in his planted seat!

His prices at the time were out of this world! However, he has ABSOLUTELY GREAT STUFF!!!! He had absolutely wonderful Tobacco Advertising Display Banners & other pieces; in addition to maintaining a healthy stock of Tobacco Premiums – cards, silks, leathers, albums, etc. He was ABSOLUTELY KING of the Pinbacks!!!!

At first his demeanor and prices intimidated me, and I just looks & admired. However, I finally decided to inquire about a couple of items of obvious interest. My father was with me at the time; and was AMAZED at Robert's transformation from grumpiness & disinterest TO Animation & Information/ Knowledge Sharing. I made my first purchase from him that day! I discovered that as a regular customer he would work with me as to his prices

One caution I always had was with framed display pieces, I could not always determine (or trust) whether there was any restoration or the degree of such. Accordingly, I tended to stay away from such items.

I believe Robert J. Foster was ahead of his time......a pioneer! The collecting public had not caught up with his material or prices! I believe he would absolutely thrive in today’s collectible climate!

Again, what are your thoghts...stories?

Glenn Mechanick



Robert (never heard him called Bob and I always heard him introduce himself as "Robert") took me under his wing in the early 80's. I was young (just out of college), had money to spend (My Navy officer's pay almost went exclusively to non-sports cards), and was willing to listen and learn.

His prices were high, but he paid well also. When I returned home from the First Gulf War (I had sold most of my collection through Leland's before I deployed), I took my last remaining items to Robert. I had visited him at his home on many occasions, and he had invited me over as I was looking to sell what I had left. I always felt somewhat priviledged to be invited to his home, as I do not think he opened the door to very many.

Robert was interested in my remnants and paid well - a complete "minty" set of the large leather L5 Hamilton King Girls (25), a set of L4 Generals, one of L7 Indian Chiefs and a near set of L2 Flags brought me $10,000.00 (about $200.00 each as I recall - a princely sum in 1990); a complete set with variations of the Sweet Caporal baseball pin backs and about a thousand other pin backs including about 750 flag variations brought me $8,000.00; and finally about a dozen B32 Large College felts brought me another $2,000.00. By that point Robert had gotten deep into toy robots. Not a lot of non-sports items were in his house, but.... Boy, the MIB robots that were on the shelves of his china cabinets....!!!!

Thanks to the folks at Lelands, and my good friend Robert, when I was transfered to southern Georgia in 1993, I was able to pay cash for my $220,000.00 waterfront home. Don't know what he charged for the items I sold him - and frankly do not care. My Father, who was a big Boy Scout patch trader, had always said that one should never look back on a deal with regret or animosity. If something he sold or traded was later resold or retraded for much more, my Father would say "That's good. Now there are three happy people!"

Robert made many people happy, both as a buyer and as a seller.....
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Joined: January 30th, 2007, 11:46 pm

April 18th, 2012, 1:49 pm #8

I thought I would put out (contribute) my first post!

How many of you remember Robert J. Foster, a dealer from Connecticut. What are your thoughts, stories, etc.?

Many years back, he would set up at the various Paper Shows - Allentown, PA; Hartford, CT; Hackensack, NJ. Prior to his passing on, he also maintained a website, I recollect under the name RJBALROG.

He always had a very scraggly look about him; and certainly his appearance did not match the generally high quality and uniqueness of the material he was selling! He always appeared grumpy and disinterested, often nodding off as he lay in his planted seat!

His prices at the time were out of this world! However, he has ABSOLUTELY GREAT STUFF!!!! He had absolutely wonderful Tobacco Advertising Display Banners & other pieces; in addition to maintaining a healthy stock of Tobacco Premiums – cards, silks, leathers, albums, etc. He was ABSOLUTELY KING of the Pinbacks!!!!

At first his demeanor and prices intimidated me, and I just looks & admired. However, I finally decided to inquire about a couple of items of obvious interest. My father was with me at the time; and was AMAZED at Robert's transformation from grumpiness & disinterest TO Animation & Information/ Knowledge Sharing. I made my first purchase from him that day! I discovered that as a regular customer he would work with me as to his prices

One caution I always had was with framed display pieces, I could not always determine (or trust) whether there was any restoration or the degree of such. Accordingly, I tended to stay away from such items.

I believe Robert J. Foster was ahead of his time......a pioneer! The collecting public had not caught up with his material or prices! I believe he would absolutely thrive in today’s collectible climate!

Again, what are your thoghts...stories?

Glenn Mechanick



usnascouter
Your father was a very smart man.
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Joined: January 17th, 2007, 4:16 am

April 19th, 2012, 11:26 pm #9

I thought I would put out (contribute) my first post!

