Saturday, April 13, 2024

Ken’s Cues for Collecting Business Cards


IBCC Logo in black

 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 card 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 them yourself.  Ask for duplicates.  Explain how you trade with people across the country, so you need extras.
  • Go to area businesses and ask for several.  Again, be prepared to explain your hobby. It could be beneficial to bring along a sampling of your better cards. If requesting by mail, send along a Xerox copy of some of your cards.

What to Collect

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

Some collect BC’s by states and have them stored in that manner.

You decide what is fun to collect.  Don’t be in a hurry to pick too many categories.  Collect general subjects at first and then decide what you want to specialize in.  Don’t be afraid to add and delete 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 them in loose-leaf binders.  In this manner I can look through my collection easily and can add or subtract cards with ease.  I buy these sheets at business supply stores. 

Don’t trade off that oversized business card just because it doesn’t 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 – How To

Join business card collectors’ groups and mailing lists (IBCC and ABCC are the main ones now) to find other traders and their want lists.   Write a potential trader and send a few 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, and specify the number you wish to trade and any other preferences (some only want 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.

Trading – 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 trader’s categories with whom you’re trading.
  • Most traders want business cards with towns and states.  If a business card is in one of my categories, I don’t mind if it has no town/state or if it is somewhat damaged.However, check with your trader for his/her preferences.  Make your preferences known also.

Conduct as a 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 preferences, but realize that not all of a trade will be in your categories (30-60% isn’t bad).
  • Try to meet the other person’s categories.  If you cannot, at least send business cards which can be traded in turn.
  • Don’t make the assumption that you can send just anything thinking that the other person can always use them for trading with others.  Some traders have enough extras and they do not need “just extras.”
  • If you get a good idea about any aspect of business card collecting, share it with your other traders.
  • Don’t assume that people in large cities are necessarily better traders than those in small cities.
  • If you don’t like what is being sent, let the other person know it and why.
  • Don’t feel obligated to keep trading with someone if the trades aren’t good, even after you’ve complained.  However, you shouldn’t stop if you owe the other person a trade.  You can just say you have run out of the other person’s 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 trader’s name and his/her categories with a Marks-A-Lot pen. 

Once I have a pile of cards – either from other traders or from other sources – 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 trader’s 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 I need.

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

Ken Dupuy

Ken Dupuy is a business card collector in Maurice, Louisiana. His specialized collection of cards (many obtained by written request) is devoted to famous personalities, business tycoons, and others who are well-known in their respective fields.


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