Sunday 20 February 2022

How to Identify Vintage American Glass - Fenton Carnival Milk


How to Identify Antique and Vintage American Glassware Styles

With eye-catching colors and an alluring array of shapes and patterns, antique glassware offers a unique decorative accent that recalls craftsmanship from decades past. While collectors of vintage glass often purchase these pieces for display, many others maintain them for everyday use.

Glassware produced from the late-19th through the mid-20th century is considered the pinnacle of glassmaking and thus one of the most popular eras to collect in the market. Vintage glassware encompasses many types of decorative and functional objects including glasses, plates, vases, and bowls. They range from simple and affordable to ornate and extravagant. As a starting point for new collectors and seasoned enthusiasts, this guide compiles the most notable styles.

The History of Antique and Vintage Glassware

Although glass objects have been produced as early as the Bronze Age, the more modern technique of cut glass dates back approximately 2,000 years. Glassmakers would hold a cooled piece of glass to a grinding wheel to carve fine grooves, intricate patterns, and compelling designs. The Italian city of Venice became a leader in the craft, as they molded glass into elaborate drinking glasses and introduced colorless forms of glassware.

The “American Brilliant” era of the late-19th century into the 20th century witnessed significant developments in the glassmaking industry. The rise of pressed glass made it possible to mass-produce glassware, leading to the creation of some of the most recognizable styles including carnival glass, elegant glass, milk glass, crystal glass, and Depression glass. Other advancements such as uranium glass were crafted throughout the 1930s before falling out of popularity during the Cold War.

Fenton Glassware

Fenton Glass Company was one of the most prominent glassmaking companies in American history and led to many of the styles discussed in this guide. Drawing inspiration from Tiffany Studios and Steuben Glass, the firm introduced carnival glass in 1907 before going on to create over 150 different patterns in this style. Over the years, they have produced a variety of glass types, including the carnival, opalescent, and milk, as well as other styles like custard and chocolate. Fenton pieces are popular with collectors for their wide variety of glass styles, signature designs, and the fact every Fenton piece is made by hand.

A row of multicolored glass vessels of varying shapes and sizes

Collection of Seven Fenton Glass Vessels. Sold for $350 via O’Gallerie (September 2019).

Fenton glass ranges from bright pieces to twisting spiral collectibles. Items made from 1973 onward are distinguished by an oval-shaped Fenton raised logo. Pieces produced before 1973 were marked with stick-on labels that likely tore away, making it necessary to do further research to verify the maker. Colors, design, and motifs can also determine the value of Fenton glassware. Ebony vases can sell for hundreds of dollars, while some cranberry and carnival glass can sell for thousands of dollars. Despite the high cost of a few rare examples, you can find Fenton glassware for less than $100 each, with many selling for as low as $10 to $20.

“Hobnail” glass, which featured a uniform bumpy surface inspired by Victorian design, was one of the most famous Fenton glass styles. Fenton-made milk glass before 1958 was also distinguishable for its more transparent appearance in comparison to other milk glass. Fenton also saw success with their signature line of glass pieces with ruffled edges called “crests.”

Types of Antique and Vintage Glassware

Antique and vintage glassware is highly sought-after today for its rich history and sheer variety of colors, patterns, and styles. The process of determining the value of these collectibles can be complicated and requires careful research and comparisons. You’ll need to consider colors, condition, patterns, makers, and overall design characteristics. Below are some of the significant vintage glassware styles, explained.

Art Glass

Art glass refers to the innovative work of glassmakers who experimented with new techniques and designs at the turn of the 20th century. Their artistry gave way to an assortment of handmade objects like vases, bowls, bottles, paperweights, and even marbles. Demand for art glass declined in the United States after the Art Nouveau era before experiencing a resurgence in the 1950s and 60s.


Many glassmaking companies such as DurandTiffany Studios, Quezal, and Steuben stood at the forefront of the movement. While designs and techniques varied between companies, many examples of art glass  featured iridescent qualities, vibrant colors, and nature-inspired patterns. Art glass is generally sought-after by collectors, but the maker of an individual piece can impact its value. Makers can be identified by examining company marks and signatures located on the bottom of the glassware. However, since reproductions are common, it’s essential to study the marks, colors, and styles of genuine art glass to properly identify the maker of a piece.

Some of the most notable art glass comes from Louis Comfort Tiffany’s award-winning and famous line of “Favrile” iridescent glassware. Pieces from this top-shelf company often go for thousands of dollars on the market. Art glass collectors also favor works from Steuben Glass Works, which featured colors like gold, brown, red, and green in their iridescent glass. Durand vases, in particular, are famous for their “King Tut” pattern of coiled glass that ranges in price from $2,000 to $3,000.

Carnival Glass

The first carnival glass was introduced in 1907 as an economical alternative to Tiffany’s Favrile. Since it was inexpensive to make, consumers often refused to pay high prices, which caused them to be given away at carnivals as prizes (hence its name). By 1925, carnival glass fell out of favor in the United States before experiencing a revival in the 1950s, when collectors began to seek out its decorative qualities.

