Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Security/Simplicity Overhaul: Big Changes to the Way I Griffey

You know how much I love overhauls. Well this one is huge. So huge, in fact, that it required weeks of nightly busywork instead of active blogging which is why I’ve been more or less absent from the blogsphere (By the way, I refuse to put an extra unnecessary “o” in the word “blogsphere” just because my phonetically-conditioned brain thinks it should sound like “atmosphere.” Generally-accepted or no, “blogsphere” is correct. This is a one-man rebellion against the modern parlance!).

Anyhoo, this overhaul is going to have a major impact in two areas: security and simplicity.

Now I’ve written about how I keep my collection secure in the past, but I’ve noticed a significant uptick in the number of cardboard-related crimes lately. Some of the events seem like general robberies where cards are taken in addition to other valuables; others (and these are the ones that scare me) are clearly card-focused.

I’m not super paranoid, but I’d be foolish not to recognize the value of what I have when it comes to cardboard, specifically of the Griffey kind. Plus I discuss it on the Internet, the most public forum ever conceived. All that combined with the fact that for some reason my readership has just exploded over the past few months has given me concern about any shady, Griffey-hungry characters that may be lurking.

The Council of Nine

On top of this, I’ve already been contemplating a major change in the way I store/access my Griffeys. My collection consists (for the most part) of nine 4” binders containing the bulk of my collection, a 5000-count Griffey Overflow Box (GOB), and a stack of screw cases in a safe deposit box at the bank where only the very best cards live.

For years the rule has been to limit duplicates in the binders to three per card and put the rest in the GOB in chronological and brand order. Unfortunately that is just not cutting it anymore. The binders have grown heavy and unwieldy, and many of them contain only two years’ worth of Griffeys. This makes sorting and scanning a real chore, especially when I want to do it in the living room while watching movies – the only way to sort.

I am addressing both the security and storage concerns with one massive overhaul in two parts:

1. Eliminate all duplicates from the binders. Going forward, only one specimen of each unique card will be included there. 

2. While condensing the binders, remove any cards in the following categories for placement in the safe deposit box:

- Anything worth more than “a few bucks”
- Anything with an autograph or relic
- Anything that is rare or hard to replace
- Anything I would be truly upset to lose

These changes are going to make my job a lot easier and stress-free. Sorts and scans are going to be quicker and binders easier to navigate and transport from room to room.

I just really like this page.

You may be thinking, “But Junior Junkie, how are you going to scan cards for blog posts when they’re stored in a vault miles from your house?” That’s an excellent question, Nosey McGee. I’m making scans of every card I store offsite and keeping them all in a single scan folder for easy access. By digitizing all my off-site cards, I will rarely have to go through the process of accessing the box, finding the appropriate cards, bringing them home, scanning them, and then doing it all over again in reverse.

This whole project has been pretty big and time-consuming, and it has taken precedence over all my other current card/blog projects, including catching up on trade posts. Sorry, guys.

I’m happy to reveal all this now because it’s already done. At this moment my collection is more secure than it’s ever been. Anyone who somehow manages to successfully enter my house, access my Griffey collection, and burgle it without any of my many home-all-day retiree neighbors noticing will end up with a butt-load of base cards and junk wax, easily replaceable for a pittance. I’ll be pissed and everything, but not nearly as pissed as I would be if the cards taken had any real value.

Here are the effects of this overhaul:

Haven't updated those labels yet, but you get the idea.

I’ve reduced the bulk of my Griffey collection from nine 4” binders to only five. There remains only one of each unique Griffey therein, and those are the best-condition specimens I own. This makes it easier to do pretty much everything like locating specific cards, sorting new additions, finding condition upgrade and set needs, and updating the Griffey count.

Left: Before I started, Middle: Dupes removed from binder added, Right: Dupes sleeved and organized by year

The Griffey overflow box has absolutely exploded with cards. Everything is penny sleeved (I had to buy twenty 100-count packs of penny sleeves to accommodate this), so I can flip through the cards easily without fear of damaging them - even the crazy die-cuts.

So much penny sleeve

With all my duplicates in one place, I can now more easily get Griffeys to other collectors. Before I would have a few dupes in the binders and a few in the GOB without a system for keeping tabs on how many were where. Now that all the dupes are in one place, I know exactly how many of each card I can spare. Now is the time to make requests, fellow Griffey collectors.

My safe deposit box, despite being one of the largest sizes held at the bank, is bursting with cardboard. I’m fairly certain I couldn’t fit another hundred cards in there if I wanted to. I could barely even close the lid. Part of me thought, “Do our passports really have to be in here?” That’s how desperate I was getting for space. Luckily after a few minutes of tetris-ing the bejeezus out of our valuables, I was able to make it work without compromise.

