Saturday, November 30, 2013

Seven Deadly Sins of Collecting

With the end of the calendar year quickly coming to a close, I recently evaluated the amount of vacation time I have at work and decided I had better use it- because if not, I will lose it. So, already having Thursday-through-Sunday off for the holiday, I stayed home on Tuesday and Wednesday- giving me six days off in a row. How have I spent my time? Organizing my collection, for one thing. It has also allowed time for introspection about my collecting habits, my goals for the upcoming year, as well as taking care of other non-card related projects.

Back to the introspection...

If you have ever seen the movie Seven (starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman), then you're aware of the plot: a serial killer whose murders correspond with the "seven deadly sins."  It's been a number of years since I've seen the thriller, and had pretty much forgot about it until perusing Netflix recently. For whatever reason, seeing it on there gave me an idea for this post and for what I'm going to call the seven deadly sins of collecting. At times my collecting habits have corresponded with these same sins. I guess the cardboard gods are at work in me...

1) Greed- This is what I call the "gotta have it" mentality. This isn't just seeking after an item or three to finish off a set. No, this is referring to the idea that I must have every. single. Braves. card. known. to. man. But...reality's a b*tch and I do not have the money, nor the time, to pursue every Braves card produced. Besides, do I really need those ugly 1993 Donruss Triple Play base cards? I find nothing about them aesthetically pleasing, so I've decided I am not going to pursue them.

2) Gluttony- This is where greed grows feet, where the idea that one needs all things actually becomes reality. I've heard it referred to as "gathering, not collecting." I might have been able to exercise self-discipline regarding the '93 Triple Play cards, but I haven't elsewhere. How many purchases have I made on items that I didn't really care for- just so I can add it to my collection; because it was there; because it was a good buy? Parallels are just one example of this. So are the large lot of (insert year & brand) just so I can complete that 14-card team set, leaving me with many extras. Works great if you can trade them; I usually don't. Gluttony is often the result of another of the deadly sins, which I will touch on later.

3) Lust- Most of us think of lust as a strong sexual desire, and it certainly is, but it can also be a strong desire for anything- where it consumes you and doing almost anything in order to fulfill that desire. An insatiable thirst, you can call it. If you were collecting in 1991, you remember the premiere Upper Deck football set and the frenzy surrounding it. Upon release, there were whispers that it was 'very limited'- at least in these here parts- and overhyped rookies such as Dan McGwire, Browning Nagle, Ricky Watters (who turned out pretty good), Herman Moore, Todd Marinovich, Alvin Harper, and Randall "Thrill" Hill (not to mention some under-hyped guy named Brett Favre) drove the demand even higher. After all, this was the company which produced THE rookie card of The Kid- which, at the time, was fetching probably, what, $200? Heck, it also had the Football Heroes insert set! Anyway- '91 was the year that I got back into the hobby and I was green when it came to collecting. I also couldn't really afford the $100+/box (something like that) that it was fetching. But- I just had to have some. I mean, I would literally sit there and think of just how I was going to get in on the action. So, what did I do? Why, I hawked a very nice Yamaha 12-String guitar for about $200. Plus,I already had three guitars, so it was easy to justify. Problem solved. An eBay search just now pulled up ,as the first listing, two sealed boxes for $8.99 plus shipping. And I did whatever I had to in order to buy two boxes. That, friends, was lust.

4) Envy- Often mistaken for jealousy, envy can be defined as, "pain at the good fortune of others," (Aristotle) or as, "a propensity to view the well-being of others with distress, even though it does not detract from one's own...[and] aims, at least in terms of one's wishes, at destroying one's good fortunes." (Immanuel Kant). Okay- so I don't know of any cases where a collector has aimed to destroy another's good fortunes because they didn't  have the "good." In today's collecting community, with the proliferation of you-tube videos, social media photo's showing us your hits, 'super collector' features, etc. it's very easy to envious of the guy who pulled that 1/1 card that we will never get. Evaluating my collection by comparing it to another's is just plain stupid. Be glad at another's good fortunes, and be content with what I do have.

5) Sloth- Whether it's letting my cards pile up, instead of scanning and putting them away as I get them, or purchasing cards I already own because of a lack of organization (i.e. a lack of an updated list), I particularly hate this one. That's because I hate chaos- and I view disorganization to be chaotic. But still...I do a rather poor job on this. Thankfully, I don't open boxes anymore, save the very rare blaster, so I don't have hundreds of cards piling up. BTW... There's also another way to be slothful when it comes to a collection, and that's not having a particular focus to your collection- which can lead to gluttony. I've already touched on it above, so I won't comment any further.

6) Wrath- This one manifests itself primarily on the internet, and on the occasional podcast. You know the type- they never have anything good to say about the hobby, unless of course it's about something 20+ years ago. They find fault in every new product, but fail to recognize the good. Their discourse leads me to believe they at one time worked in the industry, but now are just bitter old men. Don't be a dick- the hobby doesn't need it.

7) Pride- C.S. Lewis is credited with coining the term, "Chronological snobbery," which refers to how people tend to value only the era in which they live. The opposite can be true, as well. That is, we can also look back on literature, film, music, cards or whatever and think that that's where it's at. There's nothing wrong with collecting only vintage (or more contemporary) cards, but it's strictly a matter of taste. Sure, for the most part, the vintage is a better investment, but it doesn't make them intrinsically better than the 2012 Heritage High Numbers Andrelton Simmons card.


  1. Great post! I love that movie. In fact, maybe I'll watch it this afternoon while sorting cards. Speaking of Netflix... have you watched The Following? It's this show with Kevin Bacon and his hunt for a serial killer. I've watched the first 8 episodes and it's pretty good if you're into serial killers.

    1. I have never heard of The Following; I'll have to look it up!

  2. you'd think the Braves bloggers on here would get together and help each other out with their doubles, making team sets, etc.... but noooooo..... all my doubles pile up into box after box.

    1. That's a good idea, Capt'n. I might just put up a new page just for my doubles that are available for others.