Carnival glass is known for a multicolor sheen that changes colors when viewed at different angles—the result of spraying the hot glass with metallic salts before firing. The swirly “oil slick” appearance incorporated glimmers of color like black, purple, blue, and green. Factors like age, item type, size, colors, and condition affect the value of carnival glass. Pieces dating before 1940 are more valuable, as are complete sets of items and larger objects. Colors like ice green (which is sold for over $16,000) and marigold are rarer and highly prized.

Fenton, an influential American glassware company, was credited with the creation of the first carnival glass piece. They were known for detailed scalloped and crimped edges that outlined many of their creations. Fenton’s strawberry scroll, a sweeping pattern featuring raised strawberries, is exceptionally rare and desirable in the antique market.

Crystal Glassware

While similar in appearance to standard glassware, crystal is a high-quality glass crafted with lead. Wealthy collectors were attracted to crystal for its light-reflecting qualities, and it became a popular serving option during the 19th century. Crystal produced during this era is considered antique by collectors, while those created after World War I are generally regarded as vintage glassware.

Because of its lead content, crystal glassware is stronger, heavier, and smoother than standard glass. The quickest way to identify crystal is to examine its look and sound. When held up to the light, crystal should reflect light and cast soft prism-like rainbows. Tapping genuine crystal emits a musical “ping” sound. Well-known crystal manufacturers typically marked the bottom of their wares with a signature or company name, which can help determine their value. Another factor is appearance: the more intricate a piece’s cuts and stems, the more value it holds.

The value of older and more highly decorated crystal glassware can range between $1,000 and $4,000—sometimes even more, depending on its condition and design. The most famous crystal glassware came from Waterford during the “American Brilliant” period, recognized its for “bright glass,” rhythmic patterns, prism-shaped stems, and elaborate cuts.

Depression Glass

The stock market crash of 1929 led to the creation of inexpensive Depression glass. Its lower price point made it accessible during the Great Depression for entertaining guests, everyday use in kitchens, and overall brightening homes during a bleak time. Although it is of lesser quality than other forms of antique glassware, Depression glass still attracts collectors with its vibrant colors and ornate patterns.

Large service of blue glass tableware

Blue Royal Lace Depression Glass Collection (128 Pieces). Sold for $675 via Mebane Antique Auction (March 2020).

Depression glass was produced in varying hues, some very light in color and others opaque and iridescent. Etched details, opalescent trim, and geometric shapes were the hallmarks of this favorite glass style. Because of lesser-quality production techniques, Depression glass often featured imperfections such as air bubbles, raised rough spots, and heavy mold marks. These “common” flaws, however, do not affect its value and are some of the attributes specialists look for to verify its authenticity. Value is also dependent on the pattern, color, object type, and condition. Intricate patterns, uncommon objects, pink and green pieces, and well-kept items are generally more valuable. It’s also important to uncover any “critical” damage that can impact the value of a piece. To do so, run your fingers across the edges and hold the glass up to a light source to look for cracks and chips. While it’s common to find Depression glass for less than $10 to $15, more intricate patterns and unique items can be significantly more valuable.

Jeannette Bottle Works was one of the primary producers of Depression glass. They were recognized for creating a variety of dinnerware, including the unique color ultramarine and cherry blossom pattern. “American Sweetheart” is another favorite Depression glass pattern, notable for its sunset pink hue and etchings of scrolls. Pitchers and salt-and-pepper shaker sets in this pattern can bring in $350 to $750 per piece.

Elegant Glass

While pressed glass techniques of the 1920s made it easy to produce inexpensive glass, a few companies were determined to continue creating high-quality glassware. Produced through precise handiwork by skilled craftspeople, this glassware, known as “elegant glassware,” was notorious for luxury prices and was often sold in high-end stores.

Similar to vintage Depression glassware, elegant glass features varying colors and intricate designs of flowers. The primary difference is dependent on how the pieces were created. Whereas Depression glass was produced with molds (and thus are more raised in appearance), elegant glass designs were etched and have a more recessed look. Objects were often hand-pressed, hand-molded, and hand-blown. As with other styles of vintage glassware, value is determined by  assessing the pattern, color, age, and object type. Items such as candle holders can run for around $16. However, an entire collection of elegant dinnerware in one color and in the desirable “American” pattern can cost thousands of dollars.

Cambridge Glass Company, Imperial Glass Corporation, and Fostoria Glass Company were some of the leading elegant glass companies at the time. While Imperial was known for their Candlewick line of glass beaded pieces, Fostoria’s distinct clear-colored geometric glassware was hugely popular during the era and with collectors today.

Kitchen Glass

Kitchen glass was a branch of Depression glass also produced during the Great Depression era. Similar to Depression wares, they were inexpensive to make, and their economical price made them popular to use in kitchens and dining, which gave them their name.

Kitchen glass was made in a variety of glass types such as Delphite, Fire King, jadeite, and Platonite. Delphite is an opaque blue glass used for novelty items and tableware. Fire King is an opaque green glass that was re-popularized in the 1990s by Martha Stewart. Jadeite, while similar to Fire King, is a lighter opaque green glass that recreates the look of the mineral jade. Platonite is a white glass that many people commonly associate with kitchen glass items, often used in refrigerator dishes, shaker sets, milk pitchers, and mixing bowls. Prices for kitchen glass have stabilized over the years with standard objects like dinner and salad plates running between $8 and $15. However, rare items like ball pitchers, measuring cups, canisters, and large mugs are often sold for in the hundreds.

