15 Ultra Rare Pokemon Cards You Have to Collect
In 1998, a Japanese trading card game called Pokemon took the world by storm. Pokemon cards became a global phenomenon that could have been just another short-lived fad, but in 2021, the Pokemon trading card phenom marked its 25th anniversary.
The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic caused Pokemon cards to increase in value by 466%. This was widely due to homebound collectors and celebrity influencers looking for a new hobby to undertake. This led to the search for valuable and ultra-rare Pokemon cards.
Celebrity influencer Aaron Paul bought one of the rarest Pokemon cards worth $5.275 million. This ultra-rare Pokemon card broke the Guinness Book of Records for the most expensive Pokemon trading card sold at a private sale.
The mania for Pokemon cards once again whipped into a frenzy, clearing out store shelves and online vendors. Each person hoping to find their own ultra-rare Pokemon card. The Pokemon Company responded to this demand by printing more than 9 billion cards.
While it is unlikely you'll stumble upon a rare Pokemon card in a store shelf pack, it's still fun to dream. If you do have the cash to burn and are looking for the ultimate in ultra-rare Pokemon cards, then keep reading below to find out more information.
15. 20th Anniversary 24-Karat Gold Pikachu
This card is as good as gold. No, really. It is actually made from 11g of solid 24k gold.
The chubby-cheeked electric mouse is one of the most unique ultra-rare Pokemon cards. Designed by Japanese jewelry maker Ginza Tanaka, it is part of a limited number of gold Pokemon cards for the 20th anniversary of Pokemon in 2016.
You could only win this card through a special golden ticket-style lottery held in 2016. Winners then had the opportunity to buy a copy for ¥216,000 (roughly $2,081 US or £1,700).
The gold Pikachu card is not legal for tournament use. But if you're looking for a shiny centerpiece for your Pokemon trading card display or a fun Pokemon card investment, this card is golden.
14. Pre-release Raichu Pokemon Card
This Pokemon card is one part ultra rare Pokemon card and one part urban legend. Like many ultra-rare Pokemon cards and other collector items, its worth came about due to a printing error in 1999.
The card reportedly contained a "pre-release" stamp on the bottom right portion of the card underneath the Raichu artwork. This resulted in 100 cards receiving the error, but most were destroyed by the English manufacturer, leaving only 10 or fewer of these cards.
The card was rumored to sell for a whopping $10,500 on April 1, 2009. But because no one has ever seen an actual physical copy, it could be nothing more than an elaborate April Fool's joke.
13. Master's Key Ultra Rare Pokemon Cards
While most ultra-rare Pokemon cards are from the early days of the Pokemon trading card game, some more recent Pokemon cards may also have a high worth.
The Master's Key is so rare, it is only won through competing in a TCG tournament. An estimated 36 copies of this ultra-rare Pokemon card exist, across the number of participants in all age divisions of the world championships. The winners of a Pokemon TCG and video game tournament received the rare Pokemon card in Hawaii in 2010.
A November 2019 auction copy of the Master's Key Pokemon card sold for $21,000. In August of 2020, another Master's Key sold at auction for $26,900.
12. Espeon and Umbreon Gold Star POP- Series 5
Gold star Pokemon cards are identifiable by the gold star symbol that appears next to the Pokemon's name. Only about 27 gold star cards were released between 2004 to 2007, adding to their rarity.
Known as “Eeveelution” cards, these ultra-rare Pokemon cards featured alternate colors and artwork. They depicted all of the possible evolutions of the Generation 1 Evee Pokemon.
These rare Pokemon cards were only available through an exclusive rewards program. It required players to earn points at tournaments in exchange for Japanese-language versions of these cards.
The Umbreon and Espeon cards have sold for over $20,000 at auction. An Espeon Gold Star card sold at auction for $22,000 in February 2021.
11. 2002 Pokemon World Championships No. 1 Trainer
Another one of the ultra-rare Pokemon cards, the 2002 Pokemon World Championships No. 1 Trainer was only given out as a prize to the winners during the 2002 regional Battle Road Spring tournaments held in Japan.
Each card contains the name of the individual winners. Their personalized aspect only drives up their rarity and value even further.
Ken Sugimori, one of the original designers and artists for the first 151 Pokemon created in Japan, did the artwork for these cards. It features fan-favorite Pokemon like Growlithe, Chansey, Pikachu, Marill, Doduo, and Electrobe. The card reads, "The Pokémon Card Game Official Tournament 'Battle Road Spring 2002' champion is recognized here, and his honor is praised".
While these prestigious cards aren't often sold, one such card sold at auction in April of 2021 for over $31,000.
