Over the past decade or so, the value of Pokemon cards has gone through the roof. Cards that originally cost mere dollars to pick up are now worth tens, or in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars. The record for the most expensive Pokemon card ever sold has been broken numerous times over the last four years alone and has more than tripled during that time. It's gotten to the point where many of these cards are worth more than most peoples' homes.
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What makes this all so staggering is that a lot of the rarest and most valuable Pokemon cards today were once fairly common and were owned by children all over the world. Perhaps had they known then what we know now, they might just have taken better care of them rather than shoving them in their pockets and, heaven forbid, actually using them to play the Pokemon Trading Card game. Readers would be wise to go and check their attics after finishing this list, as they might just be sitting on a goldmine.
Updated October 28, 2021 by Tom Bowen: Though NFTs and cryptocurrencies are beginning to gain some traction with those looking to invest their money, the Pokemon TCG bubble still remains largely intact. In the past few months alone, millions of dollars worth of Pokemon cards have changed hands, with the average prices of many cards rising in the process. The potential for big gains continues to attract investors from all over the globe, although knowing which cards to buy isn't always easy. This list of the most expensive Pokemon cards to have ever sold at auction should give a pretty good indication of what to look for, though, and so is definitely a good place to start.
25 No Rarity Poliwrath ($25,015)
Though not a particularly rare card in and of itself, a Japanese copy of base set Poliwrath sold at auction for more than $25,000 in late 2020. This wasn't just any Poliwrath, however, but instead one of only three GEM-MT 10 copies of the "No Rarity" variant that resulted from a printing error that mankato free press death notices during the TCG's infancy.
The error led to copies of all of the Japanese base set cards being printed without a rarity symbol in the bottom right-hand corner. The error was fixed pretty quickly, but not before thousands of packs of the affected cards made their way into circulation. As a result, affected cards are highly sought after and regularly sell for inflated prices.
24 Wonder Platinum Trophy ($25,100)
The Wonder Platinum trophy card was handed out to the top competitors at the Japanese National Championship back in 2009 and features a Giratina with a platinum pendant as its artwork. Estimates suggest that there are only 36 copies of the card in existence, but only eight of them have been graded by the PSA and just six have received 1st edition pokemon cards for sale perfect rating.
In November 2020, a copy of the card was able to bring in a little over $25,000 at auction, although it hadn't actually been graded by the PSA. The card was instead assessed by Beckett and received an impressive 9.5 rating. There is actually a perfect ten copy listed on eBay for $200,000 at the time of writing, although despite there being 90 people watching the listing, none seem willing to bite at that price.
23 EX Team Rocket Returns Gold Star Torchic ($25,400)
It's not all that often that a starter Pokemon card that isn't Charizard sells for big money, particularly one from as late as 2004. Gold Star Torchic from the EX Team Rocket Returns set is something of an exception, though, with a copy having sold for more than $25,000 towards the end of 2020.
The card in question was one of only 17 to have been given the PSA's perfect GEM-MT 10 rating and 322 to have been submitted to the company for inspection. A few of the other cards in the set have also sold for high prices over the years, but 1st edition pokemon cards for sale have fetched anywhere near as much as the little fire Pokemon.
22 World Championship Master's Key ($26,900)
A copy of the Master's Key card sold for more than bremer financial in August of 2020. Unlike most cards sold at auction, this one wasn't graded by the PSA and was instead appraised by Beckett. Whether or not a copy still sealed in the original trophy case would have fetched more remains to be seen, though, given the card's value, it's perhaps a little surprising that the seller opted to open it up.
The Master's Key was originally handed out to contestants at the 2010 Pokemon World Championships. The event took place in Hawaii and was contested 1st edition pokemon cards for sale just 36 players. As a result, the card is incredibly rare, with only nine GEM-MT 10 copies - the highest grade that can be handed out by the PSA - in existence.
21 Skyridge Charizard ($28,100)
It's often said that nothing can be certain in this world aside from death and taxes, but there's a strong argument to be made that the value of Charizard cards skyrocketing also deserves a place on that list. The Skyridge variant is just one of the Pokemon's many cards to have sold for ridiculous amounts, with one Skyridge Charizard fetching more than $28,000 at auction in November 2020.
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The card in question had been given the PSA's highest possible rating, making it one of 194 copies of Skyridge Charizard to have received a perfect 10. Many of the others have also changed hands for figures in excess of $20,000 over the past year or so, although the price seems to be leveling out for the moment. It's still not a bad card to have, though.
20 Battle Road Summer 2002 - No. 2 Trainer ($34,100)
It's not too often that a card graded 1st edition pokemon cards for sale a 9 sells for more than a few thousand dollars, but that's exactly what happened with one copy of the No.2 Trainer Battle Road Summer promo in March of 2021. The card in question, which had actually been mislabeled by Beckett, received just a 7.5 rating, though still sold for an impressive $34,100.