Jeanette Bottle Works was also one the notable makers of kitchen glassware. Known as “Jennyware,” these objects were often made in pink, clear, and ultramarine colors. Platonite was used in a rare kitchen glass line called Ovide Platonite, featuring black Art Deco elements that created a dramatic contrast with the white glass. Moderntone, a simple banded pattern, was also used in many kitchen glassware.

Milk Glass

Opaque glass, commonly known as milk glass, reached the height of its popularity in the 19th and early 20th century when it was produced as a more economical option to European glass and china. Like other glassware, milk glass underwent a revival in the 1940s and 1950s and has been considered an “evergreen” collectible since.

Despite its name, white wasn’t the only color produced: opaque black, pink, and green were some of the more expensive variants of milk glass. Generally, pieces dating from the mid-19th through the early-20th century  are considered the most valuable. Referred to as “old” milk glass, these objects showcased motifs such as dolphins, animals, birds, and ships, and featured molded edges resembling latticework. Older pieces usually have an opalescent quality and bear sharp mold lines and silky, smooth texture. Old milk glass also possesses a signature “ring of fire;” a halo of iridescent colors around the edge that appears when the piece is held up to a light source.

Most of the milk glass collectors encounter today were produced by American manufacturers such as Westmoreland, Kemple and Fenton. Patterns such as Westmoreland’s “Beaded Grape” (which featured grape motifs and beaded edges), and Fenton’s “Silvercrest” hold plenty of value in the vintage market. Atterbury & Company was also another major milk glass maker, known for incorporating animals into their designs.

Over the last two centuries, antique and vintage glassware have experienced a range of rapid growth, sharp decline, and renewed interest based on social, political and economic trends. Today, as with all collectibles, understanding common makers and the hallmarks of their designs enables collectors to make more informed buying decisions. Antique and vintage glassware, in particular, have many value determinants such as colors, designs, and object type that impact their value and sale price. Familiarizing yourself with these features will give you a better sense of the nuances between makers, types, and eras. Whether you prefer the top-shelf beauty of art glass or the iridescence of carnival glass, you can be sure to find a beautiful piece to add to your collection.

Friday 11 February 2022

Collectables Of Tomorrow That Could Make You Serious Money



History shows that pop culture icons become most collectible around 25-30 years after their height of popularity–this is when kids who grew up with the toy are old enough to get nostalgic, and have the funds available to seek out those treasures from their youth. Think about it, around 30 years ago, the most popular toy lines included G.I. Joe, Transformers, Masters of the Universe, and Star Wars; Pac-Man and Donkey Kong were all the rage; and Mr. T was crashing through barriers in the A-Team’s van. If you’ve spent any time around Cool & Collected, you know these are all fairly popular topics of conversation.

Looking into my crystal ball at the year 2043, I predict the following items will have collectors clamoring to to buy those nostalgic memories from good old 2013.

halo collection


I’ve never really understood the desire to collect video games and movies, since digital media can be repurposed for new hardware, but there’s no denying that there is a strong collectors market out there. Besides the actual video games, the toys, posters, and swag that surrounded the video games could become highly collectible, especially the items that had small distribution, such as convention giveaways. We are experiencing a video game renaissance right now, and games take up more leisure time than any other medium, so I think it’s safe to say that today’s kids will want to have Halo’s Master Chief, encased in a protective acrylic case, sitting on a shelf in their future living room. Early Nintendo items, especially those depicting stars Mario and Donkey Kong are already prized items, and their future looks even brighter.

simpsons cereal


Try to think of another pop culture property that has had a bigger impact on our society than the Simpsons. It really amazes me that there aren’t more Simpsons collectors out there. I think part of the problem is that there is such an incredibly large assortment of items on the market, it’s hard to know where to begin. Just about everyone can relate to a character on the show and aspects of the world of Springfield are so entrenched in our mindset (Doh!), that I can see people in the decades ahead fondly remembering the show (if it EVER goes off the air) and wanting to acquire that talking Bart Simpson doll.

robot collection


We have entered the age of battery-operated robots that move, dance, and belch, and if you can keep your robots working and clean, you might have a hot collectible in the decades ahead. The past few years have seen plenty of robot and animatronic toys on the market, and there are sure to be more in our future. Battery-operated robots from the 50’s and 60’s command huge prices today, and I believe that today’s Robosapiens and AIBOs will be equally prized items someday.

smithsonian harry potter prop


Surprisingly, this one barely made my list. Harry Potter is by far the biggest thing to hit this generation–just think about all those midnight releases of the new books, with kids staying up way past their bedtimes in full costume. J.K. Rowling did something that I never thought could be done–she united the entire world behind a single character–Harry Potter. But from a collecting standpoint, here’s the problem–the toys and collectibles that were released weren’t all that great. Sure, there are some exceptions, but I think they really missed the marketing boat by not releasing a slew of great kid-friendly toys and action figures. The movie company probably wanted to keep a tight rein to ensure that everything was movie-accurate, but it seems like they missed a golden opportunity. The Harry Potter books will always be rare and expensive collector’s items, but I really don’t know if the rest of the merchandise is going to retain a following.

