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What To Look For In Pokemon Cards

Working With A Local Dealer

What To Look For When Grading Pokemon Cards

I would recommend selling your collection to a dealer in your area. These folks dedicate a significant portion of their time to buying and reselling Pokémon cards on a professional or semi-professional level, and they may be interested in acquiring your collection.

However, it’s important to understand that the dealer’s motivation is to resell your cards at a profit, so they will often offer about half the market value of your cards, considering the condition of your collection. But consider this as a convenience fee for selling your cards without having to seek out and render service to dozens or hundreds of buyers.

There are a ton of hidden costs and hours of labor behind the market values you see on popular websites. Even if your cards are in impeccable condition, if you approach a dealer, understand that they need to compensate themselves for the labor of selling the cards despite the costs inherent to selling, and those considerations will impact how much they are able to offer you.

Pokemon Spanish First Edition Charizard

Sold in October, 2020 for $35,100


To help promote the Pokemon Trading Card Game throughout the world, Wizards of the Coast printed the base set in several different languages.

The Spanish version offered native Spanish speakers throughout Europe and Latin America a much more enjoyable way to play their favorite card game.

You can see the Spanish translation throughout this card, but the Spanish version does leave the name “Charizard” as-is.

Other versions, such as the French and German, presented the Charizard character with a unique name altogether.

To verify the card is indeed a First Edition, look to the lower-left of the character box and you will find the “Edicion 1” symbol.


Just seven examples of this card have achieved a PSA 10 grade, making it one of the toughest multi-language First Edition Charizards to find in that condition.

First Edition Shadowless Holographic Charizard #4

A very valuable version of a classic fan-favourite

Sold for $369,000 in December 2020

Shiny Charizard has been one of the Pokémon card games most popular cards since it first released in 1999, so theres no surprise that 20-plus years later, it remains one of the most sought-after cards for collectors and fans alike.

While a number of first-edition cards from the Pokémon TCGs early days are worth some money – assuming theyre still in good nick – due to their limited availability and age, this specific version of the holographic Charizard absolutely stands out as one of the rarest and most valuable Pokémon cards ever released.


A PSA 10 Base Set 1st Edition Charizard just sold at auction with an ending bid of $183,812.00 via . Including the 20% buyer’s premium, the total transaction value exceeds $220k. As of now, this is the highest known sale of the card.

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Pokemon Pop Series 5 Gold Star Espeon

Sold in February, 2021 for $22,100

Like its Umbreon counterpart that we covered a little bit ago, the 2007 POP Series 5 Gold Star Espeon is one of the two most-desired cards in the 17-card promotional set.

The Gold Star symbol next to the character’s name in the upper-left side of the card denotes the increased rarity of the card.

Masakazu Fukuda mixed an intense color scheme with a striking outline of Espeon to deliver a fantastic card with tremendous eye appeal.


Holographic Shadowless First Edition Venusaur Card

The 10 Coolest Looking Original Pokemon Cards!  GameTyrant
  • Set base

Rounding off the list of the best and most expensive Pokémon cards to have is the Holographic Shadlowless First Edition Mewtwo. It is said to be a member of the exclusive and legendary Pokémon group. It is also considered to be one of the best Pokémon of all time. Still need a reason why it is quite valuable? I didnt think so.

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Welcome To The World Of Pokmon Card Collecting

Nothing brings back more nostalgia for me than Pokémon cards.

For the dedicated few, that passion stayed through tough teenage years and into adulthood. But for many, it slipped by the wayside.

lectrabuzz, sorry electric buzz of a holo pull was soon replaced by first kisses, house parties and underage drinking.


It wasnt until July 2016 that the flame was reignited for me. Thats right, the global phenomenon that is/was Pokémon Go dropped.

Instantly, I was teleported back in the world of Pokémon and it felt incredible!

Im not saying it wasnt without its glitches, dear god Niantic fix faster, but being able to catch an Onix on the streets of London was mind-blowing.

Within days I was on eBay trying to find those old cards I collected.

Holy crap a Holographic Machamp in terrible condition, only $100. I must buy this now!


Uneducated, I bought a load of random cards, overpaid a bunch, and although happy to have them in my hands again, that Pokémon itch wasnt quite scratched.

Fast-forward almost 4 years, and Im still just scratching the surface of the endless possibilities when it comes to Pokémon card collecting.

However, I know infinitely more about the hobby now.

Thats what brings us to this guide. Im going to teach you exactly how to get back in to Pokémon cards.

Whether you want to rebuild your old collections, invest in something that brings you joy, or perhaps like me, just from your past with your kids, this guide is for you.


Signs Of Wear To Watch For

Collectors are extremely detail-oriented. Cards that exhibit creases, scratches on the holographic image, or any visible whitening on the corners are generally not highly valued.

Cards that display signs of any mishandling or improper storage will not be very valuable. Even minor damage can bring down a card’s value to just a fraction of the “market values” displayed on many websites. And collectors are as concerned with the front of the card as they are with the back, where oftentimes it is easiest to see signs of wear.

