In collecting, we all have a thing we want – something that will add to our collections more than anything else, or even complete our collections. We see this thing for the first time, and it becomes what is known as a Holy Grail. It grabs our hearts and minds, and we don’t stop until we have it.
A Holy Grail (HG) item is an item that is the ultimate goal for a collector. It can be anything, from a card to a figure, a doll or toy, a comic book, even a rock. The HG item is different for everyone – what is mine may or may not be yours, and what is yours may be unique to just you. There are also standard HG’s in collecting, like rare comic books that everyone wants or one of the many Charizard cards in Pokémon.
As with most things in collecting, each Holy Grail is very personal. They’re about what you want, not what everyone else wants. Many new collectors and even some seasoned veterans become worried that their Grail item isn’t good enough, or is weird, or that they’ll be made fun of for wanting or acquiring something. It usually has to do with price and rarity, and ‘keeping up with the Joneses.’ Some people believe that a holy grail needs to be one ultimate item — but there are those of us who don’t.
Some people, like me, aren’t after the item most people consider a Holy Grail; instead, they’re after what catches their eye and what they fall in love with. That’s where our story begins, with me and my Shining Magikarp card.
The first time I saw a Shining Magikarp card, I fell in love. I love the way the gold of the Magikarp plays with the blue of the water type card, mixing with the gorgeous holo, and the mystery of where this Magikarp is heading with his three non-shiny friends. The entire card grabs my heart and won’t let go. It had to be mine. At that moment, the Shining Magikarp became my ultimate item, my Holy Grail card.
I became a collector of great patience. You see, Shining Magikarp cards aren’t hard to find, but for me, it became an impossible task. I wanted the perfect one for me. I wasn’t looking for a card that would grade as a PSA 10 (excellent condition with no damage). I was looking for one that stood out to me, with an imperfection, but had a gorgeous holo pattern. My search spanned years as I looked at them online and in person.
One day, I was on Facebook, and I saw someone having a sale. I didn’t recognize this person, and at that time, I was more of a very quiet lurker and didn’t talk much (much to my complete change in chattiness today). He was selling a Shining Magikarp, and I gave it a look. I zoomed in on the photo, noticing a crease in the card. It was very hard to see, but it was there. I used all the power my Samsung S10 has, enhancing my screen to make it look like this card was in my hand. The holo was beautiful, I loved the pattern, and I fell in love with the crease.
“I found it,” I said to Sean as I stared at my phone. “I found my Shining Magikarp card.” Sean had never heard me say that before, and he looked at the card too.
“You did find it, didn’t you? It’s perfect for you,” he agreed.
I claimed the card and contacted the seller. We went over that the card did have a crease in it, which is something a great seller will do – be honest. I paid for the card and then checked the mail every day while I waited for it to arrive. When it finally came, I couldn’t open the envelope myself. I was shaking and crying. It had taken me many years to find this perfect card, and here it was, behind some thin paper in an envelope. Sean opened it for me – my Holy Grail, my Shining Magikarp card. I let the seller know it had arrived safely and thanked him again. Today, he is a very dear friend of mine, and will always have a special place in my heart because of this card.
I smile at that card every time I look at it, and my heart feels complete. I had completed this HG Quest of mine. What was next? There is always a next in collecting — we’re never done. What card did I want more than any other card out there? There was only one answer. Magikarp evolves into Gyarados, so naturally, I was after the Shining Gyarados card to go with it.
Enter Tomcat into my story. I’ve told you about him before, how I met him through a sale of his and he became one of my best friends in the world. Of course, our chats include Pokémon cards and what we’d collect if we could. I told him the story of my Shining Magikarp and how my heart was set on the Shining Gyarados. I am a big Gyarados lover in general, and Tomcat has expanded my Gyarados collection to include beautiful English and Japanese cards.
One day, Tomcat won a Shining Gyarados card. He showed it to me, and I stared at my phone in shock. It was beautiful and perfect. I was so excited for my friend, he had just won a highly coveted card in the Pokémon world, and if anyone deserved it, it was him. Naturally, I went crazy over it. I’ve lived vicariously through his cards as he has one of the most beautiful, unique collections I’ve ever seen, and he shares it with me through high-quality photos and videos. And now, I was anxiously awaiting his mail to arrive, so I could see the pictures and video of Shining Gyarados.
