Old Baseball Cards (OBC) - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
OBC Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
(Updated 9/28/2020)

What have I gotten myself into?

Founded in 1991 on Prodigy, the "OBC Gang" is a group of collectors interested primarily in off-condition old baseball cards from the 1900's through the 1970's. The primary activity of the group is sending old baseball cards through snail mail. We mainly communicate via Google Group email messages and here on our website. The people involved are all ages, from teenagers to grandparents. All are welcome, provided you deal honestly and fairly with the others. You will see and understand the special bond that this group has allowed or caused to be created among many of its members. Yes OBC is about collecting old cards, but it goes a lot deeper then that for many of us.

As we grew and expanded world-wide, a need for some sort of oversight body arose. The OBCAC works closely with all members of OBC to review new membership applications, and resolve conflicts or issues that arise between members. The OBC "Rules of Conduct" (ROC) can be found here.

Does it cost anything to join?
To cover the expense of our website hosting and domain name, nominal dues are occasionally collected. See the Rules of Conduct section for details.
How does trading work in OBC?
One of the biggest differences in OBC from other "trading groups" is that most of the cardboard that exchanges hands is not through trades but rather RAOK (random acts of kindness). The way this works is that when a person has some duplicate cards, they look through wantlists of OBC members (our server hosts or provides a link to all member's wantlists) finds someone who needs the card(s) and sends it to them. This may take some getting used to, but by the philosophy of "what goes around, comes around" things seem to work out ok. You will send cards to OBCers who may not reciprocate (at least not right away), but you will also receive cards from OBCers, who have wantlists that you cannot hit. In the end it seems to work out, but starting out slowly will help you get a feel for how it works.. There are still trades within OBC, usually for high value cards, but for the most part cards are just sent (and received). You never know what may arrive in your mailbox.
What condition cards can I expect in trade?
Very Good condition or worse is the norm here. Cards worse than VG are sometimes referred to as being in "Tipton" condition (see the History of OBC following these questions for background on this and a whole lot of other stuff). While some of us would surely like to collect Near Mint condition cards, most simply cannot afford to. Some do have a few sets with higher card condition requirements, but the norm is VG or worse. Many of us started out wanting NM stuff, but have gladly accepted Tipton as being the "affordable alternative." We often make jokes about Tipton cards and nobody gets mad.
What about my dupes?
Our website displays the want lists of all of the OBC members. You can check their want lists and send cards, or just offer them to whomever needs them. Someone will probably be able to use them. Don't be afraid to send them without expecting anything in return; what goes around usually comes around in this group. This may take a while to get use used to, but you will. Most of this group sends cards because you need them, no strings attached. You will get plenty of responses, especially for 50's and 60's cards.
How active is the group?
Daily messages about cards available, cards wanted, and general good and welfare of the membership are fairly frequent. Be prepared to see an increase in e-mail messages per day, and you can adjust the Google Group settings to receive all, most, or some of the messages either directly or in a daily digest. Members are asked to try and combine e-mail messages as many members are old baseball card collectors and not into fancy computers. Once you start sending cards to other members, we sometimes send many cards at once. You'll be dropping some money on postage for sure.
What about other sports, non-sports cards and newer cards, UV as we call them?
Some people collect these within the group. Some people even collect newer, "UV (Ultra-Violet) Infected" cards. That's fine too, but remember OBC is about old baseball cards. We are a group that collects old cards and wish to preserve the intent of the group as it was when it was formed. If you are looking for tips on how to become involved in UV collecting or you mainly collect newer cards, then this may not be the group for you. The posting of want lists for cards is limited to 1980 or older on your main want list home page. Brief links to UV want lists may be included on your main want list page.
Can I have a homepage that contains UV cards?
