Saturday, February 07, 2009

Baseball cards, baseball cards

So I've been spending a lot of time working on sorting and cataloging the pile of cards that the Babe's late husband left. I keep thinking that I'm almost done, then I get a dose of reality therapy. The latest has gone like this:

I'd cataloged about half of the cards (38,365, give or take, according to the catalog). I'd gone through most of the easily catalog parts: for example, when you've a box that says "1997 Donruss complete," it's pretty easy to catalog that. The application I'm using for this is at and it's okay, although their UI leaves an awful lot to be desired. They updated the site recently and the UI now leaves almost everything to be desired, but I don't have to put up with it too much more, probably, so I'll have to put up with it.

Having gotten past all the easily cataloged pieces, I'm now working on huge boxes of loose cards. The first thing to do was to sort them into maker (Topps, Donruss, Score, Select, and a dozen others), then the year. With all the cards sorted, I can then go through and sort all the cards for a given maker and year, catalog 'em, and move on. This'll actually not be too bad and, with all the cards sorted, I'll then be able to generate a final list and sell everything.

One of the things that I've been having to deal with is that there weren't enough card boxes. Card boxes are odd things: they have a very specific shape and depth so they'll accommodate cards in holders (which a great many of these are). Larry's stash of cards has over 100 smaller boxes that hold 100-400 loose cards but they don't do well with cards in plastic holders. I finally got tired of looking for a box the right size (let alone the problems with then putting it on the shelf), so last weekend, I ordered a flat of 25 large card boxes. A bit expensive, but I figured they'd help me get the rug back in my office.

The flat came yesterday afternoon. I spent yesterday evening making boxes. It's a three-part operation: fold the insert, fit it into the box as you build that, then fold the lid, then do the next. Next, I started putting cards into the new boxes: no more individual boxes with one year or one type. I'd chuck the empties onto a growing pile of empties as I worked. I know I'll use some of them again--in fact, I already have for a few special items--but largely, I think they'll be an add-in when I sell this collection.

The scree of empty card boxes

The boxes are all in a nice white, and I was sorely tempted to use magic marker on the ends... but I know that this is highly unlikely to be final and I'm just anal enough that I'd like them to stay clean until I really know what's going to remain in them... like, after I get everything cataloged. So I used a magic marker on post-it notes and stuck those on the ends of boxes. Just as well, really, as I've switched a few things around already for a better fit.

As I parked things on the large bookcase, I started noticing that it was swaying just a little. Having a bookcase with 500 pounds of baseball cards in it fall on me was not a good idea, so I pushed a number of boxes of cards that I haven't addressed at all--basketball, football, hockey, and a heckuva lot of Star Trek and comics-related cards--in front of the bookshelf as support.

The card pile

Emptying the smaller and frequently rather ratty boxes into large, clean boxes was very satisfying work. I got things into an easily shelvable state and all the cards with the exception of a relatively small quantity of odds and ends are now sorted. I'm also of the opinion that organization will be an advantage when it comes time to sell them, because they'll be easier for potential buyers to inspect.

However, in the course of all of this, I discovered a couple things:
  • I'm not nearly as close to being done as I thought I was. (Damn!)
  • I'm not even halfway done. I'm no more than a third done with the baseball cards.
As you can see from the photo, there are loads of new boxes: those white, shoebox-y things. They go from the top of the bookcase down to the third shelf from the bottom of the bookcase. You can't see the bottom two shelves of the bookcase, but they're full of smaller boxes just like the ones in the scree. There are also a bunch of 3-ring binders with holders for cards that have things like the 1975 Topps complete run, and so on.

Now here's the thing: although three of the boxes in front of the bookcase are not baseball cards, and I've also got a carton of paper that I just bought there (in large part because it's heavy and will help keep the bookcase from swaying), the rest of the boxes are baseball cards yet to catalog. Even worse, all the white boxes you can see? They're uncataloged as well. I've racked up 38,000+ baseball cards just in the bottom two shelves.

So, the upshot is that it looks like I've an awful lot of work left to get all this done.

1 comment:

De Murr said...

After you have finished catalogging these cards, you need to find a specialist that can help you price these things. You may have some very valualbe cards.

What a job! I now know what you do in your spare time.