COLLECTING, A PASSION OR AN ADDICTION

Collecting, a passion or an addict? For me it’s a passion, it all started with that little golden James Bond car. After that, I discovered many books related to James Bond, the pictures inside showed me the existence of puzzles, gum cards, figurines, diecast cars, board games, etc…That’s how my collection began. At the present time, I had no idea what I started. In every place we visited I was searching for James Bond memorabilia. Trough the internet contact was established with the many James Bond collectors, gathered all over the world. Every shop where a James Bond display decorated the windows, I jumped in asking the dealer if he could preserve that wonderful James Bond display for me. Sometimes I was lucky, but patience was needed many times.
During our annual leave we always try to visit a place where a Bond movie was shot. It really gives you a thrill to stand or walk in the footsteps of your greatest fan. After more than fifteen years collecting James Bond, the attic is plenty full with James Bond memorabilia, there isn’t an inch left. In 2006 I became the co-writer for the second edition of “De James Bond Saga”, 2008 gave me the chance to be the co-writer for “James Bond All In”. Now I’m busy with a script on the James Bond trading cards produced by many manufacturers since the sixties until today. Perhaps that script can turn into a book. Everybody collects something: the themes are very divers; it goes from a matchbox to antic cars. Age has no limits, some people are very young when they start, and some others start a collection when they are retired. You can start a collection for a penny, but you can spent a fortune and own some of the most desirable pieces ever made.


A BRIEF HISTORY

A trading card (or collectible card) is a small card, usually made out of cardboard or thick paper, which usually contains an image of a certain person (fictional or real) and a short description of the picture, along with other text (statistics, attacks, or trivia) There is wide variation among different types of cards as to the configuration of objects, the content on the card, and even the material used to make the card.
The first type of cards that were collected were trade cards. A trade card is about the size of a 7,5 x 12,5cm index card and typically has a nice picture with an advertising slogan on the front side and full advertising text on the backside. They were popular during the Victorian era. Local merchants and street walking advertisers would hand them out for free as a cheap and effective way to advertise products and services. A local store would sometimes stamp their name on the back. Some cards were beautiful, some funny, some had puzzles and some were risqué. Thousands of different trade cards were produced for the American public, from many types of manufacturers and merchants. These were mainly done in chromo lithographic instead of engraved, and because of the colouring, they became highly desirable. Many people, mostly ladies, started to collect them. One can see these people as the first card collectors. As you can read, the first card collectors were non-sports collectors and they were women. From 1902 to 1935, printed cardboard baseball cards originated as gimmicks distributed with tobacco products, bubble gum (from there the term gum cards), and other snacks (similar to prizes in cereal boxes today). But it would be mid 50s really before the term gum cards took off in the UK with the arrival of Bill Haley, Elvis and other rock & roll stars. In the UK, tea cards, given with packets of tea, or tobacco cards, also known as cigarette cards, given with packs of cigars or cigarettes, both these were started in the UK as promotional giveaways in the 20/30s. one card per pack, in the hope you would want the set of 20 or so and keep buying that brand, as today they were many subjects and are still very collectible, the card size was about 65 x 34 mm. During this period, there was a wide variation in the production of cards, mostly because the style was new and distributors had not yet decided on a particular style. Many cards also had rare flaws and misprints because manufacturers were still experimenting with different production methods. After 1936, most of the card manufacturers had decided on a certain style, and most cards remained the same.
The tobacco industry dropped the cards in the 50s, tea cards went on to mid 70s. Local candy stores where selling sweet candy sticks in the shape of small cigarettes from the 30s to 80s, were again there was one card per pack, these cards were also sold with ice cream and in breakfast cereals. Shredded Wheat issued an “Octopussy” sticker set. Over the years the term trade card evolved into trading cards, the term we use today. Trade cards are still being collected today. The cards themselves ceased to be packaged along with other products and became a product in their own right. Trading cards are traditionally associated with sports; baseball cards are especially well-known. Cards dealing with other subjects are often considered a separate category from sports cards, known as non-sports trading cards. These often feature cartoons, comic book characters, television series, or movie stills. As with playing cards, which they generally resemble, trading cards are often used to play various games. In the 1990s, cards designed specifically for playing games became popular enough to develop into a distinct category of collectible card games (CCG). These tend to use either fantasy subjects or sports as the basis for game play.
Today, trading cards cover most subjects including all sports, military, airplanes, cars, animals, dinosaurs, plants, movies, TV, Sci-Fi, nostalgia, and many more. The majority of the cards display full colour pictures. Topps began making non-sports cards in 1948. Since 1970 several companies entered the non-sports part of the card collecting hobby. The main companies making non-sports cards are: “Artbox Entertainment”, “Benchwarmer”, “Cards Inc”, “Comic Images”, “Dynamic Forces”, “Futera”, “Hero Factory”, “TimeTraders”, “Ikon Collectables”, “Inkworks”, “Monsterwax Trading Cards”, “NostalgiCards”, “Rittenhouse Archives Ltd”, “Stellar Collectibles”, “Strictly Ink Limited”, “Topps” and “Upper Deck”. Another form of card collecting is collecting business cards and still another is collecting playing cards. The majority of companies making autographed non-sports cards are: “Benchwarmer”, “Inkworks”, “Rittenhouse Archives Ltd” and “Topps”. Most autographed non-sports cards are on the subjects of movies, TV, Sci-Fi, models or nostalgia. A different form of card collecting is the so called “Joker Card” collection. In the sixties the cards where sold in every candy store, the kids where trading them at the school playground. All that pleasure is gone, because of the high speed internet development. Now the world is open to all the collectors; many retailers are selling their cards on eBay and other on-line retail stores.


