This picture is a failure. Higher, lower, closer, further, I tried everything I could think of to capture the sheer volume of cards that were partially spread out on the floor. I wasn’t too motivated as these were going to a new home. . . for a brief moment I contemplated pulling the top tiers of cards out of the two back rows of boxes. Cards in those boxes are stacked 2 and 3 tiers tall. . . But I didn’t — I was just happy to reclaim the space.
Sad, when I think about it. . . certainly a pile of money was spent acquiring the cards that lead to what amounts to waste show in the picture above. I don’t doubt thousands of hours were spent sorting cards, pulling commons, moving boxes, etc. . . It’s sad to think of all that time and money when at the end of the day 100,000 cards walked out my door for the equivalent of a couple of boxes of Game of Thrones. . . sad, but I couldn’t be happier.
At one point I was proud of my vast stash of commons — it was great to be able to trade to fill sets, and even fill my own partials when new cards came in . . . It started with a small box, then a big box, then a monster box. . . then a dozen monster boxes. . . and more.
Unfortunately the hobby evolved, the world evolved. . . Plastic prices jumped making supplies far more expensive. Postage costs increased significantly. The quantity of sets produced for a given release decreased by an almost unimaginable amount. . . Today sets are printed in far lower numbers than they were 20 years ago and in that time costs of everything have gone up. . . everything, except the value of that base set.
Figure that one out — sets are rarer, production costs are higher, shipping costs are higher, supply costs are higher, yet nearly any recent set can be found at a show for about four bucks.
At some point I stopped trying to make a lot of trades to complete sets. . . Postage costs weren’t cheap, and most of the time it would take a few trades to complete a set, it wasn’t long before postage + supplies cost more than I could just buy the whole set for. At some point after that I started not even bothering to sort cards from releases I bought several boxes from — after all, how many sets do I need? How much of my time is it worth to sort a set that I could just go buy for four bucks?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know . . . I could do x, y, and z with my extras, and I have. . . but it’s never as simple as it seems. Donating cards sounds great in theory, until you get an upset parent that discovered a card of a scantily clad babe, weapon they didn’t approve of, or who knows what else. I stopped trying to donate cards in that way when I was scolded for donating sets of ‘All My Children’ — somehow a set based on a daytime network TV show was offensive to people. I started donating massive amounts of cards to Goodwill, which works out ok, except I have heard the cards typically just end up in a landfill, which is a shame. . .
Realistically though many of the cards in that picture, even though they are now with a new home, will ultimately likely wind up in the garbage. The new owner will complete sets, will do some trading, and one day will be in the same position I was in. . . except I had tons of time and money tied up in those. . . he doesn’t.
Sadly as quickly as I’ve gotten out of the commons ‘business’ I’m right back in it. I picked up two boxes of cards recently and now have a nearly 2 inch stack of loose commons. For more releases this is a never ending cycle. The boxes did yield 2 base sets. . . If I were so inclined I could sell them at a show for about $4 each. Considering they are each stored in a $.75 slide box that’s a net on the cards of $3.25. . . ouch. I haven’t even taken my time into consideration, or what it would cost to set up at and travel to a show, and that is assuming they would actually sell. . . based on what I’m seeing on eBay I probably would have a hard time selling these sets. I could try to sell them online, but the postage costs make it really difficult to sell sets.
It seems to me that base sets have been slow to catch up to the rest of the world. . . It doesn’t make sense that while all the costs of producing, protecting and procuring sets have increased the value of the set has become pathetic. Solutions are here but a small, yet vocal group of collectors seem to balk at the idea of not getting all these cards in their boxes. Many of which — like the cards in my picture are likely to wind up in a landfill.
Personally — I’m all for premium packs. . . and in looking at the premium packs the base and chase cards — in my opinion are still cheap — usually a buck or two. Sure you’re not going to be able to buy a 90 card set for under $.04 a card, but at least every card is worth something, even if it’s only a buck or $.50. I know — people want their $4 sets. . . but I think about my 100,000 cards. . . and how I don’t even buy that much — there are certainly LOTS of people out there with far more cards they consider worthless than I had. . . I shutter to think about how many of those cards are already in landfills, or will be in the coming years.
Another option that I don’t like quite a much as premium packs, but I like a whole lot better than wax boxes are set boxes. The set boxes take up far less space than even a regular base set of cards because they don’t require the space or cost of a bulky plastic storage box. They sell for about the same as a standard wax box sourced set, but come in a great storage box, and are already presorted.
Hopefully set boxes, and premium packs are the wave of the future. . . The only hurdle I see is the the point of sale terminal. . . I don’t see mass merchants or even comic shops stocking product that can’t be bought a pack at a time. . . Perhaps wax packs should be used only for retail releases.
While I wait for the hobby to catch up to the ways the world has evolved I’m just happy to have all those cards out of the house, it is fantastic having all that space back.
As an added bonus when moving all the commons I found a really cool wrestling card:
Ahh, Miss Elizabeth — one of my first crushes. . .Not sure what the origin of this card is, but it definitely looks like a food premium of some sort. I have some semi-romantic notion in my head that this was in popsicle box or something and I pulled the card, but it’s more likely it was in some stack of cards someone else was throwing away. . .
I hope all those cards I spent so much time sorting find a good home completing sets or winding up in a collection like Miss Elizabeth did, but realistically even if 20,000 of those cards wind up in collections or in sets 80,000 cards are still just orphaned waste. . . it’s kinda sad when you think about it.