Not a home page, but a link on the home page to a UV list is permitted. They just are not what OBC is about. A link at the bottom of the home page or want list that you post in the directory or send to the want list server OBC Google Group is fine. E-mail concerning UV cards should not be sent to the general membership of OBC. If one feels they have some information that UV collectors would be interested in, include it at the end of a message that is sent to the ramblings server OBC Ramblings email group, and let people contact you directly. The e-mail sent to the wantlist server OBC Want List email group may only contain sets 1980 or older, and a with a brief referance link reference to your UV home page. No UV want lists are to be sent to the regular OBC email groups (Ramblings, Vintage Thanks, etc.) but we do have a separate OBC email group called "UV Lists" which facilitate all discussions of post-1980 cards.
How do I mail out cards?
Well, it depends. If you have only a few standard sized cards, just cut 9 pocket sheets horizontally at the seams and fill the newly created mini sheet with cards. These fit perfectly inside legal sized envelopes. Just wrap a piece of typing paper around the partial sheet (add a personal note if you wish) and mail it. After a few of these, you won't even have to get it weighed at the post office, you'll know how much postage to use. This works great, as do padded envelopes, stuffed with card holders or those little hinged boxes. For packages over 100 cards or so, use a box of appropriate size. Above all use common sense. Most of the cards we send are not worth a lot, but every once in a while a big deal goes down that requires special attention to packaging and maybe even insurance.
Can I sell cards within the group?
From time to time, certain cards or groups of cards are offered for sale by group members in a Google email group called "Dealer Scum". Usually the amount of cash involved is small. Remember, the primary purpose of the group is to send cards but from time to time cash deals happen. Cards obtained from other OBC Members should not be sold. Remember, very seldom do we use a price guide. We are a group of collectors and not investors.
So what are the rules?
OBC is governed by an Advisory Committee, consisting of seven elected voting members making up a board of directors. The OBCAC includes a non-voting facilitator and an alternate advisory member. director. The Rules of Conduct document describes the policies and practices of OBC, especially rules for membership. Generally, the rules we enact and follow are in line with our Core Values (Respect, Integrity, Camaraderie, Generosity, Service, and Knowledge), displayed on our web site home page. Common courtesy is a must in any form of communication. We're not too big on rules in this group, just common courtesy. Treat people fairly and with respect. You will find that most members of the group are more than fair to deal with. The group has evolved to the point that many people just send cards to whoever needs them, knowing somebody else will end up sending them something.
How can you guys trust each other like this?
About 25 of us have been involved in OBC since 1992. We know each other and in many cases know about each others families too. You will find this is a very close group of people. Many of us have met in person, and there are several OBC "reunions" each year. We have celebrated births and mourned deaths together and a bunch of us can probably tell you who's kid did what in little league yesterday. In fact, see the OBC History which appears below for more on this. Despite all this, completing a couple of minor trades is the best way to start out.
How do I get everybody's address?
list of addresses is available on the OBC web site for logged-in members only (due to privacy and safety reasons). This expanded, confidential list will be available to you after your membership application has been approved. This expanded, private directory includes personal details such as street address, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, interests, birthdays etc. As a prospective member, you may approach anyone in OBC using their email address on the public version of the directory, and propose a trade based on the member's listed interests. This will help you get started on getting to know the active members.
How do I join?
First, you have read this Frequently Asked Questions document. The next step is to contact a few members and get to know them and a little more about the group. This can be done by viewing the public version of the OBC Directory (click on the "Directory" button on the task menu). There you can find e-mail addresses for all members, and wantlists for most members. Take some time to look through the directory and try and find some members who have the same or similar interests that you do. Contact some of them and see what you can get going between you. It really becomes quite easy. Remember not all members are highly active. Some do very little and others do quite a bit. Upon establishing a relationship with some members, and completing a few swaps to get the idea of OBC, ask them to assist you in gaining membership into OBC. The application process requires three (3) sponsors, each with a minimum of two (2) years experience in OBC. Each of the three sponsors must provide a written recommendation for the applicant. At that time, you should go to the OBC Application page on our web site and fill out the application. It normally takes about a month for approval. If you have made it this far you should enjoy OBC and the members should enjoy having you. If you decide OBC is not for you, thanks for taking the time to read about us!

