On my 'regular' wantlist, I have an imaginary line that sections off everything from 2010/11 on. Cards previous to that would be considered my 'white whales' - ones that have eluded me for years.
On occasion I track one down, other times a tip from a fellow collector land me one but for the most part I'm resigned to the thought that I might never own a copy (let alone just see one).
One such item was really bothering me......for years. While most of the cards on my 'white whale' list were numbered to 25 copies or less, this item had no such distinction. In fact, upon first seeing it on the list you'd probably think "Why have you not got a copy?".
Well, I'll explain.
Back in the 2000/01 season, Panini NHL stickers were marketed only to the European market (why? I have no idea). But tracking down singles were next to impossible.
It was a smaller release (actually the smallest Panini product in the past 15 years at just 212 stickers) and packages of the product were so scarce in North America that a lot of us still don't even know what the wrappers look like.
For years I just ignored the fact that this item was on my list. I had seen maybe one or two copies pop up on ebay over the past decade but the asking price (at the time) was too high.
It was a Panini sticker....another one will come around. Right?
Well, maybe not.
It had been well over 5 years since I saw the last copy of this sticker. Maybe it was the 'summer lull' or maybe it was the simple updating of my wantlist, but all of the sudden last week I decided to go on a hunt. I wanted to find a copy of this sticker.
A quick Google search sent me to a site that is dedicated to NHL sticker sets. Right off the bat my jaw dropped when I saw the asking price for a complete set. 212 stickers......$200!
And when you consider the 'key rookie stickers' being Manny Fernandez, Antti Laaksonen and Krzsytof Oliwa that price seemed more outrageous.
But I thought that maybe if he had a Linden, it'd be for a great price (five bucks or so).
Not quite. $15 plus shipping. Ouch.
But when I sat back and thought about it, I started feeling more comfortable with the price. It was a card that had eluded me for over 10 years, I hadn't seen a copy for over 5 and it was a 'white whale' on my list. There are a lot of cards that I would gladly pay $15 for if those were the conditions.
So I bit. I sent the payment and the sticker arrived last week....from just up the road in Edmonton no less (small world). And as soon as I opened the bubble envelope, any small thoughts of buyer's remorse were gone.
Crossing this one off the list was even more fun. No longer will that item be a sharp reminder of how tough some of these cards are. No longer will that sticker be taunting me. No longer will I have to worry about finding a copy.
This chapter is closed. And I'm thrilled about it.