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Different standards

This is probably going to be a rambling post, but I was thinking again about how the card collecting community has so many different standards.

This has been decades in the making and the only thing many collectors have known in the hobby. But I remember a time when everyone collected the same thing and, with the exception of different rooting interests and varying tastes about individual cards, had the same experiences and thoughts about cards. We all collected Topps, each and every year.

So as great it is to have variety, there was very little disagreement about what a set offered or didn't offer, what was good about it or bad about it. You had only one set to collect, do you want to collect? Well, shut up and collect.

It's much different today.

Take this page for example.

Some collectors would look at this and see a cutting-edge set, with sparkly and shiny parallels, an alternative to the company that has all the licenses. Some of them collect only Panini cards. That's wild to me, but they're probably not set collectors.

Other people look at this page and wonder what it's doing in my collection. Why aren't they in the garbage? I admit, sometimes I think that myself -- after all I grew up in a time when nobody knew what a baseball card license was. The cards simply came with logos, all the time -- except for NFL cards.

It's a wide disparity. I mean I can't even enjoy cards on my own blog without someone in the comments acting like they're my teacher and telling me "I'm better than that." What have we created? (Yes, I know, we've created collectors who can't handle change ... or use their inside voice).
Here are some cards from reader Grant to help continue the discussion. He sent me two separate envelopes, days apart, and did quite well as 17 of the 20 cards were needs.

Here are some more of those Panini cards. I will dutifully accept them and happily put them in my binders. The young collector in me, who only knew Topps, would wonder what has become of me. I mean I didn't even think Fleer and Donruss were legitimate when they showed up with cards in 1981.
It means I've adapted (others would say I've settled). In order to keep to my long-established set- and team-collecting standards, which say that I need a version of every card of my team ever created, then I want stuff like this. Maybe one day -- when I finally run out of space -- I'll get rid of cards like this. I do know that in the event of downsizing, they will be the first cards to go. I haven't lost complete sense.

Bowman cards (not 1950s Bowman) won't be far behind in that future trip to the garbage dump. Bowman has made a lot of weird cards in the name of prospects and it's created an entire collecting class that chases prospects, that's all they do. And, unlike those days in 1977, we have nothing to talk about when it comes to the hobby.

I would never tell anyone not to collect cards like this, they should do what makes them happy. But these are among my least favorite cards in my collection. They don't mean anything to me other than it says "Dodgers" somewhere on the card. Probably a sign I should start unloading.

As the only player in the logo'd baseball card game, Topps tries to appeal to all kinds of collectors with a wide variety of sets. Shiny, plain, loud, ugly, nonstop stars, people I've never heard of and guys from a long time ago. I don't have enough control to limit myself to just one kind of set, but when I think about it, sticking to one set makes sense. I used to do it. For years. I'd do it again -- if flagship would use real card stock again.

Collect parallels of parallels? I know collectors who think that's ridiculous. I know collectors who loudly proclaim their greatness. That's a wide range of opinions.

I am in the middle. I try not to spend money on cards that have pictures I just saw. But I am also part magpie. I can't resist colorful and shiny things.

What would collectors do with this flimsy, non-standard-sized card of the unfortunately named Dick Cox, whose picture has been taken from a newsprint image (notice the type!) probably from the 1920s.

Some wouldn't even consider it a card. Some would have no thoughts. But collectors with an appreciation for history, and an interest in one particular team, really, really want it. They want it so much even though these are impossible to store. Different standards.

More history, more cards that elicit varying opinions.

I love Laughlin cards, particularly the World Series sets. I want them all. I have the same kind of enthusiasm for these that people have for ancient vintage, you know stuff like tobacco cards from 1908. I'd rather have these. Weird, right? But that's the way I am. And I realize that, when I shout out to the internet that I've added more Laughlins and get a tepid response.

I like a wide variety of cards. I also dislike a variety of cards. As I get older, I'll probably narrow my focus -- I just see that's what happens to people when they get older -- and most of the cards I will keep forever will be stuff I saw as a kid.

But there always will be a little bit of variety. That's always in me. And that's why I got the following with what was left on my gift card after the Heritage buy:

Some collectors said "ugh". But others said "cool."


Forgot to mention I put up a new 1993 Upper Deck blog post over the weekend.


I don't know what to think of that Archives Matt Beaty. It's so 80's Cereal card, which would be great in the 80's, but I don't like much in modern cards.
John Bateman said…
It was in 1979 the NBA adopted the 3 point shot it was in its 33 year of existence that was 44 years ago.

The DH has been around for 51 years (though only about 1/3 of MLBs lifetime.)

The old grey card stock last 40 years (52-91) but the new shiny cards have been around for over 30 years now and they are the standard now.

Time changes standard and what the standard is - is what it is now.

That Beaty card looks unique and I love the contrast with Buehler's gold Optic and Seager's red DK
You know I get ya! Right?
Old Cards said…
I like those Laughlin World Series sets too! Quirky and historical.
Nick Vossbrink said…
There's a huge basket of cards that I refuse to acquire purposefully but absolutely love to add to the binder when I get them and a lot of those are in this post.
Zippy Zappy said…
I chuckled too much at the name Dick Cox.
Matt said…
I share your deep appreciation for the Laughlin World Series cards. The cartoons were often whimsical and there was always some interesting fact to be learned.
Bo said…
There is something to enjoy in all of those kinds of cards. I like some kinds more than others, but there are no cards I dislike.
1984 Tigers said…
The hobby hit a sweet spot with me in the mid 1980s. In college but had engineering internships so had some loose cash. 1984 and 1985 topps, donruss, and fleer sets were pretty nice. 1984 and 85 topps football were pretty cool too. None of these set were extremely overprinted. Lots of good rookies and some more action photos.

Missed the boat on mid 1980s hockey until too late. Never considered the star cards for hoops either. Wanted packs not sets.

Liked the novelty stuff too like 7 11 plastic disc's with purchase of a slurpy.

Paul t
Grant said…
Glad you could use most of them, NO. I figured you would be shorter on some of the parallels and Panini stuff more so than Topps.
Benjamin said…
Well said, Mr. Owl. You would think it would be obvious that everyone has different collecting tastes, much like we all prefer different types of food, or movie/music genres, or clothing styles, or TV shows. It's not right to look down on someone because they approach collecting differently.

For me, I'm a base set builder. That's what brings me joy. There are so many base sets to pick from past and present and I enjoy putting them together, like a puzzle (unless they're cheap junx wax, then you buy 'em by the box). The only player I PC is Barry Sanders. I hate parallels and inserts. But there are others who love those, or who collect players and teams only (my son is one of these), and that's perfectly fine.

The people I look on with disdain are investors, those who buy, rip and hoard or sell (at a markup) the hits. They're not in this to collect or to have fun, and they've never heard of a blog. They're just in it for the money, and prices being driven up like that ruins the hobby.

But if you are a true collector? Collect what makes you happy, and don't worry what anyone else thinks. They shouldn't be making you feel bad anyway.
Fuji said…
Just had a deep discussion on favorite pizza toppings with one of my periods yesterday... and it revolved around whether or not pineapple should or should not be on pizza. It reminded me of collectors arguing what people should or shouldn't collect. If people like pineapple on pizza... they should eat it. I people like Panini baseball cards... they should buy it. I'm down for both... but if I could only choose one, I'd probably go with the pineapple ;D.

P.S. I started collecting cards in 1981... so I had no choice but to think Fleer and Donruss were legitimate.
Jon said…
Panini baseball cards aren't really for me. Heck, most modern cards in general really aren't for me anymore, but I'd never go out of my way to tell anyone that does enjoy them, not to. That just seems silly.