Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Comment On First World Versus Second World

I will say that over the last few days and weeks, there has really been some nasty sentiment towards my fellow 2nd worlders and anyone who doesnt subscribe to a quantity over quality way of thinking. It seems that people have the idea that if you are not set collecting, or collecting the way they do, you arent as real of a collector as they are. I consider the people writing these posts to be my friends, and I know they were not trying to take stabs at any particular person. The problem is, it’s the sentiment that I really dislike, and I really want to take some time and address it for the 8th time on here. Again, I am not calling anyone out specifically, and mostly I am just referencing the posts for the discussion.

Before I go into this, I want people to understand that not every apple is a good apple. Anywhere there is money to be made, there will be people who take advantage of the situation. Those people suck, and I am not in any way condoning what they do. However, that A) doesn’t mean they arent out there, and B) doesn’t mean that some of them don’t really understand that what they are doing sucks.

Now, back when I first mentioned that most collectors were set up into first world and second world (first being the set collecting, retail and low end buying, mostly baseball collectors, and second being the high end buying, high end busting, jersey and auto lovers, mostly from Football and Baksetball), I said that each had their own merits. That is exactly the truth. I dont try to insuate that people arent at my level of collecting because they are first worlders. Yet, post after post from first world bloggers over the last year took that buffer I try to exude and disregarded it. That is crap. There is no hierarchy of collectors, you are not more of a collector because you go after sets rather than autos and jerseys.

Guys, believe it or not, the second world is the place where the hobby is headed or already is. Modern set collectors, though prevalent on the blogs, are not the majority of the people I see at shows, they are not the people I see on the boards, and they are definitely not the people I see at the five or so shops I visit in my area each month. As I have said before, there is nothing wrong with being a first world set collector until you start thinking that you are the right way to do things and all who do it differently are wrong or lesser of a collector.

To have the idea that its wrong to embrace the new world of collecting is really too bad. Yes, it isnt 1994 anymore, and yes things have changed, but that doesnt mean things arent just as good as they once were. Also, to say that collecting revenue is directly related to the invent of high end and super high end is a farce. As I said before, there are a lot of things that contribute to the way of the world, and the rising cost of boxes is not necessarily the only reason things are taking a turn for the worse.

I will be the first one to say that my viewpoints are not widely accepted, and I will not hesitate to agree with people who think that I talk way more game than I have. So dont think I am speaking for anyone but me. I just dont like the way people are looking at things, and I think that this blog is a perfect soapbox for that. Thats all I was hoping to accomplish.


  1. Amen. Why can't we just all get along?

  2. As a first-world / second-world hybrid, I agree with you. Both types of collecting can be fun, and there are more than enough sets out there to keep both types of collectors happy. There's no need to take swipes at people with different collecting habits than you.

  3. not necessarily taking swipes, but more, insuating that a hierarchy exists and that you are at the top because you are in this for "the right reasons." Give me a break.

  4. I cover all products, high-end or not. I do however receive many emails from collectors who are leaving the Hobby because of ridiculous prices.

    I am simply showing them the other side of the hobby that no Joe Collector will ever experience due to no guaranteed game used jersey and/or autograph.

    I certainly was not trying to offend anyone, especially Dave, who seems to think I was.

  5. I understand, I said that the people who were talking were not doing it to offend anyone. I know that it wasnt intended like that. Just wanted to say my piece.

  6. I think it is very difficult to pinpoint just exactly which "type" of collector makes up the majority of the hobby. You mentioned the blogs lining up on one side, with the boards and show attendees on the other. None of the 3 provides any real insight into the greater collecting population because all are irrelevantly small samples. The average collector is likely not involved in any of the above activities.

    I'm not saying that I know which segment of the hobby draws more supporters, rather, I'd argue that it is frivolous to make an assertion of the sort one way or the other.

  7. "I'd argue that it is frivolous to make an assertion of the sort one way or the other."

    That was the point of the post.

  8. And this is why I love your blog - so much better than you blowing your load over SP Authentic!

    I am a second world collector - I collect (and here I am sure many will groan) Brett Favre. However I have colected him off and on since 1994. The first pack of football cards I got was a pack of 1991 Pro set - in which I got a Favre RC. After this I was hooked - especially after I watched him play more and more, and saw what a great player he was and how much fun he was to watch.

