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Doubling up

The other day I displayed this photo on a post to celebrate the fact that my 2011 Topps Lineage minis set was finally fully paged.

But there is one thing very unusual about this photo when it comes to my collection:

The cards are inserted one per pocket.

With virtually all of my sets, I insert cards two to a pocket.

I know this makes me odd. I had no idea exactly how odd until I started a blog. It seems that most binder folks store their sets one card to a pocket. Periodically, when the topic comes up as it did earlier today, and I inform people that I double-bag pages, I get a "you do WHAT?", and then after my response, I get a "well if you must."

And I do "must".

Putting two cards in each pocket began out of necessity. When I was a teenager and first became aware of pages and binders to display a collection, I didn't have any money. Back then, you could find pages only through mail-order catalogs. They weren't readily available and they weren't cheap. Also, binders were reserved for school. A spare binder was a luxury.

So I conserved both pages and binders by putting two cards in each pocket with their backs facing each other. I had no problem with this. The card back was the least attractive part of the card, it didn't need to be displayed. And if I wanted to look at the card back, I'd simply take out the card.

As the years went on and my collection grew, I continued to double-bag pages for the same reasons. Money is always tight.

Then space became an issue.

When you live in a house with people, there is only so much of the house that is "yours". I've pushed the limits of where my cards can go as much as I can. There is only so much space they can take up without bringing in counselors.

I now have 60 binders full of cards. I just counted them. The room where most of them are stored is packed. No more will fit. I have a closet area where I might be able to fit a few if I need the space. After that, my only option is the basement and I don't like that idea at all. (It's possible I could acquire or build some shelving, but that also comes with issues of its own).

If I were to take all of the cards out of the pages and re-file them with one card to a page, I would double the number of binders I needed, and there is no way I'm doing that. No room. No money.

Besides, I just like the look of my double-bagged binders.

Here's what I like about them:

 This is a look at the innards of my 1971 Topps binder. I love that I can see full-color faces of 17 players (plus one entire team) in one glance.

You can't do that if you limit cards one to a pocket. Instead it would look like this:

That doesn't look nearly as pretty as seeing full-color cards on facing pages.

I'm beginning to understand that I'm in the minority on this issue. But I still don't understand why.

I know some say they want to see the card backs. I value card backs as much as anyone -- I've written enough posts about card backs -- but really there aren't very many that are worth being on display at all times. If I want to see the back, I'll take out the card.

I know taking out a card makes some collectors squeamish, but really what are you risking by removing a card? Unless it's a super vintage card, TAKE IT OUT. It's a card, it's meant to be handled. If you can't remove it, maybe it should be in a toploader and not a binder.

But I do make exceptions to my two-cards-per-pocket rule.

The 1956 Topps cards I have are one to a pocket. The card backs on '56 are the best card backs of all-time. I refuse to cover those up.

Also, my 1975 Topps minis are also one to a pocket. But that's because the pages were free, man. There all kinds of exceptions when pages don't cost a cent.

That's also why the Lineage minis are one to a pocket, too.

But I don't anticipate any other sets being that way.

If I was attempting to complete a set from the '50s or the '60s, I would consider one card per pocket. The card backs are a little more memorable than the backs from sets from the '70s through today, and there's something about absorbing the entire card from a set that old.

But as for other sets?

I couldn't possibly go from this:

To this:


As a card collecting n00b, I'm finding the storage issues of your last two posts very interesting. I'm already concerning myself with how I'm going to go about storing/displaying/organizing. Is there any worry that putting two cards back to back will cause them to stick together? Maybe not with the older cards, but these new glossy ones? Or are you supposed to put cards in sleeves before putting them in pages? Would that even fit?
night owl said…
I've never had issues with cards sticking together with doubling up, even with the more current sets I have in binders.

