Pokémon, or Pocket Monsters, the famed card game and collectibles that originated in Japan, remain popular with collectors.

Pokémon cards are widely traded and derived from Japanese anime art. The trading card game and collecting category have dedicated collectors, and they are ready to spend big for that important card.

Recently, a rare Pokémon card brought $375,000 from a collector with deep pockets. Judging from this sale, that collector wanted to line his pockets with a collection of pocket monsters.

The very valuable Pokémon card that sold for nearly $400,000 actually was a card that featured a print error. The card was supposed to show the title at the top as Trainer, yet it reads Illustrator instead.

This unnumbered card was rare because only a limited number of them were made. It was also rare because it was sold from the collection of one of Pokémon’s developers. This card was first distributed to those elite few who participated in Pokémon contests.

The prize card was one of only 41 ever made, and it has some special symbols and information that excite Pokémon collectors.  

When it comes to valuable Pokémon cards, your collection of trading cards can have good value too. What are some of the traits to look for when identifying the most valuable Pokémon cards?

Look at the front and the back and make sure the printing and imagery are crisp and sharp. Condition is always a vital factor, and those Pokémon cards that are PSA graded will command the highest values in the marketplace.

Get an appraisal before you invest money in a Pokémon card or any trading card that is PSA graded. You’ll be glad you did. If you are going to sell valuable cards, grading is a must.

While many factors impact Pokémon card values, remember that evaluators who are also collectors or dealers who want to buy your cards may not have your best interest at heart. Make sure your appraiser is not also a Pokémon collector.

How do you tell if your Pokémon card is valuable? It isn’t just one factor that impacts value; it is many. For instance, when considering the value of Pokémon cards, collectors look for cardstock-paper thickness, no ink-loss areas or print skips, no rips or tears to the card. Creases are a no-no too.

And yes, there are fakes out there. Fake cards don’t have the quality printing that authentic Pokémon cards have. If a card is printed on a type of see-through paper, it’s probably a fake too.

Like the all-important tags on collectible Ty Inc. stuffed toys that feature printing errors, Pokémon trading cards that have printed errors are the talk of the collectibles market, too. Mistakes and misprints may appear on Pokémon trading cards, so look for them.

And the presence of certain print techniques is important to establishing authenticity of Pokémon trading cards, such as a shadow placed around the pocket monster’s image. For instance, a printed shadow placed around an image of Pikachu or Magikarp on a trading card indicates the card is not the rarest type, as the earliest Pokémon cards did not have shadows.

When it comes to Pokémon cards, make sure you know what you have before you trade or sell them. Keep collections together, and remember that the condition of your Pokémon trading cards will contribute to their value in the market.

There’s more information about the complexities of Pokémon cards on my YouTube channel.


Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori appears on The Curse of Oak Island on History channel. She gives appraisals at drloriv.com, youtube.com/drloriv, or call (888) 431-1010.

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