Collectors have been racing to get up to date on first edition Pokemon cards. Pokemon was a cultural phenomenon in the late 90s, and anybody growing up in that era was most likely a huge Pokemon fan.
Whether you’re a fan or not, though, you’ll remember popular characters like Pikachu, Charizard, Squirtle, and Ash, the trainer.
Gotta Catch ‘Em All
As they used to say, you gotta catch ’em all, so although Pokemon collectors only exist in the storyline, there are some very real Pokemon card collectors, and business is booming!
1st edition cards, rare Pokemon cards, and mint condition cards can fetch insane values, as we’re about to see.
What started as a Japanese video game in the mid-1990s has now evolved into a multi-million dollar trading card industry.
Who Made the First Pokemon Trading Cards?
The Pokemon Trading Card Game was first published in Japan in October of 1996 by Media Factory.
Originally in the United States, the Pokemon Trading Card Game, otherwise known as PTCG, was produced by Wizards of the Coast. In the late 1990s, several other games were developed by Game Freak and published for the Game Boy by Nintendo, including Pokemon Red and Blue.
The Pokemon Company has published the game since June of 2003 and has sold more than 34 billion cards around the world.
Now, let’s find out how to identify Pokemon first edition cards –
Identifying and Categorizing 1st Edition Pokemon Cards
Before we get into our top ten most valuable 1st edition Pokemon card list, it’s essential to understand how the trading cards are categorized and what you need to look out for.
It gets a little complicated because of the different editions and versions, but we’ll break it down as easily as possible.
1st Edition, Limited Edition, and Base Set Pokemon Cards
The 1st edition Pokemon cards, as the name might suggest, were the very first cards ever released in the United States.
The first batch was a limited release, hence the different title of ‘limited edition.’ They are also known as the base set. There were only a certain amount released, and they are pretty scarce.
You can recognize them with the “Edition 1” logo. They also have a 1st edition stamp below the Pokemon character.
How to Tell if Pokemon Cards are First Edition
There were three categories of 1st edition cards: Pokemon Cards, Energy Cards, and Trainer Cards. On the Pokemon cards, the first edition symbol is on the lower left, and with the Energy Cards, it’s on the upper right. Lastly, on the Trainer Cards, it’s on the lower left.
There were, however, two printing cycles of the limited edition, and the second printing did not include the “Edition 1” logo. These 1st edition limited ranges are known as shadowless printings because there are no drop shadows underneath the art box on the right side of the card.
To differentiate between these two 1st edition print runs, the second printing is usually referred to as “shadowless cards,” so collectors know that even though the “Edition 1” logo isn’t present, they are still 1st edition base cards.
But without the first edition stamp, the card is considered an unlimited edition and therefore not 1st edition status.
We warned you it might get complicated. Hang in there; here’s more –
Base Set – Unlimited Edition
There was a massive demand for the cards, and soon after the release dates of the limited 1st edition runs, an unlimited edition was released.
There are no “Edition 1” logos on this type of card. There were six printings of the unlimited cards, making them fairly common.
The first five print runs have a copyright line: “© 1995, 96, 98 Nintendo, Creatures, GAMEFREAK. ©1999 Wizards.” These five runs are identical, with no way to differentiate between them.
The unlimited edition’s 6th print run, and the final print run was only released in the UK and are discernible from the others via this line: “©1995, 96, 98 Nintendo, Creatures, GAMEFREAK. ©1999-2000 Wizards.” These cards are rarer due to their limited distribution (the UK only).
Unlimited Edition Pokemon
The Unlimited Edition also made several aesthetic changes. They are lighter and brighter in tone than the previous Limited Editions.
The drop shadow was also added behind the art box to add depth to the card. In addition, particular text, such as the Pokémon’s HP value, was set in a bold typeface.
Now that we’ve got the highly complicated edition explanation out of the way, it’s time to look at the top ten most valuable Pokemon first edition ultra-rare cards.
The Top Ten Most Valuable Pokemon 1st Edition Cards
Rarity plays the most significant role in the value, and cards need to be in mint condition for maximum returns.
Another interesting fact is that all in all, Charizard cards are more valuable than any other Pokemon cards. He is slightly rarer and a popular character, resulting in high demand and value.
#1 – 1999 1st Edition Shadowless Base Set Charizard
No surprises at number 1 – A first edition PSA 10 shadowless base set Charizard recently sold for a whopping $350,100 at Goldin Auctions, making it the most valuable Pokemon card ever. The holy grail of Pokemon cards.
As mentioned, the 1st Edition Charizard card is the king of the Pokemon. The dynamic artwork, massive public demand, and the fact there are only 121 in existence make this a true classic with a price tag to match!
A few big names have been buying this Charizard lately, including the rapper Logic, and YouTuber-turned-boxer Logan Paul.
#2 – 2000 1st Edition Lugia from Neo Genesis
Generation 2 was released in 2000, and while Charizard was the grail for the base set, Lugia was the new generation’s favorite.
