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  #1  
Old 11-05-2018, 08:13 PM
sfh24
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Default Most Effective Method for Vintage Set Builders

I am new to the forum and would like to solicit experiences of vintage set builders as the pertain to the most effective means of completing/collecting complete sets.


I started my vintage set collecting endeavors by purchasing a complete 1968 set ($1200) that would probably grade in the VGEX-EX range with a few EXMTs and Gs scattered throughout. My preference is to have my sets in EXMT with stars in NMT if not to expensive. I can tolerate a few EX+ mixed in the set for "non-important" cards. As a result, I spent a considerable amount of time upgrading and may have erased all initial savings. I am not certain of my total spend on the set.


As part of an experiment, I decided to complete my next two sets (1965 and 1966) by acquiring all cards along the way with the hopes of not having to "upgrade".


The 1965 set went smoothly and finished with a total spend of $2797 for a set in EXMT or better with all stars at EXMT or better.


The 1966 set has been another experience all together. I am currently sitting at a spend of $3229 with two cards remaining that will likely add at least another $150. There is no doubt that I failed to consider the cost of the high # and SPs in 1966.


Data conducted during my experiment has proven "inconclusive".


My question to the readers is: do you believe it is most efficient to purchase a complete set or assemble the set from scratch? I am considering a jump to 1967 or 1964 next.

Last edited by sfh24; 11-05-2018 at 08:17 PM.
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  #2  
Old 11-05-2018, 08:30 PM
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Buy the complete set.
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  #3  
Old 11-05-2018, 08:46 PM
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I am finding that complete sets or at least large partials are the best buys. I always said I wanted to build my sets a card at a time and have control over each card, but I now see that led to spending more money and bogging down and abandoning sets. Buying complete sets or large partials still allows me just as much enjoyment as I work through them and upgrade if needed.

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Last edited by vintagebaseballcardguy; 11-05-2018 at 08:46 PM.
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  #4  
Old 11-05-2018, 08:52 PM
cesarcap cesarcap is offline
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Having done both (buying complete and lot by lot/card by card), buying complete sets is easier and cheaper. Not as fun however. Also, I've offset some of the upgrades costs by selling cards or trading.

BTW, I have extra 67's and would be interested in trading for 68's.

Cesar
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  #5  
Old 11-05-2018, 08:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vintagebaseballcardguy View Post
I am finding that complete sets or at least large partials are the best buys. I always said I wanted to build my sets a card at a time and have control over each card, but I now see that led to spending more money and bogging down and abandoning sets. Buying complete sets or large partials still allows me just as much enjoyment as I work through them and upgrade if needed.

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My inclination is similar. I have tried to find similar sets on Ebay and suspect that I could be spending more using the "one card at a time" method. Though I very seldom see a set in the same "true" condition as these two just completed.

It is worthy of note that my cost on the 1966 was much lower at around the 500 card mark. The High # and SPs wiped me out.
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  #6  
Old 11-05-2018, 08:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sfh24 View Post
My inclination is similar. I have tried to find similar sets on Ebay and suspect that I could be spending more using the "one card at a time" method. Though I very seldom see a set in the same "true" condition as these two just completed.

It is worthy of note that my cost on the 1966 was much lower at around the 500 card mark. The High # and SPs wiped me out.
I hear ya. Sometimes when collecting a set that has challenging high numbers you can get a deal on most or all of the low #s (outside of the big cards of course) by buying most of the set outside of the highs so that you have $ left to tackle the highs. Good stuff though. It is a fun hobby.

