Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cataloging crisis

Chances are you've heard me ramble on and on about my organizing habits by now.

How I organize, when I organize, where I organize, why I organize, the whole deal. I like to think I've covered basically every possible path of that topic at this point.

It seems odd, then, that I have yet to write a single word on this blog about how I catalog my collection. Why? Because I don't catalog my cards. Or, more appropriately, I haven't considered doing so in a long time.

I think I used to write down all my "good" cards in a little notebook when I was a kid, but that had to have been at least ten years ago.

The most advanced I ever got in my cataloging habits was a basic little Word document I had that contained every insert, parallel, and short-print I owned, but I abandoned that years ago.

I do have a website, but that's almost exclusively for cards I want to trade, not ones I plan on keeping. And I haven't used it a whole lot since I bailed on the trading forums.

The process of fully acclimating a new card to my collection isn't that substantial. If I want to show it on the blog, I'll scan it and put the image in a folder for future use. If not, it goes into a stack where it sits until I can safely nestle it into one of my binders. Nothing more, nothing less.

When it comes to cataloging, I'm about as out of touch as the bulky computer on that Jim Abbott card.

The main thing that dissuaded me from cataloging is the fact that it's, well...just plain boring for me.

The fact that I have so many different collections makes it hard to document them all. Plus, I've found that I'm pretty good when it comes to knowing which cards I need and don't need.

I guess I never saw the draw to cataloging until I heard a few fellow bloggers talking about this thing called Zistle. From what I hear, it's the new hip way to document your cards. And the site even lets you make trades with fellow collectors, if you so please.

I finally got around to creating a Zistle account a few weeks ago, but haven't had the time or energy to dive into it further since then.

My understanding of the site is still pretty primitive as of this writing, but I have to say that I'm starting to get excited about finally being able to catalog my cards and have fun with the process at the same time.

When I get around to it, my first order of business will probably be documenting my Vlad and Ichiro collections. I have over 500 Ichiros and upwards of 700 Vlads, so it's understandably difficult to remember which cards I have and need sometimes.

Whenever I find a card of either guy that I think I might have, I'm forced to go through everything I own of them and see if I need it or not. It's a long and painstaking process, as you can imagine.

Cataloging would bring an end to ever having to do that again.

Originally, I thought I'd have to scan every card of anything I wanted to catalog.

That, obviously, would be a massive undertaking and one that I'm not sure I'd ever want to do.

From what I see with Zistle, though, that happily isn't the case. My understanding is that if someone has already uploaded an image of a card you want to add to your collection, you can simply use that stock photo for your own archives.

One of the bigger projects I might tackle in the future is cataloging everything I own from my various mini-collections. All the double dips, all the throwbacks, and so on.

I'm completely happy with anyone who simply wants to send me a blind stack of cardboard, but documenting what I already have within each theme might be helpful for anyone who wants to check whether I have a certain card or not.

The 1991 Upper Deck Scott Fletcher you see above is one of the better double dips I own. You get an Omar Vizquel cameo on the front, along with a bonus double dip/throwback shot (with a Robin Yount appearance) on the back.

It's so great, in fact, that at least seven or eight different people have sent it to me over the past couple years. With a Zistle account, I'll be able to show that, yes, I have and enjoy this terrific double dip and, no, I don't need any more copies.

Eight is enough.

I wouldn't mind cataloging my non-sports cards, either.

Because this area of my collection has so many subparts and other facets, I lose track of what I already have at times. More than that, though, I think it'd be fun to get to see all those non-sports heroes next to each other.

Being able to see figures like George Washington, Beethoven, and The Beatles in the same little folder would be pretty neat.

If this whole Zistle thing is as fun and fulfilling as I'm hoping, I'll probably get around to documenting a lot of my other player collections as well.

All I know is that cataloging is (and has been) a long overdue task. I'd always feel kind of left out of the party when I'd hear about how everyone else documents their cards.

Zistle has been making the rounds for a while now, and it's about time I joined the tech-savvy people like Brad Ausmus and jumped on board.

To the catalog!


Josh D. said...

As one of the longer-term Zistle users (, I will vouch that it is a good thing for keeping track of your cards.

It can be a bit daunting to add everything at the beginning, but I think you have the right idea of starting with a few player collections that are important to you and going from there.

You can create "custom collections" which let you view various subsets at once.

As you mentioned, you do not need to scan everything, but can use the scan for a card that is already in the Zistle library. Even if nobody has entered the scan, you can still enter the card and it will just show up in your collection with "no photo."

The library is user-generated and collaborative. You will likely run across cards you have that are not in the library yet, especially if they are SN#'d or from a rarer set. In those cases, all users can add cards to the database. Your scans for missing photos would also improve the database and help everyone.

Trading is my favorite part of Zistle. You can set "Smart Wantlists" for players, teams, or sets that you collect, and Zistle will populate your want-list with all of those automatically. For example, add Vladimir Guerrero to your smart want-list, and any cards of him that you don't have will go in your wantlist. You can click on any other member and see how many cards they have that you want and vice-versa. To make some trades, you would need to enter some of your own "trade bait" to your list on there, but it can really be anything...not just hits and inserts. In my opinion, the trade system is so good because it helps you fill in those cracks in your collection by finding people who have commons and other base cards that you still need.

The other members are pretty good. I have 30 trades on there with only one bad experience (one of the "Hall of Fame" traders who was very picky about condition and claimed the cards had suffered damage that he wouldn't/couldn't verify).

