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Reply with quote  #1 

All of us have little methods developed in our collecting down through the years, which might be helpful for other collectors to hear about. 

Not talking about any top secrets here --  don't expect you to share the address of that little antique shop down the street from you, where you have been buying G-Man short-prints and Indian Gum Series of 288s for 50-cents each. 

What I mean is stuff like the following.  Here's something I've been doing which really helps me keep a handle on my upgrading task at hand:

  • FILLER CARD PHOBIA:  We all understand the need to, at times, temporarily put lower-grade cards into sets we are building.  The use of fillers is a time-honored convention.  But I hate it when an otherwise high-grade 1930s set that I'm building, in a binder, has low-grade fillers that spoil the general overall high-grade condition appearance of rest of the entire site.   The solution is simple:  Any filler card, if destined for eventual upgrade and appearing on my upgrade wantlist as not a permanent part of that set, is reversed in the 9-card ultrapro sheet.  The back faces front and front faces the back.  Therefore, whenever I flip through a set, any cards where I'm seeing the backs are only temps, filling a gap.  This easy shorthand method also allows me to see at any time, without consulting my lists, just how close a set is to completion, conditionwise, when just glancing through the binder

See a lot of backs? Means a lot of work still to go.  Glancing at a set and seeing backs and 'gaps' tells me exactly everything I need to know . . .

My Pirates Pictures Cards set is a great example: got just about a complete set, but need to upgrade at least half the cards, so many of the cards sit in the sheets 'backwards'. 


Okay, how about the rest of you?  Got any interesting tricks? 

(How do you store cards?  How do you organize your collection?  Have you found a great way to protect these cherished items?  Do you have a great way to find cards in your area which others might try in theirs?) 

Anything . . . let's hear it!


Eric B
Reply with quote  #2 
When I decide to start a set it's usually because a set I have interest in comes up as a lot first. I prefer to get a head-start of 30-60% of a set. Then I can fill in the gaps.

Sometimes I get the requisite 30% for 3-4 sets and end up completing 1-2 of them. The other ones just go back into the market.
Reply with quote  #3 

Like you, for me to start a new set, there's got to be a foothold in the form of a decent starter lot. Otherwise, it just feels like deciding to swim right up a waterfall, especially for some of the larger sets.  (For some of the cool little sets, like "Don't Let It Happen Here" or "Film Funnies", only 24-cards long, this of course isn't an issue.)

But for larger sets, your indication of maybe ~ 1/3 of the entire set constituting a decent starter lot, or thereabouts, is probably about right, too.  But I've taken the plunge after a find of, say, 10-15% of a larger set.

The desire for a starter lot has led me to occasionally procrastinate and just never get started on some of the nicer vintage sets.  Eventually, at times I'll just take the plunge and get going, without a starter lot.

Tom Boblitt
Reply with quote  #4 
of us. I'd like to start the HOW set but I've only got 5 and one and two-ing it just doesn't cut it. Guess I'll hold till I find a nice 40-60 card lot in about VGEX to EX or so.

I've got about 25 different A&G, Kinney and Duke sets going picking them off one or two at a time but most of them are 25-50 card sets, so they're more manageable using that method.

I like the idea of facing the fillers backwards. I have my 19th century small cards in the Nostalgia series slipcover binders from Murray Cards at:

Okay, no affiliation with them but they are great for 50 card sets as they have 10 card sheets.

Reply with quote  #5 
Tom, I just looked at the Nostalgia pages from murraycards and they look like what I've been looking for. The 15-pocket Ultra-Pro pages seem to be a little tight for most standard n-cards. Are these a little bit looser? Also, the have some pages that look like they can fit the larger A&G cards sideways.
Tom Boblitt
Reply with quote  #6 
they are PREEMO for those sets. I have one slipcover binder with 65 pages for my N224 set in numerical order and I have probably 6-8 others for Kinney, Duke, Couple for A&G's, etc. I also have one for my Colgan's baseball cards and Helmar Stamps that fit 15 per page perfectly.

Only problem with them is that postage typically is about 30-40% of the cost of the albums......just posting from the UK is so expensive. I think I spent about $200-$250 on them and postage was about $75.00 or so. But if you factor that in, it's just part of the gig.

I can send you a few pages for you to look at if you want to before buying. I really do like them. They offer much more space--especially on the smaller sized A&G cards. They still fit plenty tight but they have more than enough space. I don't have any of the pages for the larger A&Gs but need to order some. What are they--6 to a page or something?

Reply with quote  #7 
Buy in bulk when possible. Try to collect cards with nice eye appeal, regardless of the grade. Resist the temptation to chase "hot" sets.
Reply with quote  #8 
1) It's impossible to overstate the importance of a sturdy, comfortable chair - if you're like me, you do most of your collecting from a sitting position, in front of a computer monitor.

2) For looking at cards that I actually own, another absolute must is a maneuverable, full-spectrum light source. I have a couple Ott-Lites that work really well.

3) Sniping Services! Very helpful for organizing and acquiring the cards that you covet.

4) Caffeine is your friend.

Reply with quote  #9 

Tom, you raise an interesting issue . . . re binders.  Your mention of slipcovers has me curious.  Have you found a special supplier for high-quality binders for your cards? 

