Wednesday, January 1, 2020

State of the Collection & 2020 Goals

I don't typically start the new calendar year with very formalized goals, as I like to keep my pursuit of the hobby as flexible and enjoyable for myself as possible.  Last year I went with the general "year of frugality" theme, which worked out fantastically until about March.  After that I'm pretty sure I spent more on cards than I have in any other year of my life to date.

So, this post is more just a look at the status of my collection as it sits on January 1, 2020, along with a few very light and hopefully easy-to-achieve goals for myself for the coming year.  Here are some of the topics you can expect to see more of here on Shoebox Legends in 2020:

1950s Baseball Cards

This is the category that saw probably the most hobby attention from me in 2019, and I want to continue my progress in 2020.  While I don't think I'll likely complete any of them in 2020, I've selected a single set from each year of the decade that I think it would be enjoyable to take a crack at anyway.  Here they are, along with my current progress on each as of 12/31/19.  This will make for an easy check-up in twelve months to see how I did...

1950 Bowman - 14/252 (5%)
1951 Topps (Red Backs) - 5/52 (9%)
1952 Bowman - 22/252 (8%)
1953 Topps - 67/274 (24%)
1954 Bowman - 29/224 (12%)
1955 Topps - 51/206 (24%)
1956 Topps - 30/342 (8%)
1957 Topps - 46/407 (11%)
1958 Topps - 36/494 (7%)
1959 Topps - 342/572 (59%)

My simple goal here would be to make at least a small bit of progress on each of these ten sets.  A next level goal would be to get to at least 10% complete across the board, achieve 50% in my 1953 Topps quest, and 400 total cards for the 1959 set.  We'll see what the year brings, but I'm confident I can at least pick up and feature a new card or two from each of these releases as the year rolls on.


2019 was another great year for my ongoing Buyback Franken-set project, and to a lesser extent my 1990 Topps complete set in buyback format.  Largely with the help of other amazing collectors, I finished the year with the following totals as far as these go:

Franken-set Progress: 659/792 (82%)
1990 Topps Buyback Set: 121/792 (15%)
"Rejected" Buybacks: 655
Total Buybacks in Collection: 1,435

Wow!  I still have such a blast accumulating these cards, and will absolutely continue to feature them this year.  The biggest impediment to my progress on this front is honestly a lack of free time on my part.  While I don't expect this to improve at all (several gigantic work projects are already queued up, and we now have an office in the mid-west that requires airline travel, gonna be a fun 2020!), I will nonetheless keep at it.

A modest goal here would be to get to 1,500 total buybacks.  A more challenging goal would be 1,600 total buybacks and getting my 1990 Topps buyback set to at least 25% complete!

Condense & Organize

My ultimate goal here is to have each and every card that I own scanned (front at a minimum, sometimes back too) and added to my collection on The Trading Card Database.  This means touching each and every card in my house and asking myself "do I really want this?".  If the answer is yes, I catalog it accordingly.  If the answer is anything but yes, it gets shipped out to another collector, or sold if there's enough value to merit it.

I've been at this process for the past year or two and have already sent out tens of thousands of cards.  I've probably mailed out nearly half as many as the 28,650 total cards that I have in my organized collection as of 12/31/19, or at least close.  Still a long way to go though, so I want to continue this for another year at least, or until it's done.  Even at the pace I've been operating at I'm not sure if I'll get there in the next twelve months, but I sure can get a good deal closer.  This has so many benefits for my collecting that it's worth the effort, including:
  • More efficiently using my hobby funds and not wasting money on cards I already have
  • Reclaiming space in my hobby room/office
  • Sending tons of great cards out to deserving collectors who will appreciate them
  • Being able to instantly locate any card in my collection
  • A greater appreciation and enjoyment of the smaller number of cards I do retain in the end
Yeah, easy to see why this made the list!