TERMINOLOGY

When listening to a conversation among a bunch of card collectors, you can discover a complete new vocabulary. Because of the trading card origin this new vocabulary is completely based on the English language. The following list has been setup in a logical way and explains the used vocabulary. The used terminology will be used trough out this book.

  • Cards: usually the standard non sport card size of 6,35. x 8,89 cm., but the so called “widevision cards” are taller in size.

  • Packs: the original wrapper with base and insert cards within, often called “wax packs”, typically with two to eight cards per pack. Today the packs are usually plastic or foil wrap.

  • Wrappers: the original pack cover, often with collectible variations.

  • Retail Cards: cards, packs, boxes, and cases sold to the public, typically via large retail stores.

  • Hobby Cards: items sold mainly to collectors, through stores that deal exclusively in collectible cards. Usually contains some items not included in the retail offerings.

  • Blister Packs: factory plastic bubble pack of cards or packs, for retail peg-hanger sales.

  • Rack Packs: factory packs of unwrapped cards, for retail peg-hanger sales.

  • Tins: factory metal can, typically filled with cards or packs, often with inserts.

  • Boxes: original manufacturer's container of multiple packs, often 24 packs per box.

  • Cases: factory-sealed crate filled with card boxes, often six to twelve card boxes per case.

  • Common Cards: also known as base cards. Non rare cards that form the main set (e.g. Cards 1–110).

  • Parallel Cards: usually a modification of the main set of base cards which contains extra foil stamping, hologram stamping and are often seen one per pack up to one per 36 packs.

  • Insert Cards: also known as chase cards. Non rare to rare cards that are randomly inserted into packs at various ratios like 1 per 12 packs for example. An Insert Card is often different from the main set, contains a different number on the back such as BG01 to BG22, etc.

  • Promo Cards: cards that are distributed, typically in advance, by the manufacturer to enhance sales.

  • Redemption Cards: special cards that come in packs that are mailed (posted) to the manufacturer to receive a special card or some other gift.

  • Sketch Cards: insert cards that feature near-one-of-a-kind artists sketches.

Harold Sakata

Sean Connery Sketch Card

"Sketch Card Samples"

  • Autograph Cards: printed insert cards that also bear an original cast or artist signature.

  • Costume Cards: insert cards that feature a mounted swatch of cloth, such as from an actor's costume.

  • Relic Cards: insert card that feartures a piece of the props used in the movie or television series.(e.g. poker chip)

  • Chase Cards: also known as insert cards. Non rare to rare cards that are randomly inserted into packs at various ratios like 1 per 12 packs for example. An Insert Card is often different from the main set, contains a different number on the back such as BG01 to BG22, etc.

