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Determining If Your Pokémon Card Is a First Edition

You can tell whether a Pokémon card is worth $10 or $10,000 by looking for "First Editions."

Collectors of trading cards know there is a specific vocabulary that must be learned in order to fully appreciate the hobby. When it comes to Pokémon cards, the statement is undeniably accurate. Words like "holo," "reverse holo," "shadowless," "grey stamp," "hidden rare," and "rainbow rare" are commonplace in discussions of Pokémon trading cards.

In terms of Pokémon card collecting, "First Edition" is another word used, especially when discussing the most costly cards. It's not uncommon for rare, early-set Pokémon cards from the first printings to fetch prices in the tens of thousands of dollars. Despite this, early printings of cards frequently look identical to their less valuable reprints. Depending on the rarity and condition of the card, this distinction may mean the difference between a $10 and a $10,000 investment.

How to Tell if You Have a First Edition Pokémon Base Set Card

When Pokémon trading cards were first released in the United States in 1999, the first print run of the first set (Base Set) included a "First Edition" emblem on each card. The symbol appears on Pokémon trading cards halfway between the top and bottom left corners. It's in the upper right corner of all Energy cards. The bottom left corner is where you'll find it on Trainer cards. The logo has the numeral "1" in the centre of a black circle with the word "EDITION" written in uppercase letters along the outer edge of the emblem.

Due to high demand, a second printing of the original Pokémon Basic Set was made. Since the identical cards were included in the Second Printing, the First Edition sign was eliminated. These cards are regarded as "shadowless" because they were printed before the addition of a drop shadow to the cards in subsequent print runs.

A third printing was released after the initial two had sold out. The third print run of the cards, commonly referred to as "unlimited" cards today, featured a revised layout that was meant to improve legibility. The right side of the art box on the cards now has a drop shadow, which is the most noticeable change. In 2000, the UK published a second printing of the Basic Set, reflecting the same changes as the unrestricted cards. For this last print run, the copyright date was updated to "1999-2000." It's common for these cards to be lighter in colour than prior editions.

First Editions, in addition to the Basic Set

Throughout the following two to three years, first edition symbols would denote initial print runs of Pokémon material. As of the Neo Destiny set's release, ten Pokémon sets had been released. Base Set 2, which was made up of reprints from the Base Set and the Jungle collection, was the only set released during those three years that did not contain cards sporting the original edition insignia.

Throughout the twenty years since the release of the Neo Destiny set, Pokémon has not released any first edition stamped cards in English. First edition insignia was added to the initial print runs of Japanese-language cards in 2001 when the Pokémon VS set was launched. Up to the 2016 release of the 20th-anniversary collection, Japanese-language Pokémon cards continued to be printed as first editions. Japanese set releases tend to have a much higher prevalence of first edition releases than their limitless counterparts, in contrast to English issues.

The symbol for the first printing on Japanese cards looks different than the one used in English. It consists of the numeral "1" superimposed over the word "EDITION," which is written in full capital letters and sandwiched between two horizontal lines. A Pokémon or Trainer card's symbol can be found in the bottom right corner. In Japan, Energy cards did not have the first edition symbol.


If you are looking to determine if your Pokémon card is a first edition, there are a few things you can look for. First, check the copyright information on the card. If the card has a stamp on the left side that says "1st Edition," then you're in luck. Furthermore, first edition cards tend to be more valuable than other cards, so if you are looking to sell your card, it is worth checking to see if it is a first edition.

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