Rarest and Most Valuable First Edition Pokémon Cards
Rarest and Most Valuable First Edition Pokémon Cards

Rarest and Most Valuable First Edition Pokémon Cards

Explore the world of First Edition Pokémon cards and discover the secrets of the highly coveted ones, with some worth thousands of dollars.

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In 1999, the Pokemon Trading Card Game was introduced in the U.S. The initial print run of the first set (also called the Base Set) featured a "First Edition" symbol on each card.

The symbol was placed differently on the various card types, with Pokémon having it on the left side.

In November 2020, a copy of the First Edition Holo Blastoise card was sold for $80,000 by Corecollectibles, and another card was sold for $45,100 by PWCC just three days later.

Energy cards in the top right corner, and Trainer cards at the bottom left—featuring a "1" on a black circle with the edition stamp in all capital letters arching above it. The symbol added excitement and collectability to the game, making it popular among fans and collectors.

First Edition Pokémon cards are highly coveted by collectors, especially those from the earliest sets. This article will delve into the top eight Pokémon’s first edition cards and unveil their history, value, and rarity.

Why are First Edition Pokémon cards so valuable?

First edition Pokémon cards attract significant value due to their scarcity and historical importance. Their high valuation stems from being rare, representing the debut release of Pokémon cards in the U.S. market.

Indeed, the value of these cards gets a boost thanks to some of them being "holo" cards. These rarer, shinier cards outshine their base counterparts, skyrocketing their worth. So, it's no surprise that many highly valued first edition cards are actually holo cards.

The most valuable first edition cards are those from the Base Set, as they were released before the Pokémon phenomenon fully took off in the West. By the time the TCG became fully established, much of the first edition had already sold out, making these cards particularly rare and sought-after.

The most valuable first-edition cards are usually regular Pokemon cards, but energy cards and trainer cards have also gained popularity. One particular card—a Pikachu illustrator promo—fetched over $5 million in a private sale, proving that this hobby can be as lucrative as collecting sports cards.

First edition cards that sport inconsistencies and errors—and variants such as shadowless cards—often see a boost in value. Since errors are typically fixed in later unlimited runs, collectors are drawn to error cards for their scarcity. Those left uncorrected are even more appealing and valuable to collectors.

Rarest First Edition Pokemon cards

The rarest base set Pokemon cards are highly sought-after by collectors, with some selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The rarity and demand for these cards are propelling factors in the increase in their value. 

While the values of these cards can fluctuate, some of the most valuable first-edition Pokemon cards have been examined, as well as their current market value and performance. 

So let's look at eight of the most valuable first-edition Pokemon cards. We’ll identify the first edition version of rare cards, the prices collectors pay for them, and whether picking up the same cards could be a good investment.

1. 2000 Neo Genesis 1st Edition Lugia Holo #9

  • Price Range: $177 to $55,000
  • Highest Sale Price: $144,300
  • PSA 10 Supply: 45

Only 45 PSA 10 copies of the First Edition Neo Genesis Lugia are known to exist.
Source:  psacard.com

The legendary Pokemon Lugia—featured in Pokemon The Movie 2000 and first appeared in the Trading Card Game Neo Genesis set—has become one of the most sought-after items in Pokemon auctions. It was an instant hit and has only increased in popularity over the years.

With its first-edition stamp, the value of this first-edition Pokémon card has skyrocketed, with one example selling for $129,000 in November 2020 and a Beckett-graded 10 card breaking the record the following year by selling for $144,300.

Only 45 examples of PSA 10 First Edition Lugia from Neo Genesis exist, while only three copies of BGS 10 are known.

2. 1999 Base Set Blastoise Holo #2

  • Price Range: $76 to $38,600
  • Highest Sale Price: $80,000
  • PSA 10 Supply: 101

The First Edition Holo Blastoise card was sold for over $80,000 on eBay.
Source: psacard.com

In November 2020, a copy of the First Edition Holo Blastoise card was sold for $80,000 by Corecollectibles, and another card was sold for $45,100 by PWCC just three days later.