For me, the binder is of huge importance so I really don't care what it might cost.  It is a focal point for my collection.  So, my feeling is "nothing but the best will do" but instead, I have usually been stuck with just the best thing I can find at the Office Depot or whatever.

Would really like premium 3" binders, each with its own slipcover, first-class hardware for the covers like heavyweight metal hinges, D-rings with locking assembly inside, and so forth.  Real leather might be a kick, too.

I guess this is describing a binder that, in itself, might cost well over $100 or so.  Thoughts?

Reply with quote  #10 

Hey 'Frogman Mark' :   

I share your general allergy to filler cards . . . Chuck can tell you about conversations we've had, down through the years, about holding out for quality versus instant gratification (purchasing a lower grade but available card).  Just seems wrong to purchase the same card for your set several times over. But sometimes I'll grab a filler after staring at a binder page gap for a long time.  (Or, you have the cases of the sets that are so rare that one needs to swallow a lot of filler material, en route to building a set, viz. Pirate Picture Bubblegum.)  So, when I stoop to inserting a filler into one of my sets, I make it stand in the proverbial corner by reversing in the sleeve. 

And also, yep, wantlists are with me 24/7, folded up and adding bulk to my wallet . . . since you never know when you're gonna get lucky (with regard to bumping into cards, that is!).

THANKS TO ALL on the info re high quality binders.  In the past, I've usually had to "make do" with quick shopping at office supply stores, when in the States on vacation or a business trip (as I work/live overseas).  I'll look into these suppliers and start plotting out a new storage system incorporating this high quality material.

Reply with quote  #11 

Jeff, thanks also for this tip about Ott-Lites! 

Having lived overseas for the past couple decades, a lot of the nicer aspects of newer 'home comfort' technology have slipped past me. 

This desktop magnifying Ott-Lite is on my shopping list for this upcoming summer trip back home to Chicago!  I really like the looks of this one:

Reply with quote  #12 
An Ott-Lite with a built-in magnifier! That's a great idea. In a few years I'll be needing a magnifier. You would think that near-sightedness and far-sightedness would cancel each other out, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
Shawn Adkins
Reply with quote  #13 
Ralph, if price is not an issue then MJ Roop might be of interest.

Tom Boblitt
Reply with quote  #14 
Shawn hit it on the head with Roop......they have VERY nice archival quality stuff if you hadn't seen them before. I have 4-5 of their albums. They have slipcover type albums and they really are nice. The Murray Cards Nostalgia albums just aren't of the quality that Roops are but I like the format of them better. The nice thing about Roop is that they'll customize their binder systems for you with lettering on the spine and I think they have binders up to 4-5 inches. They also have wooden PSA/graded type card holders and some other items. Only issue with them is they are SLOW.....takes probably 4-6 weeks to get your stuff from them. At least that's my experience with them. Others could have a different one. As for price, you can get a nice slip cover binder for $40-$50 or so. The Nostalgias are kinda like a Naugahyde (sp?) or some type of plastic type substance. The Roops is like a waxed cloth or something. Roops have D, Nostalgia round or C? rings.
Shawn Adkins
Reply with quote  #15 
Any of my sets that go into an 8 or 9 pocket page get a soft sleeve applied first before they ever go in the book. Ultra Pro has been making a sleeve for years that fits in those album pages and when used, it provides a much tighter fit which helps the cards stay in their place. I'm sure other companies make sleeves that also fit in an album page but I've been using those since the around 1997 and back then they were the only sleeves made that would serve this purpose.

In addition to the sleeves, I also have a small label maker in which I create a small 2-line label that goes on the edge of the first page of each set describing what I am looking at. For example, I'll put "T69 Historic Homes" on one line and "50 cards in set" on another then apply this to the first page of cards in my album.

I too used to turn my cards around backwards to identify an upgrade need. Since I started using the sleeves though, I know put a little red "X" on the upper part of the sleeve so I can still easily find my cards to be upgraded and can still enjoy looking at the cards all facing the same direction.

Also, since I am kinda new to a lot of these sets I try to keep a few pages reserved in an album as a "type" reference. I'll put one card from each set that I have in the page with a little label on the back of each pocket designating what the card is in which I am viewing. This is done for two reasons, one it is a nice way to display a type collection and helps me learn the ACC designation for the cards. The other reason is that I can just grab up these pages when going to shows and have an example card with me for reference.

And finally, I keep all of my unfinished sets in a separate album for easy access. Once it has been completed, I move it over to the appropriate "completed" album which are designated by ACC number. All T's are in a book, all E's are in a book and then arranged by their ACC number per album. Having the unfinished sets in one album really helps when I go to put new cards away as I know exactly where to look and if I want, I can just grab the book to take to a show with me.
Reply with quote  #16 
Light Impressions has the exact same binders as Roop- Roop uses Light Impressions catalog picture on their web page. Since there have been a fair amount of reports of Roop's customer service being less than stellar on CU and elsewhere, I would suggest going directly to the source and saving a few bucks in the process:
Mark Hellman
Reply with quote  #17 
I have HUGE wantlists that I keep near me. I avoid filler cards - if I happen to have one, that card number stays on my wantlist. It's like I don't even have it.

Most sets I start with a lot as well. However, there are some sets that I just started building one by one. Occasionally, I get bitten by the "gottahave" bug - my N88 is the perfect example; the first N set I collected, and although I have picked up lots here and there, it started with a single card ("Cheese it the cop").
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