A Brief OBC History by Josh "Mr. Trivia" Levine

It all started on the Prodigy Online service. I bought a new computer around 1991 and it came with a modem and a Prodigy start-up kit. About three months after I got online, I was searching the different boards for things of interest. I searched several boards before I requested for a listing of information and bulletin boards for the Homelife section. In the Homelife section of Prodigy there was a space designated for sports cards. I had been collecting since I was a child and this area caught my attention immediately. I was shocked and surprised to see that not only were people buying and selling cards online, but the amount of cards offered was tremendous. On Prodigy people were not allowed to post messages for sale, only trades, so new and creative methods of selling were used. George Washington Rookie Cards (GWRC) were big for a while, for example. Prodigy also checked e-mail regularly. Both these things made buying and selling cards online a little challenging but soon I got the hang of it. I was mostly buying newer issues and a few older ones. The way the message boards worked was some one would post a message and any number of replies could be posted to that message. This worked fairly well. E-mail, which cost a quarter after thirty messages, was reserved for finalizing deals or special events.

After about three weeks of browsing the board I came across my first OBC post and my life changed. I think it was a post by Rick Keating asking if there were any old collectors out there who had any St. Louis Cardinals in any, yes any, condition. The post was titled Old Baseball Cards and had a couple of replies. I read some of the replies and was hooked. There was obviously something special going on. The replies contained personal information and opinions, cards for trade, stories about collecting, stories about baseball, and my favorite, trivia. Soon after the Sportscards section of the Homelife Board was moved into a new Hobbies BB. There was were I posted my first note to OBC instead of being just a passive reader. It was in response to some trivia by a guy name Bruce Barnard. Soon after I completed my first OBC trade with Larry Tipton. At the time the OBC moved to Hobbies there were only a handful of people who actively posted. The ones that I first remember are Bruce Barnard, Rick Keating, Larry "Guru" Tipton, David Hornish, Bob Neill, Terry "Poobah" Woods, David "Dr. Dave" Ostroff, and myself.

Over the next couple of months on the Hobby board OBC grew and quickly had two ongoing posts, one titled Old Baseball Cards and the other titled Old Card Trades. Larry Tipton became known as the guru of investments for posting the greatest investment tip of all time: buy Mario Mendoza cards. And soon after that Terry Woods became forever known as the Grand Poobah of Research thanks to an online "memo" he sent the Guru regarding the three variations of the 1966 Don Landrum card. OBC collectors scrambled to find all three varieties in a flurry of trade activity. With hijinks like this, we soon picked up more collectors. It was easy. If you had an interest in older cards in any condition you just posted. People came and went but most stayed. Since we really were not a club but just a bunch of friends it worked fine. Trades started to mount and everyone trusted each other. It is much the same then as it is now. Eventually we had thirty people and a need to organize. Sometime in late '92 (I think) we decided we needed a list with everyones collecting interest and address. The OBC directory was born. Thanks in large part to Fred "Moonlight" Parrow for his hard work, the first hard copy OBC Directory made it easier to send cards to each other. Larry Tipton has taken over the Directory and now distributes it online.

Another large step in OBC history was the idea that since we were growing why not branch out and try to get new members. One way to do this was publish a newsletter. So in the beginning of 1993, "Uncle" Phil Chmielewski and I floated this idea and he sent me a one page sample copy of a newsletter titled "For Collectors Only." (Hey...a collectors item!!!) It profiled cards, profiled members, had trivia, talked about trading, etc. Soon after we decided it would be a good. workable idea. Phil enlisted the help of other OBCers and FCO was a viable publication for two years before it folded. Soon after the first issue was put out things on Prodigy fell apart. The service on Prodigy was never great and it got much worse. Harassing posts, bad connections, and then the worst of all, a price increase. Also, the Sports cards section was moved again to its own bulletin board. As a result of all the turmoil, OBC people, decided to look for a new and cheap online service. We tried Genie, and online service run by General Electric, but that was short-lived. There service was not much better and prices went up there too. But eventually we found a new home at America Online. We moved en masse to AOL and thanks to Mark Shelton had our own OBC folder set up in the Sportscards area on AOL.

Things have grown ever since. OBC is now truly a world wide club with over 140 members in over 5 countries. Home base for OBC is now our website. OBC has seen many changes throughout the years, but one thing has remained the same. It is a group rooted in friendship, who have found a common bond in the love of old baseball cards.

Interested in applying for membership in OBC? Click here for details!

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