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  #7  
Old 11-05-2018, 09:28 PM
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I've gone the 'big' starter lot route and found it to be the most fun. At least with the 50s through 1970 sets I've put together. I look for lots that contain 50 to 60% and the rest I pick up at my local hotel shows or online. I know it would be cheaper to just buy the set. I've done that with some sets from the 70s and 80s but I find that I never really enjoy flipping through the cards as much as I do with my "blood, sweat and tears-built" ones. I can tell you when, where and how I found the last cards I needed for those.
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  #8  
Old 11-05-2018, 09:44 PM
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Iíve always found it cheaper to buy the whole set especially with difficult high numbers or sp cards. I also find it more enjoyable to build the set card by Card and focus on grade or centering or whatever you are after.
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  #9  
Old 11-06-2018, 06:59 AM
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I buy and bust sets. Best bet for a bargain set start are the large starter sets on eBay which are usually the leftovers from collection acquisitions and set breaks. You can get 70% or more of the set for a pittance then work the rest. I have a 1975 starter set of over 500 cards up right now on eBay at a dime a card from a recent collection purchase.
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  #10  
Old 11-06-2018, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by commishbob View Post
I've gone the 'big' starter lot route and found it to be the most fun. At least with the 50s through 1970 sets I've put together. I look for lots that contain 50 to 60% and the rest I pick up at my local hotel shows or online. I know it would be cheaper to just buy the set. I've done that with some sets from the 70s and 80s but I find that I never really enjoy flipping through the cards as much as I do with my "blood, sweat and tears-built" ones. I can tell you when, where and how I found the last cards I needed for those.
You make a good point. I am intimately acquainted with every card in the sets I have compiled. I know the exact condition and flaws of every card.
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  #11  
Old 11-06-2018, 07:29 AM
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I would just add that if you have access to local card shows that can make a big difference in how you go about putting together a set. Buying one card at a time on eBay is tough. For the '68 Topps set, I can't imagine buying that way. But card shows specifically cater to set collectors, and there's no shipping!

You might also check out COMC for purchasing multiple cards. I've used it for commons and minor stars and have had pretty good luck.
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  #12  
Old 11-06-2018, 07:32 AM
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The most fun that I have had building sets have been '56 and '67 which were pretty much done card by card. I remember specific cards in that set so much better than the others and have both of them exactly as I want them. However, similar to you, they are the most expensive ones. The best value were the ones that I found that only needed a card or two upgraded - but after the first couple of weeks, they go into the safe and I haven't looked at them.

A guy on this board that was in the same post war set quest as me had a method and I thought that it was really smart. He would buy multiple versions of the same set, cherry pick the best set and then sell off the others as complete. It is capital intensive, but it allowed him to upgrade to the best possible version for himself and then sell of the others as complete and get the majority of his investment back. I did a version of that with my 50 Bowman set and it allowed for a pretty nice version - however, I have not taken the plunge on buying multiples of early 50's sets as I didn't want to lay out that much cash and then hope that it sells - as I tend to be the guy that gets $.30 cents on the dollar for my stuff.

Similar to a lot of people, I look for large lots for the commons - as I hate spending $10-$20 per card on a common that will be absorbed into the set cost at about $3-$4 a card. I then go card by card on the stars to get the exact one that I want. As a result, all of my HOFers for '54, '55, and '56 Topps are at least PSA 6 and gives nice uniformity.

Best of luck to you.
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  #13  
Old 11-06-2018, 08:26 AM
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I started collecting in 1957. Eventually I built Topps sets from 1951 to 1971 card by card, after 1972 I bought sets. For me, it was more enjoyable by card but less expensive by set.
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  #14  
Old 11-06-2018, 08:41 AM
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It will always be cheaper to buy the set. Personally I find the joy in putting the set together. I might not feel that way if I didnít have access to so many commons. But to each their own.
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  #15  
Old 11-06-2018, 08:41 AM
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If you want a break with the high cost of high numbers I would go with the 64 set. Going from 66 to 67 is going to be a similar experience if you are building the set from the ground up.
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  #16  
Old 11-06-2018, 08:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SAllen2556 View Post
I would just add that if you have access to local card shows that can make a big difference in how you go about putting together a set. Buying one card at a time on eBay is tough. For the '68 Topps set, I can't imagine buying that way. But card shows specifically cater to set collectors, and there's no shipping!

