Card collecting like an adult
I've been collecting Magic: The Gathering cards since I started playing back in 1995. This very quickly developed into keeping 1 of each card in a binder, in 9-up page sleeves. On a shoestring budget, I was always on the lookout for a (free) slightly-nicer binder to keep my cards in. When my dad brought home a set of four 3" D-ring gray binders from work, it was a small windfall. I printed out the expansion symbols for the sets I was collecting on a piece of printer paper and slid it in the spines. This was Very Fancy.
For the uninitiated, MTG releases (mostly) unique sets of cards, (usually) 140-350 cards each, (usually) 4 times a year. Each of these sets has a unique expansion symbol printed on each of its cards to distinguish its origin. They're often in "blocks" of 2-3 sets that are related.
I mostly stopped playing/collecting when I left for college in 2002, picked the game back up briefly from 2009-2010, played sporadically at Icrontic events, and then started again a little over a year ago. When it came time to dust off the ol' Magic card sets, I wanted to be able to have them sitting out in the house somewhere without it looking like... well, a giant pile of Magic cards in school binders.
Nerd stuff's gotta match the decor, man.
Step 1 was to find some nice binders. After much searching, I found a 3-ring Barrister binder with optional sleeves. Spill- and dust-proofing the binders was high on my priority list, so I splurged on a set of these.
Step 2 was to be able to identify what was in each binder. I wanted to put expansion symbols on them, but it had to be in a classy, fairly subtle way. These binders go in the pub, so writing on the spine in a silver Sharpie was way out of bounds. I considered custom vinyl stickers, but some of the symbols were far too detailed. Stencils seemed a poor choice for similar reasons.
Eventually, I settled on clear adhesive-backed printer paper. Now it was down to finding and printing all those symbols. Fortunately I stumbled upon Keyrune, a new open source font of all the Magic: The Gathering symbols, hosted on GitHub. Now I was getting somewhere!
After a test run on plain paper to gauge sizing, the first run on sticker paper.
Trying out the first binder - all 3 sets in the Ice Age block, 1 per color area. Great success
The 7 blocks of the pre-modern era of Magic.
As I'm able to afford more binders and cards, this system is very easily expandable and looks classy as hell. Pretty happy with the outcome.
I honestly thought this was going to be about collect beer bottles
18 months later, I've completed my project! I now have room for all 25 years of Magic: The Gathering core, expansion, and supplemental sets arranged in (roughly) chronological order.
Are they all full? Heck no. A third still have zero cards in them. But man does it look good.
Minor changes in the last year: Acquired anti-UV plexiglass to protect 3 of the shelves from fading (the sun occasionally manages to hit them) and moved the supplemental sets to make room for the ever-expanding library of major sets.
In case anyone else out there is interested in reproducing this one way or another, this file contains every Magic expansion symbol at the same size I printed them at on clear labels for these binders.