When is a collection considered large?


Recently I’ve been buying boosters for the most recent Pokémon set, which features a mix of old and new critters including those only found in the X&Y games. This is a strange habit of mine, as I wouldn’t call myself a massive fan of the card game, nor a collector of it. I mean, it’s fun enough, but I prefer Magic: The Gathering, a different card game that better entertains my sporadic interests.

Going back to Pokémon, I think the reason I keep buying the cards is down to my noticeably cloudy nostalgia goggles. I’ll admit, there’s nothing quite like tearing apart a booster pack of cards and sifting through the spoils, but were it not for my ten year old self and his playground obsession with them, I doubt I’d be able to get past the £3.50 asking price.

I’ve done something terrible recently and given myself a reason to indulge in my Pokémon card habit. That’s something I’ll go into in a later post, but in the meantime, this ‘project’ led me onto eBay. I figured that I’d take a look at what card bundles were ending soon, hoping to grab myself a bargain. I found this, with about half an hour to go:

Large Pokemon Card Bundle – Job Lot.

I’ve had these since I was about 9 years of age & I’m now 23. Didnt have a clue about them when I was younger & still don’t now. So best to pass them on to a new home where they’ll be enjoyed & appreciated. Massive bundle. Will count how many exactly in the week when I get up to my parents house where these are kept. Really don’t know any valuation for them or if they’re any good. Had a folder full of polly pocket fulls at one point. Must be use to someone? All between 1999 & 2002. All well looked after, just been sat in an attic for years. Any questions please ask.

First of all, I should clarify that while the eBay listing did have an image, it was obviously something that was found via Google, and not representative of what the bundle included. A bundle of cards of unknown quantity, from a period between 1999 and 2002, described both as ‘large’ in the listing title, and ‘massive’ in the description. Of course, this was the cause of a few crazy visions of what could possibly be included. If there was a single base set Charizard in that bundle, a card that still fetches over £40 in eBay auctions, then it had to be worth it.

I put in a bid, and won the bundle after a brief tussle with another bidder, securing it for a total of £41 with shipping. I have to iterate that I still had no idea what would be in the bundle, outside of the description. I would normally email the seller for more details, but what can you do when there’s half an hour remaining and it’s past midnight on a Sunday? I took a big risk.

The seller sent me a message shortly after I paid for the auction, thanking me for my quick payment and that she was surprised that the bundle would sell for so much. Not too worrying considering she’d mentioned she was clueless as to what they could possibly be worth, but strange to see coming from an eBay seller! It may have been a Charizard gamble that ultimately made me pay that much for it, but I truthfully explained that it was really because of a nostalgia binge. After all, £41 is a lot of money to be paying for an undetermined quantity of Pokémon cards.

The reply I got was unexpected, and one that played on my mind for several hours before I gave my own response.

Dont worry, theres definitely over 150. Hope thats ok. 

Oh shit. I just spent £41 on 150 trading cards. That was the large collection that was being sold. That was the massive collection that was being sold. This sent my brain into overdrive, quickly working out that yes, this was an obscene amount of money to spend on such a small bundle. 

It took me a while to figure out what my response was going to be to that bombshell. However, the more I thought about it, the more I started to wonder whether she was incorrect to list the bundle as being massive. What makes a collection ‘massive’, anyway?

If, for example, I had a collection of 150 china figures, that’d be something I’d consider massive. So why would 150 trading cards not feel like a large collection? I think this comes down to how easy it is to amass a collection of them. I could get 60 cards if I bought a deck, and 10 cards if I bought a booster. If I just wanted a nondescript collection of cards, I could buy a deck of at least 52 from any supermarket for less than £1. I wouldn’t say that someone with a gravel driveway had an obscenely large stone collection.

But this is cards, not stones. If someone had bought a single booster and was shown three decks worth of cards, it would probably seem like a massive collection to them, right? The seller believed that 150 cards was a large collection, and I believe there’s no reason to lie about that. She believed that her pile of cards was a large collection, and we’re already aware that she didn’t know much about them. It’s somewhat unfair, in that case, for the guy with a 20,000+ collection of Magic: The Gathering cards to deny that 150 cards could be a large collection to someone else.

It’s strange how a bad buying decision made me think that deeply about my interpretation of ‘large’ and ‘massive’, but there you go. I decided not to appeal for a discount/refund and instead took the £41 hit as a learning experience. 

The moral of the story? You probably shouldn’t assume anything when you’re spending £41 on Pokémon cards.


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