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Pokémon cards are some of the most coveted collectibles on the planet, whether it be 2021 Celebrations boxes or vintage cards released before the turn of the millennium. 

They’re now seen as some of the optimal investments within the hobby, but which cards are at the very top of the pile? 

We’ve come up with a list containing five of the best Pokémon cards of all time, based on their highest sale price, as well as their overall popularity. 

Best Rare Pokémon Cards of All-Time

Here are the best Pokémon cards in existence, along with the reason why they’re all so popular with collectors.

As you may have guessed, each of the Pokémon cards that have made the list are rare or special, (or a mixture of the two) and they focus on the original collection of 151 monsters

5. Kangaskhan Family Event Trophy

Kangaskhan Family Event Trophy

In 1998, a promo card that could only be obtained by participating in a special tournament in Japan was released, featuring Kangaskhan in a classic image. 

Typically, Japanese cards aren’t especially favored by collectors who prefer English copies, but this is clearly an exception to the rule. 

It’s worth noting that the white background used for normal-type cards like this one is the worst when it comes to showing any flaws, and also chips easily. 

This means that it’s a tough card to locate at higher grades, and that’s if you’re looking at the 1999 base set version. 

It’s fair to say that Kangaskhan isn’t the Pokémon that most fans would choose when selecting the most expensive, popular cards, but it’s hard to do much better. 

(Kangaskhan was specifically selected as it was a Parent/Child Mega Battle tournament.)  

A version recently sold for $169,000, joining two PSA 10s of the collectible that went for $150k in October 2020. 

4. Blastoise Wizards of the Coast Presentation Galaxy Star Holo

Blastoise Wizards of the Coast Presentation Galaxy Star Holo

Blastoise is another fan favorite, with the 1999 base set card commanding a high price when looking at Shadowless 1st Edition versions. 

However, this particular card was commissioned by Wizards of the Coast in 1998, and it’s actually an early prototype that was sent to stores to give them an idea of what to expect from the final TGC print run. 

A copy of this card sold for $360,000 in January 2021, while it wasn’t known to the public until the Pokémon card craze began to take off in earnest that year. 

It’s thought that there are only two copies in existence, while it’s a throwback to the game’s English manufacturer, WotC. 

You’ll see that some early design choices didn’t make it to the final print run, with the most noticeable difference being the font used. 

The descriptive box at the bottom is also different, and calls the Pokémon; ‘The Blastoise’.

It’s hard to do better if you’re looking at the rarest Pokémon cards of all time. That’s all but confirmed by the sale price of $360,000, which is only a smidgen away from the value of a PSA 10 Shadowless Base Set Charizard.

3. Charizard 1st Edition Shadowless Base Set

Charizard 1st Edition Shadowless Base Set

The 1st Edition set is synonymous with expensive cards, especially when looking at earlier ‘Shadowless’ versions that had yet to perfect the designs. 

Shadowless Pokémon cards are the earliest version of the 1999 English Base Set. You can tell by looking to the right of the Pokémon’s artwork, next to the yellow border on the side. 

Charizard is undoubtedly the most popular monster from the original 1999 base collection, seen as the chase card as it was so hard to find at the time. 

In the present day, a 1st Edition Shadowless Charizard card with a pristine BGS 10 rating (one of only three in the world) made headlines when Logan Paul entered his fight with Floyd Mayweather on June 6th, 2021 with a diamond-encrusted version around his neck. 

Given the provenance, Paul now thinks it’s worth upwards of $1M. It would make Paul’s copy the most expensive card of all time, but for now, it’s beaten by two rare options listed below.

2. Illustrator CoroCoro Comics Promo (Pikachu illustrator card)

Illustrator CoroCoro Comics Promo (Pikachu illustrator card)

The hyper-rare Pikachu Illustrator card was the prize in a 1997 CoroCoro Comics art competition.

The competition was the first of its kind, providing the basis for later editions including the Snap Photo Contest, the WB Kids Creator Contest, the 2009/10 Pokemon Card Design Contests, the Art Academies, and the Illustration Grand Prix.

The top 3 winners of the 1997 Contest each received a Pikachu Illustrator card, so it’s one of the rarest in existence. (It’s thought that there are fewer than 20 copies overall.)

In February 2021, a PSA 7 version of the card sold for $375,000 in a PWCC auction.

1. Topsun Charizard Blue Back

Topsun Charizard Blue Back

The Topsun set contains the earliest Pokémon cards in existence, while Charizard is arguably the most recognizable monster of the original 150. It’s no wonder that this release has claimed the top spot.

Topsun is a Japanese candy company that produced a variety of early ‘Pokémon cards, although they look nothing like the modern TCG versions we know and love. 

They were packaged along with gum and were designed to coincide with the launch of the original Pokemon Trading Card Game in 1996. However, they were reportedly produced in 1995 and weren’t actually released until 1997. 

Meanwhile, Blue Back copies are the most expensive, seen as the first edition as they contain no card numbers that can be seen with later versions. 

In January 2021, a PSA 10 version of the item was sold via Goldin Auctions for $493,230. That makes it the most valuable card by a wide margin, with a final fee that is unlikely to be beaten for a while.   


Pokémon cards are still insanely popular and show no signs of relenting for the time being. 

Collectors are desperate to own a rare piece of their childhood, and nostalgia plays a massive part in the high prices recorded over the past 12 months. 

It’s all the more surprising considering the average shiny was effectively worthless a few years after the first sets were initially released. 

There were simply too many copies and supply exceeded demand, but grading has allowed for some separation between different versions of cards like the Shadowless Charizard. 

Then there are options like the Kangaskhan, the Blastoise, or even the Pikachu Illustrator.

These cards are so rare that the only reason why a graded sleeve matters is that it verifies that it actually is a bonafide copy. 

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