Condition Disorder and Seeing Monetary Value

Just came up with this term but it best describes a cycle of thoughts I’ve been having on how collecting has become for me.

With all the high end collectors, and youtube videos, sometimes I cant help but find myself being dragged along with looking for print lines, edge wear, monetary value and judging a grade instead of enjoying the cards. I mean most click bait videos are solely about skipping all the cards, going to the holo, check it, sleeve it then smacking a PSA price on the screen.

As a entry-mid level collector, First of all I was enjoying the nostalgia and relating to childhood memories. I got lucky with a binder including some mint cards. Just because a local guys dad collected for his son and went from packs to binder. I bought this binder on a whim as felt like having some flash backs of flipping through pages. It was £140 for Base set, Jungle, Fossil, Teamrocket and some base set 2. I had it for 2-3 years before I even heard about card conditions, I hadn’t taken any cards out of the ultrapro 9 card pages till this point and was greatly surprised to find the Team rocket set to be mint. I did my research and did a PSA submission with all the hype.

As the years have gone on I find myself bothered by bad condition cards in my binders, but buying NM-Mint I find myself needing to grade them.

I basically end up with incomplete binders, and also incomplete graded sets as sometimes the big hitters make it difficult to complete.

I think its a stigma I’ve gained from hunting for mint cards but when going to my binders I no longer see the pokemon, I see the monetary value.

I believe if the condition hunt never entered my mind, I would be simply filling up binders and completing sets having fun. I remember having a completely different vision when looking at cards, Looking at the holo, reading the moves, seeing the hp. I mean if someone handed me a completely scratched scuffed charizard or blastoise, I can honestly say I dont think I would have noticed unless it was folded in 2.

Can anyone else relate to this?


Not really. In my binder I prefer heavy played and damaged cards all day, because they are very cheap and my goal is just to complete it. I only care for grades with my trophies. If you get obsessed with condition you will never enjoy your binder.


Not really for me either @justmatt - is Pokemon your main gig by the way? Pokemon is seriously just a hobby for me - while I understand the value of what I’m buying, I’m not relying on it to generate income especially given that I’m not based in the US (my local market is much smaller and doesn’t really understand vintage cards). I also don’t really care if the value is $10000 or $100, for example, since I wouldn’t sell either way.

It also sounds like you’re always going after 10s. Personally, I feel that the price tag increment from 8/9 to 10 is a bit too much, since grading is subjective and the difference is probably very minor (weak 10s exist!).

What I’d recommend is to perhaps revisit some collection goals. Even “WOTC” is a stretch. I know there’s a serious sense of FOMO for newer investors like you and me, especially when prices seem to be hitting all time highs. But if we’re not focused and disciplined with our spending, we’ll never finish anything.

It also helps to have a priority list within your collection goals too. For example, I collect every single Blastoise, Suicune, Gardevoir, Misty, and Skyla card(s) ever printed. Those are a bit more serious than my Pokemon-Ex (like Emerald, Ruby & Sapphire) collection, which I update when there’s seriously nothing to buy for the month. And all of those are low priority compared to my Base set Blastoise collection, since my most expensive purchases will likely come from there.

Notably, I’m only looking for PSAs for the Blastoise(s). It doesn’t mean that I’m going for really scuffed cards for the others, but it just means that I’m not going to scrutinize every card to make sure it’s pack fresh.


Unless you go for the mint binder :wink:

But then your binder pages and sleeves need to be mint too!

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@justmatt, man this post from you here hits a soft spot in me, so maybe Ill throw in my feelings here as well on this, as I can relate but im also on the other side of this notion as well.

When I came back into collecting, all I ever wanted for myself was to have a nice collection while also getting back “my favorites”. I had my collection basically lost/taken years ago during a bad time of my life (see: e4 story time thread by Pokemon Classics for my tale) but in coming back condition was a huge thing which I wanted to be in tip top shape. So i shortly after going crazy into hidden fates, dove into graded cards.

I saw the prices of 10s and freaked out. I have an average job and also go to school, so my priority couldnt be driven into these things. I was devastated, but then bought a few cards as 9s which I could grab at the time and compared to a 10 a graded myself and realized I was paying for subjectivity. This then opened my eyes to more, and i geared away from that aspect of things.

Fast forward to now, 9s are going higher, 10s are way out of reach in some aspects, and here I am dabbling in the grading game, debating on what moves to make next. But in this all, its so easy to lose sight of *why* your collecting and what youre doing this for. Im not here for money. Im here to engage and have fun with things while making tons and tons of friends along the way and recreating things I once lost. That being said, my moves now always go based on what I like, and the grading aspect of things to me is more a preference over the monetary side of things. Plus, I also have a a binder set im working on of some other cool things i have in store for the future. But whether binder, Psa, Bgs, toploaders… whatever one decides to do is all perfectly fine and is still being a part of th is great hobby.

