An old high school classmate asked me this week how to go about selling some completed Topps baseball sets that she had purchased for her sons each year while they were growing up.
I explained how to search for the sets on eBay by using the completed listings option, but because she is one of my favorite former classmates, to help lessen the shock for her, I searched the sets myself and then gave her an average for each of them, along with an explanation of why they weren't worth much more than what she had paid for them originally.
The sets were from 1997-2008 and with the exception of the 2001 set, which at 790 cards is the largest of the bunch and also contains the Ichiro rookie card, it was clear that nobody values completed sets anymore. At least not non-vintage completed sets.
I already knew this. But seeing it underlined in back-lit numbers stunned me a bit. The 2005 complete set sells for only 40 bucks? I like the 2005 set! I'm trying to complete the 2005 set! Why don't I just throw 40 dollars at it and be done with it?
I stewed about this for a little bit. But I had clearly lost my head. Obviously, there is an iron-clad reason why I don't throw down 40 dollars to very efficiently land the whole thing.
It's the thrill of the chase. Duh.
Long before I could afford to buy complete sets or even knew that I could buy complete sets, I tried to complete them the old-fashioned way, buying packs at the drug store/corner store/grocery store. I did it that way for years. I started collecting in 1975. I didn't buy an entire complete set until 1984 (by the way, that was my first complete set, because completing sets by buying packs on a paper boy's salary is way difficult).
Now that I'm much older and usually have the money to purchase a set all at once, I still refrain from doing it -- with the exception of certain old oddball or not-readily-available sets that would be difficult to complete through piecemeal purchases or trades.
The potential extra money that I need to spend on it, or the longer period of time needed to finish it, is worth it, because the excitement of the chase, the thrill of the hunt, makes the journey so interesting.
And if that isn't enough, completing a set the traditional way instead of buying it helps the individual cards from that set stick in my brain. Going through those few cards I was able to buy with my allowance back in the mid-to-late '70s helped me memorize every aspect of an image and every number of the back. It helped me learn things and truly appreciate the cards. And I find that if I buy the whole thing at once, I don't do that ... and I end up writing a set blog so I can appreciate them, like I did with the '85 Topps set that I bought complete.
So, yeah, I will continue to complete the 2005 Topps set the old-fashioned way. I don't want to do a set block on 2005 Topps.
I recently received a stash of about 150 cards from the set from Scott of I Need New Hobbies. It's probably enough for me to put up a want list for it now. But I still need to sift through what I have. It's a rather hefty set at 733 cards, as Topps flagship sets were in the earliest part of the 21st century.
I think the reason I sort of like the Topps sets from '03, '04 and '05 are because they're nice and large, they're real sets that actually represent baseball, unlike the stuff Topps flagship was putting out in the late 1990s.
The 2005 set is also the set that came out right before I came back to collecting modern cards. In '05 I had just finished the 1975 Topps set and was working on '74. But '05 flagship? I couldn't have told you where to find those cards.
Today, I find the set a little bit quirky and a little bit charming.
I may seem to be writing out of both sides of my mouth to some, as didn't I just complain about the 2021 Topps design being too busy? Isn't 2005 Topps throwing a lot at us, too?
Yeah, it is. But I like it and it makes sense to me.
I am also amused by how large the border is and how small the images are as a result. I'm sure that has driven the full-bleed crowd crazy for years and that pleases me as well. There is no way this set would be as charming if it was a full-bleed design.
That doesn't mean I don't have questions, like why are the images so tiny in both 2005 and 2004 Topps? A couple of years ago, I did a post on "face percentage," meaning cards in which a featured player's face took up the most space on a card.
But the 2005 Topps set must own the record for the most cards in which a player's face takes up the smallest amount of space on a card. Some of those faces are almost dots on the cards!
I know Fuji is pleased, the most adamant "get that full body in the frame" collector that I know.
So, as I leisurely collect this set -- and I do mean leisurely, there are so many other card goals that are higher on the priority list -- I will savor the individual aspects of each card and defend it from people who exclaim "why is the player's name and the team's name listed TWICE?"
(To annoy you, that's why).
And I will enjoy that the year the card was issued is right there on the front of the card, which needs to happen more often.
I will read backs and stare at the backgrounds and cherish each card that arrives and each number I cross off the list.
"Hey ... I caught another one!"
"Oh, that's a beauty."
It's the thrill of the chase.
And if more collectors appreciated that, a complete set from 15 years ago would be selling for more than 40 bucks.