If you ever convinced your parents to buy you Pokémon cards because they’re an investment, you might be right—provided the cards in question were an incredibly old set. Just last Saturday, a complete set of first-edition Pokémon cards sold for no less than $107,010 on Golden Auctions.
It isn’t just the fact that the cards are a complete set that makes them worth so much. Golden Auctions' consignment director, Dave Amerman, explained that assembling a complete set of the original cards is relatively easy. A dedicated collector can find all the necessary 103 cards from the 1999 set, including the iconic holographic Charizard, for around $1,000, which is still quite a bit to be spending on Pokémon, but it is less than one-hundredth of the price that the aforementioned set sold for. Amerman explained that the key to the set is something called “GEM mint condition grading,” a metric that measures the condition that the cards are in. The cards in this set have solid colors on the front and back, with no chipping at the corners.
The condition of the cards is what justified the price at which it sold, as Amerman warns that not all first-edition sets would sell for the price of a high-end luxury car. Still, Pokémon cards are in a bull market right now, and the price of sets similar to this one have gone up in value to almost 10 times what they were in 2016.
Amerman said that many people have hidden value in their Pokémon card collections. He said that dads that are often getting their old baseball card collections appraised ask him to evaluate their millennial childrens' Pokémon card collections as well. Often, he said, he’ll tell them, “These are worth twice what your cards are worth!” Broke millennials will sometimes have up to six figures hidden in their closets, just from their card collections.
Of course, not everyone should expect this kind of value, and temper tantrums due to parents getting rid of a binder full of Pokémon cards are unnecessary. Since much of the value of the cards comes from the condition they are in, even standard wear from handling can decrease their value. Even if you weren’t a careless kid, cards that you played with aren’t likely mint. Still, it never hurts to check to see if anything in those old binders is worth something.