Unexpected Pokemon TCG Collecting Gems

Hello everyone, and welcome to my first article with ChannelFireball! This is an exciting time for me, so I hope you all are as excited as I am. For those of you that already know me, you probably came into this article expecting to read about some competitive Pokemon TCG analysis, but that is not what I am going to be writing about here at ChannelFireball. I am going to be writing all about the other side of the Pokemon hobby, collecting. My vast knowledge of Pokemon collecting may come as a surprise to people that know me from my success in competitive events, but those that know me well should already know of my love for collecting and investing in Pokemon cards. That being said, if you did not already know me coming into this, it is nice to meet you, my name is Jimmy, and I am about to tell you all about some hidden gems you might find in your old Pokemon collection.

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Hidden Gems in Pokemon

At this point, anyone can look at a collection and point out a Charizard and know they have something worthwhile, but there are many cards out there that might even surprise people more familiar with the collecting opportunities in Pokemon. Today I am going to cover several variations of that, ranging from error cards to simply underappreciated ones. Without further ado, let us get started with a look at some error cards that might surprise you!

Error Cards

There are many error cards in Pokemon, but today I am going to focus on some that really change the value of the card at hand. Additionally, many collectors, myself included, consider these to be some of the cooler errors in the game. That might explain why they are more sought after, but even looking past the price point, these are some fun cards to discover.

Dark Dragonite from Team Rocket

Even after looking at the images above, you may catch yourself thinking they are the same picture if you are not already familiar with this error. The difference is very subtle but makes all the difference in the world. In Team Rocket, two Dragonite were released. The holo version numbered 5/82 and the non-holo version numbered 22/82. The error comes in when the non-holo version is incorrectly numbered 5/82 as if it were the holo version. Thanks to TCA Gaming doing a video on his uncut Team Rocket sheets a few years back, it is now known that the holo version of Dark Dragonite somehow made its way onto some of the uncommon sheets. This means that when the cards were printed, it was printed as a non-holo, and thus the error was born. It is estimated that five thousand of these made their way into circulation, and even the worst condition of those sell for a few hundred dollars.

“No Symbol” Jungle Holos

Snorlax from Jungle

In comparison to the last error, this one is much easier to spot when the cards are side by side. The error here is that the Snorlax on the right is missing its Jungle set symbol, which should have been printed on every card in the set. In the unlimited print run of Jungle, every holo in the set had some amount sneak by with no set symbol. While errors tend to confuse people new to the hobby, or simply go unnoticed until they gain more experience, this error is especially confusing because it messes with card identification. This often leads to people unfamiliar with the error thinking they have a card from Base Set, as those are the only cards in the game that lack an identifier of some kind.

It is unknown how many of these exist, but they are not nearly as uncommon as the previous error we discussed. They were only printed in the early stages of the unlimited print run, meaning none can be found in first edition, but that was apparently enough to supply the community with a healthy amount. If you want to obtain a complete set of these, it is not going to break the bank, but it will command a decent premium over the regular versions of the cards. This is great if you are on the hunt for them, and the cards are very cool, but it does not make for as great of a payday if you happen to find some laying around.

Jungle Ivy Pikachu Error

Pikachu from Jungle

This has got to be one of the weirdest errors in the game, as its existence is truly an anomaly, and it is the weirdest one from today. So, you may have noticed that neither of the Pikachu shown above are actually from the Jungle set, both are forms of the first ever Wizards Black Star Promos card. However, only one of them was distributed as a promo, and that is the version on the left that lacks the first edition stamp. Unfortunately for anyone holding a copy of that one and drooling at its inclusion in this article, the regular version is worth less than $10, even in near mint condition. However, that is not the case for the error version whatsoever, which lead to its inclusion in this article.

It is not exactly known how this Pikachu made its way into the first edition print run of Jungle, skipping out on the unlimited print run, because it was not intended to be included in the set in any form. This is a case of the first ever Wizards Black Star Promos card somehow sneaking into a set printed at a similar time. It is unknown how many of these exist, but they are not a common thing to find, and command a price of over $400 for ones in the worst condition. From there it only goes up, with a PSA Mint 9 copy selling for over $1500 this past September.

