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.
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?