Cheap Binders? Hell, I Ain’t Proud

Generally in the card collecting blogosphere, when one says “Check out my binder”, the implication is that they really mean they’re going to show you the contents of the binder, something like this…
1962 Topps Mets Binder page
…but not me, not this time.  Today, I’m showing you the actual binders.

The other day I was in Target… Yes, I’m in Target a lot… And I was looking for some office supplies when I looked at the nearby endcap set up with clearance goods.  (For those who have never worked in retail, the “endcap” is the display at the end of each aisle).

Since I was in the office/school supply section, there were some leftover school supplies in the clearance endcap, including a stack of 1″ binders for $1.28 each.
Target Clearance Binder
Now, they’re not the greatest or most heavy-duty binders on the market, but they are D-ring binders, and seemed more than good enough for my 1990’s Frankenset projects… So I picked up two (and regret not buying more, to be honest).

On the way home, it occurred to me that it would be fun to do a post on the wide variety of free and cheap binders I use for my collection.  And so…

I got three of these Pokemon-y binders earlier this year from a local overstock/salvage store.  I think these were $1 each, and two of them quite nicely contain my 1994 Frankenset.
Pokemon Binder
When it comes to binders, I’m all about functionality and price.  I never have people come into my man cave to look at my collection, so I don’t care if I have a Pokemon binder because nobody will see them anyway.

Those of you who were collecting about 20 years ago will get a laugh out of this binder…
Ultra-Pro CAP binder
“CAP” is a non-copyrighted way of referring to POGs, the cardboard disks that were a major fad in the 1990’s, and disappeared as quickly as they came.  POGs were THE NEXT BIG THING until they weren’t.  Once they weren’t I got this nice binder on the cheap.

This next binder is older than Dime Box Nick, and is probably older than a fair number of you… It’s something I got from my first job out of college (“You’re throwing that out?  Can I have it?”) which means I got it sometime in the late 1980’s.
Digital Binder
For those of you who are younger than the binder, Digital Equipment Corporation, commonly know as “Digital” or “DEC”, was a prominent computer company back when “mini-computer” meant “a computer which doesn’t take up an entire room”.  I worked on a system called a VAX, which was pretty powerful at the time but would be considered “stone knives and bearskins” now (to borrow a line from Star Trek).

This final binder has a similar story, but isn’t of legal drinking age. About 10 years ago I was working for a company that was closing the office I worked out of, and things like duplicate manuals for the IBM AS/400 system were unwanted and being tossed out.
AS400 Binder
Unlike the VAX, the AS/400 is more or less still around, only IBM changed the branding to IBM i (or iSeries or System i) over the years. I actually saved these from the trash for the contents; I thought it would be useful to have a partial set of manuals (which, if they weren’t out-of-date, would probably go for a fair chunk of change). Over time I realized that I never used these manuals, opting instead for the PDF manuals one can download for free from IBM. The contents got recycled, the binders got repurposed.

I could go into more of the binders I use, but they would all be variations of these.

I can’t be alone in my indiscriminate ways of obtaining binders… What kind of binders do you use for you collection?


19 thoughts on “Cheap Binders? Hell, I Ain’t Proud

  1. Awesome post. I have numerous binders from my different jobs going back to the early 80’s. Some are actually from my place of employment at the time and some are binders that had old catalogs or brochures that were discarded during cleaning purges in those offices. I have bought a few of the white ones with the clear front pocket but I still prefer my old ones. It is a way of marking time in my collecting.

    When I started here we had a System 36 that ran into the mid-90’s. In college I learned programming on punch cards and they upgraded to a VAX system the next year. When I started at my current job, a co-worker did CNC programming using 8 inch floppys. I had the system files and the other had the program files. The output was generated on a paper tape.

    • Hey, I’ve done CNC.with 8″ floppies and paper tape. Sure we didn’t work for the same company? :-)

      Paper tape is one of the thing I pull out whenever I get into “I’ve been on IT so long that…” conversations. Paper tape and hard-copy terminals.

      • In 30 years when I’m nearing retirement (please God don’t let it be that long!), I plan to use the “when I started, virtualization didn’t exist yet” line…

      • We may have crossed paths at some point if you ever lived in Ohio, lol.

