We all wanted to be the best there ever was in the late 90s, and people still want that today even if it implies spending astounding sums on the most expensive Pokémon cards around. We’d rush to the TV and tune into this show like mad. Pokémon, one of the greatest franchises ever created, has left not only a huge cultural impact in animated television but also in many other areas. Please don’t deny it; we’ve all wanted to be like ten-year-old Ash and set out to catch our own Pokémon. This article will deal with the most expensive Pokémon trading cards of all time, but first, a little history…
Our Journey Begins
Our journey began in 1996 when Satoshi Tajiri created Pocket Monsters or, as we know them today, Pokémon. Today, a creatively named “The Pokémon Company” manages the Pokémon brand. Nintendo, Game Freaks, and Creatures Incorporated own this company and are now responsible for managing, producing, publishing, marketing, and licensing everything Pokémon-related. Everything.
As you may know, Pokémon debuted as a video game in Japan in 1996. It is one of the most popular and successful video games, second to the also Nintendo-owned Super Mario Bros. From the Pokémon video games sprouted an anime tv series, toys, books, mangas, music, merchandise, a theme park, and, crucially for us, a trading card game.
Creatures Inc created The Pokémon Trading Card Game (PTCG or Pokémon TCG) as a collectible card game. Media Factory first published these cards in October 1996 in Japan. They have since spread to the whole world, and over 43.2 billion (yes, billion with a b) cards have sold since the start of this game. There are more Pokémon cards in the world than actual people!
The Most Expensive Regular Pokémon Cards
The PTCG is a strategy-based card game played between two players or “trainers” on a designated play-mat (or, for most, on the school-yard floor during recess). They battle each other using their collectible Pokémon cards until one knocks the other out. But we shouldn’t forget that the Pokémon Trading Card Game was also created for trading and collecting cards. Let’s find out what kinds of cards exist.
Common Cards: #58 Pikachu Red Cheeks
The easy way to see which kind of card you have is by the small symbol on the bottom right corner of your card. A black circle marks the common cards. You’ll see just how much the rarity of the cards matters in a little bit.
Do you know which common Pokémon card is the most expensive? The #58 Red Cheeks Pikachu was sold for $280.84. Who would have thought that adding red cheeks to the #3 Pikachu would have created its card and ranked up the price?
Uncommon Pokémon Cards: #42 Wartotle 1st Edition
To see if you have an uncommon card, search for the black diamond on the bottom right corner of your card. If it’s there, that means that your card is uncommon. The 1st edition #42 Wartotle is the most expensive uncommon card, selling for $147.33.
Why? Because it’s one of the first cards, and the artwork shows it. So don’t think they’re worthless just because they are not a rare type of Pokémon card. You have a small prize if you have those two in your collection!
Rare Pokémon Cards
Rare cards with the black star in the bottom right corner are, well…rare. Why? Because there are different variations of “rare” cards. There are holo rare, reverse holo, Ultra Rare, Half Art, Half Body, EX, GX, Secret Rare, Rainbow Rare, Promo Card, Tag Team, and the list goes on.
We’ll review some of the most expensive rare cards today and explain what category they are in. At the end of this article, we’ll reveal the most expensive card ever sold. For now, try to guess which Pokémon that card corresponds to.
Holographic #4 Shadowless Charizard 1st Edition Base Set
Holographic rare cards that have a holo picture: an image that shines or sparkles. This makes them collector items because they only manufactured a tiny amount. The #4 Shadowless Charizard 1st Edition Base Set is the most expensive one. It sold for $420,000, making it one of the most expensive Pokémon cards ever.
2017 Ishihara GX Promo Card
The most expensive GX Pokémon card differs significantly from all other ones. Why? Because instead of a Pokémon, the president/founder of The Pokémon Company is featured on it. That’s right, Tsunekazu Ishihara is featured on this card, giving it its name. A signed copy of the Ishihara GX Promo Card sold for $247,000 in April of 2021.
#09 Blastoise Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Hologram (1998)
What makes this card so rare that a copy with a blank back sold for $360,00? Only four copies exist of this Blastoise card, and a partner company created them to convince Nintendo that they could make an English version of the Pokémon cards.
Three copies have “Magic: The Gathering” backs because the manufacturing company had already produced that game before. The fourth copy had a blank back.
#115 Kangaskhan Holo Family Event Trophy Card (1998)
The year was 1998, and an epic battle took place in Japan. The Parent/Child Mega Battle Tournament was a tournament for parents and children to team up and battle others.
When you reached a certain number of wins, the organizers awarded you the Kangaskhan Holo Family Event Trophy Card. Only 48 graded copies existed with PSA (Trading Card Grading). At a recent auction, one of these cards was sold a $150,000.
The Most Expensive Pokémon Card…
Of course, the most expensive Pokémon card ever depicts everyone’s favorite Pokémon, Pikachu! The Holographic 1998 Pikachu Illustrator card was purchased by Logan Paul, a famous YouTuber and boxing star, for $5,275,000 and entered the Guinness World Record for the highest-priced Pokémon card ever sold.
It’s so expensive and desired, that Logan Paul once entered the boxing ring with the 1998 Pikachu Illustrator hung around his neck. What makes this card so unique? Only 39 copies of the 1998 Pikachu Illustrator card exist, of which only 24 have been graded by the PSA.
This card has Illustrator (instead of Trainer) written across the top and has a pen symbol with double stars in the bottom right-hand corner.
Winners of the art competitions run by Japan’s Comics CoroCoro during 1997 and 1998 received this iconic Pikachu Illustrator card as an award. The winners also received 20 copies of their illustrations on cards. How cool is that?
Calling all Collectors
You don’t need to be discouraged if you’re new to the Pokémon Trading Card Game and want to start your collection or if you’re a nostalgic soul who found your old collection in the attic and wants to get involved once more. Pokémon Prices can give you an idea of how much your cards are worth and an estimate of the probable market price you’ll get. The PSA is the way to go if you want to grade your Pokémon Trading Card before selling them.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Daniel Dror/Shutterstock.com.