As a reminder, this is a box of roughly (very roughly, it turns out) 3000 Griffeys, all duplicates from another giant Griffey collection. I haven’t bought an eBay lot in a while, but my curiosity got the best of me here.
The package arrived Saturday afternoon minutes before we had to leave for a party. When I finally got home Saturday night I was still tipsy from day-drinking and massive pork intake; but I couldn’t just go to bed. I had to know what was in that box.
The initial run-through revealed pretty much what I expected – nothing mind-blowing, but a nice selection of solid cards to round out my current collection and even more to pass on to the next guy. It included a stack of various rookies (including four ’89 Upper Deck #1’s) plus lots of parallels, numbered cards, box bottoms, promos, and general oddballs. Naturally, the vast majority of the box was made up of base cards, but there were more oddballs than I expected.
Sunday was the big day. I had nothing planned except to watch football and sort through the box, and that’s exactly what I did from 11am ‘til 11pm save for a quick run for the border. I knew from the previous night’s quick peek that it was going to take a lot of planning and prep work to keep the process orderly. In the end it wasn’t unlike how I process other eBay lots, only on a much larger scale. Here’s how it went down:
Step 1 - Manicure
Most of the cards were penny-sleeved with a few hundred loosies mixed in. The rest were in top loaders and a couple of screw cases. To keep things simple I decided to homogenize the group by removing all the cards from their top loaders and penny sleeve everything. I had to dip into my personal penny sleeve stash a little, but this would be more than replenished later on. I left the six cards in screw cases alone for now.
Step 2 - Count
There were 2780 cards in that box. 2,777 of those were Griffeys. The other three were a Tony Gwynn insert, a Kirby Puckett checklist, and a Griffey, Sr. base card with no Jr. cameo. Now that we have a solid number to start from, we can begin moving things around a bit.
Step 3 - Eliminate
I know my collection well enough now to be able to flip through all the cards in one go and immediately remove those I know I don’t need. Luckily for me a lot of like cards were stacked together so searching for variants wasn't too challenging. I was careful to spot things like ’90 and ’91 Donruss border variants (one), Canadian versions (one), Tiffanies (none), gold holograms (none), red numbers (two), and box bottoms (three!). I even found a few parallels from later sets I didn’t even know existed.
I ended up with 411 potential keepers, eliminating 2,366 right off the bat. Those eliminated would get a second look later (and it's a good thing they did).
Step 4 - Arrange
In order to digest all these cards and figure out which were genuine keepers and which I could pass on to the eventual buyer of this box, I put the PK’s in order by year and brand name. This will simplify the remaining steps.
Step 5 - Document
Thanks to the new arrangement I only had to scroll in one direction as I updated The Beast, the canonical list of all my unique Griffeys. Here is where I really started to get an idea as to just how many new Griffeys I would end up with, but the official numbers would be generated in the coming steps.
Step 6 - Multi-Sort
Here is where I went through the collection binders page by page, physically adding cards from the box to the collection and keeping counts. The whole process was super-intensive and involved coffee tables, TV trays, and binders in the lap and such.
It was more complicated than a standard sort as it included an option to reject certain cards that I felt either a) I already had enough of or b) would detract from the overall value of the box. The plan is to sell this thing, after all.
While I was adding new Griffeys, I was also adding choice duplicates of cards that were already well-represented in the box but not in the binders. This turned out to be a lot (Yes, I said that I added duplicates, completely contrary to the whole point of this project. Don’t get your panties in a twist, though - this will all work out in the end).
I should also add that while keeping track of both new and duplicate Griffeys, I was also making notes on those Griffeys I wanted duplicates of and that I knew I had spotted among those eliminated. I called these “desired duplicates,” and there is a step forthcoming that will put this list to good use.