Is First Edition Charizard Worth Money? The Complete Expert Guide

In one word: Yes! The 1999 1st Edition Shadowless Holographic Charizard is absolutely worth big money in today‘s booming Pokemon card market. As we‘ll explore in this comprehensive expert guide, pristine graded copies of this card have sold for over $400,000 at auction. Even well-worn copies can fetch thousands.

But what exactly makes 1st Edition Charizard so valuable? And how can you tell if you have this prized possession in your collection? By the end of this guide, you‘ll have insider knowledge to determine if your childhood Charizard could be worth a small fortune.

Here‘s what we‘ll cover:

History and Significance of 1st Edition Charizard

  • The cultural phenomenon of 1999 Base Set cards
  • Why Charizard was the most coveted card
  • Breaking down 1st Edition vs Unlimited

Rarity and Valuable Attributes of 1st Edition Charizard

  • Tiny PSA 10 population
  • Nostalgic appeal for 90s kids
  • The meaning of shadowless and 1st edition stamp
  • Charizard‘s legacy as a fan favorite Pokémon

Estimating Your Card‘s Value

  • Condition is king – PSA grades and prices
  • How to spot fakes and reprints
  • Should you get your card graded?

Record Sales and Million Dollar Charizards

  • Highest auction sale prices over the years
  • Other rare and valuable Charizard cards
  • Could 1st Edition hit $1 million?

The Investment Outlook for 1st Edition Charizard

  • Rising prices explained
  • Long term collector demand
  • Remaining upside potential

Let‘s start at the beginning – the history and lore of 1st Edition Base Set Charizard.

History and Significance of 1st Edition Charizard

To understand why 1st Edition Charizard is so revered among collectors, we have to go back to the late 1990s when Pokemon was an international phenomenon.

Pokemania Takes the World By Storm

When the Base Set was released in 1999, Pokemon was at the absolute peak of its global popularity. The trading cards, video games, TV show and movies had kids and adults everywhere catching Pokemania.

The sets released between 1999 to 2003 are known as the Wizards of the Coast era, named after the company that produced the English-language cards.

Every Kid Wanted the Charizard Card

Out of the 102 cards in Base Set, one towered above the rest in mythical status: the holographic Charizard.

As the fully evolved form of Charmander, Charizard embodied the spirit of the brand. Its dragon-like design and powerful Fire attacks resonated with fans. Possessing the Charizard card became a status symbol among kids.

Breaking Down 1st Edition vs Unlimited

Wizards of the Coast printed Base Set in two forms:

1st Edition – Released first in 1999 with a limited print run. Features 1st Edition stamp.

Unlimited – Larger print run released after 1st Edition in 1999. No 1st Edition stamp.

According to population data, PSA 10 graded 1st Edition cards are considerably rarer than their Unlimited counterparts. Let‘s analyze why.

Rarity and Valuable Attributes of 1st Edition Charizard

Aside from its iconic monster design, several factors make 1st Edition Charizard supremely rare and sought-after in top condition:

Tiny PSA 10 Population

Out of over 40,000 PSA graded Base Set Charizards, only 121 (0.3%) have achieved the coveted PSA 10 Gem Mint grade. Compare this to a total of 676 PSA 10s out of all 102 1st Edition Base Set cards.

The PSA 10 population clearly demonstrates how scarce these cards are in pristine condition even 25 years later.

Total PSA 10 1st Edition Charizards 121
Total PSA 10 1st Edition Base Set Cards 676
Total PSA Graded 1st Edition Charizards 40,000+

*Population data according to PSA‘s website as of March 2022

Cultural Nostalgia

There‘s no denying the nostalgic appeal of Charizard. Those who collected the cards as kids in the late 90s are now millennials and Gen Xers with cash to spare reliving their childhood.

Charizard was likely the most coveted card of their collections. Now as adults, they can finally obtain the 1st Edition Charizard that eluded them 20 years ago.

Defining Attributes – Shadowless and 1st Edition Stamp

True 1st Edition Base Set Charizards are distinguished by two subtle attributes:

Shadowless – Refers the lack of shadows around the illustration window. This was only present in early production runs.

1st Edition Stamp – Reads "Edition 1" on the left side of the card. Signifies the first print run.

These attributes clearly separate 1st Edition from Unlimited cards, contributing to the scarcity.

Charizard‘s Pop Culture Legacy

As one of the most iconic starter Pokémon, Charizard remains a fan favorite 27 years after the original Pokémon Red and Blue video games. Its status as the face of the franchise boosts the card‘s appeal.

In the Kanto region, Charmander and its evolutions were a formidable team for new trainers. This early adoption by fans contributes to Charizard‘s lasting popularity.

Now that we‘ve covered why 1st Edition Charizard is so prized, let‘s move on to estimating your card‘s potential value.

Estimating Your Card‘s Value

If you think you may have a 1st Edition Charizard, the two biggest factors in determining value are condition and whether it has been professionally graded.

