Skip to main content

Getting personal

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?

Dear cards,

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."


Night Owl

P.S: I hope that's the last time I use that phrase.


TheHitKing said…
Personal collection is used by people who buy, sell, and trade cards. There are cards that are available for trade, for sale, or cards that are off limits. Even you have some cards you wouldn't trade for the world, and yet you also have cards you ship around the blog world in trades. That's my take on the matter. I would hope that everyone who is a speciality store such as guns, cards, coins, or stamps would also be a collector, that way they would be a subject matter expert. Go to your local card shop and ask him about his collection, and what is for sale. I hope this clarifies the topic for you, entrepreneurship can baffle the many. Ask your friendly neighborhood drug dealer, he will discuss the difference between personal collection and what he has for sale! LOL. Through my years of dealing cards I have seen collectors from everywalks of life and collect the strangest things in baseball. Set builders to guys who collect cards where you can't see a players face, or with two bats, or only defensive postions...that is the beauty of collecting..there is just no wrong way of doing it. That I would share my two cents and try to pour water on your hatred for the term "personal collection".
TheHitKing said…
OR if your right...then I have been collecting cards wrong my entire life!!!!! AGGGHHHH btw would you like me to send you 11 Andre Ethier cards? I dont collect him and I have a stack on my desk that is either going to the kids shoebox or your mailbox? Its ok if you dont want to send anything back as so I dont dip into your personal collection...LOL
night owl said…
Yes, I know. Dealers use this phrase. I don't understand why collectors who aren't dealers use the phrase. I'm just coming from a different viewpoint.
TheHitKing said…
i see what your saying, maybe its to define those dup cards, or just one pack of some brand that cant be catagorized into our collections, they lay in the misfit toys on that island?
JediJeff said…
I never think of my cards as "my personal collection" or even "my collection". They are just my cards or my stuff. When I see something I like - "I want that". When I get something good in a pack - "Oh - sweet". I'm just a collector. I keep everything, and if I find someone that wants something I have that I have no particular attachment to, then off it goes. But I really don't have a "collection" - I just have a bunch of cards I like.
night owl said…
Yeah. I'm sure I've used "my collection" a number of times on this blog. But usually when I'm just talking about cards, I just say "my cards."
Laurens said…
Night Owl - I'm going through a 'PC' phase where I'm trying to define my 'PC' cards and put them together.

There are cards that define your collection or really stand out and represent the cream of the crop.

The term PC is a way to refer to the truly great cards in your collection or even extend it to your interests.

You do make a great point about all the 30,000 cards in your overall collection basically being in your PC because they aren't going anywhere anytime soon and you are stuck with them.

Thanks for this post!
Fuji said…
Interesting point of view... never thought of it that way.

I totally overuse the words "PC" or personal collection, but I feel it fits my collecting style. In fact, I just used it in my most recent post ;-)

Cards in my PC are those I will never sell or trade (unless I enter a financial crisis or I lose interest in collecting that particular player, team, or genre). I have a ton of cards in sets, binders, and boxes... but only about half of them I consider to be PC items.

The rest of my cards are part of my trade bait lists, cards I sell at the flea market, and cards I hand out to my students.
Anonymous said…
All my cards used to be part of my personal collection. Then I started this blog and posted pictures of them for the internet to see. Now I guess they're not really personal any more.

Maybe SOPA or PIPA will force me back to having a personal collection someday.

Community Gum said…
You know, I could be wrong, but even with our blog selling cards part time, I don't think I've used that phrase to distinguish the two sides. (Watch someone research my posts and find a spot where I said it 3 days ago.)
I say "Player Collection" a lot, which may or may not be better, but I'm with you on "PC".
Anonymous said…
Ah - PC does have a valid term! Player Collection! Like my Jalen Rose PC - I don't mean personal collection, I mean player collection!

Also, when I think about this more - the term personal collection doesn't really bug me. I don't think I really use the term - but I just don't think I refer to my cards as "my collection" much at all anyways. I say "I collect X" more than "My X collection". But if I did say personal collection, it wouldn't really mean anything.

What about guys who collect something for their kids? They may have their own collection, but they also may have bought the last 3 base Topps sets for their 3-year old kid. Personal collection could be a differentiater there.

I get so confused. I always think people are talking about a Player Collection, which I have a few of for my non-Rangers guys. If I have to think about it too hard, I'll get sad and hang my head and start burning my 2011 Update dupes.
Josh D. said…

Don't feel bad about Jeff Schulz. Royals fans don't know who he is, either. 85 career PA is all he had.
Ryan G said…
Let's beat a dead horse with a comment posted 10 weeks later...

I have something I call a personal collection that's different from the other collections.

I have my type collections, set collections, player collections, and then the personal collection. I have that definition because I haven't found any better way to describe it. While my set, player and type collections are cards I collect with specific, measurable goals, the personal collection is the opposite. It contains the autographs and relic cards I find most important to me, and also a (very small) group of cards I kept for nostalgic reasons or because the card is cool and it has no other place. Those 300-or-so cards mean the most to me and are the ones I want to have on display. More than half of those are non-sport or at least non-baseball cards, like the Sasha Cohen card I posted about a couple weeks ago.

I could call it something business-fancy like "Private Reserve" or simple "Favorite Cards" but I think the word personal really describes their importance.