The Ten Hobby Commandments…but probably not.

I’m one of those brave souls…or maybe just foolish physical manifestations of a current human being?  I went to a card show this past Saturday. 

Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

It was a card show with other collector’s, other humans.  People that have different priorities than me.  People that may think facts and science are negotiable.  In the time of a major pandemic.  In an area where the numbers are not going down.  It was risky.  I grant you that.  Of course I wore my mask and sanitized the hell out of my hands before i left the car and once I got back into the car.  I did my best to not touch every single thing I see, but then again I’m not four years old…that part was easy.  Sports card collectors have not traditionally been the healthiest of crews.  We all know what I’m talking about without saying it…but I’ma say it anyways. 

We’re all some version of the stereotypical cardboard hoarder; the fried food eating, soda drinking, epic hit oversharing, hunched over a box of cards looking to score a big hit kinda person.  That person, we all know them and we own some of those characteristics.  I know I do…the fried food, love it.  Sodas, love ‘em.  Hunched over a box, my neck is sore after every show I go to.  Ironically though,  well, maybe not ironic…maybe it’s just a timing thing with this post.  For the month of January, the bride and I are doing a thirty day cleanse after a much needed year of eating and drinking our feelings.  Drowning our sorrows in whiskey and wine all year while chasing it with some burgers and fries hasn’t done our bodies well.  We’re one full week and I’m feeling significantly better…but enough about me. 

Let’s talk about some commandments in the hobby that I abide by and how some of them relate to card shows and collecting.  I know some folks around here have noted some type of community agreement for card shows and collecting in general, so these are from my perspective.  Oh yeah, I’ve based them on the Notorious BIG’s “Ten Crack Commandments”.  Very possibly inappropriate and most likely have very little to do with the actual hobby in itself, but I’ve always wanted to mix this song into a blog post.  So, I may be going all over the place here and relate absolutely nothing back to the hobby…but you should read because I think it’s fun and I’ve got 1960 Topps cards in between…Let’s go…sorry, as one of my favorite colleagues says…one more thing. The cards and the stories have absolutely nothing to do with each other. You’ve been warned. Ok. NOW. Let’s go.

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Number ONE! Biggie Says: Never let no one know.

My hobby isn’t really a secret, but I do like to stay somewhat anonymous.  I’ve tried to scrub my name from the blog and rarely…if ever posted a photo of myself.  The bride has suggested that this is not a good way to drum up business and attract readers or buyers.  Her thought is that people want to know who they’re dealing with.  My thought is that I don’t want that.  I like anonymity and I like blending in.  I’ve never been one to stand out in a crowd and don’t really feel the need to stand out in the hobby.  Who knows though, maybe she’s correct.  I often find myself googling other blog authors or collectors to see who they are (does that make me a stalker…?)  I’m not on the facebooks, so it’s a challenge to find faces and match them up with their blogs.  So, I fully embrace the notion of letting no one know.  A fun future blogger game would be to match the face with the blog.  That would be a fantastic year end game to play…?

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Number TWO! Biggie Says: Never let ‘em know your next move.

This one relies heavily on secrecy and finding a “honey hole” of sorts…no, scratch that.  That’s a horrible term.  Maybe it’s really just a favorite spot.  I have those.  But I share them.  I know some folks have a Target or Walmart that they hit up during a certain time of day during a specific day to grab those retail commodity boxes…guess those folks play to the never let ‘em know your next move.  I’m not big on that, I think that sucks.  Share and share alike I say.  So maybe this one applies to some, but not me.

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Number THREE! Biggie Says: Never trust nooobody.