You might also check out COMC for purchasing multiple cards. I've used it for commons and minor stars and have had pretty good luck.
Greg Morris Cards on eBay is a good source once you make some progress. When I built my 63 set I used him to buy dozens of cards at a time. He does tons of 60's set breaks in all sorts of conditions. He charges a rate of $3 for as many cards up to the maximum amount eBay allows on an invoice. He also lets you keep cards in the cart for a week or so. Which usually covers 2-3 set breaks for each year in the 60's. Good luck!
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  #17  
Old 11-06-2018, 09:09 AM
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Quote:
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If you want a break with the high cost of high numbers I would go with the 64 set. Going from 66 to 67 is going to be a similar experience if you are building the set from the ground up.
Agreed. After dealing with the 1966 set, the High# Seaver, Carew and Brooks in 1967 have me leaning towards 1964.
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  #18  
Old 11-06-2018, 09:12 AM
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Greg Morris Cards on eBay is a good source once you make some progress. When I built my 63 set I used him to buy dozens of cards at a time. He does tons of 60's set breaks in all sorts of conditions. He charges a rate of $3 for as many cards up to the maximum amount eBay allows on an invoice. He also lets you keep cards in the cart for a week or so. Which usually covers 2-3 set breaks for each year in the 60's. Good luck!
Greg Morris Cards has been a resource for me. I have had 1-2 orders/week for the last year from Greg Morris. Sometimes the auctions are very competitive and drive the price up. However, the condition scale has been accurate and trustworthy.
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  #19  
Old 11-06-2018, 11:16 AM
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This topic tends to come up every so often. I always like to link a post from several years ago. There wasn't much math involved, just adding up numbers...and it's 4 year old data at this point so it might have changed slightly but it's still interesting. Just adding up the individual high column beckett price guide values and then looking at the complete set book value:

http://www.net54baseball.com/showthread.php?t=183323
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  #20  
Old 11-06-2018, 11:16 AM
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For me, the most effective raw set building method is to buy multiple lots/starter sets for the set that I am working on and piece together the set from the multiple lots, obviously keeping the best condition copy. From there, I sell off the duplicates, sometimes as singles, sometimes as smaller lots....in most cases using this method, I can recoup most of my original cost and end up with a near complete set on my hands. Going this route, my largest expenditure is the time I invest on the sorting, reselling, etc, but the in the end, the final price/cost meets my needs/budget. This process has worked well on my 53-75 Topps raw sets, 61-63 Post sets, Fleer sets, 50-55 Bowman sets, 40-41 PB sets, that are now either complete or just a card or two short of completion. Currently working on the 33 Goudey set using this process. Next up is the 49 Bowman set.

I have completed, or nearly completed (90%+), 5 PSA sets (52, 62, 71, 72, 75) with multiple others 50%+ complete. The method for building these sets is somewhat different from what I have done with the raw sets mentioned above, as I have done a lot more card to card collecting while building these sets.
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  #21  
Old 11-06-2018, 12:30 PM
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I'll agree with the less expensive way to complete a set is to just buy a complete set or at least a near complete set or large lot of cards.

Since I also like to put together sets card by card and miss the enjoyment, I have compromised to complete an insert set that gives me the fun of putting a set together but mot at an outrageous cost. I put together a 1966 Topps Rub-Offs complete set this way. Even with postage, it was not over expensive and got some money back from selling duplicates.

It did take me over 5 years to complete!

Mike
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  #22  
Old 11-06-2018, 07:28 PM
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They have already been mentioned but I have used these 3 methods.

1) Just buy the complete set. By far the easiest and way cheaper than putting it together one/few cards at a time.

2) Card by card. You easily spend 2 or 3 times what it would cost to just buy a complete set with all the shipping costs.

3) Large lots. Really cheap or close to free. If you have a lot of time you can buy large lots and take out the few cards you need and sell the rest individually for what you paid for the lot.
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  #23  
Old 11-09-2018, 08:14 AM
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If you have the time and the money, card by card is definitely the most fun. Nothing like handpicking the entire thing and enjoying the chase for potentially years vs days.

