The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word collect (verb) as to bring together into one body or place, to gather or exact from a number of persons or sources // collect taxes, or to gather an accumulation of (objects) especially as a hobby // collects stamps. In essence, accumulation is the basis of collecting. That should come as a surprise to no one, but in terms of collecting as a hobby, shouldn’t appreciating what you have collected be a consideration as well? Otherwise, why else would we collect in the first place?
Every collector I know is the same. Regardless of what (sports, non-sports, etc.) or how we collect (single cards, sets, memorabilia, etc.), we hunt for that celebrated piece. Some call them white whales, others are thought of as holy grails, but they are essentially the same thing; an item that in our minds will put our collections over the top. The ESSENTIAL piece for our collections. With enough searching, wheeling and dealing, many of us are able to acquire the thing our hearts most desire. But then what? We typically snap a photo, post it to Facebook, Twitter or our hobby site of choice, file it away and look around for what comes next.
I am as guilty as anyone in this regard. I can recall searching for years for an autographed example of the 1963 Fleer #6 Charles Long card to complete my set. This is my favorite football set, and I was sure that if I could just complete it in autographed form, then I could be content as a collector. I eventually did find that card and I completed the set. I was happy and shared scans with other collectors, but soon after it was on to the next great thing.
The truth is that we all have items in our collections that we thoroughly enjoy; that is why we collect them in the first place. However, once an item is acquired, it is often forgotten as our sights are set on the next great conquest. In situations like we find ourselves in at the moment, we should be taking advantage of our free time to actually enjoy our collections as they currently stand and appreciate the effort that went into building them. Here are some ideas on how to do that:
- Read the backs of your cards – Let’s face it, card backs are rarely considered. Take time to learn a bit about the players you have collected. What are their statistics? For whom did they play? What was interesting about their careers? Cards carry an abundance of information – check it out!
- Recall how you acquired each card – Cards come to us in many different ways… Large purchases, trades, small acquisitions, after long searches… Spend some time looking through your cards and recall the process by which they came to you. Recall the journey without focusing solely on the destination.
- Redesign the displays in your card room or man cave – Many collectors are fortunate to have space in their homes to display their collections. Look for new and inventive ways to change up your displays. Theme different areas and group things in new ways. What story does your card room tell about you? Different stories can be told with the same items, when those items are simply arranged differently.
- Share your items with the hobby – Get online and start sharing your collection with other hobbyists. Most collectors enjoy looking at cards whether they own them or not.
- Pick out your favorite set or item and write an article about how you acquired it – There are a lot of online hobby publications that are looking for interesting content. You might get it published!
- Look for other opportunities – Trading cards can serve as the impetus for lots of different opportunities. Try to find a way to use your cards for something other than just collecting.
Appreciate and Relax
The truth is that if we are fortunate enough to own nice collectibles, then we should also appreciate and derive full enjoyment from them. Would you buy a new car, only to park it in your garage and not drive it? Don’t do the same with your cards.
In closing, let’s take one more at the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and how it defines the word, hobby.
hobby (noun) : a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.
There is nothing wrong with new acquisitions, for they are a core element of collecting. But appreciation and relaxation are just as important. Try to remember that as well.