Trading back then was simple. I had a stack of cards that contained cards deemed untouchable and everything else was up for trade. My friends and I would sift through each others' stacks looking for something we wanted. There were no penny sleeves or top loaders... only rubber bands and shoe boxes.
A decade later... in the early 90's... trading was completely different. There were price guides, card protectors, and a whole new community of trading partners. None of my neighbors collected anymore, but I still did. I started working at a card shop and began attending card shows. Both venues allowed me to meet other collectors who shared the same interest in collecting and exchanging cardboard.
By the mid 90's, people began trading online using sites like the AOL Message Boards. This allowed me to trade with others around the country. I would even chat online with fellow collectors. By then Beckett had established itself as the number one price guide in my neck of the woods and I'll admit... their prices were sacred and I lived by them.
This trend continued until I left the hobby in 2001. When I reentered the hobby in 2008, I immediately started buying Beckett again. I also began meeting fellow collectors on sites like: Sports Card Forum, Sports Card Radio, and Card Collector's World.
Some of these websites were using feedback ratings and my goal was to meet as many people as I could... and trade as often as possible. Most of the time... I still used Beckett as a resource. However... I eventually started seeing the light.
I discovered that an insert with a book value of $50... might sell on eBay for only $5. Whereas... my memorabilia card with a book value of $50... might sell for $20. In short... I'd be a fool to trade that memorabilia card straight up for the other guy's insert.
The problem was different collectors traded using different standards. Some used eBay completed sales... while others used Beckett values. As for me... I pretty much stopped trading specific cards for specific cards. These days 99% of the trades I complete are blog related... and the majority of those are "blind trades".
In other words... whenever I have some extra Los Angeles Dodgers laying around... I'll divvy them up between bloggers like Night Owl Cards, GCRL, and Plaschke, Thy Sweater Is Argyle... and ship them out. Sometimes it's because I owe them packages. Other times it's because my Dodgers stack is overflowing and I need to tidy things up.
Either way... I don't expect anything in return, so there's no need to look at a price guide. On the flipside... if I owe a person a package, I'll try my best to send them an equivalent amount in card value... if not even more.
Thankfully... this system has worked well for me the past few years. In fact... I can't even remember the last time I set up a trade that involved one specific card for another and I'm 100% okay with that.
Speaking of blind trades... Mr. Night Owl sent me a package last month and I finally got around to cracking it open. He included a stack of cards for me and my students. My personal favorite was this hand cut 1991 Baseball Card Magazine Dennis Eckersley:
I'm a sucker for oddballs... especially those from 80's and 90's price guide magazines. In addition to the Eck, he sent me a bunch of Oakland A's cards, including these sweet Canseco's:
My scans make these two cards seem like they're equivalent in size, but the 1987 Donruss All-Stars card is actually three times bigger than the 2014 Archives Deckle insert. But the tiniest card in the lot was this 2009 Goodwin Champions Laird Hamilton:
The rest of the cards were your standard 2.5" x 3.5" pieces of cardboard.
Some of them were new additions to my inserts and oddballs binders... while others were cards that I already have. But don't worry... they're not headed for the trash. Some of them will go to my students, while others will go into teams stacks which will be shipped off to other bloggers around the world.
Thanks for the package Greg! You know the deal... as soon as I get some more Dodgers, I'll get a bubble mailer out to you.
Happy Sunday and sayonara!