The sticker may be the single most valuable form of currency in the bike world. On the surface, stickers are created equal, but upon closer inspection, stickers, like currencies, have differing values. Don't get me wrong, all stickers are important, but like teaching the value of money to a child, five singles are not as valuable as a twenty dollar bill. Here is a brief tutorial on the denominations of the sticker world.
Loose change - Loose change stickers have the lowest value and are often affixed to common, daily items such as travel mugs, the backs of your MP3 player and, on occasion, they are used to make minor repairs in place of tape. In the bike retail world, these are the stickers that find their way to garbage cans, parts bins, and new guy's tool box.
Singles - Singles have a bit higher value than loose change. Like the dollar bill, you would step off the curb to grab one of these. Singles are often a bit larger or offer a cool die-cut shape. Singles are also good for daily items (see above), but their value makes them good for the bumper of your car, the window in the service area, or maybe to cover a rust spot on the trusty '85 Ford shop van.
Fivers and the Ten Spot - Close in relation to one another, the value of the Fiver and the Ten spot is often determined by your love and personal investment in the message delivered by the sticker. A Sun Records decal carries more weight than a Sidi sticker that came with your shoes. Both are cool, but until Elvis records a historically relevant tune at Sidi HQ, the Sun sticker trumps. Fivers and tens are perfect for your tool box, even if you are a clean aesthetics kind of cyclist. One of these babies would make the clean lines of your roller cabinet that much tighter.
Twenty and the Five-0 - Now we are talking about some serious booh-kooh. If lost, the twenty and the Five-0 are the type of decals that are mourned and even warrant a bit of eBay time to try and find a replacement. Stickers like these are never wasted on short term items like cars, computers, or rental apartment refrigerators. The battle over where to place these gems is sure to be waged in your mind. Like your retirement savings strategy, think long-term.
Hundos - The largest of the folders, hundos represent the top of the sticker heap. These stickers can be any size, any vintage, and any area of interest. The value of the hundo is so great that often you hang on to it for years, waiting for the right place to affix such a valuable commodity.
Rare and Precious - Some adhesive-backed images were never meant to be adhered, plain and simple. The rare and precious are worthy of a designation greater than sticker, they are elevated to the designation of decal. Decals are coveted, they are the reason you have a sticker drawer, or special plastic bag in which all decals are stored. Some decals may be twenty plus years old and have only seen the light of day on very rare occasions; they may even have a home inside a bag inside the bag. Decals may never have their backs peeled off and their stickiness may never be realized. But like a collectable postage stamp, or an antique pistol, their worth is not measured by their functionality but rather by their pure essence.
As long as I have been a cyclist, stickers have always brought a simple joy. As a kid, I would run from booth to booth at the bike shows collecting stickers. Later in life, as I walk the isles, I still find myself pulled to booths, which among other things, has a pile of cool stickers on their table. Like cycling itself, the hunt for the perfect sticker keeps me young at heart.