So much more space

There is a lot more space in my card cabinet. I feel a reorganization of my other cardboard coming on.

I have one seriously massive scan folder to deal with. I still have to go in and edit/label each card, but once that is done making posts with those particular cards will be a lot easier. I have half a mind to scan everything and keep them all on file for future posts, but I think that may be more trouble than it’s worth. Just the cards I moved to the SDB took a stupid number of hours to do, and that was without editing photos.

I have a new perspective on how much my collection is actually worth. As I was deciding which cards to move to the safe deposit box and which were okay to keep locked up at home, I realized how much the value distribution of my Griffey collection correlates with the U.S. distribution of wealth. In other words, 90% of the monetary value of my 8000-card collection is in fewer than 1000 cards. I was able to store far more than that in the bank vault, so I would estimate that as much as 95% of the monetary value of this collection is as safe as I can reasonably make it. That gives me peace of mind which, after all, was the point of all this.

Notice I say “monetary value” a lot. I do this because the monetary value is nice, but the value of the collection as a whole to me is a lot higher. I’m sure a lot of you other collectors can agree – it’s why we spurn price guides and eBay gougers. That being said, at some point, probably after Junior’s HOF induction, I would like to do a complete Beckett valuation of the Griffey collection. Yeah, yeah, those prices are meaningless and all, but I think a running Beckett value would be a fun addition to the Griffey count. Of course this will be tough with all the oddballs and customs in the collection.

So much emptiness

And finally, I have a ridiculous abundance of empty binder pages. I remember buying a dozen or so boxes to accommodate the original binder expansion, and before this project I had maybe 15 unused pages in that Ultra Pro box in the picture there. Now I have a full box and a full 4" binder, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them all yet, but they weren't cheap.

So that’s the story of my overhaul. I’m interested in your best practices when it comes to security if you’re inclined to reveal them. In the meantime, I hope any prospective burglars like ’91 Fleer. I still have LOTS of ‘91 Fleer over here.


  1. I used to be worried about security... but there's just no way they'd be able to find my decent cards in time for the following reasons:

    A. If the thieves are lucky, they might have 15 minutes before SJPD arrives.

    B. My alarm company will also call my home owner's security company which should arrive a lot sooner than SJPD. So let's assume the worst case scenario is the thieves have 5 minutes.

    C. Okay the clock is ticking. Assuming they only care about cards... here's where the comedy begins:

    #1 I have cards everywhere: in my garage, in my attic, in my office, in my classroom, in my buddy's garage, and at my parent's house.

    #2 But let's just focus at my house, since that's what the focus of my point is. The thieves would need to start digging through boxes located in three different locations in my place. They have 5 minutes!

    If I weren't such a neat freak, I would love to have a few of my buddies participate in an experiment and do a timed test to see how many high end cards they could find at my place in 5 minutes. In fact... they should make this experiment into a game show. I guess that's one of the perks of being a cardboard hoarder.

  2. Nobody in their right mind would even think of stealing my cards. And my best ones are in plain sight, on book shelves a little bit eveywhere (since I have a lot of books, I need a lot of book shelves).
    Oh, and let me put a formal request to get some of those extra Griffeys you can spare ! (maybe we can simply work out a deal involving $$$$$)

  3. You have must have some patience with all of the re-organizing you have done. At times, like during moves, I have gone through to figure out accurate values for insurance reasons but I wouldn't say I have anything of major value in my collection besides a couple of vintage and auto cards that are on display in my bedroom.

  4. I really dig these re-org posts, TJ. It's always fun to get a behind-the-scenes look at how other collectors store and organize their cards. I'm lovin' those big-ass binders, too. My Mets collection is basically scattered, stored and stowed in 5,000 different places right now. It gives me hearrburn just thinking about it. When/if I can corral them all into a few binders like that, the air will smell a lot sweeter to me.

    By the way, I'm joining your "blogsphere" movement. I never like the extra 'O' but just went with the flow.

  5. I like your thinking on this organizational issue. I was in gridlock organizationally with my Brewers cards until I focused on just base sets first and set the parallels aside. Now, things are flowing naturally and progress is getting made.

  6. Organization is always my downfall because I add quicker than I can sort. I've made process thinning out all non-Pirates, but it will be an uphill battle. Part of me just wants to take a weeks vacation and work on that. The other part of me sees a bunch of cards on eBay and adds to the problem.

  7. My theft-prevention plan is to be as disorganized as possible. If I can't even find my own good cards, how will the robbers locate them?

  8. I prefer "cardosphere" (or ok, take out the "o" and make it cardsphere). There are millions of blogs out there on thousands of topics, and I don't like including them when we're specifically talking about card collector blogs.

  9. Love it! Now you just have to make sure you have all your scans backed-up in an off-site location in case of computer problems. :-)