lego brickfair minifigs


There’s no doubt that LEGO is on a roll, and not a birthday party goes past without at least one LEGO set being unwrapped. While the sets will possibly remain hot collectibles in the years to come, I think the minifigs will be the best bet for future collectors. The small figures can be picked up for a few dollars today, but the rarer ones already fetch MUCH higher prices on the secondary market. The big advantage to collecting the minifigs is their size–you can have a hundred items in your collection without taking up more space than a shoebox–and they’re fun!

imaginext batman collection1


Fisher Price struck gold when they released their line of Imaginext toys. There are castles, dinosaurs, aliens, super heroes–everything a little boy could want! Well, those little boys have a way of growing up to be big boys, and I think these toys will be fondly remembered. The round-headed Fisher Price Little People that were popular in the 70’s have a huge following today, and I firmly believe that the Imaginext toys will have the same kind of allure to future collectors. The toys also have the addd bonus of comic book tie-ins, which will make them sought after by a whole different set of collectors.

skylanders collection


There is no hotter toy on the market today. Activision has figured out the formula of how to tap into the video game and action figure market. Much like Pokemon and Battle Beasts, the variety of characters of this line makes them a prime candidate for a collectible of tomorrow. Plus, they have the benefit of falling into the video game collecting category mentioned above. (See my previous post on Skylanders.)

mondo conquest of the planet of the apes


It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the current movie and gig posters being produced today. The Alamo Drafthouse’s Mondo Studios is the 800-pound gorilla who brought the collectible movie poster scene to life. Fortunately for us collectors, other galleries have grabbed onto Mondo’s coattails and are producing some amazing art as well. These posters truly are works of art, and their limited print runs and legions of fans are already driving the prices sky high. Thirty years from now, I think the cream of the crop of these posters will still be prized by collectors, more so than regular movie studio posters, which have always had a loyal collector base. By straddling the line of pop culture and art, these poster artists have opened up the genre to a much higher brow audience than typical movie posters would bring to the market, and collectors are hanging these posters in their living rooms–a place where traditional movie posters would probably never be allowed.

All of the items on this list already have fans and collectors, but I think they have staying power and will be found on collectors’ walls and shelves for many years to come. What do you think will be the hot collectibles of tomorrow?

Wednesday 2 February 2022

Top 15 Most Rare and Expensive Pokémon Cards

Top 15 Most Rare and Expensive Pokémon Cards

From the Shadowless Charizard to a solid gold Pikachu, here are the most expensive Pokémon cards ever made.
Image: Heritage Auctions

There's a huge amount of Pokémon out there and even more Pokémon Trading Cards, raging from common pidgeys to rare and valuable legendary cards, or even better. And valuable really is the word, with nearly eight tons of counterfeit cards being recently seized in China - in Short, Pokémon cards are big business. That's why we've put together this list of the rarest and most expensive Pokémon cards, so you know for certain what's hiding in your attic.

Rare and valuable Pokémon cards

Interest in Pokémon and the Pokémon card game has only continued to grow in recent years, with multiple card sales at auction setting new records in 2019 and 2020 alone, so there’s never been a better time to rifle through your collection and see if you own one of the rarest Pokémon cards of all time. Aren’t you at least a little curious? There might be a retirement fund waiting in your attic.

15. 20th Anniversary 24-karat Gold Pikachu

A rare card made of solid gold

Sold for 216,000 yen ($2,081) in October 2016

20th Anniversary 24-karat Gold Pikachu Pokémon card
The card is a reprint of the game's original Pikachu, albeit one made out of solid 24-karat gold. Image: Nintendo/Creatures Inc./Game Freak

While many of the rarest Pokémon cards are cards released during the first years of the game, this card is an exception in that it appeared for the first time only a few years ago in 2016 to celebrate the Pokémon TCG’s 20th anniversary.

What makes the 20th Anniversary Pikachu card extra special is the fact it’s made out of solid gold. 11 grammes of 24-karat gold, in fact. Japanese jewellery maker Ginza Tanaka produced a limited number of solid gold cards based on the original Japanese Pikachu card - affectionately nicknamed ‘Fat Pikachu’ due to the electric mouse’s distinctive chubby cheeks in its original design.

The only way to get a copy of the golden Pikachu was to enter a lottery held in 2016. If you won, you were given the chance to buy a copy of the limited-edition card for 216,000 yen - or around $2,081/£1,700. It came in a special frame and box marking the anniversary, which you’d hope might keep it safe given the price tag and rarity.

Although the card recreates the original Pikachu card - including the Pocket Monsters Card Game logo on the back and its Japanese text on the front - it’s actually not legal for use in tournaments. You know, because it’s made of gold. We probably wouldn’t recommend trading it in the schoolyard either, unless your friend has a Rolls-Royce to give you in return.

14. Prerelease Raichu

A card so rare it may just be rumour

Reportedly sold for $10,500 in April 2009

Fact or fiction? Prerelease Raichu may be the rarest Pokémon card of all time - if it's real, that is.

Perhaps the most controversial Pokémon card of all time, Prerelease Raichu may also be the rarest Pokémon card ever made - in fact, it’s so rare that finding out exact details is tricky.

