Sunday, January 17, 2016

Organizing Your Cards: A Collector's Dilemma

I have come to the point in my collecting where I no longer know which way to go in regards to keeping my collection organized.

I currently have two binders full of Diamonbacks, and it looks like a mess. It's currently organized by player, which I thought was what  I wanted, but now I'm not so sure. I'm starting to consider organizing everything by team from each year starting in 1998 and then by set in alphabetical order (Fleer, Topps, UD, etc).  I like how clean each page looks when it's organized by team. But then it messes up my PCs of Steve Finley, Luis Gonzalez.... you get the point.

What should I do?

How do you keep your collections organized? Let me know!!

Thanks for reading!


  1. I have no idea how to organize my collection. I need to do it, though, because I've been buying duplicates lately. I can't afford to buy cards I already have.

  2. I do my player collection by set/brand in year order. So Bo jackson's first Topps page runs from 1986 to 1994. It provides a nice look at each player's career. Inserts and Traded/Update cards are placed in a separate page. I have my Topps MN Twins pages in alphabetical order by year with the Team or manager card in the first or second spot and the Traded/Update cards and inserts at the end.

  3. I really need to do a complete organizational overhaul of mine as I have stuff everywhere. Right now I'd say half of it is in boxes while the other half is in binders. I'm slowly moving everything over to binders but trying to remember where everything is right now is maddening.

    Regardless, my ultimate goal is to have binders labeled in this general idea in mind:
    - Start a second Reds binder (one is already full)
    - A mixed binder for football, basketball, MMA, and wrestling
    - A small Bengals binder
    - A hockey binder
    - Binders sorted by years for all the other baseball cards I've got.

    While that may not be the final product, it's at least a step in the right direction.

  4. Organization is really important to me, because I hate duplicates. What I have done is this:

    1. Organize my Brewers by year and company issuing. Each company gets its own binder(s). I put Bowman in a separate binder from Topps though.
    2. I put in placeholder pieces of paper for cards I still need. That way, when I get the cards I need, I can pull the placeholder out and can update my online want lists accordingly.
    3. Each Player collection consists of separate cards from the team collection. So, yes, that required me to find 2 Robin Yount rookies and two Paul Molitor rookies, and I'll need to find 2 Eddie Mathews rookies that fit my price range.
    4. I prioritize between the "want everything" guys and the "get the major company issued cards showing them as Brewers" guys. I mean, I still want everything from that second group of players, but I'm focused on the major release stuff and care more about it.
    5. I'm in the process of cataloging my duplicate Brewers (first, then all the rest) on Zistle so I can try to get rid of duplicates by trading.

    It makes for a lot of work to do it my way, I suppose, but I don't mind. A day spent on organizing my collection is fun to me.

  5. I organize differently... depending not he situation:

    1. For my player and team PC's... I order them by year and product.
    2. My Japanese binder is sorted into teams.
    3. My insert/parallel collections are sorted by player (and one day I'll break it down by year too).

    In other words... it's a giant mess.

  6. Yep, ya gotta duplicate for the redundant player collections. I have 50+ (organized like Fuji) player guys and have had to go back and fill in the 2nd copies that I initially pulled from my early 80's sets. Otherwise, your left with holes in either your sets/team or your player binder.

    As far as other organization. My sets from before 1981 are in binders, unless they're really good looking sets. Otherwise, they're in white boxes. Team collection (Redskins) is partially in individual holders (Bowman etc before the mid 50's), binders (50's thru early 80's when there were only a few companies. Later stuff is in those old vinyl lockers with the 30 slots which seperate products very nicely. Each locker is two years worth except the last four which fit in one.)
    Gamers and autos are in top loaders in rows in the silverware drawers of two china cabinets that house most of the white boxes.

    1. Good looking sets after '81 get binders that is...

  7. Thanks for all of the great feedback!

    I've decided to organize my collection much like the way Tony described. It makes the most sense to me since my collection primarily focuses on one team and a few players.

    While it ends up being a very time-intensive method, it does a few things for me:

    - It identifies holes in my collection - Placing index cards in empty slots allows me to be more intentional in my collecting endeavors and keep a better inventory. Thanks for the idea, Tony.

    - It adds order to my collection - I have a small case of organizational OCD and cards randomly thrown into binder pages was overstimulating. seeing cards with the same designs and in card order is more aesthetically pleasing and calming to me.

    - It adds meaning to collecting - Placing team sets in order by card company adds an element of history to the cards. I can flip the page over, read all of the player's highlights from the previous season and reflect on what that year was like and how I remember them.

  8. I like all of the ideas and several of them resemble my collections, especially the "giant mess" comment. One thing I am really trying to do is to get a digital image of my player collection. That should solve many things, including being able to tell easier if you have that card or not. I have binders and piles right now. Having photos combined with a spreadsheet list would also be a good idea for insurance in case something was stolen and you need to replace some cards. That was one of the main reasons for me starting a blog, to share and also help organize my collections. Having photos also eliminates the need to have duplicates.

  9. Late to the party, but here's my system.

    My Astros/45s binders (which are up to four now) run by year, then alphabetical by brand.

    My Player Collections are in a separate binder (a binder of his own, for Bagwell), organized by player > year > brand.

    Bagwell, as my main man, has his own binder, and those are the only cards I aspire to have of him. There are a few dupes of him in the Astros binder, but I'd rather not try to collect two of everything. Same goes for Biggio, and most Nolan Ryan Astros cards. Sometimes I'll file the spare Nolan's into the binder, seeing as there aren't an obscene number of his Astros issues, at least during his playing days.

    Oh, and get on the Trading Card Database ( and build your collections, at least for the things you want to collect. You can build want and trade lists there too, and it's a fairly thorough database.

  10. I have mine just like you said, with the teams organized by year and alphabetically. I feel it works good. If you are into getting cards autographed, that might not be the best idea as cards are difficult to find. I have a separate binder with special cards and my favorite player collection. If I were really OCD, I might have to get extra cards of my favorite players to put into my team binders, but I'm ok if they are missing from them since I know I have them in my favorite players binder.