    Here is the catch though - I live in Australia (if anyone says G'day mate I will fly over to America and kick your arse, over here we say arse, not ass. Remember, an ass is a donkey). From 1993 to 1996 NBA cards were huge in Australia, and in most major cities like Sydney and Melbourne there were at least 30 cards shops, if not more, largely selling NBA cards, as well as cards of Australia sports. Most shops also sold NFL cards, so it was reatively easy to buy NFL packs, boxes and Brett Favre singles (many of the shops near me knew I was a big Brett Favre collector and would thus do their best to get singles for me) and I bought all of them, despite the fact that a pack that cost $2 in the US would cost $5 or more in Australia.

    However, by 1997 all but a handful of the shops had closed, and those that remained open sold fewer and fewer singles as less and less people bought packs and boxes - because the prices of these continued to skyrocket. As a result of this I gave up on collecting.

    Until 1999, when I was selling some of my (non-Favre) cards and got to know another NFL collector, who got me hooked again, so I started collecting Favre cards again, buying the occassional pack or even more occasional box, but by 2002 I had again given up collecting.

    However, in 2006, being in a job that gave me a fair amount of disposable income, and with plenty of time on my hands, I decided to start collecting again, almost exclusively using ebay. I started mainly collecting Favre cards, though I would buy the occasional box.

    However, there were problems with buying a box. A box of cards that would sell for $100 on ebay, would end up costing me $200 Australian or more once I paid for postage and the currency was exchanged.

    Given the high cost of buying boxes, and the fact that what I was mainly after from boxes was Favre cards, I decided to not purchase any more boxes, and focus on buying Favre cards. I mean why spend $200 on a box of cards hoping to get some nice Favre cards in it, when I could spend the $200 and guarantee getting a lot of nice Favre cards. This is what I still do today.

    Upon returning to the hobby in 2006 I noticed how much things had changed - with the emphasis on Jersey and Autograph cards. Initially I didn't really care much about these, instead focusing on commons and regular inserts. However, after purchasing some jersey and autograph cards and saw how nice some of these were, I started focusing on these, so that now I almost totally focus on Favre jersey and auto cards.

    Thus, I am squarely I second world collector - only collecting Brett Favre cards, particularly jersey and auto cards. I have over 2400 different Brett Favre cards, including over 100 certified autographs and over 300 jersey/memorabilia cards (Yes, I have too much disposable income - though my girldfired still has no idea how much money I spend on cards). However, I am not buying these cards with a view to trying to make a profit from them. I would hope (as I'm sure many of you second world collectors hope) that if I did need to sell my cards for some reason, I would recoup a fair amount of the money I spent on them because of the fact wI bought a specific player (or in your case players/teams), instead of spending money purely on boxes in the hope of getting a big hit. In some ways I am lucky that almost by chance in 1994 I decided to collect Brett Favre, a player whose cards have held their value and will likely continue to do so.

    So, does any of the above make me less of a "true" collector than someone who collects sets? I don't think so. If you disagree with me remember - I come from Australia, where it is the humans who attack crocodiles, not the other way around! (FYI - most Australians were ashamed of Steve Irwin, and were quietly relieved when he was killed by the Stingray. There is a movement underway to track down that stingray and give it a medal)

  9. I can't stand set collecting. Strictly team guy myself and an occasional extra

  10. But:

    "Guys, believe it or not, the second world is the place where the hobby is headed or already is. Modern set collectors, though prevalent on the blogs, are not the majority of the people I see at shows, they are not the people I see on the boards, and they are definitely not the people I see at the five or so shops I visit in my area each month."

    I think your advocacy of tolerance is on the mark, but you still insist on stating that the "first world" is a minority compared to the "Second". What I am arguing is that we simply don't know who is in the majority or in the minority because the average collector isn't rushing to take a side.

    Plus, whole segments of the collecting population are disregarded by this paradigm. What about the guy who collects only tobacco cards? Economically speaking, he is probably more akin to the high-end, "second world" type.

    I like where you are coming from, nothing is black and white. However, in realizing this, the language of black and white needs to be abandoned.