PSA Grades and Prices

PSA is the grading authority when it comes to trading cards. Here is a breakdown of estimated values by PSA grade:

PSA 10 Gem Mint $200,000 – $400,000+
PSA 9 Mint $40,000 – $100,000
PSA 8 Near Mint $7,000 – $30,000
PSA 7 Lightly Played $2,000 – $10,000
PSA 6 Excellent $1,000 – $5,000
PSA 5 Good $400 – $2,000

Clearly, condition drives exponential differences in value. Even lightly played copies in PSA 5 can command several hundred dollars.

Avoiding Fakes and Reprints

Due to Charizard‘s popularity, counterfeits abound. Fakes might try to mimic 1st Edition with fake stamps and lack of shadowing. Reprints were also mass produced.

To avoid these pitfalls, compare your card closely to images of authentic 1st Edition cards. Look for font differences, coloring variances, and errors on the backside. When buying, only deal with reputable sellers.

Should You Get Your Card Graded?

Raw ungraded cards tend to sell for $1,000 – $3,000 depending on condition. But professional grading can unlock much more value if high grades are achieved.

For investment purposes, it likely makes sense to have cards graded if you anticipate a PSA 8 or higher. Just be sure to use an experienced grading company like PSA or BGS.

Now that we‘ve covered how condition affects value, let‘s look at some real world sales of graded Charizards.

Record Sales and Million Dollar Charizards

Here is a history of notable auction sales prices over recent years:

  • Oct. 2020 – PSA 10 1st Edition sells for $183,812
  • Dec. 2020 – PSA 10 Shadowless sells for $369,000
  • Jan. 2021 – PSA 10 Shadowless sells again for $350,100
  • Mar. 2021 – PSA 10 Shadowless sells for $300,000
  • Jul. 2021 – BGS 9.5 Shadowless sells for $264,000
  • Mar. 2022 – PSA 10 Shadowless sells for new record of $420,000

In just over a year, the record auction sale for PSA 10 Charizard has more than doubled from $183k to over $400k. Where does it go from here? Let‘s analyze some possibilities.

Could 1st Edition Charizard Reach $1 Million?

As demand continues to grow and availability of high grade copies keeps shrinking, it‘s conceivable a PSA 10 1st Edition Charizard could hammer for $1 million at auction within several years.

Consider the art market, where iconic pieces have sold for 8 and 9 figures. For nostalgic collectors and investors, 1st Edition Charizard has that same cultural cache as fine art like a Monet. If the card market psychology shifts to view the rarest cards as museum-worthy pieces, then all bets are off.

Other Potential Million Dollar Cards

While 1st Edition Charizard garners the most attention, here are some other holy grail cards with 7-figure potential:

  • Japanese Promo Illustrator Pikachu – Only 39 exist
  • Japanese Promo Tamamushi University Magikarp- Unique example awarded as prize

These will likely reach upper 7-figures before 1st Edition Zard crosses into 8-figures. But they prove million dollar cards aren‘t just a pipe dream.

Now let‘s shift gears to the investment outlook for 1st Edition Charizard moving forward.

The Investment Outlook for 1st Edition Charizard

Over the past decade, the investor market for trading cards has exploded causing rapid gains in prices. Let‘s analyze the dynamics driving growth:

Alternative Investing

As investors diversify into alternative assets like collectibles, high end trading cards are increasingly viewed as an asset class like fine art. Scarce cards with cultural cache are beneficiaries of this trend.

Generational Wealth Transfer

As Gen X and Millennials inherit trillions in wealth from Baby Boomers, their interests shape the alternative investing landscape. Nostalgic cards from the 80s/90s like Charizard fit the target.

Wizards of the Coast Availability

Sealed boxes and packs from 1999-2003 have very limited supply left. Singles from this era are becoming the only way to own iconic cards.

Graded Population Trends

Census data from PSA and BGS shows graded card populations are flattening as submissions slow. Yet demand rises steadily. This supply-demand imbalance further propels prices.

Influencer Culture

YouTube personalities like Logan Paul have built audiences in the millions by opening cards. When a PSA 10 Charizard changes hands on camera, it directly influences market awareness and prices.

While these trends paint a bullish picture, risks remain ever present:

  • Potential overheating of the collectible market
  • Rising inflation and recession fears
  • Risk of Pokemon fading from the spotlight

Yet the card market has shown resilience even in the face of broader economic uncertainty. And as the most cherished Pokemon collectible of all time, 1st Edition Charizard appears well positioned to maintain value in the years ahead.

The massive price appreciation over the past several years simply reflects its true status as the crown jewel of Pokemon cards.


From its early days as the card no kid could find to now commanding 6-figure auction sales, the 1st Edition Charizard has cemented its place as the undisputed king of Pokemon collecting. Its cultural significance from the height of Pokemania in the 1990s combined with its supreme rarity in pristine condition make it one of the hobby‘s legendary cards.

While the market has seen explosive growth recently, the dynamics appear in place to sustain continued price appreciation in the future for the best of the best. But risks remain ever present.

Hopefully this detailed guide gave you insight into valuing your own 1st Edition Charizard. At the very least, it illustrated why the 1999 Base Set will forever hold a special place in collectors‘ hearts. Just keep it sleeved and unplayed with to preserve its worth!

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