In the late 1990s and early 2000s, trading cards Pokémon were extremely popular. The market for buying and selling was booming, and if you wanted to be the finest Pokémon trainer, you needed to build up your collection. However, some cards have continued to appreciate in worth and reputation through time, making them some of the most costly and elusive Pokémon cards for professional collectors. The value is strongly influenced by rarity, editions, promos, nostalgia, and condition, with rare cards in top condition commanding the greatest prices.
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10. 2006 Pokémon World Championships No. 2 Trophy Trainer Card
Grade: PSA 9
The 2006 Pokémon World Championships were held at the Hilton Anaheim Hotel in California. Players were eliminated during the course of the three days of competition in this elite event, and only 32 people were admitted to the single-elimination main tournament on the third day. Only one of these No. 2 Trophy Trainer cards has been authenticated and graded by PSA, earning a grade of 9 Mint. It is thought that only three of these No. 2 Trophy Trainer cards were distributed.
The Gen 1 Kanto Pokémon Mascot Pikachu is depicted clutching a trophy and extending an invitation to the competition’s winner to return in 2007. This is undoubtedly one of the most costly and rare Pokemon cards, selling for $110,100 in 2021, and is not likely to be released anytime soon.
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9. 2000 Pokémon Neo Genesis 1st Edition Holo Lugia #9
Grade: BGS 10 Pristine
The Neo Genesis set, the first expansion of Generation 2 Pokémon for the Pokémon Trading Card Game, was published in 2000. The holographic Lugia, which was created by renowned Game Freak designer Hironobu Yoshida, was the most well-known of this collection even though it included other fan favorites. Early print runs feature flaws and defects that prevent them from receiving a high condition rating. As a result, there are only about fifty PSA 10/BGS 10 cards in existence, making it a highly expensive and rare Pokémon Card.
8. Kangaskhan-Holo #115 (Family Event Trophy Card)
Grade: PSA 10 Gem Mint
In 2020, a legendary $150,100 was paid for a rare Pokémon card in PSA 10 Gem mint condition. Only 52 of this Kangaskhan-Holo card have been officially graded, making it extremely rare. They were promotional cards given to players that attained a specified number of victories in the 1998 Parent/Child Mega Battle Tournament. They have the original Pocket Monsters Card Game emblem on the front and back, which makes them distinctive in terms of design. The illustration shows a Kangaskhan holding its infant, which is a fitting image for a sport where teams of parents and children compete for Pokémon glory.
7. 1998 Pokémon Japanese Promo Bronze 3rd-2nd Tournament Trophy Pikachu #3
Grade: PSA 9
There are roughly 15 copies of the Bronze Trophy Pikachu, which was given to the competitors who finished third in their respective regions during the 1997/1998 Lizardon Mega Battle in Japan. The cards were distributed within an acrylic plaque, and this event is regarded as Japan’s first official national championship. Five of the 15 have a PSA rating of 9, with none having a higher score. The artwork was created by Mitsuhiro Arita, who is known for his exquisite attention to detail and holographic finish. This uncommon and pricey Pokémon card is made all the more charming by its aesthetic appeal, museum quality, and historical significance.
6. 2017 P.M. SM Black Star #TPCi01 Tsunekazu Ishihara Signed Pokémon GX Promo Card
Grade: PSA NM 7
The ideal way to honor Tsunekazu Ishihara, the founder, and president of The Pokémon Company, on his 60th birthday, is with a specially created Pokémon card. He worked on the early stages of both the trading card game and the video games Red and Green. He thus plays a crucial role in the development of Pokémon. Tsunekazu is seen in the artwork as an Ultra Beast carrying a Rotom of the Sinnoh Ghost type. Only 30 to 60 of these cards are thought to have been manufactured and distributed to employees.
Even though it just has a PSA NM 7 rating, it’s unusual that one ended up on the market and sold for almost a quarter of a million dollars because the staff isn’t allowed to sell their cards. The fact that Tsunekazu Ishihara personally autographed this Pokémon card makes it extra special.
