It’s not just the 1st Edition Base set cards that are worth big money. Valuable Pokemon cards are released every year. There could be cards hiding in your collections that are worth thousands of dollars!
Pack rippers like me (people buying and ripping open packs of Pokemmon cards) know the chance of getting a common or uncommon card is much greater than getting a full art Pokemon GX card… so the GX cards are worth more, fewer were printed.
Another factor to consider is the Pokemon itself… some characters are more popular with collectors and in demand. For example, Charizard cards always seem to fetch a higher price.
And then there are trophy or prize cards given out at tournaments and events. These cards are the most valuable because there are so few in existance.
Here is a list of the most valuable Pokemon cards:
- Pikachu Trophy Cards
- Pikachu Illustrator Card
- Distributor Meeting Cards
- Master’s Key
- 1998 Kangaskhan Trophy Card
- Tropical Mega Battle Cards
- University Magikarp
- Base Set Cards
- Japanese Topsun Cards
- Neo Destiny Cards
- Shining Cards
- Full Art Cards
- Gold Star Cards
- Southern Island Cards
- Snap Cards
- Raichu PRERELEASE
- Inverted WB Stamp Error Cards
- Crystal Cards
- Japanese L-P Promo Cards
Pikachu Trainer Trophy Cards
Pikachu Trophy Cards|
Year:1997 – Present
$10k – $100k
These cards are only given to the winners of the Pokemon World Championships. Only one card for each place… 1st, 2nd, and 3rd are printed and given to the winners of the tournament each year. The cards guarantee you entry into next year’s world championship. This makes them very rare and very valuable, but occassionally they show up for sale online, so we’re able to price them. The earlier the year, the more valuable they are.
Pikachu Illustrator Card
Pikachu Illustrator Card|
$20k – $195k
These cards were given to the winners at CoroCoro Comic Illustration Contest, announced in October 1997. Readers of the magazine could submit their own Pokemon card design for a chance to get their cards published in the January 1998 issue. Winners would also receive the Pikachu Illustrator card. Less than 40 of these cards are known to exist, making it among the most rare and most valuable Pokemon cards to exist.
The card reads, “We certify that your illustration is an excellent entry in the Pokemon Card Game Illustrator Contest. Therefore, we state that you are an Officially Authorized Pokemon Card Illustrator and admire your skill.”
It’s the only card design to feature the double star rarity symbol, and a unique illustrator set symbol.
Recently a PSA authenticated grade “9” card sold at auction for $195,000. On eBay, another PSA grade “9” sold for less than $23,000. Go figure!
Distributor Meeting Cards
Piplup, Turtwig, Munchlax|
Year:2007, 2008, 2009
$700 – $2,000
These cards were given out at the annual international distributors meetings in 2007, 2008, and 2009. They can be identified by a gold stamp with a globe, year, and meeting location.
Piplup was printed for the 2007 San Diego meeting, Turtwig for the 2008 New York meeeting, and Munchlax for the 2009 Chicago meeting. Of the three cards, it is believed that Munchlax is the rarest… perhaps as few as 6 copies exist.
2010 Master’s Key
These cards were given away to the 36 finalsts of the 2010 World Championships tournament. They came in a special protective case that made them more of a trophy than an individual card. The 18 winners of the TCG event were awarded this card in a red protective case with the Pokemon TCG logo. The 18 winners of the video game event (Nintendo DS) were awarded this card in a blue protective case with the Pokemon HeartGold & SoulSilver logos.
These cards show up on the market with and without their protective trophy case. Some people bust them out of the case to get graded. The ones that have the original case are worth more money to collectors.
1998 Kangaskhan Parent Child Mega Battle
1998 Kangaskhan Parent Child Mega Battle|
$10k – $75k
These cards were given to the teams that reached a certain number of wins at the Parent/Child Mega Battle tournament held in Japan. It’s one of the few cards that features the “Pocket Monsters Card Game” logo on the back of the card. There is a set symbol on this card… look for the Pokeball symbol right below the character window.
