just curious about everyone's condition requirements - sorry for the LONG READ

cmcjr99

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i'll apologize up front for what i know is going to be a long rant/ramble post , and i'll preface this by saying i'm not posting this to call out any specific traders or sellers , but i've really almost reached my breaking point....

i admit i am a bit picky when it comes to the condition of cards i collect....aside from vintage or items too rare (i'm talking print runs of less than 5) to allow myself to be so picky , i almost never will put a card in my collection if it has so much a single corner ding , any visible nicks or notches along a border (VERY minimal exceptions made for chipping along the borders of cards with dark borders like 1971 topps and 1985 donruss or borderless items such as 1991 stadium club) , any surface issues (wrinkles , indentations , scratches , print bubbles , refractor lines , chrome dots , or roller marks) , or centering worse than 70-30 (and i really only allow for worse than 60-40 on cards that are known to have centering problems) ....

based upon my criteria , some would say i am TOO picky...i really don't like graded cards , but i really only want cards that are in really nice (gradable) condition....

i started acquiring cards by mail back in 1985 when i placed a few buying ads in a small publication that had a national subscriber list....i started buying online in 1999...for some reason it seems that the condition of items i bought from 1985 through 2003 or 2004 was not much of an issue but that has changed in BIG way the past decade....from 1999-2004 , i'd estimate that for every 100 cards i bought or traded for online (by that , i mean 100 ACTUAL CARDS , not 100 TRANSACTIONS) , perhaps 5 to 10 failed to meet my criteria....that rate was pretty much consistent across every site i used (yahoo , ebay , beckett , thesportscollective , etc)....

beginning in 2004 , things changed.....that tolerable ratio of 5 to 10 percent exploded....right NOW , the percentage of cards i receive that do not meet my basic criteria is closer to 50%....obviously yahoo auctions are long gone and thesportcollective closed down as well ...i have never bought from the beckett marketplace and i no longer trade on beckett since they made the change from message board trading to their "structured" trading ....99% of my online acquisitions now are from ebay or the bench and sadly both sites are resulting in almost identical high rates of unusable items....

just a few examples :
i picked up 12 1997 ultra platinum medallions from an ebay seller 2 weeks ago....6 are unusable due to mangled corners though all were described as near mint to mint....

in a more general vein , i'd estimate that closer to 75% of the game used cards i've picked up over the past 5 years arrive with multiple surface wrinkles around the swatches , corner and edge damage caused by a seller trying to stuff it into the wrong thickness top loader , or numerous surface scratches caused by stuffing it into a top loader with no soft sleeve (either to avoid the cost or to allow it to fit a top loader it wouldn't fit in if properly sleeved)....

i got a package in today from a bench trade ...52 cards i needed for sets...28 are acceptable...24 have dinged corners , edge notches , or surface issues....

two other big trades i made here in the past still stick in my craw (can you tell i'm getting old ? i said they stick in my craw...man , i've become a true geezer)....

the first one was 3 years ago....i sent about 150 assorted parallels (first days , gold signatures , printer's proofs , press proofs , etc) to someone (over 500 trader rating at the time , all ratings showing as 5.0 - and still all 5.0 as he nears 1000 trades now) in exchange for a similar number of museum and trophy collections for my sets.....of the 144 cards i got , over 80 are still sitting here in my junk box due to bent corners , crimping on one or two borders , and really nasty surface wrinkles , scratches , and bubbles in the dufex sruface.....adding to my angst in that trade , as i was packing up his end and removing cards from old top loaders , i found 5 out of 150 that had dinged corners....i PM'ed him and apologized for the condition problem , adding that he could just keep those for free since they weren't mint.....he replied saying it was ok because condition didn't matter in a personal collection....to me it's just the opposite - condition is EXTREMELY CRITICAL for my personal collection...needless to say i have never dealt with that trader again despite his spotless reputation.....

the second was roughly 2 years ago....traded a bunch of random set needs for some 1983 fleer baseball and 1987-88 fleer basketball set needs.....my wantlist was very specific in stating that i needed near mint or better cards to either fill gaps in my sets or upgrade some i had that didn't meet my criteria....my package arrived and out of roughly 60 cards , i was able to use less than 10....most of the 1983 fleer had at least one of the following problems and many had multiple flaws : 80/20 centering , multiple dinged corners , edge wear , wax stains , or water damage....ALL of the 1987-88 fleer basketball had AT LEAST 2 and usually 3 or 4 bent (not dinged - BENT) corners plus half had major edge damage or wax stains....in the end , i traded about $60 to 70 in BV for base cards and was able to use roughly $5 of what i got back...and once again this was a well-established veteran trade who already had a rating over 1000 with all 5.0's (currently he is WAAAY over 1000 but i see that his condition rating has now dropped to 4.9).....

i realize that not everyone is as hyper-sensitive about condition as i am , so i do often sell off most of the unusable items i receive ...i usually do so in my ebay store where i have categories for "lightly damaged" items divided by sport but i've also listed a few here as well....the catch - ANYTIME i sell or trade an off-grade item , i am VERY careful to acknowledge the damage with detailed descriptions and usually scans to further allow the potential buyer/trader to see exactly what they are getting....if a person is aware of the damage and still sees the card as collectible , then it's a win-win as i get rid of something i can't use and they get an item without paying gem-mint prices....