Prerelease Raichu was long rumoured to be a card printed by error in the run-up to the English-language release of the Pokémon TCG’s second expansion, Jungle, in 1999. So the story goes, a very small number - said to approximately 100 - of Raichu cards from the game’s Base Set were accidentally reprinted with the word “Prerelease” stamped in the bottom-right of the card artwork. The game’s English manufacturer, Wizards of the Coast, reportedly destroyed all but a fraction of the copies, leaving 10 or fewer in the wild. The few remaining copies are believed to have been given to Wizards of the Coast staff.

For years, Prerelease Raichu was only rumoured to exist, until a copy believed to be genuine surfaced from a former Wizards of the Coast employee in 2006. In 2009, the first and seemingly only recorded sale of a Prerelease Raichu was reported by fan site PokeGym, apparently changing hands for $10,500. However, given the completion date of April 1st, whether the sale was real or an elaborate April Fool’s prank remains dubious.

Whether Prerelease Raichu actually exists remains in contention - no copies of the card have even been professionally certified or sold at auction, despite a number of apparent fakes popping up over the years. If a legitimate copy of the card were to surface, it may well set a new record for the most valuable and rarest Pokémon card of all time. Until then, it will remain a true Holy Grail.

13. Master’s Key

A more recent card - but no less rare

Sold for $21,000 in November 2019

Master’s Key Pokémon card
Master's Key is one of the rare Pokémon cards that doesn't date back to the TCG's early days. Image: PWCC

Master’s Key is another rare Pokémon card awarded to participants in a Pokémon TCG tournament. However, unlike No. 1 Trainer and its ilk, this card is a little more recent, being given to competitors in the 2010 Pokémon World Championships held in Hawaii.

Both those participating in the trading card game tournament and its video game counterpart received a copy of Master’s Key - the cards were identical, but came presented in a different trophy case frame depending on the category.

Only 36 copies of the card are estimated to exist - equal to the number of participants in all age divisions of the world championships.

A copy of the Master’s Key card sold at auction in November 2019 for more than $21,000, highlighting how valuable the rare prize card is.

12. Espeon and Umbreon Gold Star POP Series 5

A pair of Gold Star Pokémon cards from one of the most valuable Pokémon sets of all time

Sold for $22,000 in February 2021

Gold Star Pokémon cards Espeon and Umbreon POP Series 5
The Gold Star Pokémon cards are one of the most valuable Pokémon sets ever produced, with Espeon and Umbreon two of the rarest cards in the set.

Gold Star Pokémon cards are among the most valuable sets of Pokémon cards in existence and command an incredibly high value as a result. The cards are named after the gold star that appears next to the Pokémon’s name at the top of the card, which signifies that the card features alternative-colour artwork different from the common version. Only 27 Gold Star cards were released from 2004 to 2007, making them some of the rarest Pokémon cards available.

While all of the Gold Star Pokémon cards are rare, only appearing once in approximately every 88 booster packs (or two booster boxes) for certain Pokémon TCG expansions, the very rarest are the ‘Eeveelutions’ - the many evolutions into which basic Gen 1 Pokémon Eevee can evolve. And the rarest of the rarest are the original Japanese-language versions of the cards offered to members of the Pokémon Players Club, who could spend points earned by participating in official organised play and tournaments to obtain exclusive cards.

While Eeveelutions Flareon, Jolteon and Vaporeon could be acquired in the EX Power Keepers set released in 2007 via the Pokémon online store, their psychic and dark elemental siblings Espeon and Umbreon could only be picked up by players who collected enough Pokémon Players Club points. The Espeon 025/PLAY card required 40,000 EXP points earned, while Umbreon 026/PLAY was even most pricey at 70,000 points.

While the Japanese versions of the cards are the most valuable due to their limited availability, even the English-language versions of the Espeon and Umbreon Gold Star cards fetch a high price. A Gold Star Espeon rated at PSA 10 Gem Mint condition was sold in February 2021 for over $22,000, while an Umbreon graded at an equally perfect condition fetched just over $20,000 at auction in December 2020. PSA values the two cards at $194,209 and $187,277 respectively, easily making them two of the most valuable Pokémon cards around.

11. 2002 Pokémon World Championships No. 1 Trainer

Every copy of this rare and valuable promo card is one-of-a-kind

Sold for $31,200 in April 2021

The 2002 No. 1 Trainer card was personalised with the name of the tournament's winner, making each card entirely unique.

The first of two rare and valuable Pokémon cards called No. 1 Trainer on this list, this particular card was awarded to winners of the regional Battle Road Spring tournaments held in Japan during early 2002. (Battle Road Summer versions were given out during competitions held later that year.)

The regional tournaments were held as qualifiers for the Pokémon World Championships, with the small number of No. 1 Trainer cards produced for the few winners making them some of the rarest Pokémon cards in existence.

Adding to the card's rarity is the fact that each No. 1 Trainer card was customised with the name of the tournament winner printed onto the card, making each card one-of-a-kind. According to auction house Heritage Auctions, the personalised aspect of the cards also mean that they rarely appear at auction, making them an even rarer sight in the world of Pokémon cards.

The 2002 No. 1 Trainer card was illustrated by Ken Sugimori, best known as being one of the original artists and designers for Pokémon's first generation of 151 Pokémon. The text on it reads: "The Pokémon Card Game Official Tournament Battle Road Spring 2002 champion is recognised here, and his honour is praised." Sugimori's No. 1 Trainer artwork - featuring fan-favourite Pokémon such as Pikachu, Chansey and Marrill - is exclusive to the card, making it especially unique.

