We’ve explored some of the rarest and most valuable Pokémon cards out there, now we turn to the rarest cards from the release that started the Pokémon craze; I’m talking about 1st Edition Pokémon holographic cards.
Why are they so coveted?
Of the 102 cards from the original release, just 16 cards were of the shiny, holographic sort. That, coupled with the short run of approximately 10,000 copies of each card and the fact that the initial 1999 release sold out in a flash, makes these Pokémon cards some of the toughest catches. To this day, holographic cards are extremely condition sensitive and often incur nicks and scratches right from the pack. As a result, PSA 10s are difficult to come by and continue to reach new heights in trading card value.
1999 Pokémon Game #1 Alakazam – Holo
Average Value in PSA 10: $2,230
The magical Alakazam starts off the group. And though this card is less desirable than, let’s say, Blastoise, it still commands figures in the $2k range for examples in PSA 10. Like the other 15 holographic cards, Alakazam suffers from condition issues right out of the pack.
1999 Pokémon Game #2 Blastoise – Holo
Average Value in PSA 10: $5,977
If the fire-breathing Charizard and hydro-pumping Blastoise had a popularity contest, the latter is apt to put up a fight but come in second. This fact is reflected in the PSA 10 values of Blastoise, figures that entrench the water-type Pokémon as the second most valuable card of the set. You can probably guess what card comes in first. More on that further down.
1999 Pokémon Game #3 Chansey – Holo
Average Value in PSA 10: $4,450
You may think this pink, feather-eared, kangaroo-like Pokémon is funny, but the values this lovable creature can fetch are no joking matter. The #3 card in the set’s holographic issues can command figures close to those of Blastoise.
1999 Pokémon Game #4 Charizard – Holo
Average Value in PSA 10: $23,224
As the de facto face of Pokémon, much has been said of the iconic 1st Edition Holographic Charizard. Maybe it’s the spectacular artwork. Maybe it’s because Charizard has been a popular, powerful character since the inception of the franchise. Whatever the case may be, the card that has been likened to the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card of the Pokémon realm is, without a doubt, the most desirable of the set. In PSA 10, the card has sold for as high as $40k and regularly commands values in the $20k range.
1999 Pokémon Game #5 Clefairy – Holo
Average Value in PSA 10: $2,600
Now on to, arguably, the cutest Pokémon in the 1st Edition set, the adorable Clefairy. With its one-toothed smile and cuddly disposition, Clefairy stands suspended among a sparkling background, looking either confused or genuinely happy to be there, or both. If you can track down a gem example of the card, figures in the $2k range aren’t out of the question.
1999 Pokémon Game #6 Gyrados – Holo
Average Value in PSA 10: $1,750
If you can find a high-grade example of this flying dragon-like Pokémon to beam into your collection, figures around $1,700 aren’t uncommon.
1999 Pokémon Game #7 Hitmonchan – Holo
Average Value in PSA 10: $4,400
Though his name reportedly derives from Jackie Chan, if ever there was a card deserving of a Rocky-like montage, this one is it, and for obvious reasons: he’s never been one to throw in the towel and is always looking for that late-round K.O. This pugilistic Pokémon packs a pricey punch in PSA 10, too. Alliterations aside, one PSA 10 example recently sold for over $5k, with values averaging around $4,400.
1999 Pokémon Game #8 Machamp – Holo
Average Value in PSA 10: $1,000 in PSA 10
See the noticeable dip in price with the four-armed body builder? That’s probably because one holographic Machamp was included in every starter set. And every base set Machamp has a 1st Edition stamp. As such, Machamp sees the lowest values for 1st Edition holos.
1999 Pokémon Game #9 Magneton – Holo
Average Value in PSA 10: $1,550
In a classic “three is better than one” sort of way, the magnetizing triumvirate continues to draw collectors in and has yet to self-destruct in terms of value. PSA 10 examples can attract values of just under $2k.
1999 Pokémon Game #10 Mewtwo – Holo
Average Value in PSA 10: $2,170
As the final Pokémon to catch in the original video game and one of four legendary Pokémon, the fabled Mewtwo has an alluring mystique and entrancing artwork to boot. I’m no psychic, but PSA 10 1st edition examples of this psychic type Pokémon are apt to fetch figures in the $2k range, and one PSA 10 example recently sold for $2,750.
1999 Pokémon Game #11 Nidoking – Holo
Average Value in PSA 10: $1,638
One part Rocksteady of Ninja Turtles. One part Pokémon. Nidoking’s 1st Edition holo value is in no way toxic, commanding figures in the $1,500 range. His female counterpart, Nidoqueen, was later introduced in the Jungle series.
1999 Pokémon Game #12 Ninetales – Holo
Average Value in PSA 10: $2,725
When one tail, or tale, just isn’t enough, Ninetales answers the call. This majestic fox-like Pokémon is based off of the kitsune, a powerful fox from Japanese folklore, and has a propensity to lure strong asking prices. PSA 10 examples can command upwards of $3k.
1999 Pokémon Game #13 Poliwrath – Holo
Average Value in PSA 10: $1,581
With angry eyes and a breaststroke that would leave Michael Phelps in its wake, Poliwrath’s card values aren’t looking to sink anytime soon; they float around $1,500. Fun fact: when this easily agitated, amphibious Pokémon evolves from his earlier form, Poliwhirl, the spiral on his belly reverses direction.
1999 Pokémon Game #14 Raichu – Holo
Average Value in PSA 10: $2,296
Players of the Yellow version of the original video game were introduced to the world of Pokémon with the reliable companion of Ash Ketchum, Pikachu. After a steady diet of hard-fought battles, a well-timed Thunder Stone and ketchup – if you watched the anime – Pikachu evolves into the more powerful but equally reliable Raichu. Lots of face time for Pikachu throughout the franchise has likely contributed to the popularity of related cards, including this 1st Edition Holo Raichu. Prices over $2k for cards in PSA 10 condition aren’t shocking.
1999 Pokémon Game #15 Venusaur – Holo
Average Value in PSA 10: $3,605
The original four Pokémon from the Red, Blue, Yellow and Green (Green was only released in Japan) versions of the video game are Charmander (becomes Charizard), Squirtle (becomes Blastoise), Pikachu (becomes Raichu) and Bulbasaur (which becomes Venusaur), respectively. Each cute companion got its own version of the game. Just like Raichu, you can attribute Venusaur’s popularity to its video game origins and heavy face time throughout the franchise. PSA 10 examples of Venusaur’s 1st Edition Holo can grab upwards of $4k.
1999 Pokémon Game #16 Zapdos – Holo
Average Value in PSA 10: $1,494
The first of the original legendary birds in card form, followed by Articuno and Moltres in the Fossil series, Zapdos rounds out the holographic cards for the 1st Edition set. With an electric close to these iconic holographic issues, Zapdos can achieve values of around $1,500.
*Editor’s note: A previous version of this article noted the #10 Machamp at $180 in PSA 10, based off of Auction Prices Realized. Upon further review, that figure has been adjusted to reflect SMR values of $1,000.