        We really stepped up when we went from paper tape to paper-mylar tape. Woo hoo!

  2. For the last couple of years I’ve bought cases of the Ultra Pro Binders and then split the cost with a few friends who collect. While not as cheap as the school clearance aisle it is still cheaper than most other options.

  3. I actually just grabbed 6-7 binders from my place of work as well – they’ve been sitting in an unoccupied office for over a year now; so, manifest destiny! Otherwise, yea, most of my binders have been around since my days in school.

  4. I have binders that go back to the very first baseball card-specific binders I ever bought back in the early ’80s — those suckers LAST.

    Nowadays I pick up cheap binders at Target or the dollar store. I try to avoid writing or designs, just go with different colors. But just last week my workplace put a box in the middle of the newsroom that said “binders — FREE!” I couldn’t believe me eyes, and got me 3 new binders. Best part of the day.

  5. A. love Target “clearance” endcaps
    B. cool CAP binder
    C. shame you don’t live nearby… i’m always giving away binders to my students.
    D. i use black d-ring view binders from Staples in a variety of sizes. i’m one of those freaks that needs my binders to have a similar look. i’m that way with most things in life.

    • …i’m one of those freaks that needs my binders to have a similar look. i’m that way with most things in life.

      I’m that way too, in most things.

      • Yeah, me too Commish. After starting with a half-dozen mix-and-match 2″ D-ring binders, I bit the bullet and bought a case (or was it 2) of matching 3″ Ultra-pro D-ring binders, all the same color. I estimated which sets I would eventually put in binders to get my number. While I was at it, I sprung for about 10 boxes of 100-count pages.

        I converted all my 2-cards-per-pocket binders to 1 card per pocket (hence the move from 2″ to 3″ binders) so I can see both sides.

        Also (I suspect unlike most others), I don’t arrange my cards by number. I have them by team (except Phillies, which are in separate binders) with the non-team cards like checklists, leaders, World Series up front.

        Currently, I have baseball binders for 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 72, 81T, 81F, one for 1960 thru 1964, and another for 71/73/74. Phillies are bound by 1952-69, 70-79, 80-84, 85-90, and 91-present (not all years). Also 4 football binders: Eagles, 1966-69, 1971-72, 1973.

      • Jim, I apologize, this comment got hung up in my spam filters and I didn’t see it for a number of days.

        I keep all of my 1970’s and 1980’s sets in binder by team, not by card number… with the exception of 1972, which I put in card number when I was doing inventory, and I never switched it up.

  6. I use 4 pocket 2×2 2-ring binders. They’re compact and give me more storage options as opposed to your normal 9 pocket 3×3 3-ring binders.
    I don’t use those 3-ring binders (at least not for storing cards) but I have been able to get a few for free at card shows from vendors looking to dump incomplete sets en masse. Because I don’t use them I give them away for free to people who actually use 3-ring binders.

  7. Most of the ones I have all came from Goodwill hunts. I’ve been able to pick up good D-rings for either .99 or $1.99. Much like Night Owl I go with the different colors approach as well.

  8. I still have the two binders that I kept my cards in as a teenager in the 90’s. They’re the Ultra-Pro binders with the padded covers. The rest of my binders are just regular binders you get in the office supply section at a chain store. I’ve moved away from binders for the most part due to lack of shelf space, so most of my collection is in 5000-count boxes now.

  9. Back before we had kids and I had my original man cave/office/hobby room I had my collection stored on a huge ceiling high bookcase in identical orange binders. Then I got the smart idea of using both black and orange binders labeled and adorned with Orioles stickers and alternating them on the shelves. It looked pretty cool actually. Then kids came along and my room was taken from me. The majority of my collection came out of binders and into boxes stacked in a closet.

    Fast forward 25 years, my kids are out on their own and I reclaim my room. I’m slowly transitioning into using binders again but now I use whatever I find at work or on clearance. Funny you should bring this up because on Sunday my wife brought home a box of really nice binders she picked up at a garage sale. Now I need to order more pages for them.

  10. Garage sales are responsible for about 80 percent of the 70+ binders that currently house my collection. I don’t think I’ve ever bought a binder new, now that I think of it. Great post!

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