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Old 03-13-2016, 06:37 PM   #1
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Trading Cards are small cards, usually 2.5" x 3.5", made from heavy paper stock. Typically, these trading cards display images of people, places, and things, along with descriptive text and other relevant information. Trading card manufacturers usually publish their cards in sets, and many collectors find enjoyment in the process of completing sets. Other collectors specialize in a particular athlete, sports team, fictional character, entertainment franchise, or even an entire genre. Some hobbyists specialize in collectible card games, in which case, collecting is only one aspect of becoming a successful player.


1. Focus on a Niche
The first rule of successful card collecting is to focus on a niche or at least a series of niches. This makes the hobby much more manageable, in terms of both time and finances. Rather than try to collect all sports trading cards, limit the collection to a particular sport or league. If the collector wants more diversity, then consider narrowing the scope of each sport down to a favorite team. Collecting without boundaries often invites burnout, and collectors with structure and a narrower focus tend to get much more enjoyment out of their efforts.

2. Budget and Prioritize
Even with a narrow focus, collecting trading cards can be an expensive hobby. Therefore, collectors should determine how much disposable income is available and stick to that. Most collectors will only have limited funds to spend each week on trading cards, so prioritization is essential. Every collector should have a target list, which can include individual cards, card packs, boxes, sets, lots, and even supplies. The collector should also prioritize the list based on what he or she wants most. If the collector updates and adheres to the list, then it serves as an invaluable tool for getting the most out of limited resources.

3. Invest in Proper Storage
Many collectors learn the hard way that proper storage is an integral component of successful trading card collecting. The hurdle for newbies is that they tend to have a small collection and few resources, so it can seem as if storage supplies are eating up a great portion of the potential fun. Nevertheless, without proper storage, trading cards will become lost and damaged, and the entire experience will suffer. Start with a lidded, multi-row trading card box, which can be used to hold the entire collection for now. When the budget allows, invest in top loaders, a binder, and sleeve pages. For the most cherished specimens in a collection, consider purchasing specialized display cases.

4. Organize
It’s also vital to keep the trading card collection organized as it can quickly grow out of hand. Organize trading cards into groups and subgroups. If possible, maintain groups in distinct storage solutions, or use dividers within the binders and cardboard boxes, so that the groupings are clearly defined. Within each group, organize alphabetically or by some other consistent system, which will make retrieval and placement much easier. Maintain duplicates that will be traded or sold in an entirely separate collection, which allows the collector to organize those cards more easily for mobility and by value.

5. Create and Maintain a Database
The next step in organization is a database, which is relatively easy to accomplish thanks to the sophisticated computing devices and advanced software that are available. Collectors can opt for collection-specific software, or they can use generic yet powerful database software that allows for unlimited customization. These days, many collectors opt for a cloud-based solution, due to accessibility and security: The database can be available from a smartphone while walking a convention floor, and the collector won’t lose the database because of a hard drive failure.

6. Start with New Cards and Work Backward
New collectors should start by collecting the trading cards that are currently being published. Current cards are much more available, and since they’re available at face value, the collector can do more with his or her available budget. In fact, current cards are often available in bulk lots at significant savings. The collector can then turn their attention to vintage trading cards once they have some experience. Vintage cards can be tricky, since the collector has to deal with card condition, perceived value, and negotiation. Those skills will come easier when the collector is well versed in their particular niche.

7. Understand and Monitor Card Values
To be well versed in a trading card niche, the collector must have a general sense of card value and be able to recognize trends. That may seem like a lot of work, but it often comes easily with time, and many collectors will learn primarily by osmosis. To help that process along, stay current with the price guides as they’re published or posted online. Pay particular attention to the most valuable cards in the most recent sets; from month to month, note how they appreciate or depreciate.

8. Learn to Recognize Card Condition
The trading card industry uses a 10-point system for grading card condition. The system ranges from poor-to-fair (PR-FR) to gem mint (GEM-MT). Default card values assume a mint (MINT) condition. Anything above mint will carry a premium, and anything below mint will carry a discount. Condition usually includes a number for precision. For instance, baseline MINT is MINT-9, and a mint card may be graded at MINT-9.1 or higher. GEM-MT-10 is somewhat of a holy grail for collectors, and most trading cards can’t even meet that grading requirement as they roll off the production line.

9. Buy Low, Sell High
If trading card collectors only buy and never sell or trade, then they aren’t maximizing the potential of their collection, especially if they tend to focus on sealed packs. Over time, the hobbyists will undoubtedly collect duplicates and cards that they simply don’t want. Do not, however, trade or sell those cards as quickly as possible simply because they’re extras. Instead, the collector should monitor prices and seek a balance between profitability and timeliness. As a collector gains experience, it can also be wise to buy depreciating cards when the collector expects that the trend is only temporary.

10. Trade Duplicates
Generally, there is much more value to be had in trading rather than selling a card. Shopkeepers will usually pay more when paying with in-store credit, and individual collectors are often willing to sacrifice value of the cards they’re trading in order to get the cards they want. Good traders can take multiple steps to achieve a goal using the concept of trading up. If the collector can gain a little value with each trade, then in the end, they can trade nearly any card for one that is much more valuable.

11. Establish a Large Catalogue with Wholesale Lots
Many collectors, especially new ones, desire the sense of a large collection. One of the easiest and cheapest ways to grow a new collection is through wholesale lots, especially loose card lots. Lots can be a great deal of fun for established collectors too. Lots are relatively inexpensive, and the process of digging through them is exciting. The collector does run the risk of not unearthing anything special, but in the hands of an industrious collector, wholesale lots usually pay for themselves and then some.

12. Embrace the Trading Card Culture
Embracing the trading card culture is perhaps the best advice a new collector can take to heart. Trading card collecting can be a solitary experience, but it doesn’t have to be. New collectors should start by immersing themselves in the various online communities. These forums are an excellent resource for collectors of all experience levels. It’s also wise to budget the time and money needed to visit local trading card events. Most areas will have at least one major event each year, and collectors should make a point of attending that event with a sizable budget and trading stockpile in hand.

Collectable cards are a fun and rewarding pastime, but the hobby can also be expensive and time-consuming. Collectors can manage these challenges through budgeting and prioritization. They can also maximize their enjoyment by focusing on a niche and through proper storage and organization. Most importantly, collectors should embrace the social aspect of their hobby. Socializing is a great way to learn and have fun, and the collectors can improve their collections significantly through the trading and selling of their duplicates.
Happy Collecting! ~ ~ Where Every Card is a New Adventure
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Old 04-05-2016, 11:52 AM   #2
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MuseumCurator, it is a great guide for "new" collectors.

The niche or the topic of your collection must be the focus. Agree with you is the first thing some "new" collectors need start with it.

About duplicates. Time ago, like many collectors. I waste a lot of storage space just for the duplicate cards. Then one day, I decide to sell the duplicates to get funds/money to buy "new" cards to my collection.
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