Wednesday, July 15, 2015

No Computer? Time to sort some cards!

Back on July 4th, I went to turn on my computer...and I got the message that the fan had died and it was shutting off to protect itself unless I manually overwrote that response. I did, just long enough to back up my stuff, and then it was down, for more than a week. I wasn't even able to drop it off for repairs until a week after it had died. (the last two times I had my computers worked on, they died within a few months of the so-called repairs, so I may end up being offline again soon, although I hope not!)

With no computer, I decided it was time to do some sorting. I have been putting off this sorting project for some time- since 2012 to be exact- there was always something to scan that I hadn't scanned before that seemed like something more important to do.

To explain- between 2009-11 I scanned my entire NASCAR trading card and non-sports card collection, but fronts only. When I joined the Database in 2012, I decided shortly after that I would scan card backs. By time I decided to scan the backs I had already scanned the fronts of about 40,000 cards. I've been playing catch up ever since. I finished the NBA cards I had done the fronts of in June, and I have done the majority of the non-sports that has not been posted to the Database already by somebody else.

To make it easier to get the cards scanned and posted, I decided to sort by card brand. I've been collecting since 1988, and I've NEVER sorted by brand before. I've sorted by set, by season, by card subject, but never brand. It turned out to be a lot of fun.

I mostly photo-documented the process, which you can see below...

Due to space limitations, I had to combine some. For example, all Upper Deck sets are combined (the UD produced Maxx sets in with Maxx though), Racer's Choice was mixed with other Pinnacle products, etc. This first image was what I got sorted on the first night I started.

 Getting higher...

 VIP is already taking a lead...
 Maxx and Press Pass were both broken into two stacks.

 Now the stacks are really getting high. The VIP stack would eventually top out at over 2 FEET high!

 My entire NASCAR collection is housed in 5000 count boxes. I'm not sure how many, due to the fact that I have them split up into multiple boxes based on their scanning status (fronts only, or both). It's at least 6, which doesn't really add up as I "only" have 26,000 NASCAR cards, so it should not take that many. The box ratings don't take into account that there are different thicknesses of cards- look at the Club Maxx 3-D Acrylic card in the second column from the top- it's thickness is equal to 15 standard Maxx cards. This was the last box I needed to sort.

 This is the photo of them all out on the table. Look how small and far away the 1994 Power stack (Harry Melling on the top right) is compared to the VIP stack, which turned out to be the largest, since I split Maxx and Press Pass flagship. Putting the cards onto the stacks behind the tall ones was not always easy- I put the Press Pass brands in the front row but they should have been in the back row.

 If you are studying the photos (yeah, I know, not likely) you may notice that I moved the Others stack from the very bottom right to in the middle more. It got so high that moving to and from the table got difficult, and I also needed something to balance the Action Packed stack against.
So, there are the sorting photos. After this, I made a list of every NASCAR set completed on the Database- luckily, my mom's computer is still working- and then I sorted each brand or, more accurately, stack since several brands were combined. Legends, visible in this photo on the bottom right with Dale Jarrett on top, is smaller than it proportionately is in my collection because I've already pulled and scanned quite a few of these.

Keep in mind that all the cards in these photos are only the ones I need to scan the backs on- the ones I have done the backs already are not in these photos. (They take up 1 and a half of the 5000 count boxes shown above.)

I put the cards that were already posted to the Database back into the 5000 count boxes- they took up almost two of them, only one and a half columns in one box remained- and I put the ones I need to work on into other boxes, which I did not photograph.

I finished sorting the NASCAR cards and still had time before my computer would come back to me. I decided to prep some more cards for typing into my collection charts. I've mentioned a few times that I am way OCD about my collection. I don't just rely on the Database to know what I have- I have paper listings for my NBA, NASCAR and Non-sports collections, and someday I will probably write up listings for the hockey, baseball and football as well. In fact, if I was not going to get my computer back when I did, I was planning to start a paper listing for the hockey cards.

I have a complete listing of my NASCAR cards like this below, and I am working on recreating one for my NBA collection- I used to have something similar, with not as much detail, but I lost it to a floppy disk crash- yeah, I've been at this for a while!

These screencaps are of a random letter in my hockey listing, and below that is the page where I keep track of how many cards I have for each person. It's color coded, parallels are blue, inserts are red, etc.

They are a little hard to read due to being screencaps of my entire screen, but you can see them bigger by clicking on them.