5. 1996 Pokémon Japanese Base Set Holo Charizard No Rarity, Arita Autograph
Grade: PSA 10
This Charizard card, in contrast to the one shown above, is from the 1996 Pokémon Base Set Holo Charizard. It’s a significant part of Pokémon and trading card history and is different in a number of ways from the English version. Additionally, the trademark cosmic holofoil design has been added in place of the rarity symbol, which was absent.
This Pokémon is incredibly uncommon and expensive because there are only seven PSA 10 copies available in the entire globe, compared to 32 PSA 9 copies. However, the fact that legendary Pokémon illustrator Mitsuhiro Arita has signed this particular card makes it much more special. It’s a unique collector’s piece that is well worth the steep $324,000 price.
4. Pokémon Blastoise #009/165R Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Hologram
Grade: NM/Mint+ 8.5
Nintendo had to give its consent before the Pokémon Trading Card Game could be made available in the US by Wizards of the Coast, the game distributor. They ordered two “presentation” pieces to show how the cards will appear in English as part of this. As a consequence, a Galaxy star holofoil front and a white, blank back were combined to create this Blastoise prototype. In 2021, one of these was sold for $360,000; the whereabouts of the other is unknown. This sample was examined by CGC Trading Cards, who rated it as NM/Mint+ 8.5.
This is a highly sought-after anomaly for ardent collectors because it is such a crucial element of Pokémon history in the West. There are three additional test prints of the Blastoise Prototype that contain a Magic: The Gathering back in addition to this uncommon Pokémon card.
3. 1999 Pokémon Base Set Shadowless 1st Edition Holo Charizard #4
Grade: PSA 10 Gem Mint
The 1999 Pokémon Base Set Shadowless 1st Edition Holo Charizard #4 has a reasonably robust population, although they still sell for an astronomical sum. In spite of the fact that there are more than 3,000 cards available, only 122 of them have a PSA 10 Gem Mint rating. In 2022, one of these uncommon Pokémon cards will sell for as much as $420,000, with a high-$200,000 average sale price.
Due to its superior strength and highest attack power among the original Pokémon cards, Charizard has long been a fan favorite. It is one of the most known and expensive Pokémon cards due to its nostalgia and the violent artwork by renowned artist Mitsuhiro Arita. Any respectable collection would be proud to have it.
2. 1995 Pokémon Japanese Topsun Charizard, Scarce Blue Back
Grade: PSA 10 Gem Mint
Only one 1995 Pokémon Japanese Topsun Charizard with Scarce Blue Back in PSA Gem Mint Condition is known to exist, and it was sold in 2021 for a little under half a million dollars. There are a total of 31 copies of this pricey and rare Pokémon card design, but none compare to this one’s flawless condition. Although Charizard cards are consistently the best, this one is very distinct. Its history predates Pokémon “game” pieces, and in place of the classic Poxémon pattern, it has no number and a blue back. The fact that it bears the 1995 date even though it wasn’t issued until 1997 makes it an even more desirable collector’s item.
1. 1998 Illustrator CoroCoro Comics Promo (Pikachu Illustrator card)
Grade: PSA 10 Gem Mint
The most expensive and rare Pokémon card ever sold for $5,275,000 to Logan Paul in 2022, setting a Guinness World Record. There were less than 40 of them, and only 24 are still in existence today. They were awarded to winners of the Pokémon Card Game Illustrator Artist Contest by the magazine CoroCoro Comics in the 1990s. The only PSA 10 graded card is the one that Logan currently has (mint condition).
The phrase “Illustrator” rather than “Trainer” along the top of the card is one of its distinctive features. In the lower right corner, there are two rarity stars and a pen symbol. Finally, the artwork for this card was also produced by Atsuko Nishida, the original graphic artist of Pikachu.
History of Pokémon Trading Card Game
The Pokémon Trading Card Game was first made available in October 1996 by Media Factory. It is a sequel to a Nintendo game created by Ken Sugimori and Satoshi Tajiri. Players battle it out with each other using their Pokémon (short for Pocket Monsters) in this player-versus-player card game on a table. In its first form, 102 Pokémon were depicted by artists Ken Sugimori, Mitsuhiro Arita, and Keiji Kinebuchi. In order to “capture them all,” you might purchase both expansion packs and starting decks of cards.