So, this one may be ABOUT me and I’m still feeling a little guilt about it.  When I was at the show Saturday I stopped by Bill’s table (Gavin knows this guy).  Bill is an older gentlemen that lives in Salem, about an hour south of Portland.  He buys card lots from people and has about 4 tables of 10cent, 50cent and Dollar cards.  The dollar cards though, if you buy seven of them it only costs you $5!  It’s been that way forever…or at least like 10years forever, that’s how long I’ve been hitting up these shows…I mean, I’ve been going to these shows for over a decade and it’s always been like that…well, at least that’s what I remember.  I went through the $1 cards and separated my stack into sevens and tallied up the total.  I like organization, remember?  As I was counting, i had an overwhelming sense he was peering over me…I believe he was…I KNOW he was.  When I told him my total, he said “you sure…ok…I trust you…”.  Bill can be an odd duck, but that stuck with me.  I wandered around the other tables and dealers for a bit but couldn’t get it out of my head.  My guilty conscience brought me back to his table to clarify if the $1 box was still 7 for 5?  “Nope” was the response and the shame rained down instantly.  I did a quick recount and gave him the difference in cash and explained to him my “why”.  He seemed to be ok with it.  I guess.  I hope.  I should have asked or clarified when I felt odd about his response, but I didn’t.  That’s a whole nother blog post to explain those issues about me.  I did square it away and I feel good about that…but f’real Never trust nobody…including yourself.

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Number FOUR! Biggie Says: Never get high on your own supply.

I think this is a great one as we all do this.  Opening boxes is great, right?  Who doesn’t love opening things.  My kid loves it.  My bride loves it…hell, my dog loves it.  She opens every single stuffed animal we buy her.  Therefore, I too love opening boxes.  I have a stash though.  I love the stash…but mostly open them when I’m bored or in need of a fix.  The people that hold on to boxes can really see a jump in value if they wait the right amount of time.  That’s a hard thing to do, sit on something and just wait for a rainy day or come across some ebay listing that says it’s going for twice what you’ve paid for it.  How does one NOT get high on their own supply at this point.  Apparently 1989-90 Hoops are going for close to $100/box.  That’s ridiculous…but it also proves that if you don’t get high on your own supply, you can make a buck or two plus in the future…you know, to buy more cards.

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Number FIVE! Biggie Says: Never sell no crack where you rest at.

I am a collector first and foremost.  This is an expensive hobby though…like really expensive, especially the last couple of years.  I’ve been listing my cards on ebay now, quite a bit.  I’ve also done well, so much so that I’ve opened a shop on ebay and have been dealing with the crazies all across the country buying my unwanted cards.  Essentially running a small card shop from my home.  I do mostly PWE’s and have been adding my return address just in case something gets lost or ends up bouncing back and forth between Miami and Minneapolis.  I don’t mind fellow bloggers having my addy, but not some coocoo man from Florida type that could receive a card they don’t like and decide to take a road trip to the PNW.  I’m thinking of getting a PO Box to help with this issue so I’m not selling no crack…cards where I rest at forever.

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Number SIX! Biggie Says: That got damn credit? Dead it!

Cards are expensive, remember when I mentioned that in item 5?  Yeah…really expensive.  How many collector’s run up a debt in their collecting process?  Hopefully not many, but I’m certain some do.  Living on credit is tough during these Soylent Green sorts of days and almost necessary for some of us.  But man, that got damn credit?  Dead it.  If I can’t pay cash for a card, I don’t need said card…that’s mostly the impetus for selling so much on ebay.  Ultimately, my goal would be to not spend any of my day job money on cards and just get to a point where I can spend card sales money on cards!

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Number SEVEN! Biggie Says: Keep your family and business completely separated.

I love my family.  They love me…even my 8 year old.  The dog loves me.  At least one of our cats loves me…not sure about the other one.  He’s definitely more of a momma’s boy.  They all have some kind of idea what I do with my hobby, not explicitly, but generally.  My always asks why I collect cards and in return I ask why he always plays video games…it’s because we enjoy it.  Also, we’re both incredibly anxious and these things help our emotions stay in control.  Part of the hobby can be dense…too much for a spouse to deal with…or maybe just not want to deal with.  I let the bride on to some things that we deal with in our hobby, but mostly don’t.  Not because I’m hiding anything (don’t tell her about my stash!!!), but because I don’t believe it will generate a lot of interest for her.  Keeping this part of my life separated from her is ok…she knows how much it means to me…she just has some concerns about the time I spend with the hobby.  Maybe the hobby does its own part in keeping family and business separated…?