  • Case Topper Cards: this card is a factory gift for buying a complete case ,so this card is included loose inside a factory sealed case, this card will be a more limited chase card than the chase cards in the packs.

  • Multi Case Topper Cards: this a card included as a bonus with the purchase of two or more factory sealed cases. Different cards for a different amount of cases.

  • Oversized Cards: any base, common, insert, or other cards not of standard or widevision size.

  • Unreleased Cards: cards printed by the manufacturer, but not officially distributed for a variety of reasons. Often leaked to the public, sometimes improperly. Not to be confused with promo cards.

  • Base Sets: a complete set of base cards for a particular card series.

  • Insert Sets: a complete set of a particular class of inserts, often called a “subset”.

  • Album Card: a card or cards given as a bonus for purchasing the exclusive binder or album.

  • Master Sets & Mini Master Sets: a master set is not clearly defined; this should be the lot, from promo to basic including all chase, album, wrappers etc. Although I have seen different variations of master sets on eBay, also mini master sets pop up, sometimes two different sets for a single card series.

  • Factory Sets: is a basic set that may have chase cards made by the firm boxed in a special printed box, althouh the box could be plain white or just be a wrapping but this is not to be confused with a factory sealed box.

  • Uncut Sheets: sheets of uncut base, insert, promo, or other cards.

  • 9-Up Sheets: uncut sheets of nine cards, usually promos.

  • Sell Sheets: also known as “ad slicks”. Usually one page, but increasingly fold-outs, distributed by the manufacturers to card distributors, in advance, to enhance case sales.

COLLECTING AS INVESTMENT

In my opinion is always best to think of collecting as a hobby for the pleasure of the activity rather than as an investment. That having been said, it is crystal clear that a collection can be worth a fortune. When considering the possible future increase in the value of a collection, one must consider the popularity of the card line and the rarity of the cards. It is best to stick to a single theme when collecting for an investment. A complete or near complete collection is always more valuable than many different types of pieces. Since the value of the cards tends to follow the success of the actor or model, one can sometimes get an extra insight into the future value of the cards by tracking down the actors career.
Now we can raise the question; what factors determine the value of a collection or even a single trading card? The factors are rarity, popularity, condition, theme, artistry, vintage and nostalgia. All these factors affect the value of any collection, not only trading cards.

  • Rarity: This is the most important factor in the value of any collection. The value increases in rare items always exceed those of more common items other factors remaining equal. If one is interested in collecting for an investment, choosing to collect the more rare items is a very wise choice.

  • Popularity: As in all things the popularity of collecting certain items tends to cycle. The reason popularity is important in the value of a collection is simple supply and demand. As more people seek collections, the demand rises relative to supply and values rise.

  • Condition: Better quality collections rise in value faster than collections of lesser quality. For example, if a puzzle is missing a piece, it’s worth nothing. One should always strive to build a collection of Near Mint quality or better. Professional grading assures the quality.

  • Theme: A collection build around a theme is always more desirable that a collection of many unmatched pieces.

  • Artistry: Artistry applies to the look of the images on the card, but artistry is not a large factor in the value of cards.

  • Age/Vintage: Today we can say that anything produced before 1980 is vintage, it is indeed a very important factor to estimate the value of an object.

  • Nostalgia: This is perhaps the least important factor, but a factor nonetheless. Many of the baby boom generation remember collecting cards from their childhood and some collections are built with an eye to that nostalgic moment of pleasure.

WAYS TO COLLECT

When we talk about the forms of collecting, it’s crystal clear that we are talking about Non-Sports cards. The theme is obviously James Bond. Since 1964 numerous series where produced by many manufacturers. The oldest where produced by Somportex, the latest by GE-Fabbri & Rittenhouse. Some of the collectors are just collecting the james Bond cards from the sixties, others only the promo cards or the sell sheets. You can also collect cards from one manufacturer. Today it’s quit simple to collect a basic scard set. Most boxes contain the complete basic card set and some insert cards. The inserts, chase, relic, case toppers and autograph cards are a lot more difficult and also very expensive.