A copy of the 2002 Pokémon World Championships No. 1 Trainer card, complete with its original display folder and even the envelope it was delivered in, sold at auction in April 2021 for just over $31,000. While it's not the absolute rarest of the No. 1 Trainer cards, the card still ranks as one of the most valuable Pokémon cards.

10. 1996 Pokémon Japanese Base Set No Rarity Symbol Holo Venusaur

A very rare Pokémon card made ever more valuable by its artist’s autograph

Sold for $55,000 in November 2021

1996 Pokémon Japanese Base Set No Rarity Symbol Holo Venusaur PSA 10 Gem Mint
This particular Venusaur card was made even more valuable by the signature of legendary Pokémon illustrator Mitsuhiro Arita. Image: PWCC

Many of the rarest Pokémon cards date from the trading card game’s early days, with first edition cards released in the 1990s ranking as among the most valuable Pokémon cards today.

While the first edition stamp on cards is highly sought-after in the English edition of the Pokémon card game, the rarest Japanese Pokémon cards are instead identified by their lack of a stamp. Specifically, a missing black star in the bottom-right of a Japanese-language card is what’s known as ‘No Rarity’ - meaning that the card is missing the common symbol used to signify a Pokémon card’s rarity.

No Rarity Pokémon cards are among the rarest Pokémon cards in existence, and few come rarer than the Venusaur Pokémon card from the game’s first print run in 1996. Just five copies of the Bulbasaur evolution - famous for appearing on the original video game Pokémon Green - have been graded at a perfect Gem-Mint 10 by PSA, making a flawless copy of the card extremely rare.

While a No Rarity Venusaur card commands a high price by itself, a copy sold in November 2021 set a new record for the rare Pokémon card by fetching $55,000 at auction. Helping the record sum was the signature of the card’s illustrator Mitsuhiro Arita - the legendary artist behind many Pokémon cards from the last 20-plus years - on the card’s case, making the already rare Pokémon card truly one-of-a-kind.

9. 1999 Pokémon Japanese Promo Tropical Mega Battle Tropical Wind

An ultra-rare promo card - one of only a dozen ever made

Sold for $65,100 in October 2020

With only a dozen given to top players at the 1999 Tropical Mega Battle tournament, the Japanese Tropical Wind promo card is extremely rare.

Only 12 Tropical Wind cards were produced as promo cards for the 1999 Tropical Mega Battle, a precursor to the Pokémon World Championships, making it one of the most valuable Pokémon sets around.

The Tropical Mega Battle saw 50 players from around the globe take part in a tournament for the trading card game in Honolulu, Hawaii. The only way to participate was to win a battle in your local region and earn an invite, making it an exclusive event for the best Pokémon trainers in the world - and the cards offered as prizes some of the rarest Pokémon cards in existence.

This particular Tropical Mega Battle promo card, the 1999 Japanese-language copy of Tropical Wind, has sold at auction for as much as $65,100 in PSA Gem Mint 10 condition, with the most recent record-breaking sale taking place in October 2020. PSA estimates its value to be as high as $148,482, making the ultra-rare card a contender for one of the most expensive Pokémon cards ever made.

8. 1999 Super Secret Battle No. 1 Trainer

The answer to "What's the rarest Pokémon card of all time?"

Sold for $90,000 in July 2020

No. 1 Trainer Pokémon card
With only seven copies believed to be in existence, the Super Secret Battle No. 1 Trainer is easily one of the rarest Pokémon cards ever made.

It’s unlikely you’ve heard of Super Secret Battle No. 1 Trainer, and extremely unlikely you’ve ever seen a copy in person. When it comes to rare Pokémon cards, there are very few cards rarer than this.

No. 1 Trainer is a holographic promotional card awarded to finalists in the Secret Super Battle tournament held in Tokyo, Japan in 1999. (Making it a different card to the 2002 World Championships No. 1 Trainer listed above, despite the similar name.) To earn a place in the competition’s finals, which were held in a secret location, players had to first win a regional tournament. Their prize was the No. 1 Trainer card, which granted them access to the finals.

The card’s text translates to: “The Pokémon Card Game Official Tournament's champion is recognised here, and this honour 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”, along with artwork of original generation Pokémon Mewtwo by illustrator Hideki Kazama.

As only seven regional tournaments were held, it’s believed that just seven copies of this card were made - making it one of rarest Pokémon cards in existence. Six of the ultra-rare cards have since been certified as being in perfect Gem Mint 10 condition by PSA - the prestigious organisation that grades the quality, condition and value of trading cards, up to the highest level of Gem Mint 10 - with a flawless copy selling at auction in July 2020 for $90,000.

This is a card so rare and valuable that Indiana Jones probably had to escape a crumbling temple with it at some point. Its 1999 counterpart cards No. 2 Trainer and No. 3 Trainer, similarly awarded to winners in Japanese Pokémon tournaments during the late 1990s, are almost as rare and valuable.

