The massively popular video game/TV series known as Pokemon made its way into my life when I was roughly eight years old. I remember attending a rabbit show that my mother was a part of and receiving my very first Pokemon trading card; a Squirtle (Fig. 1). At the time, I had no idea how much prominence these little pocket monsters would have throughout my life, but what I did know is that they made me happy, and the thrill of collecting trading cards took off from that point.
(Fig. 1) 1999 Squirtle Pokemon TC
As I grew older into my early teens I continued to collect Pokemon trading cards; to be honest I think every kid did. Back then we had a small collectible card shop located on Bryan’s square. I have wonderful memories of taking trips to this shop with my younger brother and father. Every Wednesday after my father would get off from work he would drive us to the shop, give both of us $2, and let us go pick out some cards. The owner of the shop, who was an incredibly nice man, would greet us every week and slip us rare Pokemon promo cards for free. It became my candyland, my heaven, a place where nothing ever was bad. As the years went by I amassed quite the collection of cards (Fig. 2); filling a number of binders. Eventually the card shop closed down due to trading cards dwindling popularity among kids; however I continued to collect.
(Fig. 2) My binder collection of cards
Even to this day I have never stopped collecting; though my standards on quality has shifted. The aspect of monetary value and investment value has been slowly integrating into my overall love for collecting; something that I had never considered as a kid. I have recently started collecting PSA (Professional Sports Authenticators) graded Pokemon Cards (Fig. 3). These cards are professionally graded and authenticated in order to preserve their monetary value over extended periods of time. For example, lets say you have a card that is worth $10 ungraded; just the card and nothing else. That same card, if given a “Gem-Mint 10” rating by PSA, would have it’s worth increased to potentially $100+; all because it had been authenticated and placed in a vacuum sealed preservation case.
(Fig. 3) My current 2013-2017 PSA Graded Pokemon Cards
Now, some may raise the question: “Matthew, as a 27 year old man, why do you collect these things?” The short answer is simply LOVE. As cheesy as it sounds, love plays a major part in why anyone collects. The love of the hunt, the love of the items, the love of the memories, the love of the experiences; both past and present. When I acquire a new card, I remember the good times that I had with my father, the experiences of trading cards with my friends, and the joy of walking into that card shop on Bryan’s square. The ability to relive moments of my life that brought me such tremendous amounts joy is addictive, but not in an intrusive way. Just like a journal, these cards provide a chronological calendar to my life. I have cards that comforted me when I was involved in a horrible car wreck at the age of fifteen. Other cards that documented my trip to the first Pokemon movie at the age of ten. And of course that Squirtle card that started it all back in 1999. We all have those special mementos that we cherish and preserve. What are yours?
P.S. Here is a great Ted Talk about why we collect: Click Here