Interview with Kin Kinsley

Written by Shane Salmonson

Bloggers, like myself, rely on others to share their work in order for people to see it. One of the biggest supporters of my blog from the start was Kin Kinsley. He is a great follow on Twitter if you’re trying to keep up with a variety of different card blogs, as he shares them all! Kin is a blogger himself, and a highly respected member of the hobby community!

Can we get a little background on you?

KK: I’ve been in the hobby for more than 30 years. There were sometimes that I wasn’t as active, but I never really took the break that so many speak of. While I’ve sold more than my fair share of things in 30 years, I’ve always been a collector and not a flipper or dealer. I’m getting back to my collecting “roots,” pretty much just buying things that I want and staying away from things I think I can make a few bucks on and/or unopened wax. I’ve been writing for a couple of years at Bean’s Ballcard Blog and I Feel Like A Collector Again and am (very slowly) working to get set checklists up on BBB. I also started up a YouTube page a few months ago.

How were you introduced to the trading card hobby?

KK: For Christmas, 1986, my uncle gave me a hand collated set of 1986 Topps cards. It sent me a different direction in life. I wasn’t much into sports until then, but in 1987 I started playing baseball and collecting cards. That’s where it all started, for better or worse.

What is your fondest memory when thinking of collecting? What about your biggest/most exciting pack pull?

KK: It’s not like I’m old and could pass away any day now, but I’ve found myself thinking about the innocence of youth and how much of it revolved around collecting cards (and sports in general) for me. When we were kids, we wanted to be a grown-up. I wouldn’t hate going back and being a kid sometimes.

I have two pack pulls that stand out above the rest. It would have been spring 1989 and at a card show at our town’s Ramada Inn, my mom let me get three packs of Fleer even though they were <GASP!> $3 a pack. We went outside into the lobby and you guessed it, I pulled the F*** Face Bill Ripken card. While it’s not “worth” today what it was then, it’s one of my most valuable cards. Through card purges and selloffs, I have only a few cards left from my childhood. This is one of them.

I wrote about the other one here.

What are you currently collecting? How has that changed over the years?

KK: I’m certainly back to collecting for fun and I have a few different parts of my collection. I have some junk wax boxes on my card shelf of sets from my youth that I want to put together, either for the first time or again. Some of them are 1987 & 1988 Donruss; 1988, 1990, 1991 & 1992 Topps, 1992 Pinnacle and just some other random stuff.

There are things I am “working on,” but quite passively. The 2013-14 Score Hockey master set (including parallels and inserts) will never be completed. I still will acquire some Blackhawks and Dallas Stars cards for my fiance’s and my binders.

I still have a lot of cards of former West Virginia University Mountaineers players across all sports. One of the projects I need to work on is organizing and maybe some purging as well. I am trying to downsize a lot in my collection. I’ve come to the realization that even though I love collecting if a card doesn’t mean something to me and/or bring to mind something special, do I really need it?

Much of my interest over the last couple of years has turned to prewar cards. I’ve been picking up T206 cards for a little more than two years now and am up to about 50 different cards (plus many more doubles). I’m starting on the T210 Fort Worth and Galveston team sets. I still enjoy the vintage open-wheel/IndyCar racing cards but haven’t picked up anything recently other than T36 cards. Those T36 (1911 American Tobacco Auto Drivers) cards may be my number one love as a set. I’ve completed the 25 card front run set, but want to put together the entire 100 card set with all back variations.

Any favorite pieces from your collection that you’d like to share?

KK: It’s funny that you ask this because for weeks, I’ve had a post planned in my head about my most “valuable” cards. Why the quotes? By valuable, I mean the ones that mean the most to me. I’ll go into more detail when I write my post, but some of them are my poor condition Rickey Henderson rookie, my 1989 Fleer Billy Ripken that I pulled from a pack in 1989, my 1985 Topps Mark McGwire, 1982 Donruss Cal Ripken and my autographed and graded Andrew Shaw Young Guns card.

Storage Boxes for PSA Graded Trading Cards

PSA Graded Card Storage Box. 3-3/4 x 12-1/2 x 5-1/2″ (inside). Holds 25 PSA Graded Card Slabs. These boxes are made from high-quality paperboard that is wrapped in white paper outside. Boxes feature an interior rail system that the slabs slip perfectly into. The system keeps slabs separated and firmly in place.

Outside of those, the cards I’m most proud of are the four cards that complete my Scoops Carey T206/T213 back run.  Two of the four cards cost the most of any single cards I’ve purchased in 30 years of collecting.  I also recently picked up a T206 Christy Mathewson, a card that I never thought would be in my collection.

