The explosive recent rise in the value of Pokemon cards has opened the eyes of investors and former collectors looking to get back in the game. The original Pokemon base set (1999 1st Edition Shadowless) is the most collectible, with record breaking single card sales happening almost daily on eBay.
âEvery generation defines what is nostalgic to them,â says former Collectors Universe President Joe Orlando. âPokÃ©mon started its rise in the U.S. during the late 1990s. Today, the young people who were playing the classic game then are now well into adulthood. As a result, the game has enjoyed a kind of rebirth in the hobby.â
This list of 10 cards from the iconic original set breaks down the total population of each card graded by PSA, as well as their most recent sales to illustrate their current value.
The first step to identify if a card is potentially worth anything substantial is to check its type and rarity. In other words, how likely the card is to come across from any given booster pack or special event, and if it has any special characteristics, such as card material or Pokemon types.
There are a few indicators of rarity on any given card, though theyâre quite subject to change depending on when said card was printed. A marker near the bottom of the card or near its name will indicate rarity: a circle means the card is common, a diamond means itâs less common, and stars mean itâs rare. More stars or with combinations of letters or symbols mean extra rare, including if those symbols are in the name or elsewhere on the card. Other characteristics that can up the rarity include: a higher printed number than there should be in a given printed set (e.g., 66/65); holographic artwork or reverse holographic, in which everything but the artwork is holographic; artwork that takes up the full card; artwork wherein the creature doesnât cast a shadow; and any shining characteristics, not to be confused with holographic.
There are also special types of cards, like the aforementioned special events that sometimes award cards to tournament winners. For example, one of the most coveted cards, the Trophy Pikachu Trainer Card, was only given out to competition winners in Japan and is so rare that it is considered priceless due to the lack of sellers. And a Pikachu Illustrator card, awarded for a Pokemon award competition, allegedly sold for a cool $90,000 USD.
While rarity isnât the only factor in appraising value, itâs certainly a major factor: Some of the highest-selling cards worth tens of thousands of dollars, or considered âpricelessâ from lack of supply, are only so because of small rarities like misprints or typos.
As for the more common cards that donât match any of these characteristics, the consensus advice online is to sell those in bulk. Though the individual cards may only be worth a few dollars at most, a complete collection of them can likely fetch a little higher of a price. Thatâs not a terrible idea for someone wanting to get rid of a bunch of common cards and turn a profit.
Taking your old cards out of the closet and researching to find their current value is the most common way people are getting back into PokÃ©mon.
When trying to figure out a cardâs value, make sure to follow these steps:
Look at the bottom of the card and find the year it was printed. Thatâs the first key indicator when identifying your card.
For example, the Base Set PokÃ©mon Cards have 4 different print runs while looking almost identical each time. Of those sets, the UK 4th Print Base Set identifies as 1999-2000, which is the key indicator to separate those cards from the rest.
If there is no logo on the right side, itâs Base. Every other set has an indicator.
When looking into what set a card belongs to, make sure to see if there is any logo on the right side, just underneath and to the right of the illustration. If there is no symbol, the likelihood is that itâs a Base set card.
There have been error cards that do not have a symbol, so make sure the year matches with the set.
Finally, identify the card by looking up its name and card number on eBay.
The name will be located above the illustration of the card and the number is on the bottom right of the card. After checking all three of these steps, you should easily be able to identify every card, even if you donât know exactly what set it is in.
The 1st Edition base set is the grail set of the Pokemon world, with 1st Edition Charizard becoming a mainstream status symbol of sorts. The card has become so iconic that Logan Paul sported his on a necklace to the ring of his mega-fight against Floyd Mayweather.
With the recent sale of a PSA 10 Charizard at Heritage Auctions for $264,000, the market remains as hot as the fire he is breathing, even if it is down a bit from its peak.
The graded population on this set is low, and the demand is astronomical, making any sealed packs and boxes extremely valuable. The last sealed box auction ended at $408,000.00.
These cards are identical to the 1st Edition cards, except they donât have the 1st Edition Stamp. The Shadowless set is just as rare, or even more rare than the 1st Edition set.
Gem mint Charizards in the Shadowless set have a much lower population than the 1st Edition set, and the price hovers around $80,000.00. Also of note, Shadowless is the only other set with the Red Cheeks Pikachu Error card.
Finding sealed box of the Shadowless set is near impossible to guarantee unless you open a case, and open one of the boxes in a case. There is a chance you can pull 1st Edition cards in Shadowless boxes because they threw the extras in to those boxes, but you can not find 1st Edition Shadowless holos. These boxes can be confusing due to uncertainty, but a guaranteed Shadowless box is worth over $70,000.
These boxes were mass produced in 1999. The Unlimited Set boxes are over $15,000. For perspective, these boxes were around $3,000 in 2019, and have 5x’d in value since. This set had 6-8 times the print runs compared to 1 print run each for 1st Edition and Shadowless.