Most cards that I have in pages aren't in sleeves. But a handful are. They do fit. But it can get tricky.
Nick said…
I've "double bagged" my cards for as long as I can remember and for the exact same reasons as you mentioned. I don't want to think about how much extra space my binders would take up if I only used nine cards per page. I find eighteen cards per to be way more aesthetically pleasing, anyways.
Tony L. said…
I got sheets first in the 1980s when money was super tight, so I absolutely double bagged. Since I've gotten back into collecting, I've gone to the single bag because I have the means to get binders and sheets and I have a decent amount of space at present.

That said, I also think it really depends on the card involved. Backs on cards from about 1960 till the early 1990s -- really, till Upper Deck in 1989 -- were insomnia-curing. Like those 1983 Topps -- perfect for the back-to-back treatment. But if the back of the card is reasonably attractive or interesting -- those awesome 1993 Leaf, for instance, with the city scenes -- then I want to see them.
Mark Kaz said…
Great commentary, as always, Greg. My only peeve with doubling up is the tendency for the cards to become skewed within the slots thereby exposing slivers of the backs of the other card. It's especially unnerving when the card backs are black or a certain vivid color, causing a big-time contrast to the white borders of the front card. Anyhow, I have OCD and even that's a minor thing when compared to the money/space/aesthetics points that you astutely point out.
In the 1980s I doubled up also, using the pages with the blue header and the less-flexible (and easily broken) pages with the red header.

In the past 10 years, I have switched over to ultra-pro pages and put 1 card per pocket. It was more to prevent card edge and corner damage when putting cards in the pages, but the byproduct of being able to view the backs was good also. After all, even though the backs aren't as attractive as the fronts, there's a wealth of "super-important information" on them (or at least we thought so back then).
Commishbob said…
I understand but I've always been a one per pocket guy. My issue was using the cheap PVC pages way back when. I didn't ruin any cards (at least none I've pulled out of them so far) but 'slick' stuff like postcards and such have paid a price.
JediJeff said…
I like ice cream.
Anonymous said…
I'm also a devout double-bagger... I cringe to think of how many binders I'd need if I had only one card per pocket.
Jupiterhill said…
I double up. My dad and uncle did when I first got into collecting so I guess it rubbed off on me. For many of the same reasons you mention I still do it. I don't see what the issue would be since if you are worried about hurting the card by taking them out, you probably aren't collecting for the love of it. If you want to possibly make money on the cards, then I can see it, but visually I like see the cards on both sides of the pages too.
BaseSetCalling said…
I used to save pages by putting only the best players into pages to start with. Everyone else had to get along in the shoebox.

I had never dreamed of putting 18 cards on a page until I read it here, I'm slow sometimes. Thanks.

Today I moved most of my baseball cards. I am definitely considering how it all works, going forward. I know I will keep the main Topps set each year at 9/page. But visual-appeal only sets (most inserts), and all minis, will go double, once I finally get those mini pages.

But if ever there was a set made to be filed away like this, it was Lineage. They could have just made double-sided picture cards for the amount of effort they put into those card-backs.
madding said…
I did this when I first started collecting when I was 10 or so, but I damaged too many cards back then to ever consider doing this today. Now I damage my cards by accidentally dropping stacks of them on the floor like a grown man.
Money and space make me do the same. Mostly money. Binders are so expensive.
GCA said…
Jim from D'town is right about the pages before UltraPro. Those blue ones were SIDE loaders and two cards per pocket made for a little less nudging when they'd slide around (and out).
The other down side to doubling up is if you have missing cards, you have to slip the back card up to read the number, or take the front one out altogether to see the number on the back one.

Almost never use penny sleeves in sheets, though. They tend to wrinkle up. Only time I have is for the occasional 90's micros or other very small oddballs in my player collections. Putting them in a penny sleeve and stapling above the card keeps them from moving around.
AdamE said…
As a kid I doubled up because I didn't want to spend the money on pages. Every cent I could muster had to go to the cards I couldn't waste it on pages. To bad all those cents were going to 87-91 Topps.