Below I’ve included an image of a condition I commonly find when appraising childhood collections. If your cards show signs of wear similar to the ones below, they will have to be exceptionally rare to hold significant value.

Note the faint crease on the left side of the card, whitening along the edges, and the slight bend in the card, often caused by long term exposure to improper climates.

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St Edition And Unlimited Edition:

The first print run of a set would have a special Edition 1 logo on the left side of the card, just below the card art. An enlarged example of this logo is shown here. The 1st edition print run would typically be very limited, and once sold out, would no longer be available for sale. In fact, the first print runs of a set were officially called Limited Edition.

To meet super-high demand from the public, an Unlimited edition version would then be printed. Unlimited edition cards dont have the Edition 1 logo on the left side. Typically, a 1st edition card will be worth more than an unlimited edition card. Often this price difference can be quite significant.

First Edition Cards Are King

What Pokemon Cards to BUY in 2021

Pokémon cards that were released before Nintendo began distributing the trading card game were printed in two sets: first edition and unlimited. You can tell that a card is first edition because of the Edition 1 badge located at the bottom-left of the card illustration.

It is these cards that carry great value, while their non-first edition cards are much less valuable. For instance, an unlimited holographic Charizard from the Base Set perhaps the single most famous Pokémon card in existence sells for about $215 on average. However, a quick look at eBay reveals that first edition Charizards can easily sell for thousands of dollars.

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Black Star Ishihara Signed Gx Promo Card

A card featuring the Pokémon Company’s President himself.

Sold for $247,230 in April 2021

The most recent card to make headlines for pure value, this card sold for nearly a quarter of a million dollars at auction on April 26th 2021. You can find the full details at our story here, but this card depicts Pokémon Company founder and current president Tsunekazu Ishihara, and was given to the company staff as a celebration of the man’s 60th birthday in 2017.

That makes the card rare, but this specific version is even rarer, as Ishihara actually signed this near-mint card to boost its price even further. The “2017 P.M. SM Black Star #TPCi01 Tsunekazu Ishihara Signed Pokémon GX Promo Card”, to use its full title, is a testament to the raw power apparently held by the Pokémon president. The ability “Red Chanchanko” is in reference to the red vest traditionally worn on 60th birthdays in Japan, and prevents the effect of any attack, ability or trainer card against Ishihara. Meanwhile, its GX move “60 Congratulations”, tells you to flip 60 coins, and take a present for each one. A truly legendary card.

Booster Packs And Booster Boxes

The Pokemon TCG is a trading card game, meaning players collect cards to build unique decks and play against each other. The primary way players collect these cards is through booster packs.

A booster pack contains 10 random cards, similar to a pack of baseball cards. Each card has a rarity, ranging from common to super rare . The standard distribution of cards in a booster pack is 6 common cards, 3 uncommon card, and 1 rare card.

Booster packs are released in sets. New sets are released roughly four times a year, each with a unique name like Sun and Moon Team Up. Each set contains a fixed number of new cards, usually around 200.

When you buy a booster pack, it will indicate the set that it is from. As you can see in the picture above, the booster packs are from the set Sun and Moon Team Up. If you bought 10 packs of Team Up, you would end up with 10 rare cards, 30 uncommon cards, and 60 common cards. While you can buy booster packs individually, they are also commonly sold in a booster box of 36 packs.

One of the best reasons to buy booster boxes is to get a better distribution of cards. Imagine there are 220 cards in a set. In that set, there is somewhere around 70 rare cards, 70 uncommon cards, and 80 common cards. When you buy a single pack, you will get a random rare card, 3 random uncommon cards, and 6 random common cards.

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A Note On Pricing And Condition:

The examples throughout this text all utilize the Pokémon Charizard, who typically fetches the highest prices of any Pokémon from these early sets. Those looking to sell their collections should not expect Charizard-level pricing for other cards from these sets. While other Pokémon, like Blastoise and Venusaur, carry decent value, none approach the level of Charizard.

The pricing examples all note that the estimated retail pricing reflects a card in Near Mint condition. Finding cards from this era in Near Mint condition can be quite difficult. Pokémon cards are essentially pieces of a game, and many became treasured possessions of children who took them to school in their pockets to show off and trade. As a result, cards frequently show significant wear, which significantly affects their value. Unless exclusively stored in binders and played with in card sleeves , there are few Near Mint examples in circulation. In addition, cards that came from a household with heavy cigarette smoke, or that were stored in a damp attic or garage in the intervening years, can have a lowered value, even if the card physically appears otherwise Near Mint.

If you are considering selling your cards to a store, expect a much lower price than the retail price as stores would typically only pay between 30% and 60% of the retail value of an item.

