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Pokémon cards selling for huge money

Friday, 08 March 2019
By Jake Nelson

This first-edition box of Pokémon cards sold for $78,000 USD at auction. (Image: Heritage Auctions)

Who said there’s no money in print – cards from the Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering trading card games have just sold for a staggering combined total of US$295,000 (A$420,000) at auction in Dallas.

The most expensive lot was an unopened box of 36 packs of the Pokémon First Edition Base Set, which sold for US$78,000 (A$111,000). Bidders were determined to own the box, according to Lon Allen, vice president at auction house Heritage Auctions.

“The demand for this set was very high, because it is from the first edition from the first set. Adding to the intrigue is the mystery about which cards are in each pack, because each pack inside the set is unopened,” he said.

Invented in 1992 and owned by Hasbro subsidiary Wizards of the Coast, Magic: the Gathering card sets pull in hundreds of millions of dollars per year, the vast bulk of it from the printed cards.  The cards have been printed by Belgian company Cartamundi since the beginning, and have proved a massive hit for the business.

According to Peter De Weerdt, global key account manager for games manufacturing services at Cartamundi, the first Alpha Edition set was an instant success. “We were literally flying jumbo jets loaded with cards from Belgium to the United States,” he said.

Black Lotus is among the rarest cards in Magic: the Gathering. This copy sold for $26,400 USD at auction. (Image: Heritage Auctions)

Auctions for individual cards were dominated by Magic: the Gathering, with the most valuable card – a near mint-condition “Black Lotus” from the Beta Edition set – selling for US$26,400. The card is considered among the rarest and most powerful in the game, and even more common printings of it frequently fetch five figures.

In Magic and similar trading card games (TCGs), players buy cards either individually or in randomised booster packs to build their own customised decks and compete against others; many games also offer pre-constructed decks.

Four other Magic lots attracted prices of more than US$10,000 at the auction, including two more Black Lotus cards that sold for US$18,000  and US$10,800 respectively.

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