Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Collecting the Common Guy - Part 2

Upon embarking on a John Jaha collection, it was relatively easy at first. Although he was a decent slugger, he wasn't great and he played for the Brewers. Although Billy Brewer was getting a workout on the outfield slide every time Jaha knocked one over the wall, there wasn't a lot of collector attention.

I began by trading and trading and trading and trading. Then I traded some more. Autographs were just becoming commonplace and game-used cards were still a couple of years away. It was all about the shiny insert and the base card, both of which I had plenty of to dangle especially when I was looking for a lowly common.

My first trades focused on getting a mix of large base-card lots and a sprinkling of tougher inserts. In 1997 there were still very few collectors trading online so we were a nice little community. We looked out for each other, shared stories and cards. This was great for me as I had nobody to trade with in my hometown. It was all hockey in Victoria, British Columbia. To get a Jaha fix I had to reach for the mouse, type a message or two and head out to buy a lot of stamps.

As more collectors came online, I got more and more Jahas. I was able to compile lists of the existing cards and keep up with the new ones. The hardest thing to deal with was the influx of collectors looking to give me their commons (most of which I already had multiples of) for the hot rookies of J.D. Drew and Pat Burrell. Although not a stickler for book value and Becketts, it was (and still is) annoying dealing with "traders" blatantly going after things they would likely flip over in a sale.

As my wantlists became smaller, my completist side began to show more and more. Rather than getting a daily fix of new Jahas, weeks and even months would go by between "finds". As a result I began to completely ignore the books as to what I should pay. Over the course of my collecting, a couple other Jaha collectors have come and gone. Let's just say in the months where all three of us were overlapping in our collecting there were a couple of dealers who made a killing off of us. We were dropping $10-20 on the 2000 Pacific Prism variations!

Now my Jaha collection is pretty much stagnant. Last week I finally tracked down a 1996 Leaf Gold Press Proof and was ecstatic to land it for a whopping $1.99 plus shipping. I've got all of his base cards, endless parallels, a few fancy inserts, a handful of oddball items and even a couple of pieces of game-used equipment. I'm down to a small bunch of parallels (most limited to less than 25 copies) and a couple of oddball items I don't even know if they exist.

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