Hiding in Plain Sight

Moving on from the error cards, I am now going to look at some less common cards that can hide in plain sight. By that I mean cards that people might have without even knowing it, or ones that do not seem like they would be worth looking at.

Shadowless and First Edition Base Set

Squirtle from Base Set

After speaking about some of the coolest error cards the game has to offer, this array of variations might seem like it was created by an error, but these were all fully intended. First edition Base Set was the first ever printed Pokemon set and can be identified by the first edition symbol on the left side of Base Set cards.

  • All English copies of first edition Base Set cards are shadowless, meaning the look of the card is different because the card lacks a shadow.
  • All other cards in the game have a shadow, making this line of cards very sought after, especially the first edition copies.
  • Yes, that means that not all shadowless cards are first edition.
  • Unlimited shadowless cards were printed in a separate run after the first edition cards, technically making them the second group of cards ever printed, but they are not classified as their own set, neither is first edition, even though they all have packs and boxes dedicated to them.
  • Wrapping up the Base Set lineup, are the “regular” unlimited copies, which are not first edition and do have a shadow.

Now that I have explained all the variations of Base Set, it is time to review how to tell the difference between the variations. For starters, as stated before, first edition cards can be identified by their first edition stamp on the left side of the card. This is an easy identification method, but it can get confusing for newer collectors past that, so let me teach you an easy identification method for unlimited shadowless cards. While there is a substantial difference in appearance between shadowless cards and their “normal” counterparts, the easiest way to tell the difference is actually the copyright information at the bottom of the card. As shown in the card scans above, shadowless copies will read “1995, 96, 98, 99” before the word “Nintendo” in the copyright information. Unlimited copies will not have the same text, reading “1995, 96, 98”, meaning they lack the “99” that the shadowless cards have.

Using this identification method leaves little room for error, whereas trying to base it off appearance can create confusion for newer collectors. This is especially true because ink levels at the printing factories can cause for very slight differences in appearance, adding another layer to determining whether a card is shadowless or not just by looking at it.

Okay, so I have explained all the different variations and how to identify them, but what is so special about this set? I will start by saying that many people know that Base Set and its different variations are highly sought after and one of the most popular sets of all time. Base Set Charizard in particular, especially the first edition copies, have gained an unbelievable amount of traction as of late. It was already an expensive card, but all the attention it received in recent months, including some from Logan Paul, caused the price to rise even further. While some people will blame the price increase solely on hype, I would argue that the price was just low before, relative to what the card represents.

Anyways, yes Base Set holos are widely known to hold a lot of value, but I wanted to mention that they are not the only stars of this set. In fact, every first edition Base Set card has some level of value, with even the “worst” ones in the set going for around $10 even in poor condition. With that being said, some of the better non-holos in the set, mainly Pikachu and the starter Pokemon, sell for hundreds of dollars. Yes, that is correct, there are common cards out there that can sell for hundreds of dollars. This is because first edition Base Set has one of the lowest print runs in the history of the game, if not the absolute lowest, meaning very few copies were printed to begin with. Over the course of time, copies were lost or destroyed, as there is some level of attrition to Pokemon cards, meaning that even less copies exist in the present day. This makes first edition Base Set the most scarce and expensive of the variations, followed by shadowless, and lastly by good old unlimited.

Non-Holo WOTC/Vintage Cards

The end of my last segment started to give this away, and this section does overlap with the fact that first edition Base Set non-holo cards can mean a large payday, but I wanted to take it one step further and discuss some other non-holo cards. This means non-holo cards from the older Pokemon sets, particularly from the Wizards of the Coast era, referencing Base Set through Skyridge. While everyone can look at some of the more popular holo cards, such as Charizard, Snorlax, or Dragonite, and know they have a winner, non-holo cards often go unnoticed. While I will provide some further examples of some of the better non-holos in this segment, the overall idea here is that there a ton of non-holo cards out there with a lot of value. This is especially true with first edition copies, as first edition almost always demands a premium over unlimited. When looking at a collection, even if it is not filled with very valuable cards, all the value from the non-holo cards can really add up. Anyways, I did say I would provide some examples, so here are some personal favorite non-holo cards, that also carry their fair share of value.