OK....i'm done with my rant/ramble (well , at least i think so - for now)...i'm going to take a deep breath and relax....

and now for my questions....these are pretty much for COLLECTORS only , not INVESTORS (for whom i know condition is ALWAYS critical)....

i want to know exactly how critical condition is to you when acquiring PC items....

is it mint or nothing ? or perhaps best available copy of a card until you can find a better one ? or can you use almost anything regardless of condition as long as you get it for a price commensurate with its condition ?

when you buy or trade for items and get items that are below your standard what do you think ? do you assume the other person INTENTIONALLY sent you of-grade material without disclosing the actual condition in hopes of getting goodies for junk ? or maybe you simply assume they are not as subjective (or qualified) in determining condition and don't even realize the cards are damaged ....

when you get items that are below your standard what do you actually DO ? confront the seller/trader ? return the cards and if so do you get your own items back or try to get new material that does meet your condition requirements ? or do you quietly accept them and simple "blacklist" that person ?

i know this topic could cause some hurt feelings so i am NOT divulging any identities of people that have sent me what is more or less trash to me and i would like to ask that for any who do reply here , please do not name any names....i really just want to know opinions regarding card conditions you feel are acceptable and how you handle it when you get less than you expected from a purchase or trade.....
 
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David K.

Well-known member
10,911
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I'm not to pickey as far as inserts that are non-serial for my personal collection. However, a few times in the process of getting a trade together by pulling a few cards for the trade ...I would find a few of cards with dinked edges or corners...I always cut up the card and throw them in the trash. Best regards, David
 

mrmopar

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I'd say I am with you for the most part, but perhaps a bit less critical. The truly rare stuff, you take what you can get. With more common items, I expect that everyone else has maintained their cards in a similar condition I do. That is nowhere near reality though. it would seem that in a hobby where condition concerns is high, a majority of the people who participate obviously don't care as much as I do! I can live with minor imperfections, but I do tend to focus on them when viewing cards unfortunately.

My biggest issues I continue to face: cards that have obviously been handled w/o care (surface wear and edge/corner damage and they are not vintage cards), factory sealed cards where the holder was not protected and is now scuffed/scratched, creases and one that is not permanent, but may bug me the most...cigarette smoke smell! I buy from a couple of guys regularly on ebay, both smoke and the cards reek. I air them out and after a day or so, i don't notice any smell, but that has to be an unseen condition issue that many collectors face as well. i see people will sometimes advertise items from a smoke free home, but when have you ever heard someone tell you they smoke when talking about card flaws and condition. Reality check folks...if you smoke, you and your stuff STINKS!

I guess the main issue here is when you are buying or trading for cards online, sight unseen, there is more risk involved and this type of concern MUST be clearly voiced ahead of time and a return policy established and agreed upon first, otherwise disappointment and resentment will follow. There is almost no reason now, given advances in technology and costs being driven down, that a seller/trader couldn't take a quality photo of a card or cards and share it with a potential customer/trade partner. Scanner, smart phones, etc. most people are either too lazy or are unwilling to invest the time otherwise. The final step is to teach people how to properly package items for mailing. that is another major FAIL spot for so many people. It's not hard to properly protect items, but people either don't want to spend the time or money to do it right. I have too many bad packaging stories to share and they continue today frequently. Some people just don't get it!
 

mrmopar

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On a related note, there are collectors who don't mind flaws. It's a shame to trash good cards with minor flaws, but I know of a few people who have zero tolerance and would rather toss the card in the trash then keep it with a soft corner. Me, I don't like flawed or worn cards, but I just can't get myself to get rid of them either. They are worth next to nothing, but they are still "good" cards in my mind. I have a couple 800 count boxes filled with heavily worn or damaged cards that I can't bring myself to give away or toss. Of course they are either all vintage or star cards. The commons and newer cards hit the trash w/o a second thought.

I say sell/trade/donate those cards if you would otherwise trash them, as someone out there would want it and wouldn't care about the condition.
 
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