How to Tell First Edition Pokemon Cards

How to Tell First Edition Pokemon Cards

How to Tell First Edition Pokemon Cards

Pokemon cards have become a popular collectible item, with some rare cards fetching high prices in the market. Among the most sought-after cards are the first edition Pokemon cards, which hold a special place in the hearts of collectors. However, identifying these first edition cards can be a challenge, as there are several factors to consider. In this article, we will explore the key characteristics and techniques to help you determine if a Pokemon card is a first edition.

Understanding First Edition Pokemon Cards

First edition Pokemon cards were the initial printings of specific sets and are distinguishable by certain markings on the card. These cards were released in limited quantities, making them more valuable and desirable among collectors. The first edition cards were printed between 1999 and 2000, and they hold a significant nostalgic value for many Pokemon enthusiasts.

Identifying First Edition Markings

To determine if a Pokemon card is a first edition, you need to examine the card closely for specific markings. Here are the key indicators to look for:

  • Edition Symbol: First edition cards feature a small black stamp on the left side of the card, just below the Pokemon image. This stamp includes the words “First Edition” and is a clear indication that the card is from the initial printing.
  • Set Symbol: Each Pokemon card belongs to a specific set, and the set symbol can help identify if it is a first edition. First edition cards typically have a black set symbol, while later printings may have a different color or no symbol at all.
  • Card Number: First edition cards often have a specific card number that indicates their rarity. These numbers are usually lower than subsequent printings of the same card. For example, a first edition card may have a card number of 1/102, while later printings may have higher numbers.

Comparing Card Characteristics

In addition to the specific markings, there are other characteristics that can help you identify a first edition Pokemon card:

  • Font Style: First edition cards often have a slightly different font style compared to later printings. Pay attention to the text on the card, including the Pokemon’s name, attacks, and descriptions. Compare it to known first edition cards to spot any differences.
  • Shadowless Cards: Another feature to look for is the absence of a shadow beneath the Pokemon image. First edition cards were printed without the shadow, while later printings included it. Hold the card up to the light and check for any shadows.
  • Holographic Foil: Many first edition cards have a holographic foil background, which adds to their visual appeal. This foil pattern can be a good indicator of a first edition card, although not all first edition cards have holographic foils.

Consulting Reliable Sources

If you are still unsure about the authenticity of a Pokemon card, it is always a good idea to consult reliable sources. There are numerous online communities and forums dedicated to Pokemon card collecting, where experienced collectors can provide guidance and expertise. These communities often have detailed guides and discussions on identifying first edition cards.

Additionally, there are reputable grading companies, such as PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator) and Beckett, that specialize in authenticating and grading collectible cards. Submitting your card to one of these companies can provide you with a professional opinion on its authenticity and condition.


Identifying first edition Pokemon cards requires careful examination of specific markings, card characteristics, and consulting reliable sources. By paying attention to the edition symbol, set symbol, card number, font style, presence of shadows, and holographic foil, you can increase your chances of identifying a first edition card accurately. Remember to compare your findings with known first edition cards and seek guidance from experienced collectors or grading companies when in doubt. Happy hunting!

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