  11. Alex, you surprise me each day you have commented here. Very interesting look at international collecting.

  12. Matt, your point is recognized, but it was more about my poor writing skills and trying to convey a point. I was saying that there are a lot of people out there who do the opposite of what the bloggers do, but they are talking about it like there isnt that many people, that those people arent the "true" collectors that they are.

    I was trying to make a point that the hobby world is more balanced than people think, but it just came across wrong.

  13. Ok, how the heck did you get the impression that I think second worlders are teh suxxorz from my post? I overheard some industry insiders in a card shop. They brushed off first worlders like they didn't exist and flat out called second worlders idiots. LITERALLY CALLED THEM IDIOTS. Their customers, the future of the hobby, the only ones that count for anything anymore, the industry insiders consider to be drooling morons. All I did was pass along that info to the best of my recollection and now I'm somehow High-End Hitler. Everyone who collects Sterling, off to the gas chamber! The entire industry revolves around what the high end collector likes, but I'M the elitist.


    I've already stated in no uncertain terms what I think a collector is. Read it again.

    For fuck's sake YOU'RE the one who made up the first and second world labels in the first place.

    Again sir, Meh.



  14. I was more referencing that post because of what was discussed. I am not calling you out at all.

    Eh, cant win em all. Sorry.

  15. I collect Jose Canseco so I must be a Third World Collector, maybe even Fourth.

  16. Yeah, I did you a disservice in pointing out what I perceived as the only notable flaw in your post and using it as a jumping point for my own argument, namely that it is foolish to think that we really understand the composition of the hobby. In the process, I undermined what was otherwise, in my opinion, a spot-on message.

  17. Matt, I realize this post was really poorly written and my idea was not really conveyed as I thought it was in my head.

  18. As I've said Gellman, I love your blog - though I don't always agree with everything you say!

    Most card blogs are baseball card blogs, which does not interest me. Yours largely relates to football, which is what I follow and collect. As result, your website is the third website I visit each day, after Ebay and the NFL website.

    Yes, it can be difficult for us overseas collectors. That is why I think Panini having an exclusive NBA license may be great for NBA card collectors throughout the world. If the cards are distributed directly by Panini to countries outside North America, then hopefully they will be cheaper for collectors compared to having to purchase them from the US and have them sent to you. This may encourage people, including children, to collect NAB cards again, after they were driven away in the 1990s by the ridiculous price of buying packs/boxes in the cardshops (an example even today - a box of 2007 Absolute football I have seen for sale in a shop here in Australia for $260 Australian!). This may also encourgae retail and other shops to again start stocking NBA cards again, as the wholesale cost will be much less, and thus much less of a risk for them. I believe that this is one of the reasons the NBA decided to go with Panini - to expand the market for NBA card throughout the world.

    Sadly (at least on one level for me) I don't see that happening with NFL cards, though ebay has made it easier for me, as an overseas NFL card collector.

    On a Super Bowl note - this was a difficult year for me. As "our" (i hate the way that the Australian media refers to someone from Australia as being "ours") "Benny" Graham was playing for Arizona, there was much more interest in the Super Bowl here than at any time I can remember(when Green Bay and Favre won the Super Bowl in 1997, there was a fair bit of media coverage too, which I was glad about!). As a result though, it was expected that every "true" Australian would be supporting Arizona - don't you love over the top nationalism?

    I on the other hand however, despite the dirty looks I got from people, was openly supporting Pitsburgh. Not just because I hate Reverand Warner, and the fact that Ben Graham used to play for an Aussie Rules team I despise, and not just because a Pitsburgh victory would mean they would have more Super Bowl victories than Dallas and San Francisco, but because I like the fact that both Pitsburgh as team and a city is blue collar. Suffice to say I was happy Pitsburgh won, and I wasn't shy about letting people know, even though it really annoyed a lot of people, and made me unpopular in some quarters. It was the best Super Bowl result since Green Bay won in 1997, though the when New England beat Reverand Warner and the Rams I also really like that.

  19. You mean you didnt support your countryman? Good day to you sir. Good day.

  20. He wasn't my countryman - he was an ex-Geelong player. I don't even consider them people, let alone my fellow countrymen.

