Amount of 1st edition vs unlimited cards

Hey everyone! I’ve recently got back into Pokémon since leaving when I was much younger and had a quick question. Does anyone have an idea of the ratio between 1st edition and unlimited printing for any of the wotc sets? I know there’s not much first edition base printed so let’s say it’s a 1:10 ratio and they printed more for rocket so what would that ratio be? 3:10? What about for gym challenge? Or neo destiny?

Precise print run numbers or rations have never been publicly released.

1st ed. base is much harder to find than most other 1st ed. sets. Fossil, Rocket and Neo Genesis seem to be the most common in 1st edition.


No one knows for sure and it varies between each release. I’ve read rumours in regard to 1st Edition Base Set that there could be as few as 10000 holos/rares ever printed of each card and it may even be less than this. This would put it sort of in between Magics Beta & Unlimited print size which seems reasonable to me if I was to guess (again, total speculation).

There are far more commons/uncommons of course but still far less than Shadowless or Unlimited. Shadowless is definitely more common than 1st but it’s also unique in that it was never preserved or understood to be as rare/valuable as 1st Edition so it’s much more scarce than Base Unlimited in higher grade/condition on average it seems. Base Unlimited there’s gotta be 10s of millions I would think, something like MTG Revised size or more when you add up the multiple print runs that were done. Just about everyone had it and you can still find it all over the place pretty easily to this day.

I also think 1st Edition Base would have been printed to a much larger size if WOTC had any idea how big the Pokemon TCG was going to get, so I really think it’s really rare compared to any other 1st Edition print for this reason. I mean even in 1999 you had to jump through flaming hoops to get a box of it or let alone a case of it since it sold out immediately and older and more seasoned collectors sought it out. It largely left circulation pretty quickly for this reason. There’s a reason it’s always had so much notoriety in the hobby.

When I was a kid, the 1st Edition cards were always ‘legendary’ compared to any others for the most part. I would see the odd 1st Edition Jungle or Fossil, but never the Base Set. On average I would say most kids/friends I knew always had Unlimited cards until you got into the Neo era and I used to see people with 1st Edition cards in their binders more often. Maybe it’s because in the 2000s we got more allowance from our parents to buy cards or maybe it’s because they were printed more but I definitely saw more than the 1st Edition 1999 sets on average.


I recall reading 10% for 1st ed for the early wotc sets. source was credible from memory


There is a lot of information about print runs in this thread



Yeah I know, lots of conflicting info out there. I am just personally not convinced much 1st Edition Base exists compared to Shadowless/Unlimited and also compared to other 1st Edition WOTC releases, specifically the holos & rares. The 10000 rumoured figure for 1st Edition comes from this article:

The other reason 10000 holos for 1st Edition seems somewhat realistic to me is because: the vast majority