The 20 Most Expensive Pokmon Cards To Have Today

What To Look For When Grading Pokemon Cards

1. Pre-release Raichu N/A3. 1999 First Edition Shadowless Holographic Charizard #4 $220K4. No. 2 Trainer $200K5. Kangaskhan Parent/Child Promo Card $133K6. No. 1 Trainer $90K7. Tropical Mega Battle No. 2 Trainer Card $70K8. No. 3 Trainer Promo card $32,4999. Masters Key $21,00010. Tropical Wind $10,00011. Articuno Tropical Mega Battle $9,99912. Black Triangle Error Booster Box $8,70013. Holographic Shadowless First Edition Venusaur $6,50014. Computer Error Kamex Mega Battle $6,39615. Pikachu Expedition -$5,99917. Gold Star Espeon $3,50018. 20th Anniversary 24-Karat Gold Pikachu $220119. First Edition Shadowless Holographic Blastoise $1,50020. Holographic Shadlowless First Edition Mewtwo $1,500

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How To Preserve The Condition Of Your Cards

I plan on releasing a more in-depth guide in the future, but these are the biggest things to do, in order of priority:

  • Handle cards with care. Always have clean hands before touching a card and treat it as though it were a live grenade that will blow up with the slightest agitation.
  • Put cards in sleeves
  • Double-sleeve your cards .
  • Store cards in a box .
  • Store cards in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
  • Holographic Shadowless Venusaur: $3260

    Just like its Kanto starter counterpart Charizard, Venusaur’s Shadowless, holographic, first edition version is a coveted card among Pokemon fans. It doesn’t quite reach the heights of Charizard’s $500,000, but Venusaur always was slightly less popular compared to the other Kanto starters anyway.

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    Nonetheless, these cards were rare even in their original late-1990s heyday, so you can imagine how sought-after they are now. Buying one through Troll and Toad right now can cost you as little $390, but the compilation site Pokemon Prices has records of them selling up to $3260.

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    The Anatomy Of A Pokemon Card

    There are many different types of Pokemon cards, and their layouts/designs have changed throughout the years, plus their are also one-off and unique Pokemon cards that look completely different from regular cards, so there is no simple, definitive guide for the anatomy of a Pokemon card…

    … but since this guide for absolute beginners, here is a very basic anatomy of a basic Pokemon card.

    Just keep in mind that as you learn more about Pokemon cards, you will run into cards that look completely different from ones like this and that there is much more to a Pokemon card than just what is shown here.

    There are also trainer cards and energy cards, but we won’t get into them in this post.

    If you want to learn more about the different type of cards and what everything on them means, I highly recommend you download and play the official Pokemon Trading Card Game Online, even if only for research purposes. Their tutorials very quickly teach you everything you need to know.

    Variables That Can Affect A Cards Value

    Want to Know What Pokemon Cards to Look For When Searching Through Older Bulk? Here You Go!

    1. The Grading Company

    PSA is the king of Pokémon card grading with BGS a close 2nd. Both companies command top $ for their graded cards and have proven that grades do matter in the Pokémon realm, with a BGS 9.5 1st Edition Charizard selling for nearly $73,000.00 in July.

    2. Supply of the card

    Pokémon cards have low populations compared to sports cards. The number of graded cards can be the biggest indicator of value, but some cards, such as Pikachu or Charizard, have insane demand regardless of populations. Supply is outmatched by current demand, and after two decades since these cards were produced, that wont change. Check the PSA 1999 Pokémon Game Population report to get more info on how limited the Base set cards are.

    3. Buying Raw vs. Graded

    Thanks to modern technology, getting clear photos of cards is easier than ever. That said, until you hold a card, you dont know how clean it really is. Graded cards are the safest indicator that youre getting what you want. When buying graded cards, think of the price paid for the grading and that there is no wait time besides shipping. There is much less risk buying graded cards, but raw can be the best bet to make profits faster. You never know what you can find in a binder someone is selling, but be careful and do your best to inspect those cards.

    4. Surface, corners, edges, creases & centering

    5. Your negotiation tactics

    6. Nostalgic elements

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    Number Of Packs Per Box

    Do you need cards that can help you beat your adversaries? Consider the contents of the box as well as the number of card packs that come inside each box.

    If youve got several cards in your collection this is a benefit to you because youll have the right options to compete with your rival. Also, the bigger the packs, the more rare cards you will locate. The majority of boxes contain 36 packs.

    Pokemon Japanese Topsun Holofoil Blastoise

    Sold in October, 2020 for $20,100

    The 1995 Japanese Topsun cards are some of the most interesting early Pokemon cards and were distributed in packs of apple-flavored gum by Top-Seika.

    Collectors could find these cards in one of three versions: blue-back, green-back, and prism holofoil.

    While 150 different characters appeared on the blue-back and green-back cards, only 16 received a prism holofoil version.

    Though these Topsun cards contain a trademark date of 1995, most collectors agree that the company did not distribute them until 1997.

    And that makes sense because even the official Pokemon Trading Card Game didn’t debut in Japan until 1996.

    The Blastoise prism holo is one of the most desirable Topsun cards and features the same imagery used for the cover art of the Pokemon Blue videogame released on the Nintendo Game Boy in Japan in 1996.

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