The star of Pokemon The Movie 2000, and the centerpiece for Gameboy’s Pokemon Silver game, Lugia, was massive. How massive? A BGS 10 version sold for $144,300 recently!
There are only 43 PSA 10s in existence and, most importantly, only 3 BGS 10’s, making this a case of popularity and rarity – The ultimate combination for optimal card value worth a lot of money.
#3 – 1st Edition Shadowless Base Set Blastoise
There are only 100 PSA versions of this card, and that, coupled with the massive popularity of the character from the original series, is enough to Blast him into the top 3!
It’s one of the most rare Pokémon cards out there.
A recent sale at Heritage Auctions saw this 1st edition PSA 10 rare Blastoise card sell for a staggering $45,100. Interestingly, this price is close to the value of a PSA 9 1st Edition Base Set Charizard.
#4 – 1st Edition Shadowless Base Set Chansey
The dinosaur toad Chansey at number 4 most valuable Pokemon is a holographic version, meaning the imperfections are extremely easy to spot.
It also means that PSA 10s of this card are rare, with only 48 in existence. A recent sale of $36,877 confirms that 1st Edition Chansey’s are a true force of nature!
#5 – 1st Edition Shadowless Base Set Venusaur
This card is relatively rare, with only 138 PSA 10s in circulation. This might not be as rare as our previous four, but people love the Venusaur artwork, giving it a little extra value on the open market.
And that additional value came to around $25,000, at this time of writing, during a recent auction, confirming its legendary status.
#6 – 1st Edition Shadowless Base Set Hitmonchan
Hitmonchan and Hitmonlee are iconic Pokemon and a favorite among many fans as the greatest Pokemon of all time!
Similar to Chansey, the holofoil area on the card is extensive, making imperfections extremely easy to spot. In addition, Professional Sports Authenticator – PSA 10 versions of this card number are limited, with only 56 available, making it rare.
In terms of value, a sale last year for $23,100 confirms its big-time status and gets the Bruce Lee-inspired kung fu Pokemon a spot in the top 10 most valuable.
#7 – 1st Edition Shadowless Base Set Mewtwo
Mewtwo is possibly one of the most iconic bad guys of all time and one of the most powerful 1st edition Pokémon cards ever created.
There are 81 PSA 10 GEM Mint grade cards in existence, and that rarity, coupled with the character’s iconic status, makes this a top ten pokemon card.
A recent sale for $22,655 confirms Mewtwo’s legendary status in the Pokemon community.
#8 – 2002 1st Edition Shining Charizard from Neo Destiny
The Neo Era Pokemon cards from 2002 are legendary, and this Neo Destiny Charizard is the perfect example.
This range featured holofoil on the characters instead of the background, and there was nothing like it when it came out.
As for all the eras, the Charizard version is the most valuable, and this is both to do with rarity and the fact that the holofoil makes it easier to spot imperfections.
At $20,500 the price tag at a recent auction puts this 1st edition print run card at number 8 on the list.
#9 – 1st Edition Shadowless Base Set Raichu
Narrowly making the top ten, an evolutionary version of the main character, Pikachu, called Raichu, is one of the most endearing Pokemon characters.
There are only 87 PSA 10 versions in perfect condition, and when you add this to the nostalgia value of Pikachus evolution, you get a top ten card that sold for just over $17,000 at a recent auction.
#10 – 1st Edition Shadowless Base Set Magneton
Magneton was another fan favorite, and this first edition set version is rare, with only 64 PSA 10s in existence.
The artwork is brilliant, and this, combined with its relative rarity, places it in the hallowed halls of the top ten!
In addition, a recent sale for the princely sum of $17,067 makes this a treasured collector’s item and one of the most valuable first edition Pokemon cards.
Pokemon Card Rarity
There are so many more rare Pokemon categories for collectors. Don’t have the six-figure budget for one of the top-ten most valuable first edition Pokemon cards? Spend a few minutes and find out about other rare categories of great cards.
- Common, Uncommon, and Rare
- Holographic Cards
- Reverse Holo
- EX / GX / V Half Art / Half Body
- Full Art / Full Body
- Secret Rare
- Rainbow Rare
- Tag Team
Other Epic Pokemon Cards
You don’t need to own the rarest cards to enjoy Pokemon. There are dozens of valuable individual cards that are also extremely popular with Pokémon collectors.
The Red Cheeks Pokemon 1st edition base set card is valued at $150. At the same time, another popular card among Pokémon fans, the Yellow Cheeks card is valued at the highest price around $100.
How Much is a Pokemon Complete Set Worth?
Original run, unlimited edition set boxes are worth more than $15,000, gaining over 500% in just the last few years.
The Pokemon Phenomenon
Pokemon is a cultural phenomenon that continues to attract attention for many reasons, much like the sports card craze.
Vintage cards deliver nostalgia, great artwork, rarity, and genuinely original characters and content.
We trust that you enjoyed our ultimate guide to first edition Pokémon cards, now get out there and try to catch ’em all!
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