The card was given out to winners of the Kanto Summer Battle Road tournament in 2002 and came in male and female variants. Not many of them have made their way west in the two decades since then, with only two of them ever being graded by the PSA. One did receive the elusive GEM-MT 10 rating, however, so may well end up selling for considerably more if it ever goes to auction.
19 Master's Scroll ($35,200)
In early 2021, a GEM-MT 10 copy of the Japanese Master's Scroll card was sold on eBay for more than $35,000. It's a card that was never available in packs nor was it ever made available outside of Japan. The only way to obtain it was what is the capital of arkansas the Pokemon Daisuki Club in 2010.
The Pokemon Daisuki Club is the official Japanese Pokemon fan club and regularly offers limited edition cards. Members are able to accrue Action Points by completing certain tasks and can then trade them in for such cards. It's unknown exactly how many members were able to accrue the 8,600 points needed to obtain the Master's Scroll card, but there are only 26 GEM-MT 10 copies in existence, making it incredibly rare.
18 1st Edition Shadowless Chansey ($36,877)
The popularity of the base set is one of the driving forces behind the skyrocketing prices of Pokemon cards. It may be Charizard leading the charge, but plenty of other holographic cards from the west's very first set have sold for staggeringly high prices over the last year or so; including this GEM-MT 10 Shadowless Chansey.
It was auctioned off by PWCC towards the end of 2020 and sold for more than $35,000. This makes it the most expensive Chansey sold to date and is great news for anybody else currently sitting on a mint condition copy of the card. According to the PSA webpage, there are at least 47 of them out there.
17 1st Edition Shadowless Blastoise ($45,100)
It might not be quite as popular as Charizard, but Blastoise comfortably beats out the likes of Venasaur and Chansey for the second spot when it comes to valuable base set cards. A mint condition copy of the card was sold for a little over $45,000 just last November, once again through a PWCC eBay auction.
It's one of 100 copies of the card to have been given the GEM-MT 10 rating by the PSA making it one of the more common base set holographic cards in perfect condition. As with Charizard though, the relatively high population doesn't seem to have impacted its value all too much; most probably because so many of them are already in the hands of collectors.
16 Gold Star Rayquaza ($45,100)
Compared to some of the other high-value Pokemon cards, Gold Star Rayquaza is a fairly recent addition to 1st edition pokemon cards for sale TCG. It was first printed in 2005 as part of the EX Deoxys set and is one of seven different Rayquaza variants to feature in it. Surprisingly, it is far from the rarest of those seven, although remains the most desirable due largely to its gold star.
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According to the PSA website, there are 46 GEM-MT 10 copies of the card in circulation, with more than 440 copies having been graded in total over the last 15 years. As one might expect, it was one of those mint condition cards that set the record price for a Rayquaza card, selling for a little over $45,000 in December of 2020.
15 Mew Victory Orb Trophy ($60,000)
The Victory Orb 1st edition pokemon cards for sale card was handed out to the top 3 players of each age group during the Japanese Battle Road Summer 2003 and 2004 tournaments. Although the card was reprinted with different artwork for subsequent events, the original unnumbered promo card is incredibly rare and highly sought after.
It's for this reason that one collector was willing to part with $60,000 to get their hands on one in late 2020. Only 14 copies of the card have been graded by the PSA, 12 of which were given the highest possible rating. There are certainly rarer cards out there, but not too many of them sell for quite this much.
14 Tropical Mega Battle - No. 2 Trainer ($60,000)
Showing one of these special trainer cards is supposed to allow players special treatment at official Pokemon events, but it's unlikely that this is the reason that they're so highly sought after. A PSA Authentic copy of the card sold for $60,000 in 2019 on eBay. This might seem like a lot, but it's probably only a fraction of what a GEM-MT 10 copy of the card would sell for.
Trainer No.2 was one of eight limited-edition cards given to attendees of the Tropical Mega Battle, an annual event that took place at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu between 1999 and 2001. There are only 5 copies of the card registered with PSA and only two of those are in mint condition making this one of the rarest cards ever printed.
13 EX Dragon Frontiers Gold Star Charizard ($60,066)
Despite being printed in 2006, a Gold Star Charizard managed to bring in an incredible $60,066 at auction not too long ago. The Delta Species card was sold top modeling agencies in detroit eBay in October 2020 and attracted interest from a number of interested parties before the final sale price was finally confirmed.
According to the PSA website, there are just shy of 1,500 graded copies of the card in existence, although only 59 of those have been awarded the coveted GEM-MT 10 rating. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the record-setting sale was of one of these 59 cards. Others regularly sell for between twenty and thirty thousand dollars.
