Updated: Nov 7
I have too many cards.
I came to this realization a couple months ago while searching for the starter set of vintage O-Pee-Chee Star Wars cards I had put together only a few weeks earlier. I had them organized, I marked my checklist, but I couldn’t find the set in the card closet that houses my personal collection.
I had too many boxes and binders of cards with completed collecting projects, half finished projects, and ideas that I “might get around to some day”. As I started looking through everything, I found myself saying, “This is cool!”, “I forgot I had this”, and “I was wondering where this was.” I had a closet full of cool cards and ideas but when you have to spend hours and hours going through boxes just to find what you’re looking for there is an issue.
I’ve got too many cards in my PC. I’ve got too much of a good thing.
When I’m considering a card for my PC, I’m really looking for one main thing. Does it tell a story. Does it say something meaningful about the history of the hobby or the history of a sport? Does it connect me to my past in a meaningful way?
What I’ve found is my criteria in practice allows for an expansive collection. When I look at the closet, I see a ton of cards which fit either the personal connection or the history angle. I need to refine that even more.
1) Complete Sets
I am a set builder. Always have been, always will be. Ever since I opened that first cello pack of 1986 Topps, putting a complete set together has one of the primary ways I enjoyed the hobby. And I still love the way a complete set captures the history of that season. Those flagship sets show the vast majority of players in the league, their stats, and many times some of the key moments from the season.
But I’ve come to realize my love of set building doesn’t mean I have to build every set. When I got back into actively collecting in 2016, I started putting together a ton of sets. Flagship, Ginter, Heritage, Bowman, Contenders, Donruss, and on and on. When I bought out collections, I’d also keep any set that I didn’t already have. That means I have bunch of things like 1996 Donruss, or 2000 Victory.
As part of this consolidation effort, I’m going to focus my set collection on the flagship run of Topps Baseball, The junk wax era sets from the 80s and early 90s, a few of the more recent Heritage and Bowman sets I enjoy, and some other vintage and oddball sets from the other sports which I find fun.
That’s still quite a few binders and boxes, but there are about 40-50 other complete sets which will be finding their way into the hands of other collectors.
This one won’t be nearly as impactful from a “space saving” perspective, but it will still make a difference. As I look through some of my “Star” binders, I see a ton of doubles. I’m at a place in my collecting journey, where I don’t need them anymore. I’m happy with one nice copy of these cards, why not get my doubles into someone else’s collection and a little more money in my pocket so I can buy some cards I don’t have yet?
I estimate selling off these doubles (and triples) will free up space for another 1,000 or so cards.
3) Sealed Wax
I’ve also built up a couple shelves worth of sealed wax.
Some of it is in the form of loose packs, but a ton of it is full boxes. I think having some older sealed wax is kind of fun, especially the “real” wax packs from the 80s! But my mindset on this wax is growing closer to my mindset on complete sets. If I have a single pack from one of the random 90s brands that will be fine. I don’t need that loose pack AND a full box. I don’t need 22 Skybox loose basketball packs, two or three will do. All this modern stuff from the last few years? Yeah, it’s going to go.
I don’t know how exactly this category will shake out, but I’d estimate half of it will find a new home.
As I started going through the closet, I realized I still had boxes and boxes of cards from when I was a kid. They weren’t sets, they weren’t stars, they were just boxes of junk wax era stuff. I already had binders of the stars from those sets pulled out separately. I have all the full complete sets already on the shelf. Why was I hanging on to 30k junk wax era commons?
Basically, they were in the same boxes that I had put them in 30 years ago. They had just moved from room to room, house to house, but the real meaningful cards from my youth were already pulled out. I can move on from these. Really, Mike, it will be ok.
That’s 30,000 more cards going out.
When some people talk about consolidation, they are looking to reduce their collection down to a single two row box of cards. Some don’t want more than 50 cards which have meaning to them.
I could never go that far. I love sets and a variety of a player’s singles too much.
But this iteration of consolidation will likely reduce my collection by close to 100k cards. It will give me a chance to have some cash to continue my vintage Topps run. If I can turn those 100k cards into the cards I need to finish off a couple more of my 60s Topps sets, I’ll be thrilled.
Collecting is a journey. These cards played a role and served a purpose in my journey, but it’s time they found new purpose in someone else’s collection.
These cards were part of a good thing. But sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.