Figler, a long-time collector who’s written about his passion in mainstream and niche publications, provides a handy guide for what’s become a vocation for some and an avocation for many.
Beyond popular categories like baseball cards and other sports memorabilia, the author also delves into more esoteric areas like bobbleheads and thimbles. The book is full of sage counsel for beginning collectors, such as “You never, ever want to put your collectibles in an attic or basement,” where heat or dampness will eventually destroy them. Quirky anecdotes abound, such as the story behind the gum that comes in packs of baseball cards; it’s pink, the author writes, because that’s the only type of food coloring the first manufacturer happened to have on hand. Figler spices up the common sense advice he dishes out with fascinating factoids. Who knew that a set of Ty Cobb’s dentures sold for $7,475, or that two sticks of bubble gum once chewed by Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Luis Gonzalez fetched $10,000? The author also lays out clear instructions for making the tough decisions that most beginning collectors face: choosing what to collect from an infinite universe of stuff, figuring out the value of particular items and where and how to buy them, and sorting out tomorrow’s collectibles from today’s clutter. Each chapter ends with a helpful review of the main points covered, although it would have been even better if Figler had appended an index to help readers more easily locate information about particular collecting interests. The text is littered with bad puns, such as “Be prepared to play hardball … for the hardball.” Sometimes he compounds this sin by telegraphing his foul plays on words with a parenthetical “(pun intended).” By the end of this slim volume, some readers may wish Figler had lost his penchant for punning in this otherwise clear, colorful and useful primer for collectors.
A breezy but thorough introduction to the pleasures and perils of collecting.