Despite a relatively high known population of this card, with PSA having graded 2,621 copies of 1st Edition Holographic Blastoise, only 101 were graded PSA 10, while 645 copies were graded near mint.

3. 1999 Base Set Venusaur Holo #15

  • Price Range: $71 to $20,000
  • Highest Sale Price: $60,000
  • PSA 10 Supply: 144

A PSA 10 Base Set Venusaur Holo sold for $60,000 in an April 2021 eBay auction.
Source: psacard.com

In the world of collectible Pokémon cards, Venusaur is the final evolution stage of the starter Pokémon Bulbasaur. It is the mascot of both Pokémon Green and LeafGreen versions, appearing on the cover art.

Despite that the availability of this card makes it less scarce, it could still fetch high prices if it’s in good condition. For instance, one PSA 10 Base Set Venosaur sold for $60,000 at an eBay auction held on January 4, 2021, and another sold for $50,000 in November 2020.

4. 1999 Base Set Chansey Holo #3

  • Price Range: $30 to $33,000
  • Highest Sale Price: $36,877
  • PSA 10 Supply: 48

It’s believed that Chansey brings good fortune to those who catch it.
Source:  psacard.com

First Edition Holo Chansey is a beloved character from thePokémon world, known for bringing good luck to those who catch it. With only 48 PSA gem mints known to exist, this card is incredibly rare and valuable.

One PSA 10 Chansey-Holo 1st Edition card was sold for $36,877 on eBay in November 2020, and another sold for $32,433 the following month. For collectors looking to invest in Pokémon cards, the rarity and popularity of Base Set Chansey-Holo cards make it a valuable addition to any deck.

5. 1999 Base Set Raichu Holo #14

  • Price Range: $61 to $7,100
  • Highest Sale Price: $34,040
  • PSA 10 Supply: 87

A PSA 10 Base Set Raichu-Holo sold for $34,040 on January 19, 2021.
Source: psacard.com

The 1999 Raichu Illustrator card is a rare and valuable Pokémon card—a PSA 10 copy sold on eBay for $34,040 in 2021. Though only 87 known copies of this card have been graded gem mint by PSA, it’s relatively easier to find in poor condition.

The card's high value is driven by its rarity, Ken Sugimori artwork, and nostalgic value—Raichu is an evolved form of Pikachu, a beloved character in the Pokemon games and animated series.

6. 2002 Neo Destiny Shining Charizard #107

  • Price Range: $350 to $13,500
  • Highest Sale Price: $25,100
  • PSA 10 Supply: 247

On September 21, 2001, the Shining cards were first introduced in the Neo Revelation set released in the U.S.
Source: psacard.com

The Shining Charizard card is part of the Neo Destiny set, a relatively late release compared to other cards on this list. Due to its later final print run, finding the card in good condition can be easier. With 247 PSA-graded copies total, the Shining Charizard has the highest population of PSA 10 of any base set card so far.

The Neo Destiny set came with eight secret rare Shining cards, including the Shining Charizard. The unique design of these cards, with the holofoil on the character and not in the background, makes them highly coveted by collectors.

7. 1999 Base Set Hitmonchan Holo #7

  • Price Range: $47 to $7,800
  • Highest Sale Price: $23,100
  • PSA 10 Supply: 57

Only 57 PSA 10 copies of the 1st Edition Hitmonchan-Holo #7 exist.
Source: psacard.com

On November 26, 2020, an auction was held where a First Edition Holographic Hitmonchan card was sold for $23,100. Despite not being a trendy character in the game, this card is highly sought after by collectors due to its rarity and difficulty in grading.

The holofoil area of the card is extensive and clear, which makes it challenging to find in good condition. As a result, there are only 57 PSA 10 copies of the base set Hitmonchan-Holo on record.

Although Hitmonchan may not be a fan favorite, the card is primarily collected by those who aim to complete the set. This card's high value is driven by its rarity and the challenge of obtaining it in pristine condition.

