Collecting Business Cards


Where To Find Business Cards

  • Friends, neighbors, business associates.  Pass the word.  Many will think of you on trips and will pick some up for you.

  • More expensive, but write for them.  As with anyone, explain the hobby and why you like to collect business cards (variety, color, shapes, etc.).  Compare business cards collecting to collecting other items (stamps, coins, etc.).

  • Go to printing shops and ask for overruns, errors, duplicates.

  • Ask janitors to be on the lookout for closing businesses and go get business cards yourself.  Ask for duplicates.  Explain how you trade with people across the country, so you need extras business cards.

  • Go to area businesses and ask for several business cards.  Again, be prepared to explain your hobby. It could be beneficial to bring along a sampling of your better business cards. If requesting by mail, send along a Xerox copy of some of your business cards.


What Business Cards To Collect

Some people collect business cards indiscriminately.  Others, like myself, collect certain business cards categories, e.g. illustrations of sailing ships; horse-drawn vehicles; business cards from exclusive restaurants, hotels, etc. 

Some collect business cards by states and have them stored in that manner.

You decide what business cards is fun to collect.  Donít be in a hurry to pick too many categories.  Collect general subjects business cards at first and then decide what you want to specialize in.  Donít be afraid to add and delete business cards categories as your interests change.


Storing Of Business Cards

You can use business card boxes or other such containers.  Personally, I use plastic sheets  (use only archival-type polypropylene sheets -- NOT vinyl) specifically designed for 20 business cards (10 on each side).  I put business cards in loose-leaf binders.  In this manner I can look through my business cards collection easily and can add or subtract business cards with ease.  I buy these sheets at business supply stores. 

Donít trade off that oversized business card just because it doesnít fit in the regular sheet.  If you like it, mount it on heavy bond paper using photo corners.  The transparent ones are the best.  Then, when you have both sides of the page mounted, stick it inside a sheet protector (again, archival quality with no PVCs) which can be bought at an office supply store.


Trading Business Cards Ė How To

Join business cards collectorsí groups and mailing lists (IBCC, BBCC, ABCC).  Visit the IBCC Tradersí Page for a large list of traders and their preferences.  Write a potential trader and send a few business cards as samples, or post a message to the IBCC mailing list to reach the maximum number of potential traders.    Ask if they want to trade business cards, and specify the number you wish to trade and any other preferences (some only want business cards with city and state, others want only logos, etc.).  You can mail 20 business cards with one first-class stamp. Look in Card Talk (ABCC newsletter) for ads in which collectors state their desire to trade business cards.


Trading Business Cards Ė What To

  • Make sure that the business cards are clean and undamaged.

  • Business cards should not be plain black and white.  An exception to this would be a black and white from an exclusive establishment or from some famous, influential person (celebrity, chairman of the board, etc.).

  • Try to send as many as you can of the traderís business cards categories with whom youíre trading.

  • Most traders want business cards with towns and states.  If a business card is in one of my categories, I donít mind if it has no town/state or if it is somewhat damaged. However, check with your trader for his/her business cards preferences.  Make your business cards preferences known also.


Conduct As A Business Cards Trader

  • Answer mail within 2-3 weeks, or sooner if possible.

  • Be courteous.  Watch what and how you state something.  An innocent statement can be misconstrued on paper if someone cannot hear your tone of voice or see your body language.

  • State your business cards preferences, but realize that not all of a trade will be in your categories (30-60% isnít bad).

  • Try to meet the other personís business cards categories.  If you cannot, at least send business cards which can be traded in turn.

  • Donít make the assumption that you can send just anything thinking that the other person can always use them for trading business cards with others.  Some traders have enough business cards extras and they do not need ďjust extras.Ē

  • If you get a good idea about any aspect of business cards collecting, share it with your other traders.

  • Donít assume that people in large cities are necessarily better business cards traders than those in small cities.

  • If you donít like what is being sent, let the other person know it and why.

  • Donít feel obligated to keep trading business cards with someone if the trades arenít good, even after youíve complained.  However, you shouldnít stop if you owe the other person a trade.  You can just say you have run out of the other personís business cards categories and that you will try someone else, or that you want to try another part of the country.


Storing Business Cards for Trade

I use Zip-loc bags (qt. size).  On them I write the traderís name and his/her categories with a Marks-A-Lot pen. 

Once I have a pile of business cards  Ė either from other traders or from other sources Ė which I cannot use for my categories, I take all these bags out.  I put them side by side and begin to sort the pile of business cards on the bags of each collector according to his/her categories.  In this manner, I have been able to keep each traderís bag filled with 50 or more business cards.  When it is time to trade with someone, I simply take out their bag and remove the number of business cards I need.

A word of caution is in order.  If you do not sort out your business cards extras immediately, tag those from the different collectors so that you donít send theirs right back to them.  This tagging can be accomplished by wrapping and taping a small strip of paper around each stack of business cards and putting the collectorís name on the paper.  Also, Iíve kept the business cards in the envelopes in which they came until Iím ready to sort them. 

Finally, I store the bags of business cards, and the letters I must answer, in separate plastic storage containers.  I use the smaller containers for the letter and the large sweater/shoe plastic boxes for the bags of business cards.


Hint:  This is the most important hint of all.  The above guidelines are simply hints, my style.  Develop your own style and enjoy the hobby.





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