Time went by, and the Gyarados took a while to arrive. Tomcat and I talked about it here and there as we do, and we both were looking forward to its arrival. The day finally came, and there it was, in my Facebook inbox, in a beautiful photo and video. I smiled at it, truly happy that my best friend had this card. I offered to buy it from him for whatever he wanted for it. You see, Tomcat is exceptionally fair and honest in his pricing, and I know without a doubt that I can trust whatever price he puts on anything. We both investigated the card and came up with what would be a fair selling price for it.
My birthday was coming up, which he knew. Tomcat is sneaky in a good way and told me he had a birthday package coming for me. I got a text from USPS with a tracking number from Tomcat’s city, so I knew to watch for something to arrive. Unfortunately, when it did come, I had the flu and pneumonia, and the package went into a mail pile for me to open when I felt a little better.
Tomcat asked me about it, but I hadn’t opened it yet. On a day where I felt a tad better, I dug into the mail pile. I got to the bubble mailer from Tomcat and opened it. Amongst other things was a hard case with a card in it. I pulled it out upside down, looking at the back of a Pokémon card. I was sick, and my brain wasn’t working, but I looked at it, wondering what it could be that had to be shipped in a hard acrylic case. And then, I flipped it over.
Staring back at me was Shining Gyarados.
In my fuzzy state, I was confused. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at and had to ask Sean to verify that I was actually looking at a Shining Gyarados. Indeed, I was. I looked at the bubble mailer again, and sure as anything, it was from Tomcat. I found a white card that had come in the package, it said, “Happy Birthday Andrea!” on the front, and the back said, “From Tomcat.”
He had given me my Holy Grail for my birthday. I had humbleness in my heart, and I felt honored. There are no words for it. I sent Tomcat a message and wished I could thank him in person or do something to show my gratitude and appreciation for what he did for me. I keep talking about it to him to this day because I can’t believe it. The grace in his heart that he gave me this gift, my Holy Grail. That is what makes this Gyarados truly one of a kind.
What would my next Holy Grail be? That’s easy; it is the reverse holo Gengar from the Legendary Collection. It is gorgeous, sparkly, and purple. I am also a Gengar collector, so this card is my next single card Holy Grail.
But Holy Grails can also be the completion of something, part of your collection, or a specific Pokémon itself (or fill in your chosen hobby, it works for anything). I also specifically collect Eeveelutions and Promo cards.
I would like to complete my collection of Pokémon League Promo cards that feature the Eeveelutions. I currently have the Glaceon and Flareon and am looking for the perfect Vaporeon, Jolteon, Espeon, Umbreon, and Leafeon (there isn’t a Sylveon).
In 2013, Pokémon released a box collection that is now the rarest of them all – the Sylveon Collection. This box featured a new Eeveelution, Sylveon, and had promo cards in it that had Eevee and each of the Eeveelutions. It quickly sold out and became one of the most expensive collection boxes of all time, selling in the hundreds today. While the box is cool, I am after the promo cards from the box. I already have the Sylveon and would like the rest.
My ultimate Holy Grail is collection focused. I want the full Legendary Collection set in reverse holo. This set was released in 2002 with a new take on holo. The entire reverse holo card looks like an explosion of fireworks, something Wizards of the Coast did to renew interest in Pokémon and bring more people to the game and collecting. They are reminiscent of the beauty of Japanese cards, which have extreme, vibrant holo patterns that aren’t repeated in English. People flocked to get these cards, and still do today. I currently have six of them, although only five are pictured here from my collection.
Sean’s Holy Grails are similar to mine. He loves some individual cards, like the Prime Cards. These were made for the HeartGold and SoulSilver expansions. They feature Pokémon portraits that are up close and personal. The cards sparkle and the Pokémon stand out as if they are leaning close to you, ready to battle. This isn’t a difficult task as there are not a lot of Prime Cards, and he is after the English versions for now.
