How to Value Your Pokemon Cards

You might think that those old Pokemon cards you've got collecting dust in the attic are worthless in the 21st-century, but there's many factors that make some Pokemon cards super rare, collectible or incredibly valuable.

Pokemon cards! You might assume that these collectible trading cards have lost their craze since their introduction in the 90s, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. As different series and collections have been issued since their original introduction, this has only increased their interest and value. Like with any collectible, the holy grail will be that of the ‘first edition’. This, of course, means the first ever prints of that item. 

If we dive into the deep end of the most valuable cards, some cards have sold for hundreds of thousands. Most recently, a PSA 10 (the best possible condition rating) graded ‘1st Edition Holographic Charizard’ card from 1999, sold for $369,000. ‘Holographic’, or also known as a 'shiny' in the Pokemon card collecting community, refers to a shiny effect on the artwork of the card, which is much rarer than that of a standard card and, of course, more collectable.  

A graded ‘1st Edition Holographic Charizard’ Pokemon card which sold for $369,000

The graded ‘1st Edition Holographic Charizard’ card which sold for $369,000. 

  There are many different reasons as to why different cards can accumulate worth. Firstly, there are literally different grades of rarity which can be identified by the shape in the bottom right corner of the card. The order goes as follows:

  • Common, which can be identified by featuring a circle shape
  • Uncommon, which can be identified by featuring a diamond shape
  • Rare, which can be identified by the card featuring a star shape 
     The different symbols indicating the rarity of the card.
The different symbols indicating the rarity of the card. 

There are also variants of cards, different to the usual base cards, from different sets issued. As we saw in the card shown before, ‘shiny’ cards feature the holographic effect on the artwork to give the card more rarity and collectability, as well as just looking more special.

There is another type which is similar to holographic, which is known as a ‘reverse holo’ card, which shares the same shiny effect but is featured throughout the entire card, as opposed to just the artwork, which a ‘holographic’ card would show. Reverse holos can also feature a pattern printed throughout the card which is in reference to that specific Pokémon, such as their ‘type’, which is usually in reference to an element such as fire, water, earth, etc.

Another factor which can help a card gather value is if it is a ‘promo card’. These are cards that were issued or printed for a special occasion or event, which in some instances can make some cards incredibly rare. These can be identified by a ‘promo’ print featured somewhere on the card.  
Showcasing the difference between holo/reverse holo and normal prints.

Showcasing the difference between holo/reverse holo and normal prints.  

Bizarrely, one thing that can massively change the value of a card can be misprints. This, of course, is very vague, as many issues can happen during the manufacturing of the cards. However, in the past there have been repeat mistakes which have made some already rare cards even more incredibly rare.

At one point in time during the beginning of production of the cards in the mid 90s, Pokemon cards were produced by the same company which handled the production of another popular card game known as ‘Magic: The Gathering’. A printing mistake occurred which meant that some cards featured the normal front design of a Pokemon card, but the back design branded them as a ‘Magic: The Gathering’ card. Initially, it could be thought that this would make the cards worthless, but this did anything but. Instead, it made these particular misprints even more collectable to fans of both games.

There many different mistakes which have been made in the past that have accidentally added to the value of certain cards; misspelt Pokémon names, cards being blank on the front, miscut cards, cards featuring holographic effects in parts they're not supposed to, and more. The list really goes on and on due to the fact that so many mistakes can occur during mass production.

The misprint featuring the Pokémon front design, and the Magic: The Gathering back design.

The misprint featuring the Pokémon front design, and the Magic: The Gathering back design. 

It’s easy to forget sometimes that Pokémon is actually a card game. Their reputation for collectability overshadows the fact that they are also used to play the game itself. The game is very complicated to explain, just like other card and board games, but it is very popular and many tournaments still take place to this day.

Another factor which also contributes to a card's value is based on its use in the game itself. If a card starts to build a reputation for use and practicality within the game, word will spread and Pokémon players will begin to collect that card in question, driving the price of the card up. 

Without any prior knowledge, these cards can be easily assumed to be worthless. Some can of course be worth little money, but in many instances some can literally be worth hundreds of thousands, and in some cases millions. So, if you find a binder of Pokémon cards in the attic one day, whatever you do, don’t throw them away!

Selling Your Pokemon Cards at Auction

If you have Pokemon cards that you'd like to sell at auction, get in touch and we can help you with a valuation. You can join us at one of our valuation days every Tuesday, email us for an appointment on [email protected] or call us on +44 (0)1782 638100 Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm.

If you can't come in and see us in person but would like to submit items for auction or valuation, send us an email to [email protected] with details and a photograph (eg make, model, model number, measurements, condition) and one of our experts will provide information and auction estimates. Alternatively, give us a call on 01782 638100 to arrange an appointment.

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