Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Sometimes you can be too vigilant

Ever since I was a budding collector, I have been ever-vigilant about preventing doubles from invading my collection. It's obsessive, I know. And at the rate that cards arrive in my mailbox, it is now also a little pointless. But, still, I can't shake the mind-set: filter the dupes, filter the dupes, filter the dupes.

My Dodgers collection is rather advanced at this point so the routine that I go through every time a package arrives in the mail is pretty important.

Upon opening the package, I shuffle through the cards and place cards I know I need in one stack and doubles in another, separating the wheat from the chaff if you want to get biblical about it.

"Got it, got it, need it" will be a prevailing thought process as long as I'm collecting, and I've got this routine down cold. I'm pretty good at it, although I'm extra wary about any card from the mid-to-late '90s or early 2000s.

So, I went through the ritual again in my first trade with Wish They Still Came With Bubblegum. He sent a good selection of Dodgers, so it was time to activate my dupes radar (by the way, I trade with 5 Braves bloggers fairly regularly and now, for some weird reason, I'm adding two more to the list. I don't want to hear anymore about how many Dodgers bloggers there are).

I was supremely confident with this package. There weren't many '90s cards to trip me up. And there was a lot of 2015 stuff, which is still fresh in my aging brain.

Even with a card from 2004 I was pretty sure I already owned it:

That's a 2004 Total insert. I'd recognize that shiny foil anywhere. That's a dupe.

But it wasn't.

As confident as I am in this routine, I've been burned by it constantly. So I try to check the binders before I post here, especially with cards between 1994-2005.

It turns out the card I was thinking of was this card:

Stupid modern set-collecting.

But it gets worse.

I continued on, categorizing and compartmentalizing according to whether I had the card or not. The stack of cards I needed was piling up:

Need it.

Need it. (How many of these Dodger Then & Nows are there?).

Need it.

Need it.

Now onto the 2015 Bowman:

Got it.

Need it.

Need it.

Need it.

And so on, and so on ...

After that process is complete, the cards sit in stacks on my card desk waiting for their turn to appear on the blog. The cards I need are on the top, front-side-up. The cards that are dupes are in the stack underneath, back-side-up.

When I was moving Jeff's cards to scan, I picked up the cards and they slipped so a few of the upside down dupes card showed.

And then I saw it, glinting in the sun coming through the window:

A stamped serial number on my Kershaw "dupe".

That card wasn't this card:

It was this card:

How silly of me to not realize that a card with two corners colored in black -- a color already part of Bowman's design this year -- was actually a parallel numbered to /499.

I know this is a frequent occurrence with collectors everywhere. It's happened to me plenty of times and I've blogged about it a few times already, too.

But it's an occurrence that strikes at the very foundation of my collecting and when it happens I want to pull out that giant Dodgers dupes box and all the dupes stacks on top of it and go through every single damn card.

My "dupes are not allowed" stance is taking a hit here!

Maybe I should just be putting every card, dupe or not, into a binder. That would solve everything.

Except that I'd probably be living in the garage with my 846 binders.


  1. Preach on, brother. Preach on. Dupes are evil and must be eliminated. Parallels screw with the dupe-sorting system. Therefore, parallels are evil.

  2. I go through the same routine. Don't mind the "got it" stack, since I have plenty of students to pass them along to. And I love it when the "need it" stack slowly grows. But that "do I need it" stack can be so time consuming :)

  3. The most dupes I run into are from my "modern" player collections. These are guys that have enormous checklists, generally running from the late 90's to the last few years. There are many more "vintage" guys that only have much shorter lists, but they don't fall into the timeframe to have all the parallels and diverse product lines that the modern guys have.
    Anyway, I'm repeatedly getting cards from people that appear on my wants site, but when I check them off and go to put them in the binder, they're already there. I'm really organized and neat, so I can't fathom how that happens. I usually receive them and check them off in one room and move them next door to be put away. (Benefits of bachelorhood - room and a half for cards). But somehow I must be getting whole batches and never check them off before they're put away. Now every now and then there will be subtle parallel versions like your Kershaw above, or "retail" versions that aren't documented until you look at them side by side, but much more often, they are just plain base cards that I flat missed. Eventually I end up with viable "starter sets" for these guys that I could trade, but barring that, I have the same few guys populating my trade boxes as the lone example of many products.

  4. How many envelopes a week do you average?

    1. Not nearly as much as I once did. For example, this week the total is: none.

  5. I didn't know that Kershaw was a parallel til I was packing it up for you! Damn Bowman... glad you needed a few

  6. Yeah, I try to give a side-by-side once-over before casting aside dupes. You never know with cards these days.
    With the recent trade package I got from you, at first I assumed the 2015 Topps Stanton and Goldy you sent were they're regular base cards (dupes). Then I realized they were from that NL All-Stars set (needs!).