However, Sean is also a lover of Celebi, as we all know. I surprise mail him with Celebi cards, and he wants a full Celebi collection. This tiny Pokémon has been featured on many cards over the years in every language possible, so having a complete Celebi collection is a Holy Grail that he will be working toward for a very long time. That’s a good thing, as it makes it hard to collect them all and is more exciting when a new one arrives in the mail.
Like many people, Sean also likes Charizard. One of the reasons for this is Charizard is the Pokémon we gave to Rhett, one of our cats that now lives at the Rainbow Bridge. Charizard wasn’t a quitter in the anime, and neither was Rhett in his life, so they were a perfect match. Sean is drawn to card art like I am and really loves the artwork on the Dark Charizard cards. They became a Grail for him, the English and Japanese versions.
Like me, he waited for the perfect cards, getting Japanese first and then finding the ideal English holo in a local card store we frequent. The price was right, the holo was beautiful, and it came home with us that day. Rhett was still with us at the time, and Sean happily showed him both Charizards. They shared that moment: a man, his cat, and two Pokémon cards.
While I collect specific Pokémon — Buizel being my number one — Sean does too. His ultimate end game Grail is to own every English Snorlax, Greninja, and Infernape card out there. Then he plans to do the same with the Japanese cards. This is a long term Holy Grail, one that will take our entire lives to complete. Some of these cards are exceedingly rare, and more are released each year.
We have one Holy Grail we share, something we both work toward and are confident we can complete in our lifetime. It’s a shoot for the stars Holy Grail, something so rare that it’s, well, rarely seen. We’re on our way to this Holy Grail and have many ways of completing it.
Our ultimate Holy Grail, before we leave the Pokémon world, is to have one of each card made for every English Expansion. They do not have to be 1st edition cards or the rarest version in the set. Just one copy of each card so we can collect the art. To date, we have roughly 7,000 of these cards, which means one unique copy (at least) of a card in a given set, promo set, or anything released in English. We have a few complete sets already, and a few others we actively work on, mainly from the Diamond and Pearl era.
Sean and I have many Grails, enough to last us so we won’t run out. As Pokémon grows, and so does our collection, these Grails will change over time. It is probably the same for you, regardless of what you collect. You may get your Grail, or one of them, and move on to something else. Or, you may add more Grails to your list. I believe you can never have too many Grails. They are collecting goals, something to achieve in your lifetime. Your Grails are uniquely yours.
I may be one of the only people out there who wants not only one of every Buizel card ever made, but as many copies as I can possibly get my hands on. There are not many Buizel collectors out there, so this makes my Grail unique. I collect Buizel everything and recently added a Buizel figure to my collection that I had long been searching for. It is a sitting Buizel, and it came from Denmark.
My friend Teila is like this with Lucario. That is her favorite Pokémon, and she will collect as many copies of any Lucario card she can because she loves them. She doesn’t stop at cards, anything with Lucario is a Grail for her. Teila is also an artist with talent and an eye for creation. She has painted Lucario, so her collection, and her Grails, are truly one of a kind and unique. But Teila didn’t stop there. Her love for Lucario is so deep that she has a tattoo, so she can take Lucario with her, wherever she goes.
Then there is my friend Elvis, who is the NidoKing. He has a profound love for Nidoking that goes to his childhood and has a collection that he lovingly calls the “NidoKingdom.” Collecting every single Nidoking is his Grail. For Elvis, this Grail will never be complete, as it doesn’t matter how many Nidokings he has, he will always add to them. Elvis gets surprise Nidoking mail from people all over and opens them on Facebook Live. His appreciation for everything he is sent is evident, and he truly does love each and every piece he gets.
As you see, Grails are incredibly unique to the collector. I tend to have a lot of them, as does Sean. Teila and Elvis have other Pokémon they love and other mini Grails. But Lucario and Nidoking, respectively, are their ultimate Grails. Grails can be acquired from anywhere – internet searching, trading, locally, or in surprise mail like my friends and I do for each other. In collecting, a Grail never needs to end, as long as you collect it. It’s the hunt and the joy of completion that drives us. Just enjoy it and find happiness in your heart from finally owning that one item that you want more than anything in the world, your Holy Grail.
What is your Holy Grail item? Let us know, we would love to chat with you about it here on Gemr!
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