10. 1996 Pokemon Japanese Base Set No Rarity Symbol Holo Venusaur
Whereas the U.S. English edition cards receive value for their first edition stamps, the Japanese cards get their value from the lack of a stamp. These are also known as No Rarity cards, which are actually some of the rarest cards.
5 copies of a Venusaur Pokemon card exist from a 1996 first print run. They received a perfect Gem-Mint 10 grade by PSA. An extremely rare and flawless card.
The autograph of Mitsuhiro Arita on the Pokemon card's case helped to boost the card's value even more. The legendary artist behind many Pokémon cards from the last 20-plus years. Arita is the card's illustrator as well as the artist responsible for many other Pokemon cards from the past 20 years.
Artist signatures can turn rare Pokemon cards into ultra-rare Pokemon cards and add to their truly one-of-a-kind worth. The No Rarity signed Venusaur card went for $55,000 at auction in November 2021.
9. 1999 Pokémon Japanese Promo Tropical Mega Battle Tropical Wind
The Tropical Wind cards were a precursor to the Pokemon World Championships. Only 12 cards were ever made as prize promos for the 1999 Tropical Mega Battle, making these ultra-rare Pokemon cards.
The Tropical Mega Battle saw 50 players from around the globe take part in an invite-only tournament in Honolulu, Hawaii. You could only take part by winning a battle in your local region and earning an invite, making certain only the best of the best participated.
A PSA Gem Mint 10 condition 1999 Japanese-language copy of the Tropical Mega Battle promo card, Tropical Wind, sold at auction for as much as $65,100 in October 2020. PSA estimates its value could be as high as $148,482.
8. 1999 Super Secret Battle No. 1 Trainer
The 1999 No. 1 Trainer is a holographic promotional card awarded to finalists in the Secret Super Battle tournament held in Tokyo, Japan. While it sounds similar to the other No. 1 Trainer card from 2002, they are completely different cards for different tournaments.
To earn a place in the competition’s finals, held in a secret location, Players had to first win a regional tournament in order to advance to the competition's finals a secret location, hence the title Super Secret Battle. The card was a form of a grand prize to grant them access to the finals.
The card’s text translates to: “The Pokémon Card Game Official Tournament's champion is recognized here, and this honor is praised. By presenting this card, you may gain preferential entry into the Secret Super Battle.”
The card features the Japanese logo for the “Pocket Monsters Trading Card Game”, and features the artwork of the Gen 1 Mewtwo illustration by Hideki Kazama. With only 7 regional tournaments held, there may only be 7 copies of this card in existence, making these 7 ultra rare Pokemon cards even more coveted.
6 of these ultra-rare Pokemon cards have received a perfect Gem Mint 10 condition grading by PSA. With a flawless copy selling at auction for $90,000 in July 2020.
7. 2006 Pokemon World Championships Promo No. 2 Trainer
The 2006 No. 2 Trainer is one of the rarest ultra-rare Pokemon cards. Only 3 copies of this card are thought to exist.
Like its other counterparts, this Pokemon card was awarded as a trophy card to finalists competing in the Pokémon World Championships in August 2006 in Anaheim, California. In order to receive the card, players were required to qualify by collecting enough points and then participating in their division finals.
The Pokemon card's rarity combined with its pristine condition means it can fetch a hefty price. In February 2021, A PSA-graded Mint 9 condition sold for $110,100. The 2006 No. 2 Trainer card tops even the most highly prized No. 1 Trainer in terms of ultra-rare Pokemon cards.
6. 2000 Pokemon Neo Genesis 1st Edition Holo Lugia #9
The 2000 Pokemon Neo Genesis 1st Edition Holo Lugia #9 features the legendary bird Pokemon Lugia from Gen II of the Pokemon video games Pokemon Silver and Pokemon SoulSilver on a holographic background. In the game, Lugia is one of the most powerful and difficult-to-catch Pokemon. This translates over to its rarity and worth as one of the top ultra-rare Pokemon cards as well.
The Neo Genesis 1st Edition Holo Lugia #9 Pokemon card includes errors and misprints included in the early runs of the Pokemon TCG Neo Genesis expansion set. Although corrected in later reprints, many of the expansion cards still remain in their uncorrected forms.
Only 41 Gem Mint 10 condition Neo Genesis 1st Edition Holo Lugia #9 cards have ever been graded by PSA. With just 3 of these ultra-rare Pokemon cards earning a perfect 10 Pristine rating from Beckett Grading Services.
A first-edition Neo Genesis Lugia PSA 10 graded card reportedly sold in October 2020 for $50,000. A Pristine BGS 10 copy sold for $144,300 in May 2021.
5. Kangaskhan-Holo #115 Family Event Trophy Card
Only participants in the 1998 Parent/Child Mega Battle tournament received this card. The tournament, held in Japan, involved teams of parents and their children competing side-by-side. Those who achieved a set number of victories during the tournament received the rare Pokemon card.