It was also common practice to trade cards with friends and classmates to fill in any gaps in your collection. Pokémon was first made available in North America by Wizards of the Coast in 1999. The rest of the world soon followed, with more than 70 nations playing the game. More than 43.2 billion cards have been sold worldwide as of this writing.
Pokémon Card Value Guide
The value of a Pokémon card is influenced by numerous factors, just as the value of most collectives like coins or Beanie Babies. This contains the initial release number, the remaining numbers, the card’s condition, any unique features, the information on the back, and any typos or printing errors. As a result, while some cards are just worth a few dollars, others might cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The condition is one of the primary determinants of the rarity and value of Pokémon cards. A card can sell for greater money in better states. The quality of cards is formally rated by a few central organizations. This includes Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), which rates items from one to ten, with ten representing a card in pristine condition that has never been used. A rating of 10 from Beckett Grading Services (BGS) is another business that collectors see as the highest benchmark.
Card Rarity Symbol
The Pokémon rarity symbol, which can be seen at the bottom of each card, is one of the simplest methods to tell how uncommon a card is. Your Pokémon card is a common card if it has a circle on it; you’ll see these quite frequently. Pokémon cards that are common have the diamond symbol next, while rare cards have the star symbol. In addition to these, there are Ultra Rare Pokémon cards, which are limited editions and typically include magnificent artwork with a holographic sheen.
Last but not least, Secret Rare cards are the most elusive and you’ll be lucky to find one in a booster pack. Visually, they resemble Ultra Rares, but you can tell them apart since their collector number will be higher than the required one.
The edition and print date of each Pokémon card are shown. First-edition cards are the most desirable and command the greatest prices; the earlier the release, the more in demand. The bottom left corner of the artwork of cards from the first edition will have this listed in a circle, making it simple to recognize them.
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In general, shiny objects draw greater attention, and Pokémon cards are no exception. On some Pokémon cards, the artwork is covered in holographic foil, adding a layer of reflected brilliance. These are referred to as Rare Holos and are uncommon. The artwork on some cards may be matte, but the rest of the cards may have a foil finish, indicating that the card is a reverse holo. Last but not least, certain ultra-rare or special edition cards may even have holographic borders or other unique shining elements.
Pokémon cards may also have a level number next to the name on particular versions. This identifies the amount of strength and could be a number, symbol, word, or letter combination. There are also Special Pokémon (SP), which are identified on the artwork by a stylistic SP. These include various letter combinations, such as GL for Pokémon owned by Gym Leaders or M for Pokémon owned by significant characters in the film Arceus: To a Conquering Spacetime.
Misprints and Errors
Even though mistakes do occur, they can increase the rarity and value of collecting Pokémon cards. Missing design components, typographical flaws, and even rough lettering can all be examples of misprints and errors. The latter is exemplified by the rumored-but-not-really-confirmed Prerelease Raichu. Such cards are typically discovered pretty early and recalled or even withheld from the public. However, some go lost or aren’t returned, which makes them a mystery and much more appealing to collect.
Secret Rare Pokémon cards are among the most difficult to locate, as was already mentioned. These can be distinguished because every Pokémon card has a unique number in the XXX/XXX format. The card is a secret rare if the first number is higher than the second (for example, 120/110), which indicates that it is outside the regular range. A Shining Pokémon with unique artwork makes it considerably more attractive for enthusiasts to own if a collector number also has an “SH” in front.
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The Cool Factor
The “cool factor,” or how well-liked a character is, is the final component in calculating a card’s value. As one of the original three starter Pokémon in the Nintendo video games, Charizard has long been popular among gamers. It’s one of only two Pokémon having two Mega Evolved forms, and it’s also a cool dragon (there other is Mewtwo).
As a result, it has a special place in the hearts of many collectors. This is why, even when there are other designs with comparable rarity and condition, it frequently appears on lists of the rarest and most expensive Pokémon cards.