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Pokemon cards are some of the most popular non-sports cards in the world.
This brand has gathered a large following thanks to the animated series and the popular game that was first released in Japan.
Later on, the game evolved into a trading card game.
“Gotta catch’em all” was the catchphrase for these trading cards. They first hit the shelves in Japan in 1996, but they soon captured the attention of the American audience, where they were first sold in 1999.
The original set from 1999 that was sold in the US is referred to as the “first edition” set. Cards from this set are some of the most valuable and sought-after Pokemon cards in the world.
In this article, we’ll talk about first edition Pokemon cards – what they are, the best cards to get, and more.
What are First Edition Pokemon Cards?
First edition Pokemon cards are cards that come from the 1999 Pokemon card set. This card set was the first Pokemon set released for the United States market.
Think of these cards as rookie cards for Pokemon characters – these were the first real cards released of some of these Pokemon figures. That’s why they were and still are the most sought-after and most popular Pokemon cards out there.
There were 102 cards included in the original set.
Even though there were many Pokemon card sets released later on, this first edition set still outperforms all other sets in terms of values.
Some of these cards from the first edition set will sell for six-figure amounts. So if you happen to have one at home, then you’re laughing.
How Can You if Pokemon Cards Are First Edition?
First edition cards have the 1st edition stamp on the left-hand side of the card, right below the image, and next to the golden banner that tells us the stats of a character.
Just having this stamp on the card can increase the value of a card significantly. However, first edition cards also have some other minor differences from the later cards – like the minor differences in stats or icons displayed on the card.
For trainer cards, this stamp can be seen in the bottom left corner of the card:
However, with energy cards, the first edition stamp is printed in the top right corner of the card.
For first edition cards, it’s also typical to see the number of the card on the bottom right corner of the image. There should be 102 cards altogether in the pack. You can also take a look at the dates right on the bottom, where you should see the year of the card release read 1999.
One thing you also need to keep in mind is that some cards might look identical to the first edition cards, but they’re not true first edition cards.
There are shadowless and unlimited cards that are also the same cards that belong to the first edition set. The main difference is that these cards don’t have the first edition symbol, so they’re not as valuable.
Why Are First Edition Cards So Valuable?
First edition Pokemon cards are so valuable because they’re the first cards that were released for the US market.
These cards are often referred to as “rookie cards” of some of the most popular Pokemon characters. There is only one first edition set, and it’s also the rarest set that was ever released.
Now, there’s also another factor that makes some of these cards more valuable than others. And that is the fact that some of these cards were “holo” cards.
Holo cards are basically rarer and shinier than base cards, which greatly increases the value of such a card. That’s why you’ll see that many of the most valuable first edition Pokemon cards are also holo cards.
Best First Edition Pokemon Cards
So now that we’ve examined what first edition Pokemon cards are and why they are so valuable, let’s take a look at some of the best cards from this set that you can get.
Note that we tried to put these cards into order in terms of values, but know that these values can fluctuate and change constantly, so the order might change in the future.
1. 1999 Pokemon First Edition Charizard Shadowless Holo #4
Charizard takes the top spot in terms of the most valuable first edition Pokemon card.
The main reason for this is that the character of Charizard is one of the most popular characters in the Pokemon universe. It’s also a mightily powerful card, which makes it an especially popular card for collectors. You can learn more at our article on Charizard cards.
You can see that Charizard has some of the most powerful and destructive abilities in the game.
Another reason why it’s so popular is that Charizard appeared on the cover of the video game. It’s also a bit rarer than the rest of the cards, so you might see this card sell for well over a six-figure sum.
This particular card in the image is also a shadowless card AND a holo card, which only further increases the value of this gem.
I would not be surprised to see the values of this card even increase as time goes by.
2. 1999 Pokemon First Edition Blastoise Holo #2
Blastoise comes second right behind Charizard when it comes to the most expensive first edition Pokemon cards.
This character is one of the most powerful characters in the whole universe. It is particularly known for its abilities such as Rain Dance and Hydro Pump. This was a very powerful card to own in the first edition.
It was a popular card because it was also included on the cover for the video game. This made it one of the most recognizable figures in the game, so the card was very highly sought-after – and it still is.
In terms of values, this card will rival Charizard for the top spot, but it will not quite reach the popularity and the prices that Charizard can get.
3. 1999 Pokemon First Edition Mewtwo Holo #10
The #10 card of the set is Mewtwo, which is one of the most popular figures inside the first edition set of Pokemon cards.
Read our article on top Mewtwo Cards
This character has achieved a good level of popularity thanks to its role in the first Pokemon movie, but also because of its elusive and mysterious nature.
It’s also quite a powerful card if you know how to use its abilities right. It has two powerful abilities, Psychic and Barrier, and even though it doesn’t have a lot of HP, it can do a lot of damage to your opponent.
Mewtwo remains to be seen as one of the legendary characters of the game, and this is also a legendary card to own.
For this reason, this card can cost up to six figures in the best conditions, but most often, it will be sold for a five-figure amount. There are only 80 PSA 10 rated cards, so you might have to pay a lot to get one.
4. 1999 Pokemon First Edition Chansey Holo #3
Next up is Chansey, this seemingly cute character that has some of the most unique abilities in the entire game.
This character is one of the best supporting characters in the game, as it has both healing and protective abilities that can benefit the whole team. It also has a massive 120HP and it’s fast, so it can catch other characters.
But perhaps one of the most common issues that this card gets is its condition. It is quite fragile in nature, especially when compared to other Pokemon cards.
