Tuesday, April 12, 2016

When it's time to quit collecting

When is a good time to quit collecting? Have you ever asked yourself that question?

I do on occasion. As I watch the cards in my possession pile up and pile up. But what is the indicator? What is the sign that tells you, "OK, it's time to stop."

The barroom advice would be "when it stops being fun," "when it seems more like work than a hobby," "when it gets boring." I've given that kind of advice. You have, too.

But I'm talking about more concrete signs, a sign from God if you will. There are the more obvious ones: the bank forecloses on your home; the wife kicks you out with your cards and locks the door; a bookshelf full of binders topples on top of you and you're in rehab for six months.

But how about the more subtle signs that cause you to think "maybe this is it": You keep obtaining cards you already own because you can no longer keep track of your collection. You don't know how you're going to fit another binder or box in your house.

And there's one that I ponder from time to time: if the only cards you need when people send you packages are inserts, parallels and oddballs, what does that mean? If you never, ever need a base card -- the foundation of our hobby -- because you have all of them already, then maybe that's a sign?

I thought I'd test that with a couple of PWEs that I received from two respected traders over the years: Kerry of Cards On Cards and Nick of Dime Boxes. These two are shrewd collectors and traders. Surely they can find a base card that I need.

I'm also pairing up these two envelopes on one post because, like I mentioned, my desk has devolved into a bit of a mess and some of the cards have gotten mixed up. Since I'm about two weeks behind on showing packages, I'm struggling to figure out who sent what.

But on with the study. I'll show only the cards I need, and hopefully at least one or two are base cards. Or the jig might be up.

Here we go:

A couple of golden oldies -- all the way back from last year. I need them both. But parallels aren't helping me determine whether I should still be collecting.

A 1994 Collector's Choice silver card of the Straw Man. Also a parallel.

Foil parallels (trust me, they are) from last year. Both needed. But neither a base card.

A sticker. What I'd call an oddball. Therefore, technically not a base card. It's a base sticker.

A hologram card of Kal Daniels from the 1992 Denny's Grandslam set. You received a card with each Denny's purchase that summer. Definitely a food-issue and an oddball. All-around fantastic. But not a flagship base card.

A gold parallel (/99) of Doug Mientkiewicz from 2010 Upper Deck. I had no idea there were gold-letter parallels from this set. A little late in the game for making colored-letter parallels I would think, but then Stadium Club did it last year. In any event, another parallel that I need.

More parallel cards that were never on my radar. These are from the 1999 UD MVP set, their "Silver Script" parallels that apparently showed up one every pack. If I was collecting at all at this time, I'd know about these. Now, all I know is I needed them and they're not base cards.

This is a mini. Therefore not a base card.

In fact, it's the Straight Cut back from 2012 Gypsy Queen, therefore a parallel of a parallel. Definitely not a base card.

Running out of cards here ... this is a Chrome card need that falls under the category of whatever we were calling "xrefractors" last year. I've already forgotten. I did need the card though.

Needed blue parallel of Mark Ellis from 2014. How I wish the color border parallels would return.

Another needed gold parallel, this time from way back in 2004, the traded version.

So, this is it right? I probably should give up collecting. All I ever need are parallels or inserts or oddballs.

There doesn't seem to be any card -- even from two very fine traders, with deep reserves (both of whom live in vibrant hobby communities, I might add) -- from a base set that I need.

Might as well hang it up, I gue ...

Whoops! What's this? A base card that I need! From Dime Boxes! Yay! I can keep collecting!

And here's another one! A Sweet Spot Classic base card from Cards On Cards! That I needed! Woo-hoo!




OK, so maybe I sort of knew who sent which cards ... some of them anyway.




And I wasn't going to stop collecting ... no matter what.




Except if a bookshelf full of binders falls on top of me. Then I'm done.


  1. I've found myself thinking more about quitting blogging than I have collecting. The only problem with that is that this is pretty much my community for the hobby. Not much interaction with collectors here locally- it's not like it used to be. But, yeah, when anything stops becoming fun-and it's supposed to be a hobby- then, yes it's time to quit.

  2. I ponder many things about the hobby. Blogging would come first to end but I have no other means to connect with collectors and for me, that's like 1B besides for fun. I don't collect for value, but seeing values decline worries me. Having companies go bankrupt (Press Pass) and others losing licenses. Not having a lot of funds has been tough the last couple of years, but I have found fun in looking at what I already got and blogging about it instead til I can get new stuff.

    A good sign for me would probably be more collectors leaving. If I start seeing that trend, I might walk away.

  3. I admit, I do kind of assume you have most/all Dodger base cards at this point, so I my packages/PWEs to you tend to be insert and parallel heavy. Glad you needed the Gonzo, though, and happy to see a fair amount of the parallels were of use to you as well.

  4. Great post. I do think about this from time to time, but I doubt I'd ever totally walk away. Give up blogging? That would go first. Scale back? I probably should do that anyway. Scale way back? Possible. But I'd probably always try to collect the base Topps set and if I got too fed up with new cards I'd start going vintage.

    I do wonder about the blog sometimes. It's one of those things you don't realize until you've done it - blogging is not just another way to collect cards - it's a 2nd hobby. I think this is good most of the time; blogging allows me to appreciate my collection more and (maybe more importantly) keeps me from spending too much money because I have less time to just shop on COMC. But it can become difficult to find the time.

    Also - I think alot of the stuff you say "when it's not fun anymore" - is cliche, but it's appropriate.

  5. Big time, when it's no longer fun! We all know that excited feeling we get when we land a card we really wanted, if that were to go away (the feeling), I'd be done.

  6. I agree with the fun part. I think there are a lot of angles that can keep collecting fun. You've got a lot of them covered already -- a team, different sets, different blogs, trading, going to card shows -- all of those are fun.

    I find that I really like the search for oddballs and cards I don't have, and that keeps me interested. If I ever run out of Brewers to collect, I'd probably end up chasing a type collection instead.

    Of course, my ultimate collection would be to collect *all* of the Brewers police sets. Literally 60-70 "parallel" sets every year from 1982/1983 through 2011, most of which were printed in low quantities.

  7. I will never, ever leave the hobby. I was forced out for most of 2007 and 2008 for financial reasons (or lack thereof, more accurately) and I hated it.

    As long as I am alive (almost lost that in 2013, too) I will be collecting cards.

  8. http://www.quakehold.com/tiedown-fasteners-strapping-fastener-tie-downs-fastening-straps/fasteners-strapping-fastener-tie-downs-fastening-straps-furnstrappackdetail.html

    Get a few of these bad boys and you'll be collecting forever!

  9. The fact that I ask myself that question at least once (sometimes two to three times) a month worries me a little. I think when I'm asking that question once or twice a week, then I'll actually start to take it seriously.

  10. I'm done with collecting modern cards. I've decided to only collect cards from the 1970's in an effort to complete some of my favorite sets.

    I'm so done that I've decided to purge a substantial amount of my junk wax baseball, football and basketball cards later this month at the neighborhood garage sale. Goodbye 1988 Donruss baseball!