Chill Clinton is a trading card enthusiast and investor who operates an online trading card store.
Whether you're a certified Pokémanic or have never even opened a pack of Pokémon trading cards, you're likely familiar with the fire-breathing lizard creature that has been an icon of the franchise since it first debuted in 1996.
While there are certainly rarer and more valuable Pokémon cards out there, many of the lesser initiated Pokémon fans regard Charizard cards as the holy grails of vintage trading cards. This perception has, undoubtedly, been influenced by highly publicized sales of authenticated first edition Base Set Charizard cards in the early 2020s, especially the six-figure purchases by influencers like Logan Paul.
But while there are certainly rarer and more valuable vintage Pokémon cards on the market, Charizard cards remain among the most sought after and celebrated pieces for collectors and investors.
Let's take a look at five of the rarest and most valuable vintage Charizard cards printed by Wizards of the Coast, the original producer and distributor of English-language Pokémon cards from 1999 to 2003!
1. Dark Charizard (4)—Team Rocket, 2000
There may be fewer Pokémon more terrifying that Dark Charizard! In the franchise's lore, the "Dark" Pokémon released in this 2000 set were captured by the ruthless Team Rocket, and mistreated until they became evil shadows of their past selves.
This Dark Charizard card was released in the fifth set of the Pokémon trading card game following the 2000 release of Base Set 2, making it the second English-language set released in the 21st Century! Team Rocket is also unique as it was the first set in which individual booster packs were not sold in cardboard-backed blister packs, making near mint and mint condition copies of Dark Charizard difficult to come by!
As of early 2020, there were fewer than 5,000 PSA authenticated copies of Dark Charizard (4), and fewer than 3% of those cards are considered to be in mint condition!
2. Shining Charizard (107)—Neo Destiny, 2002
Perhaps one of the most valuable cards that was ever commercially available in booster packs, Shining Charizard from Neo Destiny is considerably rare.
Shining Charizard was among the final cards printed in the Neo block's original run of ten Shining cards available in packs and one released as a promotional card. It is distinguished, like other Shining cards from Neo, by its reflective foil illustration and three star rarity symbol.
Like Shining Pokémon in the video game, which are notoriously difficult to encounter, Shining Pokémon cards are known for being difficult to pull from booster packs, with only one appearing in every 300 Neo Destiny packs! But I wouldn't recommend ripping open packs any time soon since just one Neo Destiny booster pack goes for around $500-$600!
3. Blaine's Charizard (2)—Gym Challenge, 2002
If you played the original hand held video game, you might recall having to defeat Blaine, the Cinnabar Gym Leader, in the latter half of the narrative. Though he did not have a Charizard in the game, Blaine's Charizard from Gym Challenge is the rarest and most valuable "Blaine's" card, and is among the most valuable cards from the 2000 Gym Challenge and Gym Heroes sets.
Many collectors also take special notice of Blaine's Charizard because all of the 1st Edition printings and some of the Unlimited printings include a typographical error. While the word "Energy", referring to "Energy Cards" are supposed to be capitalized, the word "energy" in the "Burning Flames" attack is lowercase on some printings, adding to the card's prestige. Additionally, instead of featuring a fire Energy in the attack, the fire Energy is erroneously replaced with a fighting Energy! You have to wonder how they missed that!
As of 2022, there are fewer than 4,000 PSA authenticated First Edition copies of Blaine's Charizard, and fewer than 100 PSA authenticated copies with the corrected symbol and text!
4. Charizard (6)—Expedition, 2002
Expedition was quite an unique set in the history of Pokémon, marking the first appearance of the Dot Code feature compatible with the Nintendo E-Reader, a Gameboy Advanced accessory that allowed players to scan their Pokémon cards to unlock exclusive content, play mini-games, and more! This would be a relatively short feature on Pokémon cards which were only printed in the Expedition, Aquapolis, and Skyridge sets, but discontinued when The Pokémon Company overtook production and distribution from Wizards of the Coast in 2003.
This Charizard was one of only three Charizard cards printed with this feature, the other two being the non-holo edition of this card, and another non-holo Charizard printed in Expedition. Of course, this means that Charizard (6) is the only holo Charizard printed with the E-Reader Dot Code.
As of 2022, there exist only around 1,000 PSA authenticated Charizard (6) cards with fewer than 4% considered to be in mint condition.
5. Charizard (4)—Base Set, 1999
Of course this list wouldn't be complete without mentioning the original printing that has captivated collectors for over two decades!
Base Set Charizard is the iconic Pokémon's first appearance on an official Pokémon trading card in the English language market, and is often regarded as one of the most premium vintage Pokémon trading cards.
The reality, however, is that Unlimited (3rd and 4th printings) printings of this card are far more common than many people believe. Because the Base Set was released amidst a historical height in Pokémon's popularity, this Charizard card was printed and distributed in four separate printings of exponentially increasing volumes.
As a consequence of this, by 2022, there were roughly 34,000 PSA authenticated copies of Unlimited Charizard (4). However, First Edition printings of this card remain among the rarest and most valuable cards available to the market, with around 3,600 PSA authenticated copies existing in 2022, and fewer than 4% of those cards being considered in mint condition.