Sad collecting stories?

I didn’t know where to post this, but thought I’d try here. Do you have any sad collecting stories? Maybe one where you lost a card or gave up something and could no longer get it back due to whatever reasons. I think one of the thrills of collecting is acquiring certain cards or items after saving up for a while and finally obtaining it. Sometimes it can take us weeks or even months to track down certain items (maybe even years). I think if you have to part with something like this, it could be devastating at times knowing how hard or how long it took you to get it.

I came across an eBay auction recently where someone had to sell off a huge Eevee plush collection because they’ve run out of funds due to the economy. I find stories like this totally depressing because they spent nearly 10 years building it up and on top of that, probably sold it for a loss. It really makes me thankful and appreciate what I have in my collection and the fact that I can still hold on to it and still get by these days.

I’d be curious to hear of more from people on here, if you have any.


I have a bunch of sad stories from when I was a boy, but nothing as sad as seeing all those Eevees together up for adoption.

Probably my saddest story was how I got out of the hobby as a kid. I was only 8 when Pokémania took off and the youngest kid in my grade. I had a lot of trouble making friends and communicating with other kids, but Pokémon proved a versatile medium and I formed a lot of relationships at that time I couldn’t have made otherwise. Any two kids who liked Pokémon could be friends. They always had something to talk about. That was powerful for a kid like me who didn’t have much else to connect with other kids over.

Pokémon was popular and lots of kids liked Pokémon, but I LOVED Pokémon. I thought about it every minute of every day, something my parents strongly discouraged and despised. My mother and father thought I was victim of a machine that forced addiction on to kids and they did not like that I liked Pokémon, so there was a lot of pressure at home for me to disconnect from the hobby or at least keep my interest a secret. I had the tendency to bring my collection with me every time I went out to see friends, even if they didn’t ask me to, because it meant I could just sit and look at my cards somewhere without judgment.

But like all youth trends, it pretty quickly became lame to still like Pokémon. By 2000 a lot of kids had already stopped collecting cards. They stopped talking and thinking about Pokémon every day. Some friends and I drifted apart because without Pokémon we didn’t have anything in common. I could feel the changing temperature on the hobby as it became less and less the basis for all social interaction and something that was kind of embarrassing. Stickers came off of school binders, keychains and charms came off of backpacks, people stopped wearing shirts and hats, and eventually I felt like I was the only one left.

I struggled with this a lot because I still LOVED Pokémon. Nobody else even liked it anymore, but my enthusiasm for it was at an all time high. We were right in Generation 2. The scope of the Pokémon world had just doubled. There was so much I wanted to talk about and share with other fans but there weren’t any. Not wanting to be bullied as one of the last remaining Pokémon kids, I kept my interest more closely guarded.

I did have one friend who predated Pokémon. She was one of my consistent friends for most of my youth and generally our friendship existed independent from any popular trends or changing interests. She still liked Pokémon a little bit and would still occasionally get new cards, so that was a rare opportunity for me to still share Pokémon with another kid. One afternoon my parents dropped me off there and she had asked me to bring my Pokémon cards. I was excited because I thought we were going to look at each other’s binders and do some trades.

To my surprise, the reason she asked me to bring my cards was so we could burn them. Her family had a big stone fireplace right in their living room which gave her and her older brothers a slightly controlled environment to play with fire. Their fascination with throwing things in the fire had inspired them to burn their Pokémon cards. I have reflected on this a lot and wondered why this was. Why Pokémon. Why burn their cards. And I think that it’s just because Pokémon were for kids and they all saw themselves as more grown up now and burning their old cards was a symbolic indication they had left that kind of thing behind. They were eager to do it. They were grateful to do it. So taken with the idea of destroying their vestiges of childhood it was assumed I, too, would embrace the ritual.

I didn’t know what to do. This was my best friend and my last remaining Pokémon partner. If she was over it and was never looking back, I was definitively going to be alone. I didn’t have long to think about it, but I decided that this was it. It was over. My parents hated Pokémon. My friends thought Pokémon was lame. I had nobody to share Pokémon with. It had become a liability. I was already a loser. So I said fine, let’s do it, and we burned all my cards.

I look back on this with tremendous heartache.

