I consider myself a pretty average card collector. There are certain things that distinguish me from other collectors, but nothing about my collecting habits are unique. I'll even assume there's another collector out there who accumulates night cards. He probably started long before me, too.
But there are ways of collecting -- or in this case, ways of talking about collecting -- that I don't resemble or even understand.
One phrase that's used all the time by certain collectors is something I've never said in my life:
"My personal collection."
I hear this all the time. From bloggers. From guys at card shows. "That's going in my personal collection." "I have that card in my personal collection."
And every time I think, as I smile blankly, "what does that MEAN?"
I envision a box or a binder with words scrawled in marker that say, "My Personal Collection." Maybe it's a safe deposit box, or the cards are framed up on the wall under a hand-made sign that says "My Personal Collection."
There are really only two kinds of collectors where I think this phrase fits. One kind are the collectors who specifically buy certain cards -- usually off ebay or another online place -- and only those cards. They're usually autograph collectors or hit collectors or player collectors. Those are the only cards in their collection and it's limited to maybe 50 cards. It has a somewhat exclusive vibe so "personal collection" works.
The other kind is the collector who is also a dealer. This must be where the phrase came to be. These collectors accumulate large quantities of cards but keep only a small fraction for, of course, their personal collection. The rest are fodder for collectors, for the right price.
But I've heard collectors who don't sell cards -- or sell very few -- use this phrase. As if almost all of their cards are on the chopping block at all times. Except for those exclusive few, in their personal collection.
I don't think this way. Part of it is because the phrase "my personal collection" sounds almost smarmy and too exclusive to me. It's something the super rich would say while asking someone to survey their fleet of Aston Martins. But these are pieces of cardboard here.
The other part is every single card that I have IS "my personal collection." It's possible that I could sell these cards someday. But until/unless I do that ALL of the cards I have are MINE. They're not intended for anyone else. I own them. I'm not sure how many total cards I have in my collection. I'd guess around 30,000. And that's a personal collection of 30,000 cards.
You saw that 2011 Bowman card of Erik Davis at the top of this post. There are a lot of things that I don't like about that card. It's a Bowman card. It's from a set that I can't define without looking it up. It's a player that I don't know. It's a Padre. There is nothing desirable about this card in terms of any of my collecting interests. Yet, I own it. Therefore it's part of my collection.
Another card in "my personal collection." I don't know who this guy is. I'm not a Royals fan. 1991 Score Rising Stars is not a set that I like or pay attention to in the least. Truthfully, I didn't even know I had this card until I pulled it out of a box for this post. But until I get rid of it somehow, it's in the collection. The collection owned by me. Or, in other words, my personal collection.
Sure, if I'm going to define cards by which ones I will always keep and which ones I have some microfraction of doubt over keeping, then, yeah, the Koufax rookie stays with me in "my personal collection," and the other cards may have to fend for themselves someday.
But I don't like thinking that way. All of my cards have a home with me. Even the Yankees can be assured that I won't put them out on the street unless the time comes that I need to raise some cash. But why would I want to hold that over their head?
If you currently reside in a box or a binder or a top loader or just lying out their naked on a desk shelf somewhere in my home, then rest assured, you are part of 'my personal collection.' Rest easy my little friends."
P.S: I hope that's the last time I use that phrase.