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Number EIGHT! Biggie Says: Never keep no weight on you.

So, as I mentioned in item 3, I was at Bill’s table this past Saturday.  Lots of new faces in the crowd.  Sneaker head faces behind their Supreme and Nike facemasks, just straight ballin’ out…sorry, that wasn’t really necessary.  But seriously, the landscape of these card shows and the hobby have changed.  The hobby has been influenced by influencers.  I’m sure I’ve been sucked into some of it as well…I’m a sucker most of the time.  Well, anyways.  While at Bill’s table there was a group of twenty somethings buying graded basketball cards.  Not just some basic cards, LeBron and Kobe rookies.  These youngsters has some loot too.  The tallest one, I’ll call him Chad for the sake of conversation.  Chad pulled out a ziplock back…the kind with the plastic slider, not the integrated slider…he had the baller ziplocks.  That bag was way too aggressively slammed down on the glass display case and in it was a four inch stack of cash…at least.  All twenties, at least from what I could tell.  Chad was not messing around.  He wanted those slabs and got those slabs.  The Chad gang left right after the purchase and went to their cars…I guess to unload the weight.

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Number NINE! Biggie Says: Stay the F*** from police.

Well, maybe the police don’t have anything to do with this one.  Other than possibly the moral collector police or the “back in my day” police.  I totally get the frustration we all have with the hobby at times and the influx of new faces, but things change.  I like to see this change as good for the hobby.  It increases accessibility, awareness, attendance and other words starting with A’s.  It also increases interest.  Our hobby has had, in my mind, a negative perception for those that don’t know.  We’re seen as overgrown children doing children things…collecting WHAT??!!  I had those when I was a kid…why do you still collect cards…now you know why number one was so important to me.  I like to see how others collect and I honestly don’t care if someone objects to my collection process or methods.  This hobby is huge and has many lanes for all of us to participate in…let enjoy and not overly police others that are new to the hobby.  So, not only stay the f*** from police, don’t be one!

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Number TEN! Biggie Says: Consignment, if you ain’t got no clientele, say hell no!

Consignment, yeah…no thanks…well, maybe.  Selling cards is tough, you really need a lot of stock to make some money in doing it.  Collecting cards is also tough, you really need some good collector friends and online searches to find what you want.  Do we really need consignment in our hobby?  Many times I’ve been sent a link on twitter for a great Washington card and pursued it.  Some times the favor was returned when I posted a card…sort of a communal sharing.  Ebay is a bit of a consignment…they take a huge chunk of your change so you can sell your items to a significantly larger audience.  Helpful yes.  Paying for them to such a thing, not so much.  But, honestly would I have sold that card without them and their reach…?  I don’t know…may say hell maybe to consignment.

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Hope you enjoyed the read.

Hope it was slightly entertaining and engaging.

My apologies for the ramblings, but hey…isn’t a blog supposed to be about ramblings? 

Have a great evening and see you next time!

-Cardboard Hogs

And now…the inspiration for today’s post…as well as the inspiration for the song for the post…so metta.

Patience…

Card Collecting is one of my hobbies, actually, it’s my only true hobby.  The only one I work as consistently and i guess passionately?  (Although i don’t like to use that term for what collecting ultimately is…consumption and hoarding.)  One of the reasons that it brings me as much joy as it does is because it’s really the only thing in my life that i have total control over.  Normally in life you have to answer to a boss, or do chores you don’t want to do or a multitude of other things that aren’t necessarily exciting to you.  Life is all about compromises and working as a team to get something done.  Luckily for me, i have an AMAZING WIFE that is cool with me heading out to the card shop once in a while and hitting up the card show every month or two…so long as it doesn’t get too overwhelming for our family.  She is always more than accommodating which is one of the many reasons why i love her so much.  Not only is she ok with my card consumption, but she also accommodates my desire to read card blogs and write one of my own.  At times the blogs can cut in to important family time or our ever dwindling spouse time (work, kids, friends…!).  I am a very lucky boy to say the very least.