Tropical Mega Battle Cards
Tropical Mega Battle Cards|
Year:1999, 2000, 2001
$5k – $60k
The Tropical Mega Battle was an official Pokemon tournament held in 1999, 2000, and 2001 in Honolulu Hawaii. The 50 best players from around the world were invited to compete, all winners of regional tournaments.
The Tropical Mega Battle was replaced by the annual “World Championships”, held in Seattle, WA in 2002. The World Championships would not be held in 2003, the year Wizards of the Coast sold the TCG franchise to Nintendo. They would resume in 2004 and have been held every year since then. Essentially, the 1999 Tropical Mega Battle was the first of what would become the World Championships.
There was a lot of swag given to the players at these events. Some valuable items from the 1999 Tropical Mega Battle include legendary bird phone cards, Bilingual Exeggutor, and the Tropical Wind Trainer given to the finalists.
In 2000 and 2001 were given invidual cards and decks in their native languages to use in battle. One of the most valuable cards from these years is the Lucky Stadium from the 2000 Tropical Mega Battle.
These cards were awarded to the winners of the “Tamamushi University Hyper Test” held in Osaka Japan in 1998. The event was publicized in Shogakukan’s Magazines targeting primary-aged school kids. The kids that passed a series of tests were invited to Osaka to compete in a two day competition. The players that won their age group during the second day of competition were awarded the “University Magikarp” promo card.
It is believed 1,000 copies were intended for distribution, but it’s unclear how many copies were actually printed and distrubted. The number that exist could be much lower than 1,000.
Base Set Cards
Base Set Cards|
$5 – $10,000
The first set of Pokemon cards released in the United States is known as the Base Set. Becauase demand was high, they ordered additional print runs, making slight changes to the cards with each print run. Some of the early print runs produced a limited number of cards, making them more valuable than later print runs.
“1st Edition” cards are worth the most, then “Shadowless”, then “Unlimited”. The first 16 cards in the set are popular holographic Pokemon, the most valuable cards in the Base Set.
- Charizard 4/102: 1st Edition, Shadowless, Unlimited
- Blastoise 2/102: 1st Edition, Shadowless, Unlimited
- Venusaur 15/102: 1st Edition, Shadowless, Unlimited
- Chansey 3/102: 1st Edition, Shadowless, Unlimited
- Mewtwo 10/102: 1st Edition, Shadowless, Unlimited
- Ninetales 12/102: 1st Edition, Shadowless, Unlimited
1st Edition, Shadowless
The first print run included the “Edition 1” logo, making them easy to spot. They also do not have a drop shadow behind the Pokemon artwork. 1st Edition Shadowless cards are the most valuable out of all the Base Set printings.
A second, limited batch of cards were printed, this time without the “Edition 1” logo and again without a drop shadow behind the Pokemon artwork. These are referred to as “Shadowless” cards. These cards were printed in greater number than “Edition 1” tagged cards… but not as many as the Unlimited printing. They still can be quite valuable.
The demand for Pokemon cards was strong, so another round of printing was ordered. The cards got a bit of a makeover, getting a drop-shadow behind the Pokemon artwork, brigher colors, some different font styles, etc. They’re easy to identify because they won’t have the “Edition 1” logo, and they won’t have “99 Nintendo” in the copyright, and no space between the copyright symbol and the year.
- © 1995, 96, 98, 99 Nintendo, Creatures, GAMEFREAK. © 1999 Wizards.
1ST EDITION OR SHADOWLESS!
- ©1995, 96, 98 Nintendo, Creatures, GAMEFREAK. ©1999 Wizards
Japanese Topsun Cards
Japanese Topsun Cards|
$5 – $1,000
These Japanese cards were released in 1997 by Top-Seika… the copyright year printed on the card is 1995 (Pokemon didn’t even exist in 1995). The cards were released in packs that contained 2 cards and 2 sticks of gum. Some of early print runs have missing card numbers, making them more valuable than later print runs. The first print run had a blue back, later print runs had a green back. There are 150 cards in the set, 16 of which are rare prism holos. Only 1 in 40 packs contained a holofoil card, making them worth more than the non-holo cards in the set.