When I started recollecting as an adult I went to one card per slot. I always thought that is the way it should have been I just couldn't afford it before. Then there came a day when I ran out of room and pages. You posted something along these same lines in 2010. I know it was 2010 because that binder is 2 per page now. So I thought maybe I can double up some junk wax era stuff and save some more room. So I started with 1980. Now as I need pages I rearrange cards to get the pages I need. I have made it all the way to 95. So as it sands my cards from 1909 (yes I keep cards from 1909 in pages to 1979 are one per page, 1980-1995 two per page, 1996-2009 one per page, and 2010-2012 are two per page. 20123 and 2014 get the box treatment. I haven't acquired enough to even put in a binder it has been 2 years of vintage for me. I do have enough 2014 Opening day to binder because of that package you sent me earlier in the year but no sense in starting a binder with only a 2014 Opening Day team set. Maybe after people send me all their Ginter Sox this year I'll have enough to start a binder.

And I want to brag about something. This years Ginter is the greatest year of Ginter yet. Know why? Not a single Red Sox from300-350. Yes no short print for this team collector to chase. Don't you wish Dodger fans were so lucky.
Anonymous said…
I've always gone with the 1 sided approach. I only put inserts in pages, though - I use boxes for base sets. So the space thing isn't too much of a problem. Still is a bit of an issue even with the boxes.
CaptKirk42 said…
Like so many others as a Kid I doubled for all the reasons listed (space, cost). I ran into the problems of trying to pull out one card to look at them, bending or smushing corners when putting the cards in the sleeve. Some of the sturdier pages also would cut the side edges of cards if you weren't careful.

Pages with Red and Blue Headers? I don't recall seeing any of those. I do recall the side loading pages. Of course it depended on where you got your pages from and who their supplier was for whether the pages were side loaded or not. Sometimes it also depended on what sized pockets the pages were for the oddball sizes and larger vintage cards.
capewood said…
In my early days of collecting, in the mid-1980s, I always doubled up, for much the same reasons as here. Lack of money for pages and lack of space. This when when I used to put every card I got in a binder. I stopped doing that long ago. Now, my binders are for players I collect, Phillies, Astros (post 1994) and reference cards (a representative card from each set). I have about a third of my 90,000+ cards in binders, the rest are in boxes. I'm fortunate that I have harl a large walk-in closet for cards although I'm gonna need to do some rearranging soon.
Jeff said…
I've always been a 1 card to a pocket guy, for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I like the backs. Even the boring ones. I've always considered the back to be just as much a part of the card as the front. Second, I've always been a box guy. So I've never had that many binders. Binders were for the player collection or the special sets (i.e. 1982 Fleer baseball and 1981 Topps football). So space wasn't an issue for me.

My question for the double baggers is this. What do you do if you put a set in pages and there is an error/variation? That's the only time I double bag.
night owl said…
I have plenty of cards in boxes, too. There is just a point where between the binders and boxes, you run out of room. I don't know where you one-pocket people find the space.

If a card also has an error/variation, it just goes in the next pocket next to the base card.
Jeff said…
Aahhh yes. But the OCD in me needs to have the numbers in the right pockets. If you put the card in the next pocket over then the "divide by nine" trick doesn't work anymore.

I don't have this problem, because each of my albums have the cards arranged by team, with non-team cards (like checklists, leaders, World Series, All-stars, etc) up front.

The variations follow that flow, so (for example) in my 1969 book, Donn Clendenon shows up with the Astros and with the Expos.
By "headers", I mean the strip of vinyl that has the 3 holes punched into it. There were from the early 1980s.

Back then, I used side-loaded pages for my league leaders cards, and for my 1972 Team Caards (which I kept altogether). But the cards were always drifting out of the sideload pockets when I turned the pages, so I dumped them.

I do still have all my 1987-92 cards in their boxes, with only my 1952-81 cards (and football cards) in binders.
Hmm... after reading GCA'a comment above, I remember that those blue and red pages WERE side-load pockets.

What I was referring to in my last comment above were the 8-pocket horizontal side-load pages.

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