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Embracing the Heartbeat of Collecting: A Journey of Rediscovery

Updated: Apr 8

Prior to the hobby's explosion in 2020, my husband and I were avid collectors who quietly shared our passion. Unaware of the burgeoning online presence, we had never participated in breaks. Our collecting endeavors primarily involved enjoying packs or boxes with friends, frequenting a couple of local card shops, and attending small-scale card shows devoid of elaborate camera crews or intrusive microphones. Our knowledge of the hobby's darker side extended only to concerns about counterfeit cards and occasional theft.


However, the landscape drastically transformed over the past five years. We stumbled upon the online hobby community, establishing our own niche and cultivating relationships with like-minded individuals. Our newfound enthusiasm led us to participate in and sponsor larger shows—an endeavor we wouldn't have considered prior to the paradigm shift brought on by COVID-19.


Lately, however, we have had a bit of a renaissance of our old collecting ways. We have started our own construction company. The hobby was always only a small part of our lives, but for a while, it had become very consuming. Many of our friends are now in the space, and we traveled to shows all around the country. Taking on the life-altering adventure of opening your own company really hinders your pursuit of passion projects, and we have not had the time to share our collecting journey as freely as we had prior to this new adventure. But it is something we love, and we enjoy doing together and with our children. So we still quietly go on about life and have settled in to occasionally sharing cards, podcasts, articles, and other small content that suits our time and still allows us to enjoy the people in this space we have grown so fond of.


This article is about my sharing a bit of something fun that we had the opportunity to share with my aunt and uncle at Christmas this past year. My aunt and uncle had recently sold the home they had lived in for as long as I can remember. I am actually fairly certain they purchased it when I was a baby. As people do when they sell their homes, they began going through all of their things that had been stowed away in nooks and crannies of their home over the 35 or so years they had lived there. This house was a beautiful old Victorian, so there were plenty of nooks and even more crannies. My family all lives in the northern suburbs of Chicago, and I live in Michigan. It had been several years since I had been home for Christmas, and my aunt called me and informed me that my uncle had sussed out an old shoebox of cards from his childhood and would we be willing to look at these cards for them? Of course, I was immediately excited. My uncle is in his 70s, after all. Who knew what treasures we'd find in a box of cards from his childhood? I think every collector has that moment when someone reaches out to them with a box of cards they know nothing about from a relative who has left it to them.

 

 I will not hold you in suspense. We did not find a card to make us rich beyond our wildest dreams. I don't think we would have started a construction company if that were the case, do you? I feel like a lot of people are waiting for that to happen to them. I also think the odds of some long-lost relative (or even a close one) somehow having a '52 Mantle or a T206 Honus Wagner just chilling in a box somewhere waiting for you to discover it, like an intrepid cardboard archeologist, are about as likely as winning the Powerball. Which, for me, was a little more likely than most considering the last big Powerball ticket was sold at a gas station about 7 miles from my house. Google it; I am not lying.


At any rate, while the family feasted and kids ripped through piles of colorful Christmas paper, Jeremy and I perused the old shoebox. We found a tattered old picture of my uncle's mother. She was a knockout. As I said, we did not find a miraculous and insanely scarce card that could make us all rich. We did find six very cool cards we pulled out: a 1963 and a 1964 Topps Johnny Unitas, a 1961 Fleer Bart Starr, a 1963 Topps Don Meredith, my personal favorite, a 1963 Mike Ditka, and my husband's favorite, a 1961 Fleer Jim Brown.


It was so much fun going through these cards with my husband and particularly my son, who possesses an uncanny ability to recall statistics and players from long before he was born, reignited a sense of joy that had been overshadowed by the pervasive influence of social media.


Do not get me wrong; I would be lying if I said I don't get a dopamine rush like the next person when I get to share something fun with the online community, when I can immediately chat with other people all over the world about something I am so passionate about. There is both good and bad in sharing our journey online. I am choosing to enjoy the best of it: the camaraderie, the joy of sharing in each other's wins, the pain of each other's losses, building real and meaningful friendships that extend beyond the tiny pieces of cardboard that brought us together. Very few other people outside of this community would understand how fun it was to dig through a musty old box of cards while surrounded by my whole extended family, pulling out little prizes that brought me joy instead of riches, and that really means the world to me.


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