When I returned home empty-handed I just went to my room and found my last remaining Pokémon card - a Japanese Venusaur. This was the luckiest pull I’d ever had, my rarest card, and the one that was most special to me. I never took it out of the house because I was afraid to lose it or have someone steal it. I did not like Venusaur, I was a Blastoise kid, and I wanted a Base Set Blastoise more than anything else and now it didn’t matter at all. Now it was all that I had left. Spitefully, and resentfully, I cut it up with scissors. That was it. No more Pokémon.

Several years later during the era of the e-Reader, I really liked the e-Reader itself. I thought it was cool. I also liked that I could convince my parents to buy e-Reader packs for me more easily than a new video game because they were a lot cheaper. This was a short lived fascination, but I did amass a stack of e-Reader cards that ended up wrapped in a rubber band in my closet for several years. They survived a couple of moves, numerous yard sales, plenty of purges, and eventually I decided to open them up and see what they were so I could sell them on eBay.

In this stack of e-Reader cards were Black Star Promos #51 and #52 for Ho-oh and Rapidash. I don’t know where I got them. I did not have a Nintendo Power subscription or know anyone who did. I could remember where all my e-Reader cards came from, but I couldn’t place these, and I didn’t know why I had them or how they ended up in my stack of games. They were not my Pokémon cards, which had burned years before I got an e-Reader, and yet they were in fact Pokémon cards that I owned. They were “my” Pokémon cards, the only ones I had left, and the only ones that had followed me into adulthood. I’d graduated high school now. I was not in to Pokémon cards at all. But seeing these cards and touching them again and being reminded of my boyhood fascination was transportive. It felt so good to touch Pokémon cards again.

I sold all my e-Reader cards but kept those two. I didn’t know what to do with them. I’d played a few Pokémon games on and off in the last ten years, but the idea of returning to collecting cards felt so foreign. Did adults do that? Could you even buy these old cards anymore? I’d never bought anything over the internet before, so I went to a local card store that mostly focused on sports cards. I didn’t know where to start except there.

This was a real old-timey card shop. Floor to ceiling white boxes stuffed with cards and designations of their contents written in permanent marker on the outside. There were open boxes and retail packages all over the place, on every surface, and the only open area in the whole store was the tiny section by the register. I went up to the counter to the owner, who also lived above the shop, and asked if they had old Pokémon cards “from the 90s.” He reached down beneath the counter right where he was standing and dropped stacks and stacks of vintage boosters on the counter. He sold them to me at their original sticker prices - just $4.95 a pack. Over the course of a few weeks I would make trips out there, buy his boosters, then go home and open them.

When I bought the last of his packs, I took them home for the last time and opened them. I pulled a Blastoise from a Base Set booster. I couldn’t believe it. There it was, the card I always wanted, and from a booster pack no less. For as modest as it was, this was a dream come true. Perhaps the only dream I ever had come true. I got extremely emotional. I moved on to the last booster I had, knowing it was the last one the man had and would probably be the last one I opened in a long time. I opened it up and pulled another Blastoise.

This event cemented that I needed to get back in to Pokémon cards. Knowing how they could still make me feel and how emotional they made me got me started on building a binder and learning about all the different prints and all the different cards. Since I familiarized myself with ordering online, and I knew he didn’t have any packs left, I didn’t go back to that card store for years. One day I needed some acrylic cases for something and thought I’d stop in and see the man and thank him for saving all those cards for so long and then selling them to me. I went in and the store was almost empty. All the white boxes that had bricked the walls floor to ceiling were gone. The display cases were empty. The counter was cleared. He did still have some acrylic cases, so I picked them up and rang the bell at the register.

I waited and the man didn’t come. So I rang it one more time before planning to leave and I finally heard him lumbering down the hall. He was so thin. He was carting an oxygen tank. He was dying.

I asked him how much for the acrylic cases and he said to just take them. I asked if he was sure, he said yes. I said “thank you so much for everything” and tried to put some extra emphasis in my voice. But I wish I was more overt and had told him how much of a difference he made to me. That was the last time I saw him. His store closed permanently a few months later. I never even knew the guy’s name. We never had a conversation that wasn’t curt and transactional. I owe him so much, though. I try to remember his face but it’s barely there in my memory now. I might not even recognize a picture. All I remember for sure is he was balding and had a mustache. He’s basically a floating mustache in my memory now.

