What is a Sports Card Super Collector?
There has been a lot of discussion on various collecting sites about what a ‘Super Collector’ is and if certain collections qualify as one. Both sports card collecting websites ‘The Bench‘ and ‘Sports Card Forum‘ (SCF) have programs where members can submit statistics, pictures and websites and apply for ‘Super Collector’ status on each site. I will try to provide an objective opinion for this subjective term.
I will reference criteria outlined by both websites listed above, but this is by no means absolute, just a suggested starting point.
For a large majority of collectors, reaching Super Collector status starts with the cards. Even with cards though, there are many different ways to collect. Do you collect all the cards of one player, a favorite team, a certain brand, from a certain decade? Even if you just go with cards of a single player you still have the choice of trying to collect everything, base cards, just autographs and or game-used? When low-serial numbering and “1 of 1″ cards were introduced many player collectors, including me, soon realized that obtaining one of every card ever made of player was a pipe dream. Price, availability and competition made many cards unavailable for a lot of us. While the Internet has brought player collectors closer together and made friends allowing player collectors to help each other out, it has also made some bitter bidding rivals. I have only found one other player collector of the same player I collect willing to help me out in more than thirteen years of on-line trading.
Not that there is anything wrong with how and what you choose to collect, but for purposes of this article and the sites mentioned above, Player Super Collectors are considered to try and collect any and every card made of their player. This includes common, base, insert, parallel, autographed, game used and “1of 1″ cards. Where is the list of cards of your player available? Beckett.com While not 100% complete as Beckett does not list many non-MLBPA licensed cards, they are pretty accurate and regularly updated. Just do a quick player search to see how many cards are available of your favorite player. The results can be quite shocking!
Many collectors may not like to include “1of 1″ cards in their statistics because there are so many unique parallel cards that it makes your percentage not look so good. Rookies from last year can already have 500 or 1,000 different cards made of them with over half of those being “1of 1.” 250 cards owned out of 500 total cards available not counting 1of 1′s (250/500= 50% owned) looks better then 250 cards owned out of 1,000 total cards available (250/1,000= 25% owned.) How can you honestly tell though what percentage of cards you own of your player if you do not count all of the different cards out there?
At this point in time both The Bench and SCF only have programs in place for player super collectors. For both sites it is just easier to manage because it is easier to calculate how many total Rickey Henderson cards are available rather then the total number of New York Yankee cards out there. There are many collectors who consider their Tigers team collection to be super though. What about memorabilia collectors who do not collect cards? or just autograph collectors? I have seen some very impressive Hall of Fame and Negro League collections where the owners try to collect any and everything including cards representing these two groups. I would consider these collections to be super. You see how subjective this can get very quickly.
Getting back to single player super collections though, for me, I try to collect any and everything I can of Rickey Henderson. This includes all cards from the common/base cards and including the 1of 1′s, magazines, newspaper articles, bobble-heads, books, Starting Line Up figures, posters, bats, balls, jerseys, cereal boxes, and school folders. I have over 32% of all of the cards ever produced of Rickey Henderson. (1440/4481) If you think 4481 different cards of one player is a lot, do a quick search for Brett Favre, Michael Jordan or Albert Pujols. Probably the best (in my opinion) and most complete player collection ever assembled is this one of Mark Brunell, over 95% of cards available including 1of 1′s!
Ultimately though, being a super collector does not have to come down to a percentage of different cards owned of a player, the dollar value, or even just having more then the next guy. It is not what you collect, it is how you collect. It is about your passion of collecting. Do not get wrapped up in silly web awards or upset just because someone else does not think your collection is super. Too many people just see the hobby as a way to make money. Some people do find some success in flipping cards and more power to them. You know your resources of time and money though and just because you may not have as many different cards of the same player as someone else does not make your collection not super. Show your passion for collecting, and share our love of the hobby. In the end, it is super COLLECTORS that will keep this hobby going!
P.S. If you do happen to have any Rickey Henderson cards or items that you think I might be interested in, please contact me!
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