Gengar from Fossil

I picked this card because Gengar is my favorite Pokemon, and it is a nice example of a card with nothing special going on being worth something. A near mint copy of this card sells for around $40, which is not something a lot of people might realize when flipping through a collection. This price tag makes it worth more than a decent amount of the holos from the WOTC-era, which should really put this in perspective.

Umbreon from Skyridge

This card made my short list because Umbreon is a fan favorite, and tends to be one of the more valuable cards in any set it is released in. Skyridge is an immensely popular, and expensive, set nowadays, with the Crystal Pokemon running the show price wise. Though the holo version of this card does stand up to them very well, but we are focusing on the runt of the litter here and talking about the non-holo version. While it is not nearly as expensive as some of the pricier cards in the set, a near mint copy can sell for at least $50 currently, which is certainly not something to laugh at.

There are more expensive non-holo cards out there, but I wanted to cover some more “normal” cards under this umbrella, as opposed to some extreme outliers such as some of the first edition Base Set cards.

Legendary Collection Reverse Holos

Pikachu from Legendary Collection

To wrap up the hiding in plain sight section of this article, we have the reverse holo portion of the Legendary Collection set. There are reverse holos in a lot of sets, but Legendary Collection was the first set to include them. Unlike later reverse holo cards, the difference between a regular copy and a reverse holo copy was massive, as shown above. There are many reasons why these are valuable, but I will start by discussing their history.

When released, these were not looked at as anything special. This is sort of ironic, because the set was sort of geared towards collectors, going as far as including a collectable jumbo box topper in each box. In fact, many collectors did not like them because of how vastly different they look than other Pokemon cards. They remind many people of those fake sticker Pokemon cards you might find at a flea market, which is not exactly a great thing to be connected to.

That was not a great start to their existence, but some of the best collectible start out rough, and turn out to be gems years later. This was the case with Legendary Collection, as their prices have increased exponentially over the recent years. They are very sought after, difficult to find in good condition, and relatively valuable. It reminds me of first edition Base Set in the sense that even the worst ones have some level of value, such as a near mint reverse holo Caterpie selling for more than $20. While on the other end of things, the reverse holo of the Charizard of the set sells for $300 even after being through the washing machine, which is only sort of a joke.


This will be the final section I review in this article, but that does not make it the worst, in fact these are some of my favorite hidden gems. These are cards I consistently see being undervalued in certain sectors of the community, but when you really look at the sales data and availability, you will find that they are much more valuable. Coincidentally, both of my picks for today are sealed versions of a card, but I assure you that there are normal cards out there that lack the respect they deserve. In fact, that is still true with the second pick on the list, but more on that later.

Sealed 1st Edition Machamp from Base (Shadowed)

Yes, this is referencing the sealed “version” of this card, as the unopened versions are not nearly as valuable. I know it is not the easiest thing in the world to have sealed cards laying around, but these do still exist in very accessible quantities, and tend to be found in older, untouched collections more often than you might think.

While this section is in reference to the sealed version, there are a couple variations of this card, so I will discuss those to start. As for what I am wanting to talk about in this section, that is the sealed first edition Base Set Machamp card, with a shadow. You might be thinking I am crazy, because I stated in the article earlier that all first edition cards are shadowless, but there is the exception of this Machamp. This means there is no truly unlimited copy of this card, there are only first edition shadowless and “regular” first edition. This card, despite being a part of Base Set, was not actually in Base Set booster packs. This was released as a promo card in the first ever two player starter kit, which was essentially released alongside Base Set. The first edition version of this card was found in the shadowless version of this starter kit, making it a bit rarer than the shadowed version. There are some further variations, such as the cosmos holo version, along with the classic thin versus thick first edition difference, but they are not ones I wanted to focus on today. As you can see, this Machamp card is quite confusing, and has many variations to it due to small differences.

