In the year 2000, my Pokémon cards were my most prized possession. I loved them more than my Furby, more than all my Tamagotchis — even more than my Razor scooter.
I loved Pokémon cards so much...that I actually caught them all.
Yes, 10-year-old me collected the entire original Base Set of Pokémon cards. Of course, then they made more sets and suddenly my cardboard collection was incomplete and I had to revive my pack habit… I spent all of my allowance money on those cards. They were my everything.
Twenty years ago, Pokémon cards were kid currency. I traded them not just for other cards, but for any toys my friends had that I wanted. (What a little con artist, right?) But today, I'm an adult woman in the middle of a recession caused by a global pandemic — and I love money. So I ask myself: are these cards worth anything? Well, as with most collectibles, the answer is: it depends.
The first cards I checked were my 1st Editions. I didn't have any from the 1999 Base Set, but I did have some from Fossil and Jungle, both released later that year. You'd think that the rarity factor here would make them worth something, and in some cases, it does. But remember, I was 10 years old when I bought these. I wasn't lovingly taking care of my cards as an investment for the future. I was playing with them, along with every other 10-year-old at my local Toys R Us.
After taking a closer look, I realized that my cards are Moderately Played at best. The most valuable 1st Edition card that I found in my binder was my Jungle Pikachu, which earned me about $6.
If you've been taking good care of your 1st Edition cards, they could be worth something. If not, you'll probably only get a few bucks max. The good news? If you're a collector and didn't get your mitts on 1st Editions from classic sets when they came out, you can likely get some awesome cards on the cheap.
Shiny cards have always been the best, and it's unsurprising that people will still pay a lot for them. The day I found a holographic Charizard in a pack was one of the best days of my entire life — and yes, I'm including my wedding day. I even brought it with me to my job interview at TCGplayer. (Nerdy stuff like that works pretty well, FYI, in case you're applying to work there).
It turns out that the Base Set Charizard is now worth legit money — as in, over $100, maybe as much as $300, depending on condition. Blastoise and Venusaur are also worth a pretty penny, especially if you have a Near Mint version. Nearly all of the other holographic cards from the Base Set that we coveted so much in our youth are still worth something today. In a completely unexpected turn of events, I have officially listed my prized Charizard card on TCGplayer.com.
The real money is in Pokémon's Base Set (Shadowless) cards. If you somehow have these rarities in your collection, you can absolutely make some decent money off of your childhood hobby. And if you have a Base Set (Shadowless) Charizard, you can pretty much pay your rent with it. So how can you tell if a card is Shadowless? Compare it to your other Pokémon cards. Most have a shadow border on the right side of the card image. True to name, Shadowless cards do not.
After you've finished admiring this magnificent beast, note the absence of shadow on the right-hand side.
If you still treasure your Pokémon cards, by all means, keep them. Only a few are worth the return on investment I expected when I was in middle school. If you have children, why not pass them down through generations? Keep those priceless cards in the family. I gave away many of my Pokémon cards to my cousin, but I kept the ones I thought might be worth something someday — and now some of them actually are.
In short, keep the cards you love. If your love of money overpowers the nostalgia value, maybe it's time to let someone else experience the joy that those classic Pokémon cards gave you.