Of the 16 holofoil cards, Charizard is worth the most. This is the first time Charizard appeared on a Pokemon card… making it highly collectible and valuable. Blue backs are worth more than green backs.
Neo Destiny Cards
Neo Destiny Cards|
$2 – $3,000
The Neo Destiny set contains a lot of valuable cards. They didn’t print that many Neo Destiny cards, making them more valuable than other Pokemon sets. The first 16 cards in the set are rare holographic cards worth a good amount… but the last 8 secret rare cards in the set are worth the most. These eight cards, 106/105 to 113/105, are Shining Pokemon and have a shiny foil effect.
Set: Neo Revelation, Neo Destiny
Year:2001 – 2002
$50 – $3,000
Shining Pokemon were first released in the 2001 Neo Revelation set as secret rare cards; Shining Gyarados and Shining Magikarp. The next set, Neo Destiny, was released in 2002 and contained 8 Shining Pokemon. Then Shining Pokemon would disappear for 15 years until it was released in the Shining Legends and Black Star Promos during the Sun & Moon series. These later Shining Pokemon are not worth as much as the older ones from the Neo series.
The odds of getting a Shiny Pokemon were extremely low, making them extremly valuable. The most collected and valuable of which is the Shining Charizard, card number 107/105.
- Shining Gyarados 65/64, Neo Revelation
- Shining Magikarp 66/64, Neo Revelation
- Shining Celebi 106/105, Neo Destiny
- Shining Charizard 107/105, Neo Destiny
- Shining Kabutops 108/105, Neo Destiny
- Shining Mewtwo 109/105, Neo Destiny
- Shining Noctowl 110/105, Neo Destiny
- Shining Raichu 111/105, Neo Destiny
- Shining Steelix 112/105, Neo Destiny
- Shining Tyranitar 113/105, Neo Destiny
Full Art EX and GX Cards
Full Art EX, Full Art GX|
Year:2011 – present
$2 – $100
Full Art cards have artwork that spans the entire card, not just inside a rectangle the character window at the top of the card. These Full Art cards were first released in the Black & White set. They usually have special holographic graphics and card numbers toward the end of the set… or secret rare card numbers. They are fairly rare… only 2 Full Art cards are included per booster box (36 packs).
Gold Star Cards
Gold Star Cards|
Set:EX Series, POP Series 5
Year:2004 – 2007
$100 – $5,000
These cards are easy to identify, they have a gold star next to the Pokemon’s name. The Pokemon will have a different color variation, part of the graphics are shiny or holographic, and the Pokemon will overflow outside the character window. The chance of getting a Gold Star Pokemon in a pack of cards was extremely low, only 1 in 72 packs had one.
The first Gold Star Pokemon were released in the EX Team Rocket Returns set. The were included in various sets in the EX series and then discontinued when the Diamond & Pearl series started. The two Gold Star Pokemon in the POP Series 5 set, Espeon and Umbreon, are especially valuable.
Here are some of the most valuable Gold Star Pokemon cards:
- Charizard 100/101, EX Dragon Frontiers
- Mew 101/101, EX Dragon Frontiers
- Latias 105/107, EX Deoxys
- Latios 106/107, EX Deoxys
- Rayquaza 107/107, EX Deoxys
- Celebi 100/100, EX Crystal Guardians
- Gyarados 102/110, EX Holon Phantoms
- Mewtwo 103/110, EX Holon Phantoms
- Pikachu 104/110, EX Holon Phantoms
- Espeon 16/17, POP Series 5
- Umbreon 17/17, POP Series 5
Southern Islands Cards
Southern Islands Cards|
$5 – $50
This small set was released in conjunction with the second Pokemon movie. There are only 18 cards in Southern Islands set, all of them worth about the same amount of money. The set was sold in a bundle that included a decorated folder, postcards, and booster packs. None of these cards have card numbers. The complete set is worth quite a bit if it’s complete with the folder and postcards.