7. 2006 Pokémon World Championships Promo No. 2 Trainer

One of the rarest Pokémon cards of all time, with only 3 known to exist

Sold for $110,100 in February 2021

2006 Pokémon World Championships Promo No. 2 Trainer PSA 9 Mint
Just three copies of the 2006 No. 2 Trainer were given to winners of the event, making it one of the rarest Pokémon cards ever made - with a price tag to match. Image: PWCC

Like its equally rare and expensive Trainer trophy cards, the 2006 No. 2 Trainer is one of the rarest Pokémon cards of all time, with only a small handful of cards ever made.

Given as a trophy card to finalists of the Pokémon World Championships held in Anaheim, California during August 2006, in order to claim the card, players had to gain entry to the tournament by collecting enough points to qualify and then make it into the finals of their divisions.

Just three copies of the 2006 No. 2 Trainer are believed to exist, easily making it one of the rarest Pokémon cards in existence. Its rarity also means it commands a high price, with a copy graded at Mint 9 condition by PSA selling for just over $110,000 in February 2021.

The card itself features fan-favourite Pokémon Pikachu holding aloft a silver trophy, finished with a holographic pattern. The card reads: “If you won this card at the 2006 Pokémon Trading Card Game World Championships, you may return to battle the best in 2007.”

No. 2 Trainer’s rarity and value put it close to the legendarily expensive No. 1 Trainer in terms of rare Pokémon cards - making it one of Pokémon’s most sought-after cards.

6. 2000 Pokémon Neo Genesis 1st Edition Holo Lugia #9

A legendary Pokémon on a legendarily rare Pokémon card

Sold for $144,300 in May 2021

The Neo Genesis set is notoriously difficult to grade, making graded cards such as this Lugia some of the most valuable Pokémon cards available.

Lugia is one of the most iconic and popular Pokémon in the entire series, having starred on the front of early Game Boy game Pokémon Silver and its Nintendo DS remake SoulSilver. A legendary bird Pokémon from Gen II, Lugia is one of the most powerful and hard-to-find Pokémon that players can catch in the video games - so it’s only fitting that its Pokémon card is also extremely rare.

The Neo Genesis 1st Edition Holo Lugia #9 Pokémon card is described by auction house PWCC as one of the most difficult Pokémon cards to grade, as the result of a number of errors and misprints that were included in the early runs of the Neo Genesis set for the Pokémon TCG. Later print runs were corrected, but many of the cards from the expansion remain more common in their earlier uncorrected forms.

As of May 2021, PWCC claims that only 41 Gem Mint 10 condition Neo Genesis 1st Edition Holo Lugia #9 cards have ever been graded by PSA, with just three earning the maximum BGS 10 Pristine rating from grading company Beckett Grading Services. The Lugia’s rarity means that it ranks almost as highly as the legendary first-edition Charizard when it comes to the most valuable Pokémon cards.

Thanks to its popularity and rarity, the Pokémon card also fetches a very high price at auction. A first-edition Neo Genesis Lugia graded at PSA 10 reportedly sold in October 2020 for $50,000, with a BGS 10 Pristine copy selling in May 2021 for over $144,000. A legendary price for what is definitely a legendary card, in every sense of the word.

5. Kangaskhan-Holo #115 Family Event Trophy Card

The third-rarest Pokémon card of all time

Sold for $150,100 in October 2020

Only three copies of the Kangaskhan trophy card have ever been sold in the last two decades, making it one of the rarest Pokémon cards ever mad.

This valuable Pokémon card dates from the trading card game’s earliest years, having been given to participants in the 1998 Parent/Child Mega Battle tournament held in Japan. As the name implies, teams were made up of parents and children. Those who achieved a set number of victories during the tournament were awarded this special trophy card - the only time it was ever up for grabs, having never been mass produced - making it one of the rarest promo cards available.

What sets the trophy card apart from its commonplace counterparts is the inclusion of the Pocket Monsters Card Game logo - the original Japanese name for the Pokémon TCG - on the card back in addition to the front, marking it out as an extremely rare variant of the original holographic Kangaskhan.

Following the sale of a PSA 7 card in June 2020 for $35,000, a copy of Kangaskhan-Holo #115 graded at Gem Mint 10 by PSA was sold on eBay in October for over $150,000, making the already rare card one of the most valuable Pokémon cards sold in recent years.

At the time, auction house PWCC revealed that only 46 copies of the card have ever been graded, with only three ever being publicly sold in the two-plus decades since the card first appeared. The October 2020 auction was the first such sale of a mint condition card. PWCC described the card as the third-rarest Pokémon card in the world, calling it worthy of a museum. Whether it’s in a museum or someone’s collection, it’s undoubtedly one of the rarest Pokémon cards ever made.

4. Black Star Ishihara Signed GX Promo Card

A card featuring the Pokémon Company's President himself.

Sold for $247,230 in April 2021

A card celebrating the Pokémon founder's 60th birthday, and signed by him too.

The most recent card to make headlines for pure value, this card sold for nearly a quarter of a million dollars at auction on April 26th 2021. You can find the full details at our story here, but this card depicts Pokémon Company founder and current president Tsunekazu Ishihara, and was given to the company staff as a celebration of the man's 60th birthday in 2017.

That makes the card rare, but this specific version is even rarer, as Ishihara actually signed this near-mint card to boost its price even further. The "2017 P.M. SM Black Star #TPCi01 Tsunekazu Ishihara Signed Pokémon GX Promo Card", to use its full title, is a testament to the raw power apparently held by the Pokémon president. The ability "Red Chanchanko" is in reference to the red vest traditionally worn on 60th birthdays in Japan, and prevents the effect of any attack, ability or trainer card against Ishihara. Meanwhile, its GX move "60 Congratulations", tells you to flip 60 coins, and take a present for each one. A truly legendary card.

