Types of Collectors
my opinion only, (as if it matters) (Updated December 30th, 2018)
First of all, when you first decide you want to start collecting you have to decide which group you fit into. There are a ton of different styles of collecting in the Football collecting world, but really everybody fits into one of the following eight. The most popular types of collectors are:
1) The Set Collectors: The old school collector, (i.e. set collectors), is by far the smallest, yet most dedicated collecting group. This is the group that I fit into. This takes a lot of money in today's world. This is a major reason why this group is all but dwindled down to a select few. This is the most rewarding type of collecting because, in my opinion, you get more players per team per year. For example, not every card manufacturer created cards in 1997 of Flipper Anderson, (See the 1997 Ultra "Flipper Anderson" #229 below), but Ultra did. That would mean that if you wanted a Flipper Anderson card in 1997 it would have to come from Ultra. If you already collected Ultra then this means little, but if you only collected Topps, well, then you would have to make some adjustments. Set Collecting also has its drawbacks: A) it's expensive, and B) its very time-consuming.
2) The Brand Collectors: Many collectors have an allegiance to a certain brand. This is a very common practice in the world of collecting and is one of the easiest ways to get into card collecting. Topps is probably the biggest benefactor here since they have been around the longest, but Upper Deck has been developing a cult following the past 15 years that has been unequaled in the hobby.
1987 Vikings Police: “Carl Lee” #11
3) The Team Collectors: Many hobbyists collect just their favorite team. I am a BIG, BIG Viking fan and only collect the Viking Police sets, (See the 1987 Viking Police "Carl Lee" #11 left), but I stop short collecting all Viking teams sets from all brands and titles. I already collect all brands so I thought it was wasteful to recollect Viking team sets. However, many collector's collects all of their favorite team's players from all brands, titles and all other local area distributors, (i.e., McDonald's, Safeway Food Markets, etc.)
4) The Favorite Players Collectors: This is by far the biggest and newest type of collector. This collector is all over the internet, your local card shop, latest card show, etc. Now before I get too far; this type of collector has always existed, but with sky-rocketing prices and a market that is saturated with so many titles, this collector is now the most popular. John Elway, Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, (See the 2000 Donruss Preferred: "Peyton Manning" QB Challenge Materials #CM-15 right), and Tom Brady seem to have the biggest legion of followers. Sometimes it's nice when your favorite player isn't one of the games all-time most popular players.
1997 Playoff Absolute: “Tiki Barber” RC #6
5) The Alma Mater Collectors: Some collectors collect players from either their alma mater or their favorite college team. Football card collecting has taken a really nice turn for this type of collector recently. As far back as 1990 NFL players have been showing up on card stock in their college uni's and that gives this type of collector an added bonus. (See the 1997 Playoff Absolute "Tiki Barber" RC #6 left). Note: Tiki may be in his college uniform, but he's carrying an official NFL football.
6) The Rookie Card Collectors: This group of hobbyists may be the most prominent of today's collectors along with 4). When collectors just collect rookie cards, I always feel as if they are doing it for an investment. Although there are some collectors who collect just Rookie cards for their own collection, most of the collectors I know do it for a small investment. With today's sets really geared toward "Rookie" cards, today's collectors have a lot more to buy. For example, in 1998 sets had about 20-30 "Rookie Cards", (See the 1998 Score: "Keith Brooking" RC #239 right). In just 3-years time, the 2001 Playoff Honors base set had 100 cards, but there were 235 cards in the set. That meant a "Rookie Card" collector would have to collect 135 cards. And that was in 2001, it's only gotten worse since.
6) The Investment Collectors: This group of collector's, in my view, is the most disappointing. Please if you want to invest try the stock market!! Now don't get me wrong, many card hobbyists collect for the fun of it and have the cards to fall back on if they ever need to sell them. I have no problem with this. But I've seen too many collectors buy a $5 pack of cards and then leave the cards on the card store counter because they didn't get the Game-Used, Autograph or Short-Printed Rookie card they were hoping for. I mean, this is terrible, card collecting has taken on a form of gambling. However, at the same time, this type of collector has made my collection what it is today. For example, before 1999 I only had 2 of Terrell Davis' Rookie cards, but in 1999 when Davis tore his ACL collectors started unloading all his cards to make sure they got a return on their INVESTMENT, (See the 1999 Donruss Preferred: "Terrell Davis" Preferred Materials #15 right). This only helps me, but in the end, I still don't like the Investment collectors.
7) The Heisman Trophy Collectors: I came across this kind of collector through one of Online Trading Groups I belong to. I never thought this type of collector existed, but it is neat to know that there are collections out there that defy the way most of us collect. Collecting cards from Heisman Trophy winners doesn't mean you have to collect a lot of cards every year, (I mean, each year only one wins the award), but its definitely a collection none the less, (See the 2000 Press Pass: "Ron Dayne" Game Jersey #JC1 below right).
8) The #'d Collectors: I came across this kind of collector through eBay. This collector only collected cards #'d to a certain #. I never asked why, but he remains the only person I ever ran into that did that. Now that is a tall order. You only get one chance to get that card, if you fail, it may be lost forever.
1997 Fleer Ultra: “Flipper Anderson” #229
2000 Donruss Preferred: “Peyton Manning" QB Challenge Materials #CM-15
1998 Score: “Keith Brooking” RC #239
1999 Donruss Preferred: “Terrell Davis” Preferred Materials #15
2000 Press Pass: “Ron Dayne” Game Jerseys #JC1