So, my job is to enjoy my hobby as much as possible, but not let it overwhelm me or get in the way of far more important things.  At times though, it can be impossible to avoid the inevitable pitfalls of collecting thousands upon thousands of 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ card stock images of sports figures.  When that starts to happen, i step back and take a break.  The last thing i want to do is get so burned out i bail on everything that i’ve managed to collect for the past 30+ years (off and on).  Shorter version, collecting for me is all about moderation and patience…just a little…nevermind…

After my little blogging break, i have some great stuff to share…well at least i think so.  Lets take a look at some of the much needed card therapy from Saturday.

jan-card-show

 

Going in to each show, i normally have three objectives.

  1. Pick up Redskins cards from Kim…he’s awesome in picking up and holding stuff for me.  Always gives me the best deals…and is really a great guy.  I’ll get to those cards soon.
  2. Spend way too much time at Bill’s 7 for $5 bonanza table.  Bill is an incredibly fascinating guy…tons of opinions, but even more cards.  I’ve never seen him load up his van he brings from Salem each show, but he has at least twenty 3500 count boxes of cards (top loaders stuffed in tightly!)  along with display cases and dime boxes…and other stuff.
  3. Stop off and chat with Terry and pick up some vintage…this is where we will start today.

I like Terry, he’s a cool older guy, maybe mid 60’s or so.  Big Cubs fan and i think he used to teach.  He’s always great with the younger kids (most of the guys there are) as well…he also likes to shoot the shit with everyone and give people a hard time…in a kind jokingly way.  I enjoy that.  The camaraderie at some of these shows is great.  I’ve never been one to   make friends or acquaintances easily, but the more you see someone the more you are likely to talk to them…or at least that’s what my wife tells me…?

Anyways.  Terry is the main vintage guy at the show.  There are a couple other vintage guys, but in my opinion and judging by his stash i think he carries that belt with pride.  I like to hit his table up last and basically spend the remainder of my card show budget on 1960’s set needs.  Today, i decided to chip away at the 1964 set.  Here is what i picked up…photographed as best as i possibly can with low lighting and glare from a soft halogen.

One of the many things i like about Terry is that he’s incredibly organized and his cards are clearly labeled and tagged for what they are and what they cost.  He will give you a discount, but never a bargain.  His cards are quality, which is why i like them…but man, at this rate…it’s gonna take me 20 years to complete the 1960’s sets…patience.

During the sifting of cards, Terry checks in and likes to find out things about you or tell you stories of other collectors.  He’s the kind of guy that knows everyone.  I’ve seen him in my LCS talking to Brian one day, which was a bit of bizarro moment as Bill from the show and a couple other recognizable dealer faces were in his shop.  It was like a Justice League meeting…but for old card collecting men.  Luckily, none of them were in tights or had on capes.

So there you have it.  My 1964 pick ups for the month of January.  I think next time i may go for the ’63s and start chipping away at those commons.

One little thing that Terry noticed i had and commented on was my notebook of checklists.  I’ve struggled with ways of toting around a list of cards i need without having a bulky binder or constantly turning my phone on to see my list.  So i printed out a bunch of excel checklists scaled down to fit in to a small moleskin cashier notebook…the 3 1/2 x 5 1/2 size.  Fits in my back pocket nicely and i can take it every where i go…it does have its limitations, like smudging though…

64-t-checklist65-t-checklist

Hope you enjoyed reading.  Not sure what i will post next, but i have quite of few cards to photograph or scan and they should last about 5-6 more posts.

In the meantime…Not sure if any of you are (were) in to New Edition.  I was…loved ’em!  BET just had a three night two hour mini series that was a lot of fun to watch.  Those kids man…they had some issues with each other.  But the music…