Other Miscellaneous Goals

Signature Sundays/Autographed Cards -  I still enjoy collecting autographed cards, and have quite a few in queue.  I'll be resuming my long-running Signature Sundays posts to show off one each weekend if all goes well.  I'd especially like to feature some of the 1989-90 Topps/O-Pee-Chee hockey and 1990 Topps baseball autographs I've yet to get to, as these were the first sets I collected in each sport.  A realistic goal here would be to manage twelve of these posts, one per month.  A crazy, what are you thinking level goal would be to never miss a week and post 50+ (not even sure I have that many autographs yet to be posted honestly).

Cut Down on Spending/Increase Saving & Investing - This past year I adopted a new method for tracking my card budget that ensured that I'd save or invest at least $1 for each $1 spent in the hobby.  I'm very pleased that I was able to succeed in this endeavor in 2019!  Totaling things up last night I actually saved or invested more money than I spent on cardboard, and that doesn't include my 401k contributions either.  This approach allows me to really enjoy the hobby in the "you only live once, don't be overly frugal" style, while still feeling good about my financial future.  This year I'd like to continue this strategy at the very least, or if I really get crazy increase the ratio to $1.50 saved for every dollar spent on cardboard.  We'll see what the year brings!

Team/Player Collections - Another benefit of my condensing and digitally organizing is that I can get a solid handle around my team and player collections at last.  On the team front, I finished 2019 with 4,720 Red Sox cards, and 1,707 Hartford Whalers cards, good for 33rd and 3rd on the TCDB leaderboards, respectively.  I'd like to get to 6,000 Red Sox cards and 2,000 Whalers cards this year.  On the Red Sox front it's just a matter of finishing my transition from Zistle (RIP!) to TCDB, which is about 2/3 of the way through.  The Whalers are tougher, as I think I've got just about all of the ones I owned cataloged so I'm legitimately going to have to purchase close to 300 new cards (a real challenge to find that many that I need at this stage) if I want to get there.

As for player collections, I'm not a huge player collecting guy for the most part.  I guess I'll say that I'd like to get Will Clark and Cal Ripken Jr. into the 100-card-club (each are about halfway there).  I'd also like to keep last year's momentum going with respect to my Mickey Mantle, Roberto Clemente, Ted Williams and Hank Aaron collections and land at least one new playing-era Topps flagship card of each of those guys.  A tall order there.


So, there you have it, a look at where things stand in my collection at the close of the 2010s, and some objectives for the coming year.  As I mentioned in yesterday's best of 2019 countdown post, I truly appreciate each and every collector that stops by my little corner of the internet.  I'm looking forward to another great year of operating the blog, and hope you'll join me!

How about you, have you set any goals for yourself, collecting or otherwise, for 2020?  If so, I'd love to hear about them in the comments (or leave a link to your own post if you wrote one!).  Thanks, and Happy New Year!


Nachos Grande said...

I like your spend/invest idea! Happy 2020!

Johnnys Trading Spot said...

Amazing Hank Aaron buyback, so jealous.

Fuji said...

Like Nachos Grande... I love the spend/invest idea. I might need to implement that as part of my hobby budget in 2020. I didn't set any specific hobby goals last year and didn't have any regrets... so I'm going with the flow and not setting any goals this year either.

Billy Kingsley said...

I just literally posted my 2020 goal (only one) and recap of 2019. I had an awesome year, hope to keep that going this new year.

Nick said...

Happy 2020, my friend! I've been trying to get a bit better with cataloging lately (and hopefully do some more this year), but man do I miss Zistle. I just don't find the process as pleasing without Zistle's layout and accessibility.

I'm hoping to spend a little less money on new retail products this year -- I don't know that I necessarily regret any baseball card purchases, but there were definitely a few times I walked out of Target or wherever with a blaster or a few packs and thinking: "Did I REALLY need to buy those?"

night owl said...

I don't like tying my card hobby to real-world things like investing. I don't blow money I don't have on cards and that's as far as I go because this hobby is supposed to be fun and the more it's removed from stuff like savings accounts and 401Ks the better.

gregory said...

Good set of goals there, and you'll probably get lots of entertaining posts from them. Looking forward to following the blog this year!

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