I often say that my experience with Pokémon feels autobiographical. Despite it being such a brief part of my actual youth, it is the lens through which I view my whole childhood. And despite all the changes I went through right after high school, it’s picking Pokémon back up that defines that period for me the most. I have so many memories about Pokémon cards and how I felt about them at certain key points in my life and I remember all those feelings when I turn through the pages of my sets. Pokémon has always reflected back at me, somehow, and I see and feel myself in my cards even still. I’ll always remember the difficulty of saying goodbye to Pokémon before I was ready as a little kid. I’ll always remember the store owner who facilitated my renewed interest. Those memories are all there in the cards for me.


@stagecoach thank you for sharing your very moving experiences in the hobby. As someone who struggled to find his identity growing up, I certainly connected with parts of your post.

Just curious, now that you’ve continued carrying the torch and collect to this day, what do your parents think? My mother isn’t a fan of my continued investment in the Pokémon TCG and expresses that to this day, but I’m 28 now, have my interests under control, and live my own life lol


I wish I had a happy conclusion there but my parents and I actually don’t speak any more. When they did see me getting back in to it after high school when I still lived at home, it was the kind of thing that got eye rolls but I was “an adult now” who could “waste my own money”. We never discussed it beyond that before I left the house permanently.


I’m sorry to hear that. I hope you have found/can find peace with the hobby and your family.


Im sure many of us share this same experience…

As a kid I managed to collect and trade for a bunch of 1st edition base set cards including a Charizard, Mewtwo, and a Poliwrath. One day when I was in daycare all of the cards were stolen from my backpack and I cried like a baby. My family was lower middle class, so buying more cards wasn’t an option, and my birthday had just passed so I knew I wouldn’t get any more cards for awhile. That was essentially the day that I gave up on collecting all the way until I was an adult. I cried like a baby that day.


Jesus christ @stagecoach. There were parts of your story that made ME emotional. Thank you so much for sharing. That hit me particularly hard and can identify with most it. Sssoooo happy you found your way back to the hobby and you’re a part of this community we all make up now. It sucks that we didn’t grow up near each other as kids because I can really relate. We would’ve been fantastic friends. I was also usually the one super obsessed and excited about Pokemon, while others scoffed. Only, my enthusiasm lasted until gen 3. I was over the moon excited when Ruby and Sapphire released. I had been reading magazines about the games and grasping at any info I could find on them in the weeks prior to release. On release day, my mom and I got up super early and took 2 buses to get to Toys R Us. I told her we have to get there early so all the games weren’t sold out before we got there. I really believed that since that was my experience when gen 2 released. I remember going up to the games counter, not a single other customer in sight, thinking they were all sold out already…Welp, turns out I was actually the first person to buy a copy that day. On release day. I couldn’t friggin believe it and my excitement was sort of tainted by everyone else’s apparent lack of interest. Props to floating mustache! I had a similar experience/relationship with an LGS owner. I doubt they could really know how much of an impact they have on kids. Anyway, fantastic story and eloquently told.


It’s stories like this and people like stagecoach who make E4 such a tremendous place. Incredibly touching story, one that brought me right back in a beautiful and related way, in the way I love to be transported. These are the best kinds of posts one can find on the forum.

I always felt like hobbies like Pokemon were for the kinds of people that appreciated the finer things in life, enjoyed the fullest of what childhood and childlikeness had to offer, the artists of the world… there is something symbolic about the ordinary people always going with what is mainstream and conventional, leaving people behind, making them feel lonely in their engagement… leaving a space for unordinary people to shine in their unordinariness, make for something special to live alongside a fruitful life. It is one of many things that usually indicate the depth people can have when they are in touch with what Aldous Huxley calls the other world, the beyond.

Thanks so much for that story, man! It is a big part of your history, who you are, and, clearly, one of many reasons you are such an amazing person.



You’re in the wrong business young man. You are a terrific writer.


My daughter vomited onto one of my binders and the vomit seeped into each of the sleeves and ruined everything.

I haven’t used binders since.