3. Pokémon Blastoise #009/165R Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Hologram

A two-of-a-kind card that suddenly became one of the most valuable Pokémon cards of all time

Sold for $360,000 in January 2021

Blastoise #009/165R Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Hologram Pokémon card
The Blastoise is an ultra-rare Pokémon card that sold at auction for $360,000.

One of only two such Pokémon cards in existence - making it extremely rare - this Blastoise suddenly became one of the most valuable Pokémon cards of all time after it sold at auction in January 2021 for a whopping $360,000 (£266,000).

The ultra-rare Pokémon card was created in 1998 as a presentation piece by Magic: The Gathering maker Wizards of the Coast to convince Nintendo of Japan executives to allow it to handle the TCG’s English-language release. The game would eventually make its international debut one year later in 1999.

While two Blastoise ‘Presentation’ cards were produced, this is the only one that has been seen publicly. Even more impressively, it has been graded at a NM/Mint+ 8.5 level by certification website CGC, meaning that the 20-plus-year-old card is in near-perfect condition. The location and state of the other Presentation card remains unknown - meaning that this may well be the only such card of its type left.

2. 1999 First Edition Shadowless Holographic Charizard #4

A very valuable version of a classic fan-favourite

Sold for $369,000 in December 2020

Charizard First Edition 1999 #4 Holographic Pokemon card
Shiny Charizard has always been in demand, but its shadowless variant is also extremely rare.

Shiny Charizard has been one of the Pokémon card game’s most popular cards since it first released in 1999, so there’s no surprise that 20-plus years later, it remains one of the most sought-after cards for collectors and fans alike.

While a number of first-edition cards from the Pokémon TCG’s early days are worth some money - assuming they’re still in good nick - due to their limited availability and age, this specific version of the holographic Charizard absolutely stands out as one of the rarest and most valuable Pokémon cards ever released.

What sets the card apart is the lack of a shadow underneath the fire-breathing dragon Pokémon. This was a printing error that was corrected for most of the cards printed, which makes the shadowless card all the rarer. According to auction house Iconic Auctions, the rare card is “the Holy Grail of Pokémon cards, the most iconic and important card to both the Pokémon franchise and its die hard fans”.

A mint-condition first-edition shadowless holographic PSA 10 Charizard sold at auction in October 2020 for a whopping $220,574 to retired rapper - and Pokémon fan - Logic, setting a new record for the already valuable card, according to card game outlet Cardhops.

That record was broken in November 2020 after a copy of the Shadowless Charizard sold at auction for $350,100, before reportedly being broken once only a month later with the sale of a copy for $369,000 - auction house Goldin Auctions claimed the figure to be the highest amount of money paid for any Pokémon card to date.

Since that record-breaking sale, Shadowless Charizard in Gem Mint 10 condition has continued to be one of the most valuable Pokémon cards of all time, with another sale in January 2021 fetching $300,000.

Heritage Auctions called the first-edition Charizard "arguably the hottest card in the entire hobby", adding that only 120 copies have been graded as Gem Mint 10 by PSA. According to PSA's SMR Price Guide, the average value of a Gem Mint 10 first-edition Base Set Charizard is $325,000, a significant jump from the $35,000 value of the same card in Mint 9 condition.

1. Pikachu Illustrator

Extremely expensive, extremely rare - the Holy Grail of Pokémon cards

Sold for $375,000 in February 2021

1998 Pokémon Japanese Promo Holo Illustrator Pikachu PSA 7 Near Mint
The Pikachu Illustrator card is the most valuable Pokémon card of all time, and is also among the rarest Pokémon cards in existence. Image: PWCC

The current record holder for the world’s most valuable Pokémon card is also one of the rarest Pokémon cards ever made.

Pikachu Illustrator was originally given to winners of promo contests held in 1997 and 1998 by Japanese magazine CoroCoro Comic. 39 copies were officially awarded to the winners, while two copies were reportedly later discovered by one of the card game’s creators, seemingly bringing the total number of Pikachu Illustrator copies in existence to 41.

As well as being ridiculously rare, the card is unique in a number of ways. It is the only Pokémon card to say “Illustrator” instead of “Trainer” at the top of the card, and has a one-off pen icon in its bottom-right corner to acknowledge its creation for the design contest. The card’s artwork of Pikachu is by Atsuko Nishida, the original illustrator of the fan-favourite Pokémon.

Just 23 copies of the card have been certified to date by the Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) responsible for grading cards’ condition, leaving a number of the extremely rare Pokémon cards potentially yet to be rediscovered.

A near-flawless copy of the card graded at Mint 9 - one grade under perfect condition - sold at auction in 2019 for $195,000, making it the most expensive Pokémon card ever sold at auction at the time according to Guinness World Records.

More recently, a copy of Pikachu Illustrator graded at Near Mint 7 by PSA sold for $375,000 at auction in February 2021. The staggering sum makes Pikachu Illustrator the most valuable Pokémon card of all time, and a true Holy Grail of Pokémon cards.

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