To this day I don’t feel that I have a very impressive collection for someone that’s been a part of the hobby for 30 years. However, as I’ve purged a lot of cards and tightened up the collection, I’m much happier. I may not have a ton of extremely high-end cards, but I’d say I have a good quantity that I would say are in the “Hall of Very Good.”

What cards are at the top of your current wish list to add to your collection?

KK: Like most of us in the hobby, there are plenty and they fall into two groups – the attainable and the unattainable. For many, their unattainable ones are such because of money constraints. While some of mine are, it’s also about scarcity since they are rare cards.

Two of the cards that I believe to be unattainable for me due to scarcity and price are the T227 David Bruce Brown and the 1894 Mayo Anonymous/John Dunlop.  I’m not sure that a T206 Ty Cobb is in my future.  Not because availability, but because of price.

Some of the ones that may be attainable for me are the 1950 Topps Felt Back Pete Zinaich cards (he played at WVU), the cards I need to complete my 1955 Topps All-American Football set (including the Knute Rockne and Four Horsemen cards), all of the 1935 National Chicle cards and of course any 1911 ATC Auto Drivers (T36) and T206 cards that I can get my hands on.

What do you find most enjoyable about the hobby?

KK: I’m fortunate to live in an area where there are a couple of monthly card shows. I love being able to go to a show for hours and zone out from adulting for a few hours. Sometimes it’s walking around looking at anything and everything, or it can be just pulling up a chair and spending hours going through dime boxes. Even though I usually don’t make money when I occasionally set up at card shows, being there and catching up with those I know (or some from Twitter I haven’t yet met in person) is enjoyable.  I love just chatting with other collectors and finding out what they collect, and why they collect it.

What is your opinion of the current hobby landscape?

KK: It’s not going to be popular, but I’m not as sunshine and rainbows as most. There are a lot of problems in the hobby that I write about on my site sometimes. I believe the card companies NEED to do a better job with things like quality control and appealing to all types of collectors (not just group breakers). I think exclusive licenses are bad for the hobby, but I understand that the leagues don’t care about that.

I’m burnt out on hearing people talk about, and podcasts that always talk about, investing/prospecting. With the prices people are paying for unopened product, most hoping to hit it big are “losing” money and I think it could cost the hobby in time. I think that is a big part of a bubble that could burst.

At the same time, I see plenty of good. There ARE collectors out there that still trade and I’m hearing more about that than I did three or four years ago. It does appear that there are more kids involved with the hobby than in recent years. There are still actual collectors out there that aren’t worried only about what something is worth. I also feel there’s a slight resurgence in card shows.

I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but I have a lot of concerns about the future of the hobby. However, I still see a lot of good happening out there and hopefully, those things can outweigh the negative. I truly hope that my concerns are proven to be incorrect.

Glossary Term: Graded Card

How much do you think social media has changed the hobby? What are some positive/negative aspects of social media, when it comes to this hobby?

KK: The internet and social media have changed everything about the hobby. A lot of it is good and a lot of it is bad.

The bad mostly coming in the form of scammers and shadiness out there. Thankfully those are a small portion of those in the hobby.

I do believe it’s been much more positive than negative. I’ve “met” (online) some great people that otherwise I never would have, thanks to places like Twitter and Trading Card Database I’ve been able to trade for or buy thousands of cards over the last 20 years that without the internet, I’d have never seen.

It’s also made this huge world of card collectors closer. In addition to the sites I mentioned, it’s also helped blogging, podcasting, breaking, and other communities.

card collecting

Your Mount Rushmore of cards, which cards make the cut?

KK: A Mount Rushmore means I can pick 20 cards, right? Just kidding, I know there are four on the Mount. A few months ago I wrote a post on my site about what cards are ACTUALLY iconic cards. Anyone in the hobby that doesn’t select the T206 Honus Wagner and 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle cards is just wrong. Don’t @ me.

Since it’s MY Mount Rushmore, I will pick the 1935 National Chicle Bronko Nagurski and the Fleer Michal Jordan rookie. The Wagner, Mantle, and Jordan cards are probably the most recognized cards by someone outside the hobby. I’m selecting Nagurski for personal reasons, but if I was being truly unbiased, I’d probably pick the Wayne Gretzky rookie.

Anything else you’d like to share?

KK: I just wish people would collect for fun and not for money. There’s no “right” way to collect and no “wrong” way to collect. Everyone has a reason for how they collect. Just collect for the fun of it and you’ll never go wrong. It’s a hobby, don’t take it so seriously. Happy collecting, Y’all!

Kin Kinsley
Twitter: @beansbcardblog