Yeah too much modern will do that to your stomach


That was an amazing story @stagecoach , I definitely know where you’re coming from about the impact of Pokemon and cards and how it can bring people together and help you find your footing throughout life with a profound lasting impact. What’s interesting for me with my early Pokemon experience is that I mainly shared whatever cards I had with my sibling because we didn’t have a lot of money at that time so we built a binder up together instead.

Sadly, at some point or another, we seemed to have misplaced our childhood collection we built (which was largely just Base Set thru Fossil) and now 20+ years later I’m finally able to buy and own all those cards that we had from back then, and it’s been a total blast to be able to do it even if I’m forking over $100s or $1000s at times. Having a piece of that life experience back to me is just priceless.

As far as making friends or being brought into a group, that was also a bit tough for me also but in a different way. In elementary, I went to a school that was largely French speaking (Canada) and just a fraction of the kids spoke English and I knew no French at that time. I still have memories of people having Pokemon cards in the classrooms and at school but it was very awkward at times trying to communicate about it together as you can imagine. Because of this, most of my enjoyment in early Pokemon was playing Red/Blue with my sister and watching the anime on TV, and we were lucky to get the odd booster pack from time to time to add to our small collection.

When I got to middle school, we moved to a new city and I had to meet & make friends all over again. At this point, Pokemon was beginning to fade a bit, but I still had a bit of an obsession with trading cards and that’s when I discovered Magic. A lot of kids at my middle school were into Yu-Gi-Oh (this was like 2002-2003 or so) but no one really had Magic it seemed.

There was a new game store that opened up not far from where I lived, and when I walked in everyone there was way older than I was at the time (like, high school and older). Despite this (them being older, me being a 10 year old or so) they gladly brought me in to not only play Magic, but even give me a deck of cards the 1st day I walked in which I never would have imagined. The store owner opened the place to help fund his way through school and was incredibly friendly about everything.

This was so surreal at the time, but I’ll never forget how accepted I felt and how well I got along with people who were way older than me and how I somehow managed to fit in. It gave me a ton of positive social and life experience just playing with and collecting the cards, and I’ll never forget the way it made me feel. No judgment, people just loved playing it no matter what. Its really stuck with me forever as being something really special and unique, and I think Pokemon and other cards have had a lot of similar impacts on people over the years. I get a lot of the same vibes even on this forum, people on here seem to just ‘get it’ and many on the outside I feel don’t fully understand or appreciate this type of stuff fully.


Very true about Magic @jabby! I’ve also found that, regardless of age or background, if you enjoy MTG, others also in the hobby can instantly become your friends. I’ve actually had random conversations with people in the world while like at the grocery store, or waiting to get my car fixed at the mechanic, about Magic. I’ve even retained some of those relationships for the long haul, and those people are part of a core playgroup of about 25 people that is always growing. Just like Pokemon, Magic is very special, yet in a different way.


I’ve purchased a few childhood collections from relatives of collectors who have died. It can be really emotional splitting up any of the cards as they all meant something to the previous owner, they all probably had a story and a memory attached to them that nobody will ever know again. I’ll usually keep some of the items as a keepsake to honour the person.


@stagecoach, Your description of the burning like a visceral, ritualistic experience is striking. It mirrors so much of what I saw other kids do. A purging, like shedding ones skin. It wasn’t simply enough to neglect them or tuck them away in some dark corner to be forgotten along with all the other “rubbish” one accumulates, they had to be destroyed.

Not to the same effect or in the same spirit, but I had a somewhat relatable experience with my dinosaur collection. I took such great care of them, manically so, I barely let people touch them. One so-called friend had this constant urge to push my boundaries on the subject, always pretending like he was about to knock stuff over or mess it up, running into my room with a smirk on his face. We’re not in touch.

Years later, when I was making space in my room, I had to put them all in boxes. For some reason, I didn’t do so gently. In fact, I demonstratively chucked them in there with force, piling them in all sorts of weird and less than ideal positions, leaving scratches, paint marks, bending tails and feet, in other words; ruining a decent portion of my collection. It felt good not having to care for a few minutes. Of course, it was a stupid thing to do, going directly against my better judgment of ALWAYS treating my treasures with great care, but it did in fact happen.


