By Dilantha Dissanayake and Aliki Kraterou
A former Tube engineer has spent more than £10,000 – on a collection of empty Oyster cards.
George Crupenschi, 57, moved to London in 2005 when he started working on the city’s underground overnight.
He started picking up dropped Oyster cards from the track – but soon found himself spotting subtle differences between the cards and always looking for new ones.
Now, 15, years on, he owns more than 1000 of the blue- and-white cards – most of which to the untrained eye look identical, but George insists are very different.
None of the cards have any money on them, but George says he doesn’t regret spending more than £10,000 on the collection – some of which are special edition or rare cards – that he keeps in a plastic binder in his home in Croydon.
George said: “I loved the Oyster cards as soon as I realised what they were when I moved to London.
“I thought they were a great design and as I started finding ones in the stations, I noticed they were all a little bit different.
“I do love collecting things, so I started trying to get as many different ones as I could.
“Before I knew it, I was trawling eBay for rare cards, or old used ones that were different to my other ones.
“I’ve spent at least £10,000 over the years, but I don’t regret a penny.”
His most valuable single card is a rare 2007 limited edition Tutankhamen First London Visitor card that is worth up to £200.
Some of his other favourites are the 2013 limited edition 150 years underground worth almost £150, the 2011 Royal Wedding card, worth £100 and an Official London 2012 Olympic Games Pink Oyster Card worth £100.
Last year when Adidas launched the limited ‘Adidas Originals Oyster’ trainers, pre-loaded with £80, George was one of the first ones to buy one- not for the trainers of course but for the Oyster card!
“When start to collect I spent lot of time and money, I had so many duplicates come in my collection I could swap with other collectors or sell at collectors fairs or online .
“I started selling so many collectables on different online shops, pay tax for profit ,so now it’s my job – I managed to turn my hobby into a profession.
George’s goal is to gather all different Oyster cards issued by TFL in order to complete his collection.