Gem Mint Charizards in this set sell for around $11,100.00, so while they are down in value from their peak earlier in 2021, they are over 11x in the last 2.5 years, selling for just over $1000 at the start of 2019.
This is the second expansion set with 1st edition boxes selling for around $12,000. Each holographic card has a non-holo version. These boxes seem to be undervalued due to low graded populations and potential to pull rare error cards.
You can pull a 1st Edition Black Star Pikachu in these boxes, with a PSA 10 value of over $10,000, making it the ultimate Easter egg in the Pokemon space.
Fossil is the third expansion set. 1st Edition Boxes sell for over $14,000.00 currently. Fossil holograms, in my opinion, are edgier than the Jungle set. This set has gotten extremely hot in recent months.
Each holographic card has a non-holographic version. Dragonite and Gengar are two of the most valuable cards in this set, with PSA 10 prices hovering between $2000-4500.
Base Set 2 is a combination of the Base and Jungle sets. It is the fourth main expansion. You can pull up to 20 different holograms in a set of 130 different cards. Having the original Charizard artwork will always keep this set in demand.
Sealed boxes of this set sell for over $8,000. PSA 10 Charizards are currently valued over $6,500.
Team Rocket is the 5th set and pays homage to the villains of PokÃ©mon: Jesse, James & Meowth.
1st Edition Boxes currently sell for over $14,500. This is the first expansion set to have Charizard in it. Team Rocket is amongst the hottest Generation 1 set to collect.
The Gym Heroes set focuses on 1st four Gym Leaders: Brock, Misty, Lt. Surge & Erika. 1st Edition Boxes are currently valued at around $13,700.00.
The PSA 10 1st Edition Moltres from this set is currently valued over $4,000.
Gym Challenge focuses on the final four gym leaders: Sabrina, Koga, Blaine & Giovanni. 1st Edition boxes are currently valued over $16,500.
The PSA 10 Charizard from this set is valued around $6,000.
PokÃ©mon had numerous promo cards: E3 promos, Black Star Promos and Prerelease promos. They were available at events, in magazines, by mail request and one was available with a VHS film. Due to scarcity, some have skyrocketed and the demand is increasing rapidly.
You can read more about Black Star Promos in this article.
If you own any of the cards listed below, condition is the biggest factor in figuring out what your cards are worth. The prices below illustrate what these cards are worth after grading in mint condition as PSA 9’s & 10’s.
Important to note: It is very unlikely that your cards will grade this high if they have been played with. If you have these cards laying around in less than mint condition, it still may be worth getting them graded as long as they are in pretty good shape.
Squirtle is the first evolution of Blastoise and carries the 2nd most value of any of the big three pre-evolutions. Although grading has slowed down drastically, prices have dipped in the Pokemon market. That said, Squirtle is one of the essential characters of the show and is a must have for any collector. Be sure to assemble your Squirtle-Squad by acquiring his English Rookie card.
PSA Pop: 1418 – (10) 600 – (9) 633
Current Value: PSA 10 $1175 PSA 9 $370
Charmander’s value has been all over the place in the last 12 months. After the 2020 summer of record sale after record sale, baby Zard’s value has taken a dip recently, but don’t be surprised if Charmander rebounds due to the power Charizard yields on the market.
PSA Pop: 1521 – (10) 652 – (9) 661
Current Value: PSA 10 $1186 PSA 9 $330
One of the most popular Pokemon, Bulbasaur delivers long term. Previously third in the pecking order for PSA 9’s, Bulbasaur is currently higher than Squirtle and Charmander. With low populations, be sure to make Bulbasaur a top priority.
PSA Pop: 783 – (10) 237 – (9) 416
Current Value: PSA 10 $3200 PSA 9 $450
Pikachu is the most well known Pokemon out there and considered to be a mascot of sorts. There are two versions of Pikachu in this set – with a red cheeked and a yellow cheeked variant. The red cheek is the more rare and valuable of the two, while both have similar population reports. Pikachu prices have dropped drastically, which is great for collectors looking to acquire the grail non holo.
PSA Pop: 890 – (10) 215 – (9) 545
Current Value: PSA 10 $3336 PSA 9 $1300
PSA Pop: 886 – (10) 338 – (9) 361
Current Value: PSA 10 $1525 PSA 9 $355
Onix was introduced in the TV show as Brock’s main Pokemon when Battling Ash. The massive Rock Snake, Onix, is deserving of more attention due to this, and with card prices steadily climbing, Onix’s english Rookie card is a solid addition to any collection.
PSA Pop: 923 – (10) 376 – (9) 433
Current Value: PSA 10 $202.50 PSA 9 $80
Blastoise is the final evolution of Squirtle. The 2nd most valuable card in the set, Blastoise is also the most powerful card in the game. When looking at the price difference between Charizard and Blastoise, and knowing they are both going to be 1 & 2 moving forward, Blastoise will be undervalued until investors decide the 2nd most valuable card is worth much more than 10-15% of the top card, while having a lower graded population.
