30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Sunday, May 17, 2015

New Era of Trading

Although I can't remember the first trade I ever made, I'm 100% certain it involved my neighborhood friends back in the early 80's.  If I were to guess, I'd say it took place on one of our porches and involved some 1981 Fleer or Donruss and some guys with silly mustaches or crazy facial hair.

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!


  1. Great idea about the blind trade. But you are right, the era of trading is changing. As I posted a few weeks back I couldn't believe what little role Beckett BV has anymore. I lived by that. I am still learning these newer trading trends but your blind one may be the best idea yet.

    1. Your post actually inspired this post. I personally don't believe one form of trading is better than another... it's all about personal preference. I have several buddies who live and die by trading on Facebook. But for me... the blind trade is the most convenient, because it gives me the opportunity to clear out extra cards to collectors who might be able to use them.

  2. It didn't take long for me to learn that the blogosphere method of trading fits my personality WAY better than the forum method.

  3. The first trade I ever did online was on a baseball card forum but one that knew BV meant pretty much nothing and that eBay sales were more telling of real "value."

    That said in the past I wasn't really looking to get equal value. If a person had a card I wanted, then I'd trade away whatever it took to get that card. Sort of like George Steinbrenner ;).

  4. I like the idea of blind trades, I have been organizing my 5,000 count boxes by teams so I can start setting up some blind trades. I think my first "trades" were when I was about 6-7 years old and we used to flip cards to see who could get closest to the wall with the winner taking all the cards flipped that round.

  5. I'm happy to say I never entered the world of forum trading, it sounds pretty sad to me.

  6. Some of my best trades were at my LCS before it closed in the mid 2000's. At this time people were only looking for autos and relics. When they would bust packs pretty much all other cards were garbage to them. I could give a crappy relic or two for the non hits in the box. Many times the person would leave low numbered parallels and higher end rookies. Many of the cards I received are the ones I trade to other bloggers today.

    Blind trading is great.

  7. Blind trading is great -- I totally agree there. I tried some of those forum trades as well, and it was pretty difficult and not much fun.

  8. nick - i hope i didn't ruin forums for you. they offer some advantages... like advertising specific want ads. plus i've met some really cool collectors on there. i just don't have the time to haggle with people over several days and end up walking away without a trade.

    zippy - yeah the bv vs. eBay battle is one i don't care to go into. i've learned to be more like you these days. as long as i know a collector will appreciate the cards, i don't mind sending them stuff (even if i don't get anything back in return).

    corky - best of luck. i love blind trades... but it's not for everyone. personally... they work for me, because it gives me the opportunity to unleash cards that don't fit into my collection, while helping someone else with theirs. value for value is the least of my concern... however i try my best to take care of the person if i didn't send first.

    night owl - thanks again. like i said to nick... it's not all bad. it's just not my thing anymore.

    matthew - haven't pulled off an lcs trade in a decade or so... but those were a lot of fun.

    tony - yeah. the most important thing is to have fun and some people enjoy trading on fb. others on forums. i'm just glad that i'm not alone when it comes to trading among fellow bloggers.

  9. I love blind trades ! I definitely need to send you some cards at some point, but you have such a colossal collection, it's not easy to find things that fit it (same with Night Owl, actually).
    It's funny to think that we may just have crossed paths on those AOL forums, I was very active there in 98-99 !