What awaits your collection?

One of the unexpected things about becoming a co-chair of this committee and blog has been seeing what kind of emails get sent to the contact link. We get a few marketing/merchandising proposals which Jason and I discard because we want our content and the links we tweet out to be clearly from us (where us is either the co-chairs or the organic nature of the blog). But we also get genuinely interesting questions from people about the hobby.

Earlier this week we received the following note. While I was responding to it I realized that the questions it was asking were the kind of things that many of us on the blog have started thinking about and that my response would be better as a post where other people can add their thoughts in the comments.

I am a disabled, and terminal, US Navy veteran.  I’m bedridden and am looking to rekindle my baseball card collecting.  My collection that I had 45 years ago is long gone, so I thought I would start again to relieve my boredom and anxiety over what awaits me.

I also want to have something to leave to my grandson when I’m gone.

My question for you is, what is the best way to start?  Do I look for cheap sets to purchase or send someone to yard sales in search of inexpensive cards?  I have a small fixed income and am unable to spend a lot. I’m not looking for cards of value.  Just basic cards to my collection again.

Any suggestions or direction would be greatly appreciated.

The question about starting (or restarting) in the hobby is a fun one that I know we all have thoughts on. However the way this particular email framed that question by expressing a desire to create something worth passing on to his grandson is what got my brain ticking.

It’s a great question that I know many of us have started thinking about. What happens to our collections when we go? Not all of us have children or grandchildren who collect. Many of us have tens or hundreds of thousands of cards in storage. They’re meaningful to us but they’re likely junk or a burden to our loved ones.

My previous post about chronicling my sons’ adventures ended with my thinking and planning on writing up essays on why I collected what I do. Why a set is meaningful to me. How and when I got an autograph. Why I’ve chosen the personal collections I’ve chosen.

If I were to wipe out my existing collection and start anew with the goal of passing something on to my kids or grandchildren? I’d go even harder at making it autobiographical. Write my story first—my first game, my favorite players, my fondest baseball memories. Then find cards that illustrated those events.

I know I loved finding old stuff at my grandmother’s house. The old cards I found there are some of my most-prized possessions yet they’re also really thin on memories. I remember them fondly because I found them. But I don’t know who collected them or why. The older I get the more I wish I had the stories that went with them.

Receiving a box of cards from my grandfather would’ve been great. Being able to listen to or read his stories about the players and why he collected them though would have been priceless.

After all, that’s really the joy of collecting and why this blog exists. It’s not about value or investing. It’s about how baseball and card collecting connects generations. That guys who collected in the 1950s can talk to kids collecting now and have a hobby in common. That cards are cards are cards and while the details of how sets are released and how cards are made are vastly different, at the end of the day it comes down to pictures of players and talking about who we got to see play.

Author: Nick Vossbrink

Blogging about Photography, Museums, Printing, and Baseball Cards from both Princeton New Jersey and the San Francisco Bay Area. On Twitter as @vossbrink, WordPress at njwv.wordpress.com, and the web at vossbrink.net

4 thoughts on “What awaits your collection?”

  1. The grandfather notes a “small fixed income” so I will target my advice to such a budget.

    I think a great collection to enjoy building and eventually sharing would be the grandfather’s favorite players from when he was young.

    If his team was, for example, the 1966 Reds, then collecting that team set one by one and maybe sprinkling some of the Reds legends (Klu, Lombardi) he heard about from broadcasts or older relatives could be affordable, especially if condition was not a great concern.

    On the other hand, if the grandfather was a huge fan of the Dodger teams of the 1950s, then contemporary cards of Jackie, Campy, Koufax, et. al., could be too costly. In that case I would look to build a collection from newer releases like TCMA, Topps Archives, etc.

    Ideally the cards would allow for a lot of storytelling and sharing of memories so that when they ultimately go from grandfather to grandson the full meaning is understood and valued.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, what a great post!

    I am a 43 year old that is recently getting back in the hobby after 25 years practicing “maturity”. I had a few false starts over the years, but always ended up disgusted with the card companies greed via the endless quantity of manufactured scarcity, parallels, and sets. However, in the last few years, I realized that collecting doesn’t have to be about accumulating a valuable collection or every card of a certain player (impossible nowadays to even get remotely close). For me, it meant a way to connect with my nine year old, baseball crazy son and my big brother that suffers from severe OCD. For the former, I don’t want him to get sucked into the Hobby’s greed, but do love how we can connect over the stats on a current player or one of the special players when I was a kid. For the latter, one of the few outlets my bro has is his extensive card collection and small eBay business he can do from home (his disability prevents external employment for now). He always looked out for me as kids, so talking cards and hitting a show now and then allows me to return the favor a tiny bit by helping him get his mind off other things for a while. All in all, collecting can be many different things for many different people and it can be a wonderful to to connect with others.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. My father is 76 years old and my son is about to turn 5 years old. They live on opposite sides of the planet (Grandpa in Canada, grandson in Japan) so they don’t get to see each other too often. My dad’s main collecting love is stamps rather than cards and he wants to pass some of that down to my son. Fortunately my dad isn’t in the midst of a terminal illness, but he is getting old and does have a heart condition and probably some of the same thoughts are going through his head as the guy who wrote to you.

    So my dad and my son started a mail based trading relationship. My son loves dinosaurs, animals and vehicles. So grandpa looks for stamps with dinosaurs, animals and vehicles on them and sends them to him. On our end, I bought a big lot of cheap used Japanese stamps and whenever we receive an envelope from grandpa I have my son go through our pile and chose some that he wants to send back in trade. My son loves it and it allows them to bond despite living so far apart. It also allows my father to impart some of his hobby interest to his grandson in a way that is fun for both of them.

    So the advice I would have is maybe he shouldn’t be thinking so much in terms of what he should leave to his grandson when he is gone, but rather about how he might use the time he has to use that hobby interest to connect with him. Not sure if a long distance trading relationship like my dad and son have would work, obviously its going to depend a lot on his and his grandson’s situations, but something similar might be more rewarding than just trying to create a big pile of cards to leave to him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not sure if there is a way to get this done through this committee or not but one way to get this guy’s collection started would be for members to send a card or two to him. What fit into his and his grandson’s interests he could keep and what didn’t he could sell or trade for what they want. The second option would allow him to become more active in the hobby than just buying. Though my brief experiment with maturity cost me a great collection of cards from the late 50s, 60s and early 70s, I would be willing to send some late 80s and 90s cards I do have.


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