I think this is common among children, who experience such strong devotion and subsequent divestment from their interests at a rapid pace. During this period of expeditious development we grow in and grow out of our passions, and as children our friendships and identities are often centered around these passions. So when a kid grew out of Barney the Dinosaur or Sesame Street it wasn’t just a waning interest, it was a total reinvention. I think children feel an innate compulsion to reject and reform themselves around each developing interest and passion because it is only through these interests do they perceive their own identities.

I mentioned earlier that despite only being into Pokémon from ages 8-10 it feels like the basis for my entire childhood. This is undoubtedly a symptom of that. Who was I at that age? I was a kid who loved Pokémon with friends who loved Pokémon. But before that I was a kid who loved Toy Story and Godzilla, and after that I was a kid who loved James Bond and Indiana Jones. At the cusp of all these reinventions of myself there was always a period of packing up the old me. I did not like Toy Story anymore. I’d shed a sort of snakeskin and left behind a hollow shape of myself without me in it. Without ceremony or regret I left it all behind every time.

What makes my experience shedding Pokémon unique is that I was not ready to say goodbye to it. It wasn’t a voluntary transition from one interest to another. That wasn’t my snakeskin, that was my lifeblood. That was still who I was, who I wanted my friends to be, that was my identity. Experiencing that self-destruction was difficult and I definitely struggled for a little while to generate a new sense of self surrounding something else. I had other interests, of course, but I didn’t have another passion like that for a long time. I guess it makes sense that I came back. At first I thought I was just going back for closure. I was going to collect a few things I always wanted and feel good about that. But it turns out that unresolved passion had a long shelf life. I’m over 30 now and still here.

I didn’t expect my original post to get the attention that it did, so I am feeling a bit timid, but it is a conversation I like to have sometimes.


It’s a very good conversation to have sometimes!

I read the part about your experience being different from that of your friends, I hope my post didn’t come across as brushing over that fact. I can’t say I have ever experienced the same type of scenario, but I can sympathize with the loss, it sounds like an awful experience. Most of my innumerable bitter experiences as a person/collector came from not going along with what people wanted me to do.

At age 10-11 I lost a friend I’ve known since kindergarten because of it. Long story short: I visited him on the weekend, me and him were playing with Pokemon figurines like we always did, we both had pretty nice collections, he had a lot more exotic ones than I because his parents had a car and mine didn’t. Two of his friends show up in the afternoon, when I suggest we all play they laugh at me and my “friend” tells me what a stupid suggestion that was, and that we should do something cool instead, which meant strolling around kicking dust, being bored and talk about the latest episode of Big Brother. In that hour I left him, I called my parents and let them know I’m getting on the first bus home even though I was supposed to stay another day. I think I’ve seen him 3 times since that afternoon 20 years ago. I wasn’t mad at him, I was just disappointed.


Oh no, not at all. No worries. :blush:

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The burning experience sounds traumatic, mate.

I had bad experiences with my cards being stolen or “trading” them with bullies.

Incredible what can go through a mind of a child. It’s not like I brought my cards to school, but because I had mentioned what I had, I was then forced to make a lopsided trade.

I find it difficult to accept that these kinds of experiences and behaviours from children are natural, but how do we create better environments for children, if perhaps their home environments are creating antisocial behaviour?

My story is not as painful as some others, but once when I was about 10 years old my little sister wanted to take my Pokémon binder to a summer day camp with her to show off to her friends; and I was super against letting her because I was so protective of my collection - but my mom made me let her. And I never got a straight answer if she just left it unattended and some other greedy little hands went through my cards, or if she got duped in a really bad trade - but when I got my binder back I was missing a good chunk of my holos. It was painfully obvious holes in my collection because at the time I had my cards in Pokédex order.

It was only a modest collection but I lost some of my original base set/jungle/fossil holos that I had opened and traded for myself which is something you can’t really replace (something my parents didn’t even try to do anyway - they just blew it off as not really mattering even though it was a huge deal to me). I remember being most upset about my Gyarados and Moltres holos at the time even though I believe I lost a Blastoise and Venusaur in the mix as well.

I feel kinda guilty about it now because my sister was only 8 at the time, but I held that over her for most of our childhood and never really let her borrow anything of mine again.