Got a Card? Steve Patterson Has Many

Steve Patterson in a photographic self-portrait, wearing a T-shirt that advertises his hobby.

Steve Patterson in a photographic self-portrait, wearing a T-shirt that advertises his hobby. Steve Patterson hide caption

itoggle caption Steve Patterson

Steve Patterson collects business cards. He has nearly 85,000 at this point, and hopes to gather a cool million. He tells Scott Simon what makes a memorable card and from which famous people he's collected.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Business cards are often considered the ticks and fleas of modern corporate life. We put ten in our wallet. One day we open it up and find 20, and only two that we ever really want to keep. But these little pieces of cardstock are handled with much greater care by Steve Patterson. He's what you might call a cardiologist. Steve Patterson joins us now from the stations of WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. Mr. Patterson, thanks for being with us.

Mr. STEVE PATTERSON (Collector of Business Cards): Thank you.

SIMON: How many business cards do you have?

Mr. PATTERSON: Around 84,200.

SIMON: How do you get so many?

Mr. PATTERSON: Pick them up when I go to the store, friends.

SIMON: You have a business card from Donald Trump?

Mr. PATTERSON: Yes, I have Donald Trump's business card as well.

SIMON: How'd you get that?

Mr. PATTERSON: Just wrote him and asked him for it, and he sent it to me.

SIMON: Do you have a business card from the Vienna Flight School in Florida.

Mr. PATTERSON: Correct.

SIMON: This was where some of the 9/11 hijackers took flying lessons. How did you get that business card?

Mr. PATTERSON: In the International Business Card Collectors Club that I'm in, one of the members lived down the road from the school, and she went down there because she heard they were closing down, and she went and asked for all their business cards. Anybody who sent her a self-addressed stamped envelope, plus some business cards, will get one.

SIMON: What makes a good business card, do you think?

Mr. PATTERSON: A lot of the tattoo business cards are kind of interesting because they're actually hand-drawings or they're tattoos that they've used on people, and they put them on their cards.

SIMON: What other business cards strike you as particularly successful?

Mr. PATTERSON: Ones made out of metal, leather, plastic or even CDs works really well.

SIMON: Now, how do you store your business cards?

Mr. PATTERSON: I've got them in sheet protectors and binders. I take the three-inch binders; my wife takes polyfill material and decorates binders for me, and then I also get the ones for, like, photos because you'll get some really big sizes, especially your international business cards. They come in bigger sizes than our standard U.S. business card size.

SIMON: What's the biggest prize a business card collector can get in his or her collection?

Mr. PATTERSON: An older president that's no longer president.

SIMON: But, of course, former presidents, as a rule, I'm just guessing, what do they need with business cards?

Mr. PATTERSON: Well, maybe one of their previous employment, like, where they were probably, most of them were lawyers, so maybe their one of their old lawyer cards or something.

SIMON: Like if you have a Gerald Ford's card from when he was a Congressman from Michigan?

Mr. PATTERSON: Yes.

SIMON: Mr. Patterson, it's been nice talking to you.

Mr. PATTERSON: Well, thank you very much. Maybe one day, I'll get my million soon.

SIMON: You've got a few years, don't you?

Mr. PATTERSON: Well, I average about, net, 25,000 a year.

SIMON: Steve Patterson collects business cards. He's also a graphic designer, and if you'd like to send him your card, you can find his address on our web site, NPR.org.

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