Sorting cards late at night - this is essentially what I did in the early through late 1990s, when I was getting a grasp of consciously collecting, whether or not what I collected was crap. I would be in my room, alone, just trying to sort cards here and there [circa 1992].
I guess the 'dynamics' of what actually happened is a little fuzzy because there always 'blind spots' when it comes your memories of something - I might have the radio on, listening to some mid 1980s - early 1990s pop playing on the local radio station.
Maybe I'd be sorting random cards, trying to put together enough to rival my collecting peers - even though it seemed like I could only compete in little bits and pieces.
Instead of having a comprehensive collection of all the good cards [then] - there was always a feeling of knowing better [I always read the Beckett cover-to-cover, every month] and seeing the cards as the end-all, be-all of any hobbies I'd concentrated on before [and after].
I've never really taken time away from collecting and over the last 10 years, I've paginated cards together and there is a sentiment to keep things together - I bought plastic sheets [in various ways], acquired cards [through various ways] and arranged them by player [and typically some other classifications] in at least 10-15 binders.
Now, when I do a little housekeeping and designate a set of players' cards to go somewhere else [maybe even discard certain cards] - I see what I've 'built' up and it seems like I'm breaking a link to a part of trading card history I inadvertedly created for myself.
On the flip side, I worry I won't be able to keep track of everything I've picked up. It is pitiful, when I lose random things, like two jersey cards of little quality - one card was a Tristar Brandon Wood jersey card [worth about $2], that I definitely don't have anymore, since I lost it trying to get him to sign something in-person.
Another card is a Hank Blalock jumbo jersey card, worth about $2 as well - it is ironic I blogged about these cards as part of group purchase, from the same seller. I don't know where the Blalock is and I might have misplaced it, playing around with the card holder it was in.
Top five things on my mind
1.) No definitive personal collection - at times it is so hard to figure out where you want to go. You want a little bit of everything, but then cards seem like a finite endeavor when you aren't planning on spending a lot. I have to be more creative, getting the cards I want, but with new pickups, where do themes [maybe player, team, card type, for a long-term or short-term collection, et al] fit in?
2.) It is one thing to buy a box of cards - but another thing to have to spend $$$ when you aren't guaranteed anything for your personal collection. It is so hard to figure out, which box to pick-up. I'd like to pick up some 'older' boxes and sets [within the last two years] like 2007 Upper Deck SP Rookie Edition, 2007 Upper Deck Masterpieces, 2007 Topps factory set, Tristar minor league product, et al. On the other hand, the idea of breaking boxes flops, when you realize every box you want is junk you can't afford, with regards to trying to do other things with your collecting endeavors.
3.) My personal junk wax solution is to pick up rookie card singles - everyone may have these cards and you can probably customize your own list, but in an 'old-school' way, basic rookie cards still mean something; 1983 Topps Tony Gwynn $6, 1992 Bowman Mike Piazza $10-$15, 1992 Bowman Mariano Rivera, 1992 Bowman Carlos Delgado $10, 1992 Topps Traded Nomar Garciaparra $10 and 1993 Bowman Derek Jeter $10.
4.) For multisport collectors, these cards add instant credibility to your collection - for around the price of a hobby box of cards.
1975 Topps George Brett
1980 Topps Rickey Henderson
1981 Topps Joe Montana
1984 Topps John Elway
5.) Certified autograph / low-end memorabilia cards - patch and multiple material cards of superstars and Hall of Famers; certified autographs of young top prospects, stars, all-stars and select superstars/Hall of Famers and HOF icons.