How To Sort Trading Cards Numerically (Fastest Way)

by | Oct 24, 2023 | Guides

How to Sort Trading Cards Numerically

Sorting trading cards can be a daunting task, but with a few tips it can be a breeze. In this post we will outline the best ways to sort trading cards depending on how you’d like to sell them.

The most common ways to sell cards are in lots and as a singles. If you’re going to sell cards in lots, you’ll want to sort by player or by team. Some sellers also sell “starter sets” where you have a lot of cards that are all from the same set.

Regardless of how you plan to sell your cards, the first step to sorting them is to organize by sport (or TCG, if you’re sorting non-sports cards).

Step 1: Sort Cards by Sport or TCG

When you source trading cards, they’ll often already be sorted by sport or TCG. But if they are all mixed up, sorting this way will make it easier to manage the collection.

Start by flipping through the cards quickly and putting them into piles based on sport or TCG. For example, you’ll sort basketball cards into a basketball card pile and you’ll sort Pokemon cards into a Pokemon card pile, and so on. While you’re sorting through this first round, you can also pick out any cards that are higher value or have the potential to be graded. You can set these cards aside into another pile.

Step 2: Sort Cards by Set

Once your cards are sorted by sport/TCG, you should start sorting by set if you intend to sell these cards as singles, player lots, or as set lots.

When you’re sorting by set, simple create piles for each unique set. For example, you might have a pile for all of your 1997 Fleer basketball cards and another pile for 1991 Upper Deck basketball cards. Since each set has a unique design, it’s very quick and easy to do this sorting just by looking at the design of the card (and not by having to read the fine print on the back).

As you sort through the cards, you can pull out any players that you want to sell in a lot and start a pile for that player. Most sellers will only sell player lots if the player is a star or semi-star and the rest of the players generally don’t make it into a lot. When you’re sorting cards with this method, you can keep those non-star players in the set piles while building up a lot of the stars.

For sorting TCG cards, you’ll have to look for the set symbols on the card. With Pokemon or Magic the Gathering cards, these set symbols are typically underneath the artwork on the right-hand side.

Step 3: Sort Cards by Team

This step is optional for people who want to sell team lots. Personally, I haven’t had much success with team lots but, to be fair, I only experimented with about a dozen team lot listings. Team lots are generally listed by set and team such as a lot of all Chicago Bulls cards from the 1991 Upper Deck set (you can tell I love this set because I keep using it as an example).

For this sorting, all you have to do is grab a set pile and start sorting it into piles based on the team. Easy!

Step 4: Sort Cards in Numerical Order

The technique I’m about to share with you isn’t known by many people. It feels a little weird the first few times you use it, but I promise you that it’s worth the practice because there is no faster way to sort a set into numerical order than the method I’m about to teach you.

Start by sorting your cards into 10 piles numbered from 0 to 9. The first pile should be the 0 pile and the 9 pile would be the last (this order matters)! You’ll be sorting into these piles based on the last number on the card.For example, card #23 would go into the 3 pile and card #100 would go into the 0 pile.

Once this first sort is done, stack each pile on top of each other so that the 0 pile is on top. The 8 pile would go on top of the 9 pile, the 7 pile on top of the 8 pile, and so on (until the 0 is placed on the very top). Now you’ll sort these cards into piles 0 through 9 again by the second digit. Card #23 would go into the 2 pile this time and card #210 would go into the 1 pile, etc. When you’re done with this round of sorting, stack the piles so that the 9 pile is on top (pile 0 is on the bottom, pile 1 goes on top of 0, pile 2 goes on top of 1, and so on).

To complete the numerical card sorting, you’ll sort in piles by the 3rd digit this time. Card #132 goes into the 1 pile, card 200 goes into the 2 pile, and cards like #23 or #1 go into the 0 pile. When you finish this last stretch of sorting, your cards will all be in perfect numerical order!

Sorting cards by number makes listing singles much faster. It can also help you keep TCG cards sorted well so you can break them off into playsets (if you sell them that way).

Final Thoughts on Sorting Trading Cards

If you hate sorting trading cards, you should probably find something else to sell online. For weirdos like me, I have a lot of fun sorting through cards looking for hits. Sorting cards can be somewhat meditative where I have an opportunity to sit quietly and think about my business. You can also use your card sorting time to take a break from other work and listen to a podcast or hangout and talk to someone while you sort. Sometimes, I even fill in those weird few minutes of waiting for a call or virtual meeting to start by sorting a handful of cards. Hopefully this guide has helped you!


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