  21. I wouldn't describe myself as a set collector necessarily (more of a team collector) though I am certainly not someone who chases pricey cards. I think the main thing that you mentioned that I'd have to take issue with is when you mentioned quantity vs. quality. I don't really agree with the notion that set collectors (or really anyone you want to lump in with your definition of "first worlders") are all about quantity. I think there are plenty of cards that look like garbage, or indeed are garbage, in all products.

    At the same time, just because I happen to not be as interested in a set where the majority of the cards feature players cropped out of their natural backgrounds and placed on a slab of cardboard with random slashes of color thrown about as I am in sets with solid photography showing players in the act of playing their sport doesn't mean that I don't care about quality in general.

    Of course, I've been collecting last year's Allen & Ginter set, so I probably am not the best example.

  22. I don't think your post was poorly written at all so you should stop apologizing for that. I think the point here is that you recognized that there is a tone in the blog-o-sphere that there are "real" collectors and then those other people who call themselves collectors. It isn't about one blogger or another, it is an overall tone. Now, I think one of the challenges when blogging, is that your blog is really an editorial and if you prefer one way of collecting, that preference is going to come across in your blog, period. And that may be what you want. But if you really are trying to be inclusive of all collectors (even Joe Collectors) then maybe this point is worth reflecting on. My humble take...

  23. I agree with Ashley in that your post is not poorly written. You have effectively communicated your disdain for the idea that one type of collector is superior to another.
    I can also agree with your observation that shows and online forums attract more collectors of high-end single cards than those who build sets.
    It is fascinating to see how passionate collectors can get about what they like. It proves to me that this hobby "gets into your blood" almost like politics and religion. In all three, there are different schools of thought and extremists who believe their way is right and everyone else it wrong. Now I don't think any of the writers discussed here are advocating for a Jersey Jihad from either side, but the degree of conviction is obvious.
    But I don't think there has really been that much of a hostile "us vs. them" as much as mere distaste for extremism. People who use cards as a moneymaking commodity that could just as easily be a farm-produced material cannot be considered "real" collectors. Most of these extremists just happen to deal in high end product, so equating 2nd worlders in general and money-grubbing extremists is just a matter of bad generalizing.
    But there is one major difference when you start talking about manufacturers and dealers - they ARE in it for the money. They HAVE to make and/or sell what brings in the most cash. Therefore, they will promote the stuff that does it the best - high end and box hits. So you won't ever see as many show tables with set singles as you will those with endless displays of GUs and autos. The problem comes when they try to attract multiple facets with the same product - but that's a whole other post.
    I'm a set builder and player collector, but I don't consider high end collectors inferior, unless their disgust with lower end sets is extreme (as in they insult them or throw them in the trash). I wonder if high end collectors would be more hostile to set collectors if we scoffed at the 'hits' to a mid-end box and just kept the regular cards? The whole hobby is about value - but it's really what YOU value enough to add to your collection. If you like sets, then you value common base cards almost as much as hits or inserts. If you just want low numbered jersey/autos, then that's fine too. Just respect the lower dollar cards too, keeping in mind that someone considers them valuable. If I want to buy retail to build a set faster and cheaper, and you think it's ludicrous because what you seek will never be offered in retail, that's OK. Just don't insult me for doing it. I wouldn't spend $200 on a box of something unless I know exactly what I get would really be worth the $200 AND would be something I would keep in my personal collection. But if that's what you like to do, more power to you! I will fight for your right to do it!
    The bottom line is - nobody's wrong, they're just different.

  24. You would think that since there are not a lot of us left we could kinda get along, just a bit. Who the fuck cares what other people collect? Who cares, why does it matter? If you enjoy cards and enjoy the hobby what concern of it is mine what you actually collect? Why would anyone on any of the boards or blogs think they are better than any other collector? That is the most stupid thing in this hobby. If we want to think like that, I could easily trump all of you. I don't want to think that way. I am just a guy that really likes cards and I enjoy the interact that the hobby affords me. I'm not any better than anyone else. I am just a dude sitting at his computer typing a comment on this blog post.
    Variety is the spice of life. Not everyone likes the same things I like and vice versa. That's makes the hobby interesting because you learn new things. Good people are wearing me out.