CARD CONDITION

The grade of a card is determined by weighing the condition or quality of four basic aspects of the card. Sometimes, it's very easy to grade a card because one aspect is defective, and it's generally recognized that if that particular aspect is defective in a certain way, the card should get a certain grade. Other times it is harder to grade a card, since the relative condition of several aspects of the card must be taken into account. In most of the cases, a card is graded based upon its worst feature. If other features of the card are particularly good, the grade of the card might increase a little, and if several of the card's features are bad, it might decrease a bit. Cards are graded by four aspects. These aspects are: corners, edges, surface and centering.
Centering is a major factor in the grade of vintage cards. The presses of the time did not hold registration like modern presses do and almost all cards had an unprinted border around them. Modern presses hold registration very well and most are bleed printed (printing from the edge). For these modern cards centering is not a factor.
Unfortunately there are, several different grading scales; however, they are similar enough to keep confusion to a minimum. The ten point grading scale is the standard that all the scales are based on. Some graders give in between grades like NM+ to indicate these are cards at the higher end of the grade.

The 10 point Grading Scale:

  • Poor (P) or Fair (F) 1: A card that has a serious abuse or has a hole in it.

  • Good (G) 2: This grade is usually the result of heavy corner rounding, surface wear or creases. Any card with writing on it falls in this category.

  • Very Good (VG) 3: A card that looks good from a distance, but on closer inspection several defects can be seen without magnification. It is the highest possible rating for a creased card.

  • Very Good / Excellent (VGEX) 4: This is the highest grade that a card can have with a small wrinkle. A wrinkle is a crease that can be seen on only one side of the card.

  • Excellent (EX) 5: This grade is for cards that look really good, but show some wear.

  • Excellent / Mint (EXMT) 6: A card that looks mint, but upon close examination some defects can be seen without magnification.

  • Near Mint (NM) 7: A card that looks mint, but upon examination with magnification, defects can be seen usually on edges and corners. This grade is often given to cards that are new right out of the packages. This is the best grade I would assume any "raw" card is in unless it has been professionally graded higher. Many sellers will tell you the card they are selling is a higher grade, but unless the card is professionally graded higher, that is just so much seller verbiage. I would always assume any new card right out of the package is Near Mint when making a buying decision. I would be a bit skeptical of any dealer who tells you his new raw card is better than Near Mint. The best dealers describe new raw cards as Near Mint. When collecting non-sports cards you should strive for all your cards to be Near Mint or better.

  • Near Mint / Mint (NMMT) 8: A card that looks mint, but upon examination with strong magnification and bright light, very small defects can be detected usually on edges and corners. This is another grade common to new cards right out of the package and professionally graded. Grades higher than Near Mint / Mint are rare. The main reason a new card is not mint is that the cutting blades leave marks on the edges and corners. To consistently get mint cards the blades would have to be sharpened often and the surface of the blades polished to avoid any blade marks.

  • Mint (MT) 9: Mint basically means very nearly prefect in every regard.

  • Gem Mint (GEM) 10: A mint card with extra appeal. This usually means a brighter than usual surface.

