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Football Card Collecting: 5 Tips for Beginners

October 2, 2013 • Ben Heck • Football Cards, Lists

So, you would like to break out your money and hop onto the nearly-empty football card bandwagon? Please, join us. There’s plenty of room for you and a few buddies. As we mentioned in our previous post, the trading card industry is slowly, but surely, dying. Perhaps it’s because of the internet and the boom in the video game industry among the younger generations. Either way, it’s tough to find someone to have an intelligent conversation with about what to do about getting started in card collecting.

That’s where we come in.

Here’s a full guide to getting started:

Do your research

When I began my collecting, I simply looked for packs with the most cards at the cheapest price. I honestly wish I hadn’t started out that way. When you see basic card packs, or box sets, such as Topps or Upper Deck, their base sets often have around 10 cards per pack. The more valuable cards, such as Press Pass or Sage, often have just five or six cards per pack. That’s a good way in measuring the value of the cards––how many they have per pack. The smaller the number, the more valuable the cards/box sets for that given company.

I would recommend buying a few cheap packs the first few times you purchase, but after that it’s a bit more rewarding when you throw more money on the table and get less cards in return. It’ll pay off in the long run.

Figure out how you want to store your cards

When you get a pretty size-able collection (such as my 4,000+), it gets to be very important that you have a way to correctly store these cards. Value starts to decrease if your cards aren’t in great condition. Buying card pages and a three-ring binder is the smartest idea. If you leave them sitting out or just put them all together in a big box it can start to crease the sides or the corners over time. In order to keep them in mint condition, it’s a good idea to keep them in pages or card cases. If you buy an entire box or team set, keep them in the box. Keeping the entire set together and in its original box keeps its value up.

Organization

As I just said above, if you have an entire team set, keep it all together! When I was younger I sorted the cards by team, and put them in numerous different binders. But personally, now that I’m older, I think I’d rather keep them together by year and manufacturer. If you have multiple 1999 Bowman Chromes, keep all of the 1999 Bowman Chromes together.

For some of the more valuable rookie cards, or autographed and swatches, that I own I have individual hard plastic sleeves that I keep them in to help minimize any possible damage that could possibly be done to the corners of the cards. The corners are typically the most vulnerable part of the cards, and it’s easy to tell it’s been damaged.

Now that I think about it, storing and organizing the cards go hand-in-hand. Though everyone does it differently, I believe that using 9-pocket pages/binder and clear plastic boxes are the two most popular ways of storing, while team and year/manufacturer are the two most popular ways of organizing. By player is another semi-popular way of organizing, though I’ve never even considered doing that.

Attend Card Shows, Visit Local Card and Memorabilia Stores

When you’re a collector, attending card shows (if your town, or surrounding towns ever even host one) are an exciting thing to do. It’s sort of a nerdy concept––it could probably be compared to a comic book convention. But if you’re like me and really don’t care what people think of your hobby, then you shouldn’t have a problem showing up to one of these and meeting people with a similar passion to your football card collecting passion. It’s a great way to buy/sell cards and, just, talk about them with people rather than online forums. You know, person-to-person interaction. It’s good for the soul.

As for memorabilia or hobby stores, these are also a dying breed. But if you’re lucky enough to have one near you, I suggest you visit quite often. Normally the man that’s working the register, if it’s a small-town shop, is also the owner of the place and has a vast knowledge of the hobby. Ask him a few questions and I can almost guarantee you that he or she will be able to answer them for you.

Read up on the History of Sports Cards

Not just on football card history, but on sports card history in general. Like anything new that you take up, it’s nice to know how this specific hobby came about. Maybe it’ll even make you even more passionate about it if you learn something that you find very intriguing about its history. If you’re going to take it up as a hobby you might as well go all out, right?

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6 Responses to Football Card Collecting: 5 Tips for Beginners

  1. Dawn says:

    My 20yr old just moved out on his own, he left his football card collection that his dad passed down to him there is a lot of good cards in his collection, they are all in great condition but, he don’t won’t them no more so I’m trying to sale them they are from the late 80s to the early 90s where would I look to see how much each player card is worth its well over 200…

    • Ben Heck says:

      Hey Dawn!

      Thanks for the comment.

      There are a number of different ways you can find out what these cards are worth individually: First, I’d try checking out beckett.com, they have an online price guide for all of the major sports and additional trading cards. If you can’t find out certain card prices, you can also try googling the card (company, year, player, team, etc.) and check out what that card is selling for online and try to compare the prices.

      If you have any other questions, feel free to send me an email at benheck77@yahoo.com. Thanks for reading!!

  2. Lisa says:

    I’m starting my son in a different way. We are getting ready to see some early 90s oiler players and I want to buy cards to have signed. Which cards should I buy for players like Ray Childress and Earl Campbell?

    • Ben Heck says:

      Hey Lisa!

      As far as buying some Childress and Campbell cards to have them signed, I would suggest buying older cards that came out during their playing careers (rather than some of the newer cards being sold nowadays of legendary players from the past). Try finding some Topps cards of either Campbell or Childress, or both. If you try a Google search, it looks like there are Earl Campbell Topps rookie cards going for between $10-$15…if you don’t want to spend that much on a RC, you’re sure to find a non-rookie card for cheaper. I don’t think I currently have any Campbell cards, but I do have a 1992 Pro Set Ray Childress card if you’re interested in it.

      Which other 1990’s Oilers players will you be meeting?

  3. Mario Alamia says:

    Hello,

    I recently as two weeks ago started to collect football cards. I actually had a collection, me and my brothers. We collected Oilers football cards from the late 80s to early 90s, the Luv Ya Blue days! My brother still has a few of them still, but since none if us has asked for them in 20 some odd years he’s claiming them. And rightfully so, I’d do the same. I recently bought some unopened packs from eBay, the seller said the the card pack years range from 1968 to 1989. My question is, what (in your opinion) are the chances that I’d get something special out of the packs?
    Is there some type of serial number on football packs that the seller would know not to sell that certain pack because it contains a great card?
    And is it a good idea to buy these type of packs off the Internet?

    Any feedback you can give me on the best ways you found to start your collection would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks

    • Ben Heck says:

      Hey Mario,

      Thanks for reaching out! As far as buying unopened packs on ebay, the chances of getting something special out of those packs, as you put it, is the same as it would be buying packs or box sets at the store. If they’re still factory sealed there’s no way of telling what’s in them. I started my collection way back when I was about six or seven years old, and I just bought packs/boxes at local card stores. If you’re interested in starting a collection of certain players/teams/brands/years, I suggest attending card shows in your area or buying singles online, so that way you know what you’re getting. I love using footballcardshop.com, but there are plenty of sites out there where you can purchase card singles.

      If you have any other questions or comments for me you can always send me an email (benheck77@yahoo.com). Thanks for reading us, and come back often!

      –Ben Heck
      All-Out Blitz

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