12 No Rarity Charizard ($60,100)
Base set Charizard has always been one of the most valuable Pokemon cards, but the 'No Rarity' Japanese version is definitely one of the more sought-after variants. A GEM-MT 10 copy of the card sold for just over $20,000 back in September 2018, but the value of the card has skyrocketed in the years that have followed.
In November 2020, a Mint 9 copy of the card sold at auction for more than $60,000 and another brought in around $58,000 less than two weeks later. Prices of 9 rated copies of the card have fallen a little since then, but it's 1st edition pokemon cards for sale many wondering what a GEM-MT 10 might be worth in the current market. There are only six of them in existence, so it wouldn't be all that surprising to see one of them break the hundred thousand dollar mark sometime soon.
11 Tropical Mega Battle - Tropical Wind ($65,100)
A mint condition copy of Tropical Wind sold on eBay in October 2020 for an eye-watering $65,100. What's more astonishing is that Tropical Wind is by far the most common of the Tropical Mega Battle set. Due to how rare mint condition copies of some of the other cards are though, they hardly ever go up for sale.
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Tropical Wind is another one of the eight cards handed out at the Tropical Mega Battle event. There are only two GEM-MT 10 copies of the card in existence, with most of the cards appraised by PSA being rated 8 or 9. That said, even these are worth a pretty penny.
10 University Magikarp ($66,100)
University Magikarp doesn't come up for sale too often, but when it does, it usually fetches a fairly high price. The average price for the card over recent years has been around $17,000, but the most recent sale was for considerably more. A GEM-MT 10 copy of the card was sold on eBay at the end of February 2021 for a staggering $66,100. This beat the previous record for the card (set in October 2020) by a cool $16,000.
The card was handed out as a prize following a competition held by Tamamushi University. Participants took a series of tests and those who passed were invited to a special tournament in Osaka. Following commercial realtors in my area completion of the tournament, winners were given a copy of University Magikarp. According to a magazine advertisement promoting the competition, 1,000 copies of the card were printed, but only 68 have been graded by PSA.
9 Gold Star Umbreon Play Promo ($70,000)
Released in Japan in 2005, the Gold Star Umbreon Pokemon Play promo features some truly stunning artwork. This, combined with the card's rarity, led to a copy being sold for $70,000 in June of 2021. The card in question 1st edition pokemon cards for sale been rated by Beckett as a 9.5, suggesting that a perfect 10 could yet push the card's value higher still.
In order to get their hands on a copy of the card, players would need to be a member of the Pokemon Player's Club and then accumulate 70,000 EXP points before the end of the fourth season. Considering players only received 100 points for attending official events, not too many of these were ever handed out; as evidenced by there being just 24 graded by the PSA to date.
8 World Championships 1999 - No.1 Trainer ($90,000)
Considered by some to be the rarest Pokemon card in existence, a copy of the No.1 Trainer card sold at auction for $90,000 in July of 2020. Given its supposed rarity, it's perhaps a little surprising that it didn't sell for more, but $90,000 is still a decent return for a card that was given out for free.
The card was awarded to each of the seven regional champions at the 1999 Pokemon World Championships in Tokyo with an additional card somehow making its way into circulation. It features artwork from Hideki Kazama and is part of the secret 1st edition pokemon cards for sale battle promo set. Of the eight copies of the card to have been graded by PSA, only six have achieved the perfect GEM-MT 10 rating.
7 World Championships 2006 - No.2 Trainer ($110,100)
For whatever reason, No.2 Trainer cards have always been highly desirable amongst collectors, and that is once again the case with the 2006 Pokemon World Championships variant. A PSA 9 graded copy was sold by PWCC for a little over $110,000 in February of 2021, making it the most expensive No. 2 Trainer card to date.
The card was originally handed out to participants at the 2006 World Championships at the Anaheim Hilton and allowed players to return to the following year's event. Winning one wasn't easy, however, with players needing to reach the finals in their division. It's perhaps for this reason that the card sold is the only one to have ever been graded by the PSA.
6 1st Edition Neo Genesis Lugia ($144,300)
It's rare for a card released in the West to sell for crazy money unless they happen to be part of the base set. For that reason, the original owner of this 1st edition Lugia card was probably a little surprised when it was sold by PWCC Auctions for nearly $130,000 in November of 2020. Six months later, and the price rose higher still when a copy of the card sold for $144,300.
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There are 41 copies of the card to have received the PSA's GEM-MT 10 rating, although the current record holder was actually graded by Beckett and received a 10 Pristine rating. Whether or not this sale will lead to other Neo Genesis cards skyrocketing in value remains to be seen, but - prior to the recent movement - the average sale price of a 1st Edition Neo Genesis Lugia had been just $70,000.
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Thomas Bowen (642 Articles Published)
Tom loves adventure games and RPGs, but is also partial to a spot of FIFA from time to time.
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