Here are the hockey cards I had scanned since the last time I updated the Excel chart screencapped above- I ONLY type in cards after they have been scanned fully, for any subject. By being so strict it keeps me from getting mixed up on which cards I need to do or not.
Since I had some extra time to kill, without a computer, I put them fully in alphabetical order; I normally only sort them by letter, then sort each letter, and then just type them in the order that they come up in the stack. It's faster that way, but I had the time this time to prep them fully. Unlike when I do a large sorting, I didn't arrange the letters in any order. Normally I do it so that the large letters don't block off the smaller ones, but with so few cards here I didn't bother, they are just in whatever order they came out of the case I have them stored in; the football below and the final topic at the bottom are also just how ever they came out of the case.

I also did this for the football cards I had scanned since the last time I updated the NFL excel chart, but I forgot to take a photo. There are less of them than there are of hockey, and it went by so fast they were already put away by time I remembered I wanted to take a photo.

Then...I decided to sort my non-sports cards. That was something I have never done before. I only sorted the ones that have been scanned fully, so it's only about half of my collection. I decided for now to only sort "real" people- a significant portion of my collection is comic book and Star Wars based- they will get sorted at some point, but not now. (I got my computer back while I was doing this sort so naturally I decided to sort the rest later) I will be creating the Excel file as shown above from scratch, likely later today. I really don't have a lot of non-sports cards that show real people, although the cards here range in age from 1910-(I think) 2014. Most of the cards I have of US Presidents were already done by somebody else, like the 2004 Upper Deck History of the United States set which I bought a factory set of a few years ago.
I was surprised to find that letter H was actually the largest. Q, X and I are represented by only a single card. There are some others that were not sorted because they are oversize, and would not fit into the cases I have them in, they will be added as I type them in.

I do have a dilemma. There are several non-sports people included in the 2012 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions set that I have. I am unsure if I want to list them with my non-sports cards, or if I want to list them with the multi-sports cards only; when non-sports people appear in sports sets, I count them only with the sport they are in (for instance, Topps included celebrities in several NBA sets, and Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and both Bushes appear in NASCAR sets); yet, when athletes appear in non-sports sets I count them as separate listings under Non-Sports, with a notation in the Excel chart (which I have not created yet) to also see whichever sport they are in; every major and several minor sports has someone in my non-sports collection except hockey. I just can't decide how I want to handle the multi-sport sets, right now, they are counted as a whole, as Multi-Sport. I am open to input.

Eventually I will also create excel charts for my Indy, drag racing, Olympic, NCAA basketball, and whatever else I can come up with. I don't know if I should create one for Multi-Sports or integrate them into whichever sport they represent, with a listing for miscellaneous for the others included from time to time, especially in the Sports Illustrated for Kids sets.

Thanks for reading, and hopefully offering input!


  1. Holy.

    That was a undertaking of epic sort-portions. How you let stacks get that high without fear of them toppling.... Must not be a lot of curly Chromes in the stacks.

    Besides the very few personal collections I have, all my cards are sorted by set, so I can't really give out advice. Personal collections are all in binders. But with the amount you have, you would cover Pentaflex's budget for the next 10 years getting that many binders. I assume you have something dividing each letter in each box? You look like you have really tight monster boxes. The ones my LCS sells has j-u-s-t enough space in the rows that I can use a top loader with a printed piece of paper inside to note each set. And the lid fits on perfect.

    1. Ha! NASCAR has only had 5 Chrome sets and three of them were the same brand. They all went together but the stack was so small it's not really visible in the photos. I only have one pack each of the other sets. I did have a few stacks start to go down when I was breaking them down to put back in boxes, but I could tell it was going to happen beforehand and prepared for it.
      I don't keep any cards in binders after having the pages attack some of my NBA collection circa 2001. It would be easier to look at them that way, but that's why I'm scanning them. They aren't divided at all in the box. Just whatever order I scanned them in when I did the front scans. Eventually when I finish I will put them back in numerical order. Oddly, I do divide up my duplicates with an index card...I might do that when I get the sets back in order, but I don't see that happening for a decade or so. I have both kinds of boxes...the box shown in the photo has been part of collection since circa 1995.

  2. What what an unbelievable project. I have very few cards in binders. I store everything by set. Team sets are in 5000 count boxes separated by year. For some reason all my oddball stuff I keep in pages. Not necessarily in binders though. After reading about your bookkeeping I feel very unorganized

    1. I wish I was as organized as it seems...I've got hundreds of cards that have gone missing, and trying to find any specific card...well, it's luck if I can. When I finish scanning everything, and sort them back together by set, then I will label the boxes. But I don't see that happening for a decade or so.

      It's really just barely controlled chaos :)