Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Trading Cards for Christmas = Great memories!

As I type this, it's 4:30 PM on Christmas Eve, 2014. I have not really found the Christmas Spirit this season, even the gifts I'm giving aren't up to my usual standard- hopefully my family still likes them. But I've been thinking of past Christmases, and how my family has kept the card-related presents coming through the years. My family always gets me cards- that's a given. They know what I collect, they know what I like to get, and I've even given them lists of things I'd like. This year I gave them a list of both people and sets missing from my collection. My "thing" is having as many different people and sets represented in my collection as possible. (Knowing that completing sets, what I really love to do, is prohibitively expensive, and I will never complete most of them) Between my two sports, I'm short "only" about 1000 people and 100 sets. I don't expect to get them all tomorrow, but I hope that I get at least a couple of them. To be honest knocking all the sets out could probably be accomplished for under $25. The people would be harder, not only are there more of them, but some are rare- and old- the guys who only got cards in 48 Bowman are going to be expensive, and those who only had promos issued will be hard to find, let alone afford. But I digress.

2003 Press Pass Santa Claus
I don't want to sound like I am bragging or anything of the sort, and we certainly don't have a large budget (less now that I have to spend $500 a month on medicine :( ) but my family has always gotten me at least one box for Christmas, and sometimes more than one. In 2010 the only box I did during the entire year was at Christmas (2010 Wheels Main Event). Some years I get more than that, and topping that list is 2002. It was a particularly rough year for me, (I lost my dad that year to cancer) and I only have two good memories of that year, both are card related. Best is the most spectacular Christmas. I received 21 boxes of cards that year. I have never before or since done more than 3 in one day! I ended up getting, if my records are correct, 1208 new cards that day, one of only two documented days in my collection where I got over 1000 new cards in one day. (The other is the only other good memory of 2002, but I am sure that my birthday in 1997 would be ranked #1, if only I had kept records back then! Both will get a post dedicated to those days at some point)

Most of the boxes I got were from the 1990s, my favorite era in the hobby, including both series of 1992-93 Skybox- a set I would complete at Christmas 2013! I keep detailed paper listings of my collection, and each different day that I get cards gets listed in a different color. That year, I burned through an entire pen listing my new cards! It was my favorite green ink. Each set has a listing, where I write all the numbers, and as I get the cards, I write in the subject and the date I got it. I have a collection of more than 50 different ink colors that I use. Each insert also gets a color, regardless of the date.

That's another Christmas memory. I began my paper listing at Christmas 1998. I had made an attempt to start it earlier in 1998, but it didn't take- the one problem and the reason that idea failed, is that I listed only the cards I had, and did not leave space for the cards I was missing. As soon as I got a new one, which likely happened quickly after I finished the listing, it was for 1998 Maxx 10th Anniversary, one of my all time favorite NASCAR card sets. I still have that listing. although I've recreated it in the format I use for the rest of my collection. It was also created on wide rule paper, everything else is in college rule. Christmas 1998, I received a box of 1998-99 Ultra, and that was the first I listed where I left the numbers for cards I didn't have empty, for future filling in as I got the cards. (I have not actually finished the set yet, either). My listing has evolved some over time, and it's actually my favorite part of the hobby. When I was away from the hobby for most of 2007 and 2008, and the NBA until 2011, THAT was what I missed the most, in fact. The biggest difference is that for that set, the Gold Medallion parallels, instead of writing Gold Medallion to the right of the player's name, I used a gold metallic pen to over-write the number, and a silver pen for the one Platinum Medallion card I pulled. I shortly moved parallels to the wide open space to the right of the player's name, but it would take me over a decade to decide to line up the parallels, instead of just writing them in whatever order I got them, left to right. For sets with multiple parallels it made my listing very confusion. I didn't start keeping the actual date I got the cards until late 1999, around September.  I have not always kept up with that, unfortunately. My biggest regret in the hobby is not only not documenting sooner, but not fully documenting everything, even as late as 2013.

Unfortunately, my record of new cards added on Christmas day begins only with 2002. I've been collecting since 1988, so the records are very much incomplete. I do have records for cards for 10 years' worth of Christmases, and 2002 is the leader, as noted, with 1208 new cards. 2013, last year, saw me get 810 new cards, which of all the documented days in my collection, ranks 5th all-time. (I did boxes of Galactic Files 2, 1997 Maxx, 1999 Wheels High Gear, 1991-92 Skybox Series 2, 2012-13 Hoops Retail, 1995 Upper Deck 2 retail, and several blasters, and more. It is the only year I have a photo for.

Next comes 2003, which saw me get 649 new cards.
2012 saw a renaissaince for me as I got back into the NBA in a big way after taking a break in 2007. (Something else I now regret!) and saw me add 583 new cards.
2004 saw the addition of 564 cards. 2002-04 was the peak years for me in the hobby. I slowly drifted out of the hobby in 2005 and 2006, and in 2007 and 2008 I was almost totally out of the hobby- I only have one new documented card in all of 2008. (I did get some others, but didn't document them)
2009 saw me get 170 documented cards.
2006 was 129.
2011 was 103. Almost all of them came from the Wheels Main Event box.
2010 was only 78!
2005 was a scant 19.
I don't have any documented for 2007 or 2008 at all. I know I got at least 13 cards each of those years, because I always got the NASCAR yearbook for Christmas, until they switched away from UMI and refused to fill our orders. Both years came with 13 card promo sets, but did I get other cards? I don't know. And that drives me nuts. That is why my main goal in 2014, and I mostly accomplished it- was to fully document every card I got. Not knowing was so very frustrating. I only forgot to include 5 cards that I am aware of- all issued with Racing Champions diecast replicas- but I've written them in the margins.

That all adds up (Including the two 13 card promo sets) to 4343 new cards on Christmas day over the years. That's more than any other day of the year....and yes, I have a chart to document that! (They don't call me "The Mad Documenter" for nothing!)

What will 2014 bring? I don't know yet, but knowing my family, they got me cards, and I shall hopefully be making a post about Christmas 2014 in the next day or two- I may not have time tomorrow.

As always, thanks for reading, and Merry Christmas! (Or whatever holiday you celebrate)

I shall close with the Christmas Card I got to send out this year...


  1. Nice post. I like documentation, but I don't think I could keep up that well. I remember 1991 as the first year I got cards for Christmas, and while I have gotten some other years, that was the year that got me hooked.

    By the way, I love that Christmas greeting card. I just realized its tough to distinguish between trading cards and greeting cards when both are mentioned in the same post. Merry Christmas Billy.

    1. I wish I could keep up with it as much as I'd like to. I'm too scatter-brained to get it right, lol. If I get discouraged for whatever reason (usually lack of funds or the card companies not getting it right) I tend to not bother to list them. I shouldn't do that because I regret it later.

      They are especially hard to tell apart when the webhost compresses images to a sample size, LOL

      Thanks again & Merry Christmas to you too!