For this reason, you might struggle to find a highly rated card of this type, and this is also why PSA 9 and 10 cards of this type can cost five-figure amounts.
5. 1999 Pokemon First Edition Gyarados #6
Gyarados is one of the most powerful and destructive characters in the Pokemon universe. It will often rely on its Dragon Rage attacks, which will destruct anything that comes in its way.
The other attacking feature of this card is Bubblebeam, which paralyzes the other card if you flip heads. This is important since this card can disarm almost any defending card if you have some luck on your side, of course.
This card is one of the most popular cards firstly because of its destructive attacking abilities, but also because of its menacing looks.
6. 1999 Pokemon First Edition Venusaur Holo #15
Next up is the legendary Venusaur, which is one of the most iconic characters in the game. While it might seem like a relatively harmless creature, Venusaur is equipped with some of the most vicious attacks.
This creature is also known for its energy-sucking abilities, as it is capable of drawing energy from the sun as it’s constantly moving around. It will give the player additional energy to work with.
Venusaur is also popular because it was included on one of the covers for the video game Pokemon.
This card is hard to find in the top conditions; you might have to pay a five-figure sum to get this card in the top possible grades.
7. 1999 Pokemon First Edition Machamp #8
Machamp is a tank of a character that has the ability to toss around other characters and do a lot of damage to them that way.
It’s also called Machop, and this character is one of the best fighting characters to own in the game. It has four arms, it’s strong, and it has 100HP, which makes it one of the most intimidating figures in the game.
In addition to that, it has two strong powers, such as Seismic Toss and Strikes Back, which can do a lot of damage to an enemy card.
Overall, Machamp is one of the most popular cards from the first edition set, and getting this one in the best possible conditions is guaranteed to cost a five-figure sum.
8. 1999 Pokemon First Edition Alakazam #1
Alakazam is one of the most menacing cards in the game. It has two spoons, which have mind-bending abilities, so almost nobody would like to come up against this card in the game.
You will be able to use two abilities: Confuse Ray, and Damage Swap. These two are both powerful abilities, and one of them allows you to confuse your target, which renders the target powerless.
Alakazam is also the #1 card in the set, which means it has a special place inside the first edition pack.
Overall, this card is one of the more popular cards from the set. In the best conditions, this card can sell easily for a five-figure amount.
9. 1999 Pokemon First Edition Clefairy #5
Clefairy might seem like a peaceful character but in reality, it can benefit you in battle. It is one of the best defending and supporting cards that you can get in the first edition pack.
The card cannot attack, but it has two strong defensive abilities: Sing and Metronome. Both are meant to protect other cards from the enemy’s attacks, which can give you a strong boost when playing.
Clefairy is a shy character, as it will only appear under a full moon. This makes it a popular figure, even though it doesn’t have any powerful attacks.
As such, this card can cost a five-figure amount, particularly if it is found in the best conditions possible. Even though it’s not the best attacking card, this card will still be one of the most sought-after cards.
10. 1999 Pokemon First Edition Raichu #14
Raichu evolves from Pikachu, thus making it the more powerful version of Pikachu. When this card is evolved, it will double its HP, and its abilities will do twice as much damage as Pikachu can.
Raichu can charge electricity and store it inside its cheeks. Once it is ready to attack, the character will discharge the electricity and attack the opponent.
Because of its powerful abilities and the fact that the character is evolved from Pikachu, this Raichu card can cost quite a lot. It is one of the more expensive cards from the original Pokemon set, as it can cost a five-figure sum.
However, it can be a bit tough to find it in the best conditions, since this card is especially prone to damage if it is not well protected.
11. 1999 Pokemon First Edition Pikachu #58
We’ve already talked about Raichu, but Pikachu can be just as popular as its evolved version. Even though it is not nearly as powerful as Raichu, this character remains to be one of the most popular cards.
Its cute appearance and its central role inside the movies and the series make it especially popular among Pokemon fans.
Pikachu is the face of the franchise because it is featured both in the game, the series, the movie, and also in this trading card game. Even though it might not be the most powerful character, it still remains popular. I’ve written a full article on Pikachu cards if you’re interested.
What is also interesting is that there are two versions of this card: Pikachu with red cheeks (seen above), and Pikachu with yellow cheeks.
Now, Pikachu with red cheeks tends to be a bit more valuable than the yellow cheeked-version, because it is a bit rarer and tougher to find. Nonetheless, both remain to be some of the most popular Pokemon cards from the first edition.
12. 1999 Pokemon First Edition Hitmonchan #7
Hitmonchan is another fighting character that is good for its attacking abilities, but it can be a bit hard to find, which makes it even more valuable than the rest of the cards.
This character is known for its fighting style, agility, strength, and its strong punches. It can do quite a lot of damage to the enemy, especially to enemies that don’t have a lot of protection from attacks of this type.
Hitmonchan is one of the most valuable Pokemon cards from the first edition firstly because it’s rare, but also because it is such a strong attacking card to own.
13. 1999 Pokemon First Edition Magneton #9
Magneton is a card that evolves from Magnemite. This is a character that consists of three separate magnemites held together by magnetic force.
This card has the ability to paralyze the opponent with its magnetic force, which makes it an especially good card to have when you’re up against other strong cards from an opponent’s deck.
Magneton is often found near electrical plants where it will eat up electrical energy, which it will use to charge itself and amp up its abilities, making it more and more powerful the more energy it draws.It also has an unusual appearance, making it one of the most unique cards to own from the first edition of Pokemon cards from 1999.