The home of the Cartophilic Society of Great Britain


New to Collecting?

Perhaps the first question you have on your mind if you’re considering collecting is ‘where do I start?’. There are quite literally millions of cards to choose from and they were (and still are!) issued with various products all over the world. So we thought that with there being so much out there we’d give a few pieces of advice that we hope will set you off on the right foot. Of course this list is by no means comprehensive but if you treat it as a guide you should avoid several pitfalls that many of us made when we first started!

1. Do your research: A little knowledge goes a long way in the hobby so we would recommend you start by getting a copy of a price guide (e.g. Murray’s Guide). We do stock several reference books but a guide like this will show you the range of subjects and manufacturers out there and crucially it’ll give you a rough guide as to how much you should be paying – as a collector there are few things worse than bidding on something and finding out later you’ve paid far too much!

2. Understand the importance of condition: Many collectors will tell you that condition is the single most important thing when buying a collectable. This is certainly true of cards and it can (and does) have a huge impact on the desirability and price of a card. Some cards that are perfectly crisp despite being 100 years old will sell for hundreds of pounds, yet the same card if found grubby and creased may only sell for 10% of that. If you become familiar with our guide you’ll quickly see the difference between ‘good’ and ‘excellent’. One thing you will find when buying cards is that some people will give their own interpretation of ‘good’ or ‘very good’ and some may use such terms as good ‘considering its age’ – we recommend studying our scale and over time you’ll feel confident to look at a card and decide for yourself.

3. Consider how you will store your cards: If you are going to build up a collection you are of course likely to want to look at your cards from time to time without the risk of damaging them in any way. There are several options available to collectors but the two below are the most common:

A small album with clear plastic wallets

A small album with clear plastic wallets

i. Clear plastic pagesModern pages are made from archival safe plastic that won’t damage your cards and allows you to leaf through an album and enjoy your collection. Of course you must be very careful inserting and removing cards from sleeves to avoid chipping the edges or bottom corners but once in sleeves your cards will be stored safely and enjoyed for years to come.

ii. ‘Penny’ Sleeves and Toploaders – The ‘penny’ or MylarTM sleeve allows you to store your card with much less risk of you damaging the edges or corners as they are made from a very supple and fine material. You may then insert this into a plastic semi -rigid toploader for added protection. This method is more common with larger sized cards such as Pokemon and Match Attax but it is not as easy to look through if you amass several thousand cards.


4. Try to focus a little

It may be hard to know exactly what you like when you first start. There are some that love football or cricket for example and for them they will know from day one that they want to build up a collection of cards relating to their favourite team or county. A few may decide to try and collect a single card from all known series (referred to as ‘type’ collecting). Regardless of where your interests lie it can be helpful to narrow your scope a little when you start. There will be plenty of cards to target and you’ll find it less daunting (and potentially cheaper!) than just buying everything in sight!

5. Where do you buy your cards from?

      • CSGB Auction and Branch Auctions – We host small monthly auctions at our branches around the UK as well as a larger auction with each magazine we issue. We also recommend going to the branch meetings to meet other collectors as there is no substitute when learning about cards to flicking though dealers’ albums and talking face to face with other collectors.
      • Specialist Card Auctions – e.g. SAS, Loddons, Tim Davidson’s, Roy Davis – The benefit of these auctions is the quality of lots available and that you can have confidence that what you’re bidding on is as described. Don’t forget though that you’ll often have a buyer’s premium (often around 15%) VAT, and postage and packaging to pay on top of the hammer price!
      • Dealers/Fairs – if you come to our annual convention or the Reading fair for example – you’ll see some regular faces. Dealers are the lifeblood of the hobby and also carry a wealth of knowledge on cards. They are also only too willing to talk to you if there is something you’re looking for but are struggling to find. If you want to know when your nearest event is taking place have a look at our events page.
      • Internet auction sites – Caveat emptor…. Many experienced collectors look online every day to see what is being listed but as a beginner it can be a risky business. We would recommend the methods listed above as they aren’t as risky but as you become more experienced the internet can often yield some great cards at great prices. Some quick tips for internet bidding if this is something you want to look into:

Some sleeves and toploaders

i. The back is just as important as the front of the card (in some cases more important!) – if they haven’t scanned a picture of the back – ask for one or make sure there is a detailed description of it.

ii. Really look at the edges of the card and go with your instincts – if it doesn’t look quite square to you, 9 times out of 10 when it does arrive it’ll have been trimmed with scissors. There are few things that’ll devalue a card more so when parting with large sums of money this is worth checking.

iii. If a card looks grubby and they have listed it as excellent condition don’t take their word for it. Sometimes people are unwilling to commit on condition as opinions may vary but if you use the scale we recommend you’ll have a good idea of what you’re dealing with.

6. Collect what you like – this is the best bit of advice I think anyone could give. If you collect what appeals to you then you’ll build a collection that you’ll get a lifetime of pleasure from!

We are always here to help any card collector regardless of experience so if you’re new to the hobby and have questions or just want to talk to someone that can give you some advice on anything card related then please just get in touch and we’ll do what we can to help steer you in the right direction.

Latest News