To keep it simple, I want to focus on the value of the sealed versions of the card, as they are the ones I came here to talk about, mostly the non-shadowless version at that. Though I will say, the non-sealed versions are not worth as much as their sealed ones. This is especially true with the non-shadowless one, as an unsealed copy sells for around $15. You will see the difference in price as I get into discussing that, but the unsealed price is part of the reason why the sealed one is undervalued in parts of the market.

While I do find sealed copies on various game store websites for anywhere between $15 and $50, the most memorable moment for me is a somewhat recent post in Virbank City PokeMart. Someone posted a picture of a sealed Machamp and asked what it was worth. During my time reading the thread, everyone had told them it was not worth much, citing the price of the unsealed version. However, that is simply incorrect. Over the past two months, I have sold at least four of these for $90 each on eBay, which is much higher than what some other people believe the price to be. Just for additional data, the cheapest one on eBay is $65 at the time of writing this, which is still much higher. The sealed shadowless version goes for even more than this, but it is less common and less underappreciated, so I did not want to focus on it today. Though just for comparison, the sealed shadowless version sells for around $240.

Sealed Ancient Mew

I have to say, the history and current viewpoint of this card are pretty like the Machamp I just discussed, but it is in fact a different card and maintains value, nonetheless.

This card is a very strange one, for several reasons. This card is a poster child for someone posting on eBay that they found their childhood collection and wanted to sell this $1000 card, vastly overvaluing it for no real reason. When it comes to the general buying/selling/collecting community though, I feel this card goes underappreciated for the most part.

I will start off by talking about the card in question a little bit, as it is a unique card. As you may already know, Ancient Mew was given out as a promo card at the Pokemon movie “Power of One” in 2000. This was many years ago, which is always nice for the price of a card. After all, the phrase is generally “the older, the better”. However, there were an unbelievable amount of these distributed due to the nature of the release. So much so that there are still many sealed copies running around to this day. Now that I have talked about the release and distribution of the card, I want to discuss its value.

In my experience in selling Ancient Mew, I am consistently able to sell them for around $40, which is solid when you consider that it is in fact a promo card. My experience with the card and other sales data proves that a market for the card exists. While I do not think many would argue that I do think that many would be surprised by the price point. I believe this because I consistently find sealed Ancient Mews listed for sale on eBay, Virbank City PokeMart, and various game stores at a much lower price point. I have bought over fifty copies in the past three months at around $20 a piece, which just goes to show that people do not value them at what they are worth all the time. I am just using those examples and price data to convey my opinion that the card is underappreciated, and to give some insight on how people value the card differently. This is probably because the card is still very available after all these years and extremely common when first released.

I would like to wrap this up by saying that even the unsealed Ancient Mew card sells for over $20 in near mint condition, which is not as much as the sealed option, but still more than one might expect for a highly distributed promo card. Additionally, I know there are several versions of this card, but the most common one by far is the movie promo variation, and the one that I am referencing throughout this section.

The review of that Mew is going to be my final tidbit of information for my first article! There are certainly some more error and generally underappreciated cards out there, as the world of Pokemon seems to be never ending. I picked some that I felt genuinely had a shot of being found in an older, untouched collection. They do happen to be some of the more exciting cards as well, which was a nice bonus for this article all around.

Getting to write about the collecting side of Pokemon was an absolute blast for me, as I tend to just blabber to my friends about it while they try to shoo me off. I will be back later this month with some more collecting content, and I am open to content suggestions! I do already have a relatively long list of content ideas that I think would make for a great read, but if you have anything that you would like to read about, feel free to drop a comment. Anyways, until my next article, I hope everyone continues to enjoy the world of Pokemon.


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