- What should I collect?
Whatever you damn well feel like.
- Seriously, what should I collect?
Seriously, you should collect whatever you damn well feel like. There is no "right way" to collect baseball cards. You may choose to collect complete sets, or only cards of your favorite team or player. Some people only collect cards from certain manufacturers, while others only collect Autographed Inserts or so-called "Game Used" cards. Whatever works for you.
- What do I do with my commons?
Most of the time, they are best used for trading. That way, you get a bunch of cards in return for your commons. Postage usually takes up a lot of the cost if you sell them. Alternatives are giving them away to hospitals or charities, who pass them along to sick or disadvantaged children. Or you can use them for packing material. This way, the buyer gets a few surprises with his package. Granted, they are commons. But they're bound to spark a little excitement, especially if the cards are from a sport that the buyer usually doesn't collect.
- What do I do with extra packing material? Or extra wax wrappers from opened packs?
Extra packing material can easily be re-used! Some scissors and tape can turn old packing material into usable packing material. Blank address labels or taping a blank piece of paper over the old address is sufficient to recycle a bubble pack. The American Plastics Council would like you to believe that the wrappers that have the chasing arrow symbols on it are recyclable, but they are not. No economically feasible method of recycling these plastics is currently available, at least that is what one netter has stated. But you can always use the wrappers as dividers between sets and as padding at the ends of the your storage boxes. You can also use them for packing material.
- How do I found out where card shows are in my area?
Beckett Baseball Card Monthly has a calendar list for card shows in the United States. Canadian collectors can look in Beckett Hockey Collector for a listing of shows there. Unfortunately, the other Beckett's sports guides do not have these guide. Other sports guides, like Tuff Stuff and Sports Collectors Digest do have show listings as well.
Check out the newspaper classified section under the "Hobbies," "Memorabilia," or "Collectibles" section which will carry some info. Also, when a good number of sports celebrities are signing at shows, the sports section of the newspaper will usually have an ad for a show. Or just ask your favorite card shop owner.
Once you find the location of one, it should be easy to keep tabs of upcoming card shows. At card shows there are usually tons of flyers advertising upcoming card shows. More importantly, you can usually get names and phone numbers of show promoters in your area (sometimes a company will organize a card show).
- How do I get the sticker off of a top loader after buying a card?
Well, no one said you really had to get it off. You can reuse it for shipping cards in when trading. But if you want to get it off, here are suggestions from other collectors:
1) Take a piece of shipping tape and use it to lift the gunk off the top loader by dabbing at it (the way you might use tape to dab lint off clothes).
2) Use a hair drier and set it on low or medium. Blow it directly at the sticker for a few seconds (10 or 20). The sticker usually lifts right off without leaving any residue.
3) Use WD-40! It will do anything!
- Is there any sort of technique which can be used to collate cards quickly?
YES! Here's how!
1) Make ten index cards numbered 0-9. If possible, use white index cards and write the numbers using a black, bold permanent maker (like a sharpie). The contrast will make it easier on your eyes. Set the cards on the table in increasing order. Like this:
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
0 1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9
2) Take the cards you want to sort. Sort them by the last number on the index card (the ones place). Cards with #5 in the ones place would be put next to the #5 index card.
3) When done, pile each stack on the next higher stack. Pick up the #1 stack, place it on top of the #2 stack. Then place that stack on top of the #3 stack, then everything on top of the #4 stack, etc.
4) Starting at the top of the stack (previously the #1 stack), resort the cards using the next to last number (tens digit). Card #432 would go on the #3 stack. Cards with no second number (say 1) would go on the 0 pile).
5) After sorting all the cards by the tens digit, restack the cards on the next lower stack. Pick up #9 and place it on #8, then place that on #7, etc.
6) Resort the whole stack from the top (previously the #9 stack) by using the first number (the hundreds digit). Card #921 would go on stack #9. Cards with no number in the first digit (such as #98) would go in the 0 pile.
7) Restack the cards on the next higher stack (step #3) and your done.