How many of you remember Robert J. Foster, a dealer from Connecticut. What are your thoughts, stories, etc.?

Many years back, he would set up at the various Paper Shows - Allentown, PA; Hartford, CT; Hackensack, NJ. Prior to his passing on, he also maintained a website, I recollect under the name RJBALROG.

He always had a very scraggly look about him; and certainly his appearance did not match the generally high quality and uniqueness of the material he was selling! He always appeared grumpy and disinterested, often nodding off as he lay in his planted seat!

His prices at the time were out of this world! However, he has ABSOLUTELY GREAT STUFF!!!! He had absolutely wonderful Tobacco Advertising Display Banners & other pieces; in addition to maintaining a healthy stock of Tobacco Premiums – cards, silks, leathers, albums, etc. He was ABSOLUTELY KING of the Pinbacks!!!!

At first his demeanor and prices intimidated me, and I just looks & admired. However, I finally decided to inquire about a couple of items of obvious interest. My father was with me at the time; and was AMAZED at Robert's transformation from grumpiness & disinterest TO Animation & Information/ Knowledge Sharing. I made my first purchase from him that day! I discovered that as a regular customer he would work with me as to his prices

One caution I always had was with framed display pieces, I could not always determine (or trust) whether there was any restoration or the degree of such. Accordingly, I tended to stay away from such items.

I believe Robert J. Foster was ahead of his time......a pioneer! The collecting public had not caught up with his material or prices! I believe he would absolutely thrive in today’s collectible climate!

Again, what are your thoghts...stories?

Glenn Mechanick



My FAVORITE Foster story was one recounted in The Wrapper a year or so ago. Rob didn't care for new cards much, so when he attended a show where all the dealers were given a special rookie card or other sort of promotional item, he just put it under he glass at half the price the other dealers were selling it for. So if they were asking $10, he asked $5-- after all, he just wanted to get rid of it. He had zero interest in "the new crap."

The eye witness who was telling this story (Bob Nolan?) recalls how he was visiting with Foster and some tire kicker comes to the table and leans in to see the one new card inside the otherwise vintage case.

"How much you want for that rookie card?" he asks.

Foster pauses from his conversation and says, "Oh, that? Just $5."

The bargain seeker says, "What's your BEST price?"

Foster looks at his pal in disbelief, then back to the customer and says: "Everyone else wants at least $10 for it, it's already a bargain at $5."

The customer says, "Yeah, but I like to haggle. So what's your BEST price?"

Foster rolls his eyes and says, "Free. Would that be cheap enough for you? No charge."

The customer's face lights up like Christmas and he responds, "Yeah, that would be great! Sure! Give it to me."

Foster opens his case, pulls out the card, rips it in half, and hands it to the guy. The end.

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Joined: June 3rd, 2010, 1:35 pm

April 20th, 2012, 1:32 am #10

I thought I would put out (contribute) my first post!

How many of you remember Robert J. Foster, a dealer from Connecticut. What are your thoughts, stories, etc.?

Many years back, he would set up at the various Paper Shows - Allentown, PA; Hartford, CT; Hackensack, NJ. Prior to his passing on, he also maintained a website, I recollect under the name RJBALROG.

He always had a very scraggly look about him; and certainly his appearance did not match the generally high quality and uniqueness of the material he was selling! He always appeared grumpy and disinterested, often nodding off as he lay in his planted seat!

His prices at the time were out of this world! However, he has ABSOLUTELY GREAT STUFF!!!! He had absolutely wonderful Tobacco Advertising Display Banners & other pieces; in addition to maintaining a healthy stock of Tobacco Premiums – cards, silks, leathers, albums, etc. He was ABSOLUTELY KING of the Pinbacks!!!!

At first his demeanor and prices intimidated me, and I just looks & admired. However, I finally decided to inquire about a couple of items of obvious interest. My father was with me at the time; and was AMAZED at Robert's transformation from grumpiness & disinterest TO Animation & Information/ Knowledge Sharing. I made my first purchase from him that day! I discovered that as a regular customer he would work with me as to his prices

One caution I always had was with framed display pieces, I could not always determine (or trust) whether there was any restoration or the degree of such. Accordingly, I tended to stay away from such items.

I believe Robert J. Foster was ahead of his time......a pioneer! The collecting public had not caught up with his material or prices! I believe he would absolutely thrive in today’s collectible climate!

Again, what are your thoghts...stories?

Glenn Mechanick



Yes he was. Unfortunately, I did not realize how very much until aftwer he passed away. Now, it seems like each day that passes I realize even more how correct you are!
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