But I realize there's a very big If attached to that.

The only "vintage" (get ready to laugh, most of you) set I completed as an adult was 1978 Topps, where I admittedly got started with a 600 card partial set drained of all HOFers. As you can imagine the centering of most cards was poor and I had every sense I was on the back end of some other guy's upgrades. No real harm since it added to the nostalgia of how I remembered these cards as a kid.

In contrast, though not a "real" set, I built my 1956 Topps Dodgers set one card at a time with the express intention of framing it for my wall. As a result I am thrilled with every card, and two of the cards even have a fun story in that I was able to pick up the Hodges and Robinson in person from a guy who got them straight outta packs in 1956.

Pros and cons however you go but unless you're a dealer relying on flipping at a profit to pay the bills, don't undervalue how much fun this kind of thing can be.

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  #24  
Old 11-13-2018, 08:30 PM
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Very interesting reading. As someone who has never in 32 years of card collecting ever really been a set builder - I'm now going after '67 Topps. I can totally see how it's easier to save money on sets at a time, but I'm probably going to go the piecemeal route just because it will be more gradual and interesting. I suppose I could save and wait, but that's not normally how my collecting impulses work. I did just buy a 20 card lot of low-number commons, which for me is a huge step. Normally my head gets turned far too easily on HOF singles or random Cubs cards - even when I'm trying to be disciplined for the short term on something else. For me right now lower grade on some of the commons is totally acceptable. This lot I just got is probably VG-EXish. I had forgotten how fun it is to read the backs of some of these cards with complete stats - guys who toiled in the minors in some pretty interesting places in the middle 50's.

Anyhow, thanks for the advice and we'll see how far this goes. To keep up my star power interest along with the commons at the moment I have complimented them with Clemente, Mays, and Mantle - so there is that. Yay '67!
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  #25  
Old 11-14-2018, 12:53 PM
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Definitely a great question. When I started building my mid grade raw 52 Bowman set, I thought my main goal was going to be keeping my cost to a minimum. But as others have pointed out, that meant just buying the complete set. And that didnít seem like much fun (and itís also hard for me to rationalize spending a few thousand dollars all at once on cards). So Iíve been building through small lots and singles. If I ever complete it and then decide to sell, I hope iíll at least get out the amount I spent compiling it. And if I turn out ďlosingĒ money, well thatís a small price to pay for the joy it brings me. I love building this set. I just passed the 50% mark yesterday. If I had it to do over again, I would have purchased one big starter lot first (50+ cards) to lower the price a little, but Iíll just keep that in mind when I decide on what my NEXT set will be.
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Old 11-14-2018, 01:19 PM
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Exactly. It may be more expensive in the long run, but small lots of cards are a lot more easily justified than dropping hundreds or thousands of dollars at a time.
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Old 11-14-2018, 02:43 PM
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I have assembled every Topps and Bowman set card-by-card, series-by-series, set-by-set.

To me, that's the way "collecting" is supposed to be done. Buying a complete set isn't "collecting" it's "accumulating"
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Old 11-15-2018, 08:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sfh24 View Post
I am new to the forum and would like to solicit experiences of vintage set builders as the pertain to the most effective means of completing/collecting complete sets.


I started my vintage set collecting endeavors by purchasing a complete 1968 set ($1200) that would probably grade in the VGEX-EX range with a few EXMTs and Gs scattered throughout. My preference is to have my sets in EXMT with stars in NMT if not to expensive. I can tolerate a few EX+ mixed in the set for "non-important" cards. As a result, I spent a considerable amount of time upgrading and may have erased all initial savings. I am not certain of my total spend on the set.


As part of an experiment, I decided to complete my next two sets (1965 and 1966) by acquiring all cards along the way with the hopes of not having to "upgrade".


The 1965 set went smoothly and finished with a total spend of $2797 for a set in EXMT or better with all stars at EXMT or better.


The 1966 set has been another experience all together. I am currently sitting at a spend of $3229 with two cards remaining that will likely add at least another $150. There is no doubt that I failed to consider the cost of the high # and SPs in 1966.