PROFESSIONAL GRADING

Professional grading companies are service companies that provide consistent and impartial grading of cards. Someone with a card sends it to the card grading company, and that company's expert graders assign the card a grade. The card is encapsulated in a tamper-proof container often called a "slab" or labeled with a tamper-proof holographic label that identifies the grade given to the card, and it is returned to its owner. The fee paid to the grading company, per card, is typically between 3€ and 15€ plus the shipping costs by insured mail. Card dealers may have a contract with a grading company to have lots of cards graded within a year, usually 1000 or more to receive a much better price. Cards are either "raw" meaning not professionally graded or "graded" meaning professionally graded. If a dealer inspects a card, no matter how expert he may be, the card is not graded because dealers have a conflict of interest due to being a seller of cards. Thus his opinion is not impartial.
Professional grading has changed the card market tremendously. The cards have become commodities and it is possible to buy and sell them sight-unseen with much more confidence. Professionally graded cards command good prices, because people will trust a professional grade and are often willing to pay more for these cards. It is now true that if someone is trying to sell a non-graded premium card, people will wonder why it isn't professionally graded. There is the concern that if it is not professionally graded, there might be something wrong with it. This is a special concern with autographed base cards that were autographed after distribution from the card company where the possibility of a forgery exists. Professional grading virtually eliminates that risk. The rather small premium paid for professionally graded cards is generally well worth it. PSA/DNA offers a special autograph authentication service for cards and most other autographed items. There are five grading companies that are well known and respected in the industry. Those companies are: PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator), SGC (Sportscard Guaranty Authority), BGS (Beckett Grading Service), SCD (SCD Authentic), GAI (Global Authentication). Cards graded by these five companies tend to sell easier and for higher prices than those graded by lesser know companies. Among the lesser know professional card grading companies are: AGS (Advanced Grading Specialists), ASA (Accugrade), CGS (Champs Grading Service), CEX (Certified Express), CSA (Certified Sports Authentication), CTA (CTA Grading Experts), FGA (Foremost Grading Authority), HGA (Holographic Grade Authenticator), KSA (KSA Sports Card Authenticator), MINT (Mint Grading Service), PRO (PRO Sports Grading), PGS (Professional Grading Services), TFA (The Final Authority), USA (Ultimate Sports Authority), WCG (World Class Grading).
All the companies listed above except HGC use tamper proof slabs to encapsulate their graded cards. HGC uses a tamper proof and copy proof hologram to seal and label their grading in a regular top loader protector. Many collectors like this because the graded cards fit right in with the rest of their collection. Although it is true that cards graded by the five well known companies tend to sell easier and for higher prices than those graded by lesser know companies, I have seen no difference in the consistency or quality of the grading of the cards. They all do an excellent job of giving reliable grades to the cards. I believe professional grading is a wonderful thing for the consumer. It assures they are getting what they pay for.
My advice for the collector concerning professional grading is, if you are only collecting for your own pleasure without a concern about selling the cards in the future, there is no need to have any of your cards professionally graded. If you are interested in selling the cards in the future, I would have any card with an estimated value greater than 250€ professionally graded by one of the five well known companies. You will find the card easier to sell on eBay and it will likely bring a better price than an ungraded card. For cards over 15€ but less than 250€ if you wish to have them professionally graded, it should not matter what company you use. There is little reason for a collector to pay the fee to have any card graded with a value less than 15€ because you are unlikely to recover the grading fee should you sell it. Of course if you can buy a professionally graded card for less than 15€ it is usually a good buy. Dealers with a contract can get the cards graded for less than an individual collector can.

PSA Card Grading

PSA Card Grading

"PSA Card Grading"

My advice concerning buying cards is similar. Don’t buy a card for over 250€ that was not professionally graded. In addition don’t purchase any autographed base cards (those that were autographed after distribution from the card company), for over 35€ that is not professionally graded. Always try to buy professionally graded cards wherever possible as long as the premium of the graded card over the same card ungraded was not too large (about 30%). You can sometimes buy graded cards for no more than an ungraded card.

Some collectors avoid professionally graded cards because the "slabs" do not fit in with the rest of the collection where the cards are in top loader protectors. If you have this concern you might want to consider buying HGC professionally graded cards. HGC uses a tamper proof and copy proof hologram to seal and label their grading in a regular top loader protector. The protection of the card is not as great as those in a sealed slab, but the grading is just as good and they fit right in with the rest of your ungraded collection. HGC is a new company so you might not find too many of their graded cards unless the idea catches on well.


SOMETHING ABOUT PURISME

Purism in collecting refers to a strict observance or insistence upon traditional correctness. For some collectors of cards only vintage sports cards are thought of as having value. I believe one should be free to build their collection in any fashion that gives them pleasure. The form of collecting has very little to do with its long term value. The value of a collection is determined by the factors rarity, popularity, condition, theme, artistry, vintage and nostalgia. This is not just true for collecting cards; this is true for all types of collections. By the way, the subject of purism is a much more hotly debated subject in other forms of collecting than it is in collector trading cards.


VINTAGE

What defines a “Vintage Card”. Like everything in collecting there is more than one opinion on this matter. But most collectors agree that any card produced before 1980 is a vintage card. Very few autographed non-sports cards are vintage cards.

 

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