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Good Questions: Sets vs. Individual Cards? Use Boxes or Binders?

Bill Wagner - Babe Waxpak by Bill Wagner, "Babe Waxpak"
October 26, 2005

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Discuss in the Collector Zone

Dear Babe: I have collected a lot of cards over the years. I would like to know if I should try to collect cards needed to complete sets or just sell the cards I have that have value. Also, when it comes to storing cards, I know boxes are cheaper, but it makes it harder to see what you have, not to mention the chance of damaging a card putting it into or taking it out of the box. Putting them in binders is more expensive, but they're easier to view.
Mel Monie Jr., Grand Island, Neb.

Two good questions that aren't focused on the value of an item. Good job. Certainly when it comes to your commons, they're only worth something when they are part of a set. But most sets from the late 1980s and into the 1990s aren't worth that much. I don't give advice on buying and selling, but I've told others they can try to sell off the valuable cards or use the commons in a package deal. They're probably worth more if you itemize on your taxes. You can donate them to a children's ward at a hospital or to special education teachers in your area and then write off the donation.

As for storage, I checked with Rob Veres, owner of in Southern California. I remembered, from being in his store, that he has thousands of cards in binders. Of course, as you noted, that's for merchandising, because it's easy to see the card and you put the price on the binder page. Long term, Veres doesn't recommend that.

"Boxes are better than pages for long-term storage in my opinion," Veres said . "We only used binders in the past for merchandising reasons, but long term, we use boxes."

Don't forget, you can damage a corner just as easily trying to slip a card into a pouch on a page as when trying to put cards in a box.

Dear Babe: I have a black and white print with Muhammad Ali in the boxing ring with all of the Beatles, signed by Ali.
Nathan West, Atlanta

Mike Heffner, president of auction house in New York, said there are a lot of fakes in the marketplace. If Ali's signature is authentic, the signed photo is worth around $500.

Dear Babe: We have a 1968 baseball signed by the Boston Red Sox. The signatures include Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Lonborg, Reggie Smith, George Scott, Elston Howard and Rico Petrocelli among others. Some of the signatures are faded, but all are readable.
Tabatha Lord, Derry, N.H.

This is one time when a year and a player make all the difference. Looking over your list of names, I don't see Tony Conigliaro. That kills any value. Tony C. was hit in the face by a Jack Hamilton fastball on Aug. 18, 1967. The pitch broke his jaw and damaged his eyesight, causing him to miss the 1968 season. However, he was around and probably signed some team balls. The bottom line is that the ball is worth a couple of hundred dollars at best, said Phil Castinetti, owner of in Everett, Mass., a suburb of Boston. Had Conigliaro signed it, the value would probably double. Better yet, if you had a ball signed by the 1967 team that won the A.L. pennant on the final day of the season, you'd be looking at a $1,000-$1,200 item.

Dear Babe: I have a couple of cards I was curious about. One is a Harvey Kuenn card (No. 372) when he was with the Cubs. The other is a Wonder Bread football card of Willie Lanier (14).
C.J. Hartnett, Redlands

Based on the photocopies you enclosed, neither card appears to be in great shape, so that really hurts the value. The 1966 Topps Kuenn is listed at $8 in Beckett's Almanac of Baseball Cards and $5 in The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards from the editors of Sports Collectors Digest, but it's just a common and probably sells for much less on the Internet. Even in top shape, Tuff Stuff and Beckett list Lanier at just $1.25-$1.50.

About the author
Bill Wagner is a veteran journalist with 37 years in the newspaper business as well as being a former Army combat correspondent in Vietnam. He developed the Babe Waxpak sports card column in the 1980s and took over authorship in 1993, expanding into sports memorabilia and autographs as well as answering questions on cards.

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