Since it’s the end of the year and I’m feeling introspective, I’m going to devote a couple of posts to reflection, navel-gazing and all that kind of stuff
So back in my younger days, I considered myself a set collector. At the time, before relics and autographs numbered inserts and parallels and such, that was pretty much the common perception of the hobby. A set came out, it was collected.
Over the past few years, however, I started to wonder… If I’m such a set collector, why do I go from year to year leaving a series of partial sets in my wake? Why have I not completed a current-year set since 2007? And why was that set build so anticlimactic?
On the other hand, back in 2013 I’d completed the 1975 Topps Football set I’d started as a kid, and I had a great time doing so.
Same goes for 1973 Topps baseball, although I completed it only because I serendipitously ran across an affordable Schmidt rookie.
Earlier this year I decided that 40 years was long enough to have been chasing the 1979 set. I already had the Ozzie Smith Rookie…
…So all I’d needed to chase was minor stars and commons, so it was more a matter of tracking those cards down than any worries about budgets and the like.
Over the summer I went to a card show where a dealer had boxes of 1960’s and 1970’s commons in numerical order. I bought a small stack, got my needs down to five cards and got a little bit excited seeing that the end was near.
I made a trade with Twitterer extraordinaire and published author Mark Del Franco, and I got two cards including my most significant remaining need, the Bob Horner rookie card.
That left me with just three cards, but they were proving a bit difficult to find. I struck out at a semi-local card store. I struck out with some friends I checked with. I struck out at the one semi-local card show. In order to finish this off before my self-imposed 12/31/2019 deadline, I overpaid slightly and got the cards as part of a batch from an online card seller.
I got the cards and I smiled a little.
I put them in the binder and flipped through the now-completed set.
There was not much of a sense of accomplishment. There was no self-satisfaction, no celebration. It wasn’t much more than checking an item off my hobby to-do list. I couldn’t even bring myself to tweet about completing the set. Instead of feeling like it would be celebrating an accomplishment with my online hobby buddies, it felt more like a commercial real estate listing:
Joe Shlabotnik, dba The Shlabotnik Report, purchased 3 commons to complete the 1979 Topps Baseball card set. The acquisition gives the buyer control over adjacent complete sets from 1973 to 1981.
That’s when it sank in that I wasn’t collecting 1979 Topps out of love for the set, I was collecting 1979 Topps because I started it in 1979 and felt like I should complete it.
So given the relative lack of enthusiasm over something I should’ve been enthusiastic about, I’m now officially and publicly declaring that I am NOT really a set collector. Yes, you may read about me attempting to complete sets, but going forward that will be in the sense of “I love these cards and I’m going to keep acquiring them until there’s nothing left for me to get”, rather than “I need a new project and I’ve decided that I’m going to build the 1969 Topps set”.
So what does this mean going forward?
I’ve been looking forward to 2020 Heritage for a few years now, partially because it feels like this is really and truly entering the 1970’s and also because of how much I enjoyed the 1971 knockoff that was 2002 Upper Deck Vintage.
…But will I make a run at completing the set? I’m not making any decisions until after I’ve busted a bunch of packs. To be honest, I didn’t complete the 2002 UD Vintage set, so that might be an indication.
As for vintage complete sets, I have long-term plans to complete the five 1970’s Hostess sets, and I’m thinking about the 1976 Kellogg’s set. Beyond that, I don’t see myself going beyond smaller projects like team sets and oddball sets.
So what about you? Has anybody else had a recent change in collecting goals or strategy?