When it comes to becoming a cap collector, there really isn’t much to it. Most sort of find themselves stumbling into the hobby, assembling something like over 20 caps and realizing that they’re not the only crazy person who owns so many pieces of headwear. I know I was shocked to find out there were so many people of my ilk who took up cap collecting as a hobby; I randomly posted a few of my caps and my humble little collection on Instagram and immediately found out there were tons of other like-minded folks across the world.
What I haven’t seen is a guide or suggestion list to becoming a more informed cap collector as most of our information is gleaned from one another within the community or through classic trial and error. I thought I would attempt to assemble a guide to help you on your journey to becoming a cap collector.
Note that none of these are in any true particular order; I’m writing them as I think of them.
What kind of collector are you?
Within the hat collector community are many types of collectors. A majority (like the writer) are team-specific collectors who focus primarily on a specific team’s caps. These collectors are primarily MLB collectors thanks to the availability of caps for each team (these are BASEBALL caps, after all). Some collectors prefer to collect logos or simply caps they particularly like. Some focus on high-dollar “big face” caps that feature characters from blockbuster movies and beloved franchises. Others like to seek out popular streetwear brands such as Mishka, Kith, or Supreme. Some prefer to seek out true vintage examples.
What is a guarantee is that these collectors primarily collect New Era caps since the brand has positioned itself as the ubiquitous carrier of baseball caps. Fitted caps are by far the style most preferred though there are some rare caps that are only made in snapback or adjustable. Every major license (save for the loss of the NHL) runs through New Era. Other brands deemed collectible in the hobby include Ebbets Field Flannels, Roman Pro, Sports Specialties, Mitchell & Ness, Pro-Line, and a few scant others.
Know Your Team
Chances are if you’re a team collector you know your team, but I’ll stress it here especially if you’re an MLB collector: KNOW YOUR TEAM. Do your homework and research what your team wore throughout its history. It’ll put caps you want to collect on your radar and provide you with details to look for to avoid fakes, counterfeits and remakes. Fakes aren’t entirely common within the MLB community but do run rampant in the big face and fashion collecting communities.
Memberships/Coupon Codes Help
Since the hat collecting hobby isn’t exactly cheap depending on what you collect, I highly recommend getting memberships and signing up for email lists when you can; while I’m not a fan of spam emails either, companies do include sales and discount codes regularly. Lids does offer their Access Pass membership which scores you 20% off your purchases on a $5/year investment. Hat Club used to have a membership but that may come back soon. Our friends at Billion Creation have sales every so often. ECapCity also has sales during holidays. Fanatics does occasional coupon codes and sales. Finding where your favorite caps are stocked and signing up for their email list will help save the pressure on your wallet when it comes to buying caps brand new.
eBay, eBay, eBay
eBay will become your best friend when it comes to discontinued, rare, and otherwise used caps. I recommend saving a few of your choice searches and referencing them a few times a week. There are caps to be found on the cheap via numerous sellers though the usual eBay warnings remain: ask for pictures if there aren’t enough in the auction, keep away from fishy looking postings and for the love of caps please ASK FOR YOUR CAPS TO BE SHIPPED IN A PROPER BOX. You’ll thank me later.
FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is a very real thing in the cap community. Certain caps are just prone to moving quickly and you may find yourself a day late and a cap short on certain releases. Here’s where the grinding portion of the hobby comes into play. Diligence pays. I personally check my usual sites on a daily basis to see what’s new or what’s in the pipeline. That also includes scouring Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook: with the advent of social media many companies are taking advantage of these platforms to promote their newest releases or to tease upcoming caps. I also recommend checking out your favorite team’s social media if you’re a team collector as they do the same thing when it comes to teasing or premiering releases especially when it comes to special event/theme game MiLB caps which are generally very desirable in the hobby.
Don’t Collect Alone
I don’t mean you have to be an extrovert or need a partner to collect; rather, it’s more fun to collect if you have social media and interact with other cap collectors. The hat community overall is very welcoming and open. It’s very easy to find other collectors who also collect the same caps you do and may be able to help you expand your collection and vice-versa.
It’s Never About Quantity
When it comes to cap collecting it’s never about how many caps one is able to assemble. Every collection is quality because it’s your collection.
Value Is Subjective
By and large monetary value in the cap collecting hobby is largely subjective: a cap is worth as much as you want to pay for it. As you grow and learn more in the hobby you’ll get a sense of what a cap is generally worth and of course what you’ll be willing to pay. Certain caps (especially on eBay) will come down to exactly how wide you want to open your wallet.
I hope this impromptu guide was of some help to you or perhaps provided some insight to the world of a cap collector. It’s truly an interesting and fun hobby to engage in and has opened me up to a world of great friends and experiences I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Perhaps you’ll find the same!