8. 1999 Base Set Mewtwo Holo #10

  • Price Range: $156 to $20,000
  • Highest Sale Price: $22,655
  • PSA 10 Supply: 82

On November 26, 2020, a gem mint base set Mewtwo Holo was sold for $22,655 through PWCC on eBay. 
Source: psacard.com

Mewtwo, a genetically engineered and powerful Pokémon, was featured in the 1999 Pokémon Base Set. On November 26, 2020, a 1st Edition Holographic Mewtwo in PSA 10 condition was sold for $22,655 on eBay. Another card was also sold for $20,100 on the same day.

Only 82 known copies of the Mewtwo Pokémon card graded gem mint by PSA exist. However, 492 copies of the card are in near-mint condition, making it relatively easier to find in good condition than other cards on this list. The high value of this card is driven by its rarity in top condition.

Are First Edition Pokémon cards a good investment?

Many people wonder if Pokémon first edition cards are worth purchasing. The answer is complicated because it depends on factors such as rarity, variation, and history. 

In March 2022, a Holographic Charizard was sold for $420,000 at a PWCC auction. In July 2022, one of the most elusive trainer cards, a Pikachu Illustrator promo, was bought by YouTuber Logan Paul, who paid a Guinness world record-breaking price of $5,275,000.

There's been a surge in the value of Pokémon first edition cards because they were the first print runs for the U.S. market. Also, the rarity of certain easily identified attributes—like a drop shadow or a connection to a video game where Charizard appeared—can make certain base set cards even more valuable.

For example, base set cards like the Holographic Lugia from Neo Genesis and holographic Blastoise was sold for $144,300 in 2021 and $80,000 in 2020, respectively. Meanwhile, a Holographic Venusaur card from the first print run sold for $60,000 in 2021. 

Pokémon cards with a first edition symbol can be a good investment for collectors willing to research and follow market trends. However, the availability and condition of base set cards can significantly impact their value. 

Another important thing to note is the condition of the card. The best cards to invest in have a high grade from an authority like PSA, guaranteeing that your first edition card is authentic. Ungraded base set cards can be good investments, but your chance to sell them for a profit is much higher if it fetched a high grade.

Like any investment, there are always risks, such as the fluctuation of card values, so it's essential to consider factors such as availability, condition, variations, print run, and market demand before investing in a vintage or base set Pokémon card.

First edition Pokémon cards have emerged as highly sought-after investment assets in the ever-growing trading card market. Due to their scarcity and nostalgic appeal, these rare cards have experienced a surge in value, attracting collectors and investors alike. What sets first edition Pokémon cards apart from unlimited cards are the edition symbol and distinct design details that mark them as part of the initial print run.

The first edition symbol in the bottom left corner of the card signifies that it is part of the limited first edition print runs, making it more valuable than other cards. Another noteworthy feature is the shadowless card design, which is present in some first edition cards. Shadowless Pokémon cards are missing the shadow along the right border of the card's art box, contributing to their rarity and price.

The supply factor plays a significant role in the value of first edition cards. With collectors vying for limited quantities of first edition Pokémon cards, such as those with yellow cheeks Pikachu or the holographic Charizard, demand greatly increases, pushing the prices upward. Shadowless cards and those featuring misprints, such as red cheeks Pikachu, further elevate the appeal for collectors, increasing their market potential.

In trading cards, first edition Pokémon cards can be the ‘holy grail’ for collectors and investors. As video game franchises continue to thrive, the value of these cards is likely to appreciate, making them worthy investments. However, it's essential to consider factors such as the overall condition of the card and its rarity, print run, and popularity within the Pokémon community before diving into the investment aspect.

As investment assets, first edition Pokémon cards offer potential to those looking to capitalize on the nostalgia and rarity attached to these timeless collectibles. With intriguing designs, limited print runs, and a thriving community of collectors, first edition Pokémon cards will remain valuable assets and nostalgic pop culture artifacts.

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