Since the card was never mass-produced, it has become one of the most ultra-rare Pokemon cards available. It features the Japanese Pocket Monsters Card Game logo on the back and the front with a Kangaskhan Pokemon and baby on a holographic background.
Only 46 reported copies of this Pokemon card have ever received a grade. With only 3 copies ever publicly sold in history.
Of the 3 cards sold, a PSA 7 card sold in June 2020 for $35,000, while a PSA graded 10 Gem Mint card sold on eBay in October for $150,100. This definitely puts it into the running for one of the most valuable and rarest Pokemon cards.
4. Black Star Ishihara Signed GX Promo Card
This card depicts an illustration of the Pokemon Company founder and current president Tsunekazu Ishihara in a traditional Japanese red vest, presenting a Master Ball while holding the electric ghost Pokemon Rotom. Company staff members received the rare Pokemon card as a gift to celebrate Ishihara's 60th birthday in 2017.
What makes these ultra-rare Pokemon cards even more valuable is the addition of Ishihara's signature. They feature a special ability that prevents the effect of any attack, ability, or trainer cards when the Ishihara card is in play. The special GX move allows you to flip 60 coins and collect a present for each one.
The Ishihara Pokémon card sold for $247,230 in April 2021 with an initial starting price of only $500. The card was a graded PSA Near Mint 7 with the signature earning a 9 out of 10.
3. Pokemon Blastoise #009/165R Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Hologram
The Blastoise Presentation cards were created in 1998. Their intention was to convince the Japanese executives to entrust the English-language release of the Pokemon TCG in the U.S. by Wizards of the Coast, the company in charge of Magic: The Gathering.
Truly a two-of-a-kind card, only 2 of these ultra-rare Pokemon cards were ever produced. One of the cards sold at auction for an impressive $360,000 in January 2021. The only copy of the card to be seen publicly graded as Near Mint/Mint+ 8.5 by CGC.
The location and the condition of the other card is still unknown, meaning this card could become even more valuable.
2. 1999 First Edition Shadowless Holographic Charizard #4
Charizard Holographic cards are a highly sought-after commodity in the Pokemon community. A shadowless card lacks the drop shadow underneath the Pokemon artwork box. Only 121 copies of the 1999 First Edition Shadowless Holographic #4 Charizard received a grade of Gem Mint 10 by PSA making them ultra-rare Pokemon cards for avid collectors.
A mint-condition first-edition shadowless holographic PSA 10 Charizard sold at auction in October 2020 for a whopping $220,574 to the Pokemon fan and retired rapper Logic.
Another Shadowless Charizard sold at auction on November 2020 for $350,100. A month later in December 2020, a Shadowless Charizard sold at auction for $369,000. The highest amount of money paid for any Pokémon card to date.
The trend continued in January of 2021 with a Shadowless Charizard in Gem Mint 10 condition selling for $300,000. In March of 2022, a PSA 10 Charizard sold for a record-breaking $420,000. This is the third-highest priced and most expensive Pokemon card and the most paid so far for a Shadowless Charizard.
1. Pikachu Illustrator
Celebrity Influencer Logan Paul's Pikachu card takes the top prize for the list of ultra-rare Pokemon cards. His $5.275 million Pikachu Illustrator card purchased through a private sale in July 2021 has been called the "Holy Grail of Pokemon Cards". It also makes him the envy of Pokemon collectors all over the world.
This Pikachu Illustrator card is the only PSA 10 in existence. Logan Paul even wore it on a chain around his neck at the WWE WrestleMania event in 2022. Paul also received his Guinness World Record at the event.
The Pikachu Illustrator cards were created and given to winners of promo contests held by the Japanese magazine CoroCoro Comic in 1997 and 1998. 39 winners received cards as prizes with two cards discovered later on in 2020. This rare Pokemon card also has several other unique characteristics.
For one, it is the only Pokémon card to have the “Illustrator” header instead of “Trainer” at the top of the card. It also contains a one-off pen icon in its bottom-right corner to denote its creation for the design contest. The card features artwork of Pikachu by famed illustrator and original designer Atsuko Nishida.
There are 41 copies of this card in total. However, there are only 23 certified PSA copies of the Pikachu Illustrator card. This potentially leaves additional extremely rare Pokémon cards still yet to discover.
Find More Rare Pokemon Cards and Other Trading Cards at Breaking Bangers
Pokemon cards are miniature works of art. Each card is a special creation that is just as much fun to look at as they are to play with. That's why they've withstood the test of time for generations of collectors.
Whether you're an avid Pokemon collector seeking out ultra-rare Pokemon cards for yourself or you're just starting out, collecting trading cards is a fun and time-honored tradition.
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