At the end of the day, this hobby is all about having fun and sharing in that love for pokemon. If you have a PSA 10 1st ed zard or just a Binder played 1st ed zard, its still the same card. I had to break these stigmas early on, because if i didnt id be broke by now. Either way you go about it, the real win is when you see your cards and have that joyous feeling hit you that we all long for, and to get there requires you to move away from others thoughts, words and opinions and just learn to be be happy and content with what youre doing. Value and dollar signs are fun, but the real happiness typically is found outside of that. I can vouch for that myself, because so far my most favored thing about being back has been making so many friends here whom I couldnt be more grateful for. Money cant buy that, and neither can it create that happiness you get when you see the cards you worked so hard to accumulate. That all comes from within, and transcends a cards condition.

Hope this helps :blush:


You are a saint, dizzle. This post was so damn sweet!


Well, Pokémon is a young hobby and it’s naturally been PSA 8-10 only.

Part of what will be happening, which is a sign of maturity, is the value of these lower grades gaining collectibility.

I’ve only bought 8s, but given how the market is going I’ve reconsidered two things; lower grades and 1st edition stamps. So I empathize with you.

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@mario005, haha ty, I just do what I can :blush:

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I recently warned a guy on eBay about damage that’s hardly visible in the photos on some vintage cards, he basically said “Oh no worries, it’s part of their charm as relics to me. These were supposed to be played with after all.” I really needed to hear that tbh, it’s easy to get lost in budgeting since numbers jumped so much.
I think with time, we all notice a cards condition more and more unconsciously and precisely, it’s an acquired skill and it’s about what you do with it.
What you described can even be benefitial to you if you adjust your goals for your binders, maybe in taking a different perspective like the above on lower condition cards. If you then see monetary value in nm cards that’s great - grade them, sell them and buy exponentially more lower conditon ones. Practise appreciating those. I missed out on PSA 10 Lugia EX PLAY promos for a price that’s worth it to me, so I actually “practised” appreciating my binder copies even more.
An English set collector entering the hobby now probably has a very different perspective on the “PSA 10 or bust”, it may be ridiculous to them why people ever had that in mind. Other people’s perspectives like such really help me.


When I first started collecting in 2015, I didn’t even know what centering was. Now I subconsciously notice it every time I look at a card.

I’d go so far as to say this issue is in the same vein as the comparative culture that social media has promoted over the last decade. Instagram especially has made people hypercritical of their own flaws and it looks like that translates into the collecting hobby as well. It’s easy to get wrapped up in what other people are doing and posting on the internet instead of sticking to your goals and remembering why you started collecting. Good on you for identifying this and pointing it out.


With respect, what you’re speaking of just doesn’t seem very realistic to an adult collector. This site is the major leagues of the Pokémon enterprise; the monetary aspect is simply part of the hobby. Condition matters greatly, and personally I get less and less joy out of a card the worse the condition gets. Even as a kid if a card was scratched to shit, it didn’t fetch as much on the playground. You couldn’t look at a car and be blind to the fact that a Ferrari is worth more than a Ford.

Depends on the Ferrari and the Ford.

Same with pokemon cards.


Light played - Near Mint is where it’s at, I don’t care what anyone says. If the card is going into my binder that is the best condition. Just save the money and stress, Mint or Gem mint cards that get put into a binder feels like lighting money on fire.

The only exception would be for cards that are brand new and all of them are basically mint.

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I get a similar feeling as well with collecting. I genuinely ENJOY collecting cards, searching for deals, getting a package in the mail, but I’m just out of college with an entry-level job so I don’t have the capital that a lot of people here have. There are cards and sets I like, so naturally I pursue them, but since I have to settle for less than the best (PSA 10), I can’t help but feel this irrational feeling like I’m wasting my time. I like collecting, but at the end of the day I’m not in a position financially right now where I can get everything I want. Like why bother buying this PSA 8 or 9 when deep down I KNOW there’s better out there.

I guess that’s just collecting though. I think a lot of it just comes from watching YouTube videos and seeing some of the insane collections on here and being envious. At the end of the day though you’ve just gotta find out why YOU do it. It’s not a competition, and for most of us it’s a childhood hobby that we’re lucky enough to continue.

