What’s a collector to do? What happens if you’d like to start a collection, but you know right from the start that you’ll never complete it? Is that too much to even bother starting?
I’m currently working on completing one set, the 1975 Topps. The set, obviously, has several good qualities. But, one of the ones that appealed to me most was that it had a lot of stars, without any white whales. There was no Nolan Ryan rookie that was out of my price range. In fact, I already had a low-grade copy of the Brett rookie, making it even easier. Just the Yount rookie was out there. With the access from the internet, even that card isn’t all that scary. So, I felt comfortable working on the set. If there was a Hank Aaron rookie in the set, I doubt I would have even started it.
I’m not really taking about collections that are “daunting” either. My goal of getting every Topps produced Red Sox base card is extreme. I doubt I’d ever finish it. But…I could. There’s nothing really stopping me. Offhand, I can’t think of a card that would cost me $100, if I’m not worried about condition. It’s just a matter of putting in the time to get it done.
But, what if I went deeper back in time? Say, I decide I want to collect the 1939 Playball Red Sox team set. Can I even begin that quest knowing that the Ted Williams will never be in my collection? Can I go after a set knowing that even if it’s torn in half, the Williams is too rich for my blood?
I know that just about every player collector has a similar problem. With all of the 1/1 cards being produced, the chances of getting every card of a player is zero. But, you could create a wantlist for yourself that avoided the issue. Decide you want all the base cards of Jacoby Ellsbury. Or, you’d like to add at least one 1/1 card of Dustin Pedroia. But, what if the checklist is already made for you? I know which Red Sox cards are in the 1915 Sporting News set. I know that there will always be a big empty space in my binder where the Babe Ruth rookie should be. There’s just no way around it. Will that bother me every time I turn to that page? If I fill it in with a reprint version, will that help? I don’t know.
So, what’s your remedy? Do reprints make you just as happy? Do you avoid sets with impossible cards? Do you go with the “best I can” approach, and be happy with some holes?
How do you get an impossible collection to work for you?