Japanese Snap Prize Cards
Snap Prize Cards|
$15,000 – $25,000
In 1999 Nintendo came out with “Pokemon Snap”, a video game for the Nintendo 64 platform. In the game, Professor Oak tasks players with photographing Pokemon in their natural habitat. Good snapshots of the Pokemon are required by Professor Oak to progress through the game.
Players could also print the snapshots as stickers at their nearest Pokemon Snap Station located inside Blockbuster stores. For $3 they could buy a Pokemon gift card (featuring Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle, Pikachu and Jigglypuff), that would be used to purchase a sheet of 16 stickers. You swipe the gift card, insert your Pokemon Snap video game cartidge you brought from home, pick out the Pokemon you want to print… and it out would come a sticker sheet with 16 Pokemon stickers.
But enough about STICKERS… what about the valuable CARDS? These extremely valuable Snap cards come from a contest held by CoroCoro Comics, a Japanese magazine. Players could afix their best Pokemon sticker onto a postcard and submit it to CoroCoro. The 5 best pictures would win the contest and be mailed 20 real Pokemon cards featuring their snapshot. Therefor, only 100 of these cards are known to exist, 20 of each of the following Pokemon:
The PRERELEASE Raichu is extremly rare, perhaps only a dozen (or less) copies exist. What makes this card different than your standard base set Raichu card is the “PRERELEASE” stamp across the character window. Wizards of the Coast denied the existance of this card until a staff member released a picture of it.
There are several other PRERELEASE stamped Pokemon cards made in the early years by Wizards of the Coast:
They’re all worth a decent amount of money… the Clefable PRERELEASE is valauble but the Raichu is special. So, what is it worth? No idea… I wasn’t able to find any pricing information online. Let me know in the comments if you have sold data! Perhaps this is the Honus Wagner of Pokemon cards, the most valuable Pokemon card of all time?
Inverted WB Stamp Error Cards
Inverted WB Stamp Error Cards|
Set:Wizards Black Star Promos
$1,000 – $5,000
There are four Pokemon in the Wizards Black Star Promo set that have a printing error: Pikachu, Mewtwo, Dragonite, Electabuzz. The WB logo reading “Kids WB Presents Pokemon: The First Movie” is printed in the wrong spot and upside down. These four cards were given out randomly to kids who bought a movie ticket to see “Mewtwo Strikes Back”.
It is believed that just a single sheet (120 cards) escaped the factory, so only 30 error cards for each of the Pokemon exist, making them extremly valuable.
Crystal Type Pokemon
Aquapolis Crystal, Skyridge Crystal|
$50 – $2,000
Crystal Type Pokemon were first released in the Aquapolis set as a replacement to Shiny Pokemon. You can identify these cards by the bold red text “Crystal Type” for the Poke Body. There are 3 Cyrstal Pokemon cards in the Aquapolis set and 6 in the Skyridge set… all with secret rare card numbers.
- Kingdra 148/147, Aquapolis
- Lugia 149/147, Aquapolis
- Nidoking 150/147, Aquapolis
- Celebi 145/144, Skyridge
- Charizard 146/144, Skyridge
- Crobat 147/144, Skyridge
- Golem 148/144, Skyridge
- Ho-Oh 149/144, Skyridge
- Kabutops 150/144, Skyridge
The most valuable Cystal Pokemon card is the popular Charizard. Cards in great condition or professionally graded will obviously be worth more than a well played card.
Japanese L-P Promos
Japanese L-P Promos|
Set:L-P Promo Cards
Year:2009 – 2010
$5 – $25,000
There are 79 promotional cards in this Japanese set from the Legend era. All the cards have the black star promo symbol and card numbers that end with “/L-P”. Some of the cards in this were printed in large number and aren’t worth that much… while other cards in this set were given away as prizes at tournaments, making them much more rare and valuable.
For example “Gyarados 004/L-P” was given away in random packs of cards and only worth a few dollars, whereas Master’s Key 068/L-P“, was only given to the 2010 Japan World Championship finalists and is extremely valuable.