If you have any other questions, let me know. Shoebox Legends, Condition sensitive, and The Hopeful Chase are some other bloggers who are also active on it.

-Josh D.

JediJeff said...

I'm a big scanner for Zistle. If I add a card to one of my collections (, and there is no image, I'll add it. I have even replaced images that look poor or not properly oriented. I like seeing what the car looks like in one glance.

To me, I don't have to worry about buying dupes. I can see in an instant if I have a card and what collection it is in. If I need a dupe, I know when I add it which binder it needs to reside.

I haven't gotten into the trading cuz frankly, I just give away all my extras through my blog.

Adam Kaningher said...

I don't catalog my cards either. It's a project I'd consider undertaking if I had massive amounts of free time, but too many of my other interests would have to suffer.

I've started a couple of Excel sheets here and there, but putting it all in the cloud makes me a bit nervous. Not that I have a problem with sharing data, it's just that I could put a tremendous amount of time into it and then Zistle might decide to shut its doors and take my database with it. I'll have to look into their data freedom policy.

Matthew Scott said...

I'm slowly getting more organized, but having a catalog would be tough. My only chance is to start today and work forward. Too many cards to backtrack.

Marcus said...

Yeah, cataloging stuff is too boring for me. I tried Zistle for a little bit, but got burned out pretty quickly. The only things I catalog are the specific players that I collect, which are few enough to actually make it a simple enough task. Best of luck though!

RAZ said...

I use Zistle, but I haven't kept up with my acquisitions. I have the cards that are entered in my Zistle account packed in boxes separate from the uncatalogued cards. That allows me to enter cards at my pace without getting them mixed up. When I enter a card in the system, it gets physically moved to the new box.

It can be fun to scan cards and upload the images to the system. It really feels like I am contributing, especially when I am able to add scans of card backs. The front images get uploaded with a lot more frequency than pictures of the backs.

I've done around 10 trades so far. There seems to be a few users who are very active on the trading side of things, and I have nearly completed my 2012 Topps set just through trades.

Mets Cardboard said...

I will also say that Zistle is a very good way to catalog your cards. You pretty much know what you have and don't have once you get it all done. And to expand on Adam's statement about losing your database, Zistle allows you to export your entire collection. You can pretty much back-up your collection how ever often you want and put it where ever you please.

Trades are extremely easy, too. Most users are easy to get along with and are very upfront about the cards they are sending. I know when I go to pull my cards for a trade and find it not being in great condition, I let my trade partner know before I send anything out. I only had one issue, so far, but nothing to really be upset about (I was the one that got burned).

BaseSetCalling said...

I can barely type a series of numbers into a text editor to make up a want list.

But I know I have to catalog my few player collections one of these days.

We need more Leap Days.

And if anyone has sent you more than one copy of that Ausmus….I've been looking for that one in particular.

Ana Lu said...

I started on Zistle and then found it difficult to find time to update my collections. Did a trade once and I think I have some others on standby..Problem!? I might catalog my cards but still need to find them! So I know I have them but still need to figure out in which box I kept it..

Then I tried tradingcarddb which is cool too and gives you lots of statistics that are quite cool to keep track of some collections (like players or teams collections).
Then again..I still have to find time to update it.

But they are great ways to 'feel' this hobby too.

shoeboxlegends said...

I was an early adopter of Zistle, and have been using it since way back when Ashley and Josh started it up years ago. I could not be happier. It has gotten better and better with every major release and tweak, and there's quite a community on there now. If you've ever got questions about how any of it functions, tips, etc. look me up! I would say easily 75% of my total hobby time is spent on that fantastic site. Best of luck with it, I think you'll find it an invaluable collecting resource!

CaptKirk42 said...

Another longtime user of Zistle (and semi-user of tradingcarddb). I have only made 2 trades there, I have a problem similar to Ana Lu in terms of physically finding the cards that are in my "collection". I recently had to cancel a potential trade because I didn't know where half to about 3/4 of my cards were. I often kid about having a "card hoard" which is is now less of a joke and more a reality. I feel I need to go back and verify much of what I have in my Zistle collection.

Part of my problem is since I don't have all of my cards cataloged when I make trades or give stuff away I usually don't check to see if I have it on Zistle. So I forget what has already been cataloged and what needs to be.

I am really backed up on cards I need to scan for my blog and to talk about on it.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to add that Beethoven card to my wantlist because it reminds me of "A Charlie Brown Christmas"...

Lucy: Beethoven wasn't so great.
Schroeder: What do you mean, Beethoven wasn't so great?
Lucy: He never got his picture on bubblegum cards, did he? Hmmm? How can you say someone is great who hasn't had his picture on bubblegum cards?
Schroeder: Good grief.

Bulldog said...

Not sure how far I'll get with it but thanks for sharing the on Zistle. I've already started playing around with it and I think it will be great for my player collections along with a few others. Great post and great comments by others. Thanks.

Fuji said...

I wish I could snap my fingers and have my cards cataloged. Unfortunately Harry Potter isn't my homie and since retirement isn't in the near future, I probably won't have the time to even think about putting together a list of my cardboard.

I guess for me... I'll start small and maybe one of these days I'll finally get around to cataloging my trade lists.

Have fun Nick! When you're finished... maybe you'd like to take a trip out to Cali and help me out ;-)