PSA Pop: 1484 – (10) 98 – (9) 507
Current Value: PSA 10 $31,334 PSA 9 $4727
This card is the pinnacle of Pokemon collecting. The 1st Edition Charizard has been setting massive records for close to a year. The rarest card in the set, Charizard is also the most graded hologram of any 1st Edition Shadowless holo. Even non-collectors know that the Charizard holo will make you the king of the playground, in any condition.
PSA Pop: 2475 – (10) 120 – (9) 645
Current Value: PSA 10 $399,750 PSA 9 $30,100
Venusaur is the final evolution of Bulbasaur, and has consistently been the 3rd most valuable card in the set. When the prices rise again, Venusaur will be very difficult to obtain. This is a must have card for all Pokemon collectors.
PSA Pop: 1310 – (10) 133 – (9) 469
Current Value: PSA 10 $20,100 PSA 9 $3827
Mewtwo is by far the most underrated hologram in the set. The most powerful original Pokemon, Mewtwo is also the smartest. Evolved from the Ancient Mew, Mewtwo was engineered in a lab. Mewtwo is currently the 4th most Valuable card in the set, which is a no brainer considering abilities and being the 1st major Poke-villain in the Pokemon Movie Mewtwo Strikes Back.
PSA Pop: 990 – (10) 80 – (9) 379
Current Value: PSA 10 $13,100 PSA 9 $2226
The first female Pokemon card, Lass, is also one of the rarest trainer cards to pull. On top of that, the graded population is very low. Lass has been in demand for years, with sales for PSA 10’s being tops of any trainer cards in the set for over 5 years. Lass is also a must have card for collectors.
PSA Pop: 467 – (10) 99 – (9) 269
Current Value: PSA 10 $1,936 PSA 9 $208
The evolution of Pikachu, Raichu is mighty undervalued. First introduced in the show as a top Pokemon for Lt. Surge, Raichu was dominant until Ash’s Pikachu had the last laugh. The only way for Raichu to evolve from Pikachu is with the Thunder Stone. Also, Raichu is capable of storing 100,000 plus volts of electricity.
PSA Pop: 1253 – (10) 87 – (9) 381
Current Value: PSA 10 $9,600 PSA 9 $1425
Originally known as Lucky, Chansey is known for assisting nurse Joy in the Pokemon Centers in the show and video games. A very popular card amongst gamers, combined with issues during production, Chansey is one of the toughest cards to receive PSA 10 grades, with only 47 current examples.
PSA Pop: 1142 – (10) 47 – (9) 362
Current Value: PSA 10 $27,412 PSA 9 $1525
The evolution of Diglett, Dugtrio is the triple headed angry Mole. Dugtrio is also one of the most valuable non holo cards in the set. With only 137 PSA 10 examples, Dugtrio is a relative bargain, considering it’s the rookie card to own. This mole Pokemon is capable of creating tunnels at 60 MPH, which sometimes can cause earthquakes.
PSA Pop: 579 – (10) 137 – (9) 291
Current Value: PSA 10 $355 PSA 9 $152
This adorable dragon Pokemon is highly desirable in the card community, topping $4,000 in PSA 10 early in 2020. Although that was a hefty overpay given the current market, Dratini will rebound over time. Low population PSA 10 rookie cards will always rise over time. Dratini is the original form of Dragonair & later Dragonite.
PSA Pop: 627 – (10) 145 – (9) 371
Current Value: PSA 10 $611 PSA 9 $115
This is where things get hairy. Although Machamp is finally being properly labeled, most listed as 1st Edition are really the Unlimited version. Make sure to check the font, year(s) listed on the card or just check out our Ultimate Pokemon Guide for more information.
Also, check out where Machamp lands in our Most Powerful Pokemon.
1st Edition: PSA Pop: 6641 – (10) 348 – (9) 2984
1st Edition Shadowless: PSA Pop: 181 – (10) 2 – (9) 21
Current Shadowless Value: PSA 10 $7500 PSA 9 $380
February 27th, 2021 marked the 25th Anniversary of the launch of the PokÃ©mon franchise. With that milestone in mind, Pokemon is set for some major new releases including PokÃ©mon Brilliant Diamond and PokÃ©mon Shining Pearl, which will launch in late 2021, and PokÃ©mon Legends: Arceus, which will launch in early 2022. All three games will be available exclusively on the Nintendo Switchâ¢ system.
New Pokemon Snap launches on April 30, 2021, also on Nintendo Switch, in which players will act as Pokemon photographers in the Lental region, working with Professor Mirror on an ecological survey. These photos will receive a score of one to four stars based on how rare the behavior displayed in the photo is. Players will be able to share the photos with others around the world and compete through ranking systems.
We recently had a chance to sit down with Dan “aDrive” Clap, one of the leading creators of PokÃ©mon content on YouTube and Twitch, to get his insight as to what we can expect to see in 2021 in greater detail. Check it out!