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After accumulating many sets of each it was kinda a natural progression to start concentrating on condition. Plus, I was trying to teach my sons a little business sense so together we listed items on Yahoo USA. There, accurate condition descriptions mattered so they learned that too.
Let’s face it. With ALL collectibles, condition matters.

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Worrying about the condition of the cards has just become a part of the hunt for me. It’s a nice challenge to collect something and need to keep looking for the same card because the one you have has damage that you know about.

It’s when this gets passed over to other aspects of my life it worries me a little. For example, I play board games quite often and there are times I’ll catch myself looking at a card and noticing all the edgeware and scratches. My personal games all the cards get sleeved, I tell people it’s because if I don’t I’ll have to replace the pieces and it’s easier to replace a sleeve. But I know for a fact if I had never gotten into Pokemon I wouldn’t have cared.

It’ll get really bad when I end up like @garyis2000, I remember a story he shared where he was looking through business cards and his wife asked what he was doing and he admitted he was looking for the best looking one.


Thankyou everyone for you kind responses, Had to head off for other things last night so only just getting back to this thread now. This might end up becoming some what of a story time.

@thatblastoiseguy, Pokemon isn’t my main gig, but it does reflect with what I do which may explain some of my thoughts. I have a business where I source specific products / equipment and sell on around the UK to companies/buyers. Some things we buy in large quantity, some things are very specialised and require reaching out to buyers or waiting till they need it. This ends up in low cost high margins but requiring sitting on things / storing and is seen as investments.

Both me and my partner have also been into auction houses, antique architecture and other collector markets since I can remember. Our business actually spun off from being involved in the above.

I have found for a while now that bidding on cards in the light play - near mint band can often end up reaching prices where you can reasonably think, I could pay another 30% and be looking at a card already graded or buying something mint. I know some others have ended up doing this. Another thing that correlates to my work is having non-educated sellers in whatever the subject promising something its not, very often because they googled what they had. The amount of times we are shown containers of new items by a rude seller wanting premium prices and on arrival instantly noticing its a full load of reburbished/damaged/used items, or very often a completely different circa of age that the seller was 100% guaranteeing us on. With knowledge comes power in these situations and have had many apologetic speeches and backing into a corner saying well this other guy told me they were…or but I thought… and so on. It comes with business but who pays for my time and 500 mile journey.

Anyway, a little off subject.

@dizzle24, It seems we have similar views/experiences on this situation. Because I early on did achieve some descent PSA 10 cards, I became part of the PSA 10 Crew, but to continue this now would start to break the bank or take money away from better used positions. Adapting will be the key. In owning / being part of the best condition items in other markets, can be difficult to take steps back when entering a different subject.

@garyis2000, I fully understand the progression, every collector evolves and will always be looking to take the next step. Someone with your experience and time in the hobby is clearly going to have progressively reached hunting for the best condition, or the real rarities.

I suppose my conclusion is that as SMPRATTE has said, there is plenty of accessibility in the hobby. To me any listing containing near mint or mint which can include a card that is going to be in the scale of PSA 5-9 is reaching figures where you have to think about the finance or evaluate ‘I might as well just buy it graded’. Which is fine, apart from I then have the decision whether to keep it graded or crack it for the binder, and then in future thinking should I grade this again.

Because most of my purchases bring in the subject of monetary value, what is most cost effective and so on, I feel this maybe why I am feeling this way.

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@justmatt, I totally get what you mean, which is why I try to stay away from buying things that are sold as NM and paying NM prices for them, if you will. To me it’s almost worth it to just pay that little bit extra to get an NM grade that is universally understood and harder to dispute i.e. PSA/BGS

For binder stuff, however, I’d pay PLD/light played prices all day. I mean it’s like what you said - I enjoy the card and well if the edges are scuffed a little but it’s 50% cheaper, then hey there’s more budget for me anyway.

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I do think there’s something you’re touching on here. I’ll talk about my own recent experience. I’ve had a 1st Edition Shining Gyarados for a long time now but it always had a nick on the bottom of it that, while you can’t really notice if you’re looking at it, has become painfully noticeable to me.

However, up until this past year, I didn’t really care about the ding on the bottom. So why did I start caring now? Because I saw prices going up, I saw graded cards, I saw the attention of the “fresh minties” and felt like mine was inferior.

I made my peace that I wasn’t going to be able to buy a replacement card. And then I decided to share it again on IG and felt a lot better and more appreciative of the fact that I just have one.

At the end of the day, it’s very similar to what @papafrankgod said - it’s all about the completion of the collection. I can worry about the best condition when I’m dead. XD


Check the one I bought for 81 usd. And I will keep on buying these all day for cheap because my goal is to have all variations. I can leave the price concern to my graded trophies.

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