We’ve got the seven rarest Pokémon cards and a Mew ain’t one.
Few franchises can boast the sheer worldwide popularity that Pokémon can. Debuting in 1995 with 151 monsters to its name, the series now boasts over 800 Pokémon with 5000+ corresponding cards. To think we once thought we could actually catch ’em all.
If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed, it’s the existence of rare and legendary Pokemon. Heck, some Pokémon cards are so mythical that certain people don’t even believe they exist. Below are seven of the most rarest Pokémon cards that collectors are still chasing after.
Featured right on the cover of the original Pokémon Red Version, Charizard is one of the most iconic monsters in the series. For those who played the Pokémon Trading Card Game at launch, Charizard gained instant notoriety for its bulky 120 HP and overkill 100 damage from its Fire Spin attack. It wasn’t the most… ahem… economic card in battle (discard two energy per use!?), but it was still the first truly valuable Pokemon card.
Although all iterations of Charizard tend to be valuable in their respective sets, a first edition version of the Base Set Charizard can be sold for $500 or more. Even the Skyridge version of Charizard has been sold for as much as $800. For as long as Pokemon exists, there will be people on the hunt for Charizards.
6: Shiny Espeon
Specially colored “shiny” Pokemon are extraordinarily hard to find in the video games, and Shiny Espeon shows the card game is no different. Finding this card for $600 would be a bargain, as it has been sold for as much as $1875.
Shiny Espeon owes its extreme rarity to its distribution through the Pokémon Players Club, a group who awarded unique shiny Pokemon cards to members who participated in numerous club events. Because the criteria for earning even a basic club award was so difficult to meet on time, the cards were scarcely issued and became infamous within the Pokémon Trading Card Game community. With Espeon alone demanding so much buying power, a full set of the Pokemon Players Club cards would be a marvelous sight indeed.
5: Tropical Mega Battle 2001 Cards
If you thought Espeon was expensive, then you’ve seen nothing yet.
These promotional cards were produced for an annual tournament held in Hawaii, and they were given to participants who could attend the local event. Due to the limited and geographically specific distribution, these cards are among the hardest to find in the wild. A single card in good condition can cost upwards of $5000.
4: Pokémon Snap Cards
Some of the Pokémon franchise’s coolest promotions are the illustration contests: events where participants can submit their personally drawn Pokémon to be featured on select reprints of cards. While all of these promotional reprints are considered very rare, the rarest come from a contest promoting the Nintendo 64 game Pokemon Snap. We don’t know how many of the winning cards are in circulation, but we do know they’ve sold for more than $8000.
3: No.1 Trainer
Were you ever the very best, that no one ever was? Because that’s literally the only way to have earned a No.1 Trainer card.
Those lucky enough to place first at an official Pokémon Trading Card Game tournament were awarded these exclusive cards, with each year’s card granting admittance to next year’s event. Though recent iterations of the No.1 Trainer card have dropped in comparative value, the original 1997-1999 versions are considered among the rarest cards in the world.
2: Prerelease Raichu
It’s said that the elusive card was erroneously created during production of the prerelease Jungle Clefable, and the accidental cards were given to employees of Wizards of the Coast. The existence of Prerelease Raichu was made public in 2006 when a former Wizards of the Coast employee came forward with an image of the card and the story of its origins. It’s believed that eight or ten copies of the card were produced, though Wizards of the Coast does not acknowledge its existence to this day. Those who have obtained the card are said to have paid more than $10,000.
1: Pokémon Illustrator
Here it is, the grand master of valuable Pokemon cards. Those lucky enough to have their submissions chosen during select illustration contests were awarded this fabled card, which states the owner is an “Officially Authorized Pokemon Card Illustrator.” It is known that 39 copies of the card were originally distributed, but it’s unknown how many are left in circulation.
Selling between $20,000 and $50,000 during auctions, this is far and away the most valuable card in the history of the Pokémon Trading Card Game. Only time will tell if this cute Pikachu illustration will one day become the next Honus Wagner Card.