Data conducted during my experiment has proven "inconclusive".


My question to the readers is: do you believe it is most efficient to purchase a complete set or assemble the set from scratch? I am considering a jump to 1967 or 1964 next.
My fourteen cents....Having done this many times. I would collect those cards that 1- potentially go up in value first- Stars, high numbers semi high number,s, semi stars and what I call hometown heros as well

You should try and collect your favorite teams cards first as well as those if you are in a two team city.

Hope this helps,
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  #29  
Old 12-01-2018, 04:32 PM
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yes, starter lots are the best approach because you gain the advantage of a price break without missing the joy and fun of running down cards on your want list.

gigantic set partials are very hard to find but small to mid-sized starter lots are relatively easy. heritage auctions seem to have them every sunday night.
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  #30  
Old 12-12-2018, 10:36 AM
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In the last 18 months I've "accumulated" the 1970-1972 and 1974-1976 sets. I grew up as a set-builder collector and sought out getting the sets I'd wanted as a kid.

I've used the same method each time: buy a complete set online. My results have been mixed. With the 1971, 1975 and 1976 sets I did pretty well and only a handful of cards needed to be upgraded to my standards (EX-Mint). The 1970 and 1972 sets were another matter. These were VG-EX sets that have needed significant amount of cards upgraded (over 200 each set). The costs of upgrading the cards have pushed each set over $1200 of total cost.

Guess which sets I've enjoyed most: 1970 and 1972. It's fun to chase the cards, get them in the mail and go through the backs of each one as I'm swapping them out of my binders.

Another tip I discovered...look at other online auctions besides eBay for sets. I got my 1971 set through Heritage for $500 and it is damn near perfect (to me) right out of the box. A similar set on ebay from PWCC or other sellers would have pushed this set well over $1,000. The auction sites that you need to get approved to bid make a lot of sense because there are fewer competitive bidders. But the caveat is that 20% buyer's premium that you need to consider.

My takeaway from my experience is to really look at the high dollar and high number cards for their condition prior to buying. The commons are readily available cheap. But high number cards can go for $5 or more each and it really adds up.
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  #31  
Old 12-12-2018, 11:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SOX75 View Post
In the last 18 months I've "accumulated" the 1970-1972 and 1974-1976 sets. I grew up as a set-builder collector and sought out getting the sets I'd wanted as a kid.

I've used the same method each time: buy a complete set online. My results have been mixed. With the 1971, 1975 and 1976 sets I did pretty well and only a handful of cards needed to be upgraded to my standards (EX-Mint). The 1970 and 1972 sets were another matter. These were VG-EX sets that have needed significant amount of cards upgraded (over 200 each set). The costs of upgrading the cards have pushed each set over $1200 of total cost.

Guess which sets I've enjoyed most: 1970 and 1972. It's fun to chase the cards, get them in the mail and go through the backs of each one as I'm swapping them out of my binders.

Another tip I discovered...look at other online auctions besides eBay for sets. I got my 1971 set through Heritage for $500 and it is damn near perfect (to me) right out of the box. A similar set on ebay from PWCC or other sellers would have pushed this set well over $1,000. The auction sites that you need to get approved to bid make a lot of sense because there are fewer competitive bidders. But the caveat is that 20% buyer's premium that you need to consider.

My takeaway from my experience is to really look at the high dollar and high number cards for their condition prior to buying. The commons are readily available cheap. But high number cards can go for $5 or more each and it really adds up.
Stop, stop, stop! LOL! You are making too much sense and feeding my tendency to get off track! I had made up mind...no more sets...especially in the 1960s and 1970s, but I think I could afford to do what you are describing. Before discovering Net54, I was content with the types of cards you are describing, but then I started seeing all the super-duper high grade graded stuff others collect (which is cool if that's what you like of course) and have become a very fickle collector...high grade this and that, graded cards, then football, then dabbling in prewar...and now this thread is bringing me back to my collecting roots---decent sets in binders that don't cost a ton of money. Honestly, it is all fun to me. All the different ways I have gone over the years have led me to broaden my collection and have a real variety. This thread has me thinking about picking out another 70s set and giving it a whirl. I did this with '76 Topps earlier in the year. I have a few upgrades I still need to make. Also, good point about other auctions houses besides ebay. There are some good deals to be had other places!
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Old 12-12-2018, 02:34 PM
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Do any of you guys know of a binder big enough to hold a 1970s set in 9 pocket pages? I like the Archival Methods binders, but I don't think they are quite big enough.

