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Trading Stories With The Creator Of Geocacher Cards

Some people trade baseball or bubble gum cards, Shane Holmes collects examples featuring geocachers.

And as the creator of this new geo-craze and the owner of Facebook’s Geocache Trading Cards page, he’s hoping you might join in.

The American (GC handle: GeoLobo) came up with the idea in 2008, having spent two years trying to decide on a signature item that he could place in geocaches and trade with other players on the trail or at events.

“My first signature item was a GeoLobo plastic token,” he says. “These were fairly cheap to make, but didn’t have the WOW factor I was looking for. In 2007, my wife (GC handle: Bluegirl) and I created a geocoin.

“These turned out to be really expensive and because of the price, we were reluctant to place them in geocaches or hand them out for free.”

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The following year, Holmes began toying with the idea of geo-cards and, after shopping around custom trading card vendors, realised these could be produced “fairly cheaply”. “The average price of creating cards was about US$100 for a quantity of 500. This seemed like a very reasonable price.”

He and Bluegirl, who hail from Long Lake, New York – near the Adirondack Mountains – created their “first two professional, custom geocaching trading cards” in 2008 and have issued a new card every year since, giving them a total of seven.

Other geocachers subsequently jumped on the bandwagon, designing their own versions – most using a “template-style trading card (a card where everyone shares the same theme and background)”. Notable examples include those produced for the Going Coastal Mega, Louisiana Geocaching and more recently by FTF Geocacher magazine.

Despite having started his own geo-craze, Holmes isn’t content to rest on his laurels, deciding this year to produce a series of geocaching history cards. “I wanted the series to remain open for the future possibility of adding additional cards in the future and for filling in gaps in the timeline as I discover new significant historical events, places, people and things. The first 10 cards have been designed and I currently have had six cards printed.”

He’s also created a Facebook page for other geo-card fans to trade and show off their collections. “I am trying to spread the word on geocaching trading cards in the hopes that more people create cards in the future,” Holmes says.

“I know there are a lot of creative geocachers out there. As we all know from the history and progression of the geocoin, as well as from the various handmade signature items, people can come up with some magnificent pieces of art.”

In the second half of 2012, he has plans to develop a New York card – “much like the Louisiana Geocaching Legends card but with a New York State theme”. “I am hoping to get other New York geocachers to follow suit, make a card from the template and join in the fun of trading cards.”

WANT YOUR OWN GEO-TRADING CARD?

Creating a trading card is easy to do, says Holmes.

“Come up with an idea, pitch it to a vendor and ask for a quote. There are vendors who will help you with your graphic ideas if you can provide them with a good understanding of what you are looking for – and some won’t even charge you for the additional work.”

If you’re after a complex design, Holmes prefers to provide the graphic detail himself but always asks for the company’s advice or suggestions. “My personal trading card vendor that I use is Gavin at Custom-Trading Cards. He has never done me wrong, always has great creative advice to offer, is always willing to help me with graphics, and prints and delivers the cards fast.”

He recommends choosing cardstock that is water-resistant to prevent the cards becoming damaged inside a geocache.  “Trading cards from the right vendor come printed with a glossy water-resistant coating. This is not water-proofing but it will protect against moisture to a certain extent.”

Holmes has found that using “very inexpensive” plastic sleeves has dramatically increased the life of his cards in a cache, though he notes that even with this protection, cards should always be placed in a waterproof container that also has a ziplock-bagged logbook.

“My personal trademark is to sign the logbook and place my trading card on the page of the logbook, close the logbook, place it back in the zip lockbag, and place the bag back in the waterproof container.”

*If you have your own geocacher trading card, It’s Not About The Numbers would love to see a copy.

6 comments

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  1. Pete

    Reminds me of the good old CB Radio QSL cards. Now… there was an 80s fad….

    As a cache owner of “several” caches, I find these items end up clogging up the works and they are frequently taken out during maintenance time. I don”t know too many cache owners ‘locally’ who think they are a good idea. And of course, some cachers stray into advertising companies or their trade, sometimes leaving multiple cards per cache.

    I see them as great things for cacher-to-cacher swaps at events, but to stuff them in cache containers, I’m not sold.

  2. kjwx

    I agree when it comes to the little laminated calling cards that seem quite popular here in Welly, but a proper trading card – that I would like to find in a hide.

    1. ADV

      Sorry kjwx, given the size of the plastic sleeves pictured (67x92mm in metric) I doubt very much you will even see a cache that big in Welly 😉

      1. kjwx

        Prepare to be proven wrong then, ADV: I have two LARGE hides ready to go out – once I can find a big, strong bloke to help me lug them to GZ. One is so big (and heavy) it takes up a whole seat on my sofa. Plenty of room for trading cards in those babies.

  3. GeoLobo

    @Pete – You either didn’t read the story and see the pictures, or you have a hard time distinguisihing between professional trading cards and a business card printed off from someone’s personal computer printer. I can assure you that no one is complaining about my cards cluttering up a geocache container!

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