ByAna Valens, writer at
Writer and games critic. As seen at the Daily Dot, Waypoint, Kill Screen, Bitch Media, and ZEAL.
Ana Valens

Do you have any collector's Pokémon cards lying around the house? Perhaps you're eager to trade in a Pikachu card for a better value, or grab one of those rare promotional contest cards? Well, we've collected some of the most interesting, valuable, and noteworthy Pokémon trading cards found throughout the entire franchise, and put them together just for you.

A little bit of background first. The Pokémon Trading Card Game first appeared in 1996, published by Media Factory in Japan. Wizards of the Coast brought the game over to the US in 1999, and by 2003, Nintendo controlled the game in its entirety. Debate has ensured over whether the Japanese Pokémon Trading Card Game cards are higher quality than the US versions, but regardless, buying Pokémon cards will run you quite a bit of money.

We've gone ahead and compiled some of the highest value Pokémon trading cards out there in the trading card world. If you're looking to expand your collection -- or perhaps sell at a high value -- then check out our list below:

1st Edition Shadowless Charizard

  • Pokémon: Charizard
  • Origin: US
  • Printed: 1999
  • Value: $300 - $700

Shadowless Pokémon cards are part of the original Wizards of the Coast run in the US. These cards have no shadow underneath a Pokémon's illustrated picture and were being developed when Wizards of the Coast were still figuring out their '90s design layout for the series.

Why are they so sought after? A shadowless Pokémon trading card reflects the history of the series, the rarity of these cards, and the original design intentions from Wizards of the Coast that were later changed as the card franchise took off. This not just makes them rare, but an important part of the game's history.

A 1st edition Shadowless Charizards can be sold from $300 to $700 depending on the grading, according to From Japan Blog. So grabbing one of these is a huge deal.

Pokémon Snap Cards

  • Pokémon: Various
  • Origin: Japan
  • Printed: 1999
  • Value: $8,000+

Pokémon Snap came out in Japan in 1999, and to celebrate the game's release, both CoroCoro Comic and the TV Tokyo show "64 Mario Stadium" held photo contests in 1999. Players sent in photos from Snap, and the best photos would feature in Expansion Pack prints. In each contest, five winners were selected for 10 cards in total.

CoroCoro Comic sent each winner 20 copies, and it remains unclear if 64 Mario Stadium did the same thing. Either way, these cards are particularly valuable.

CompleteSet reports that the cards have sold for over $8,000, with Gyarados being one of the most popular.

Trophy Pikachu Card

  • Pokémon: Pikachu
  • Origin: Japan
  • Printed: 1997
  • Value: Unknown (But Very High)

Pikachu is one of the most popular Pokémon in the entire franchise, serving as the de facto mascot for the Pokémon games. So it only makes sense that Pikachu card values are particularly high. Case in point: this Trophy Pikachu card.

The Trophy Pikachu card was awarded to champions participating in the original Japanese Pokemon Card Game Official Tournament's qualifying round. Handed out in June 1997, this card is particularly rare for both its history, its low output, as well as its status as a "Trainer" card. Oh, and Pikachu on the cover certainly helps raise the card value.

These cards are highly rare and highly sought after, to the point where it's hard to find them available on eBay. It's safe to say that, if they do go on the market, they will have tremendous value.

Tropical Mega Battle Cards

  • Pokémon: Various
  • Origin: US, Japan
  • Printed: 2001
  • Value: $5,000 - $10,000

From 1999 to 2001, a special Pokémon Trading Card tournament called the Tropical Mega Battle was hosted in Hawaii. Players from Canada, South America, Europe, Japan, and the United States came together for a total of 50 players competing in the tournament.

Here's where things get interesting. Special Trainer cards were given out to winners. The cards are written in both Japanese and English, which is pretty interesting, seeing how Wizards of the Coast was still producing cards for the Pokémon Trading Card game back in 2001.

Only 12 of these cards are circulating, and they're pretty expensive to boot. These range from $5,000 for a low grade card, to $10,000 for ones kept in mint condition.

Pre-Release Raichu

  • Pokémon: Raichu
  • Origin: US
  • Printed: 1999
  • Value: $10,000+

Pikachu may be one of the most popular Pokémon in the world, but Raichu is famous in the Pokémon trading card community for his pre-release card.

Gemr reports the story in detail. Seeing how the Raichu cards were a printing error while creating Jungle Clefable cards, Wizards of the Coast gave the spare cards to employees. Its history was denied for years, until in 2006, an employee confirmed a pre-release Raichu copy was produced by the company. Eight to ten copies were made in total, and because so few of them exist, they're absolutely rare.

To this day, Wizards of the Coast denies the pre-release copies were ever created. But they're clearly out there, even if they're absolutely rare on eBay.

Pikachu Illustrator Card

  • Pokémon: Pikachu
  • Origin: Japan
  • Printed: 1997 - 1998
  • Value: $100,000

One of the most highly sought after cards in Pokémon history, the Pikachu Illustrator card is priced at an enormous value. The cards were originally given out in illustration contests across 1997 and 1998, in which fans could submit fan drawings of Pokémon, and their drawings would be selected and used on Pokémon trading cards.

It is one of the rarest cards in the world. 39 were created and distributed, and stumbling across one today is rare. IGN reported that one seller placed this Pikachu card's value at $100,000, and was willing to compromise with at least $50,000. So if you own one, safeguard it!

Do you own any of these rare Pokémon cards? Share your collection in the comments below!


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