Last edited by vintagebaseballcardguy; 12-12-2018 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 12-12-2018, 03:41 PM
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All of my 1970s sets are in "Ultra Pro" binders. They seem to hold them well.

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Do any of you guys know of a binder big enough to hold a 1970s set in 9 pocket pages? I like the Archival Methods binders, but I don't think they are quite big enough.
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Old 12-12-2018, 03:57 PM
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All of my 1970s sets are in "Ultra Pro" binders. They seem to hold them well.
Is that a 3 inch binder or something larger?

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Old 12-12-2018, 06:10 PM
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Just a regular 3". Approximately 800 cards seems to be the cut off where it get too full. My 1980s sets that are 792 and then 132 Traded go into "BCW" binders which are technically 3" but seem to have a little more room.

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Is that a 3 inch binder or something larger?

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Last edited by sfh24; 12-12-2018 at 06:11 PM.
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Old 12-12-2018, 07:23 PM
SOX75 SOX75 is offline
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Stop, stop, stop! LOL! You are making too much sense and feeding my tendency to get off track! I had made up mind...no more sets...especially in the 1960s and 1970s, but I think I could afford to do what you are describing. Before discovering Net54, I was content with the types of cards you are describing, but then I started seeing all the super-duper high grade graded stuff others collect (which is cool if that's what you like of course) and have become a very fickle collector...high grade this and that, graded cards, then football, then dabbling in prewar...and now this thread is bringing me back to my collecting roots---decent sets in binders that don't cost a ton of money. Honestly, it is all fun to me. All the different ways I have gone over the years have led me to broaden my collection and have a real variety. This thread has me thinking about picking out another 70s set and giving it a whirl. I did this with '76 Topps earlier in the year. I have a few upgrades I still need to make. Also, good point about other auctions houses besides ebay. There are some good deals to be had other places!
I've rationalized set buying that they will be easier to sell off because I can list one item rather than try to sell a bunch of cards separately.
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Old 12-14-2018, 12:00 PM
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I have posted in this thread a few times. Thanks to the threads on the 1970 and 1972 Topps sets, I am specifically thinking on the early 70s sets. Early on, I was advocating the purchase of complete sets and then upgrading where needed. Honestly, I wrestle with this a lot, and I can see from this thread many of you do, too. I am a budget collector and can't necessarily just jump out there and buy a complete set. Sometimes I can, but regularly, no when talking about early 1970s and on back into the 1960s.

I know that I will spend more on each set in the long run, but I will just have to be content with a few cards at a time or some larger lots minus some of the stars. Compared to some of the 50s and 60s cards and sets I have bought, the 70s material is much more affordable. So, I won't be spending as much as I go anyway. It's all for the fun of seeing those pages in the binder fill in over time anyway. I am mulling over which 70s set I might try first, and I am kind of leaning toward '71. I am just not sure if I can control my OCD with those black colored corners and edges!
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Old 12-19-2018, 08:57 AM
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All of my 1970s sets are in "Ultra Pro" binders. They seem to hold them well.

One quick note, though. If you use Ultra Pro binders try and use the newer version. The difference is in the D clip. On the older versions the break between the two arms occurs AFTER the curve starts. This causes some of the pages in front to creep up and curl. You could damage some of the cards on the first couple pages that way.

The newer folders have the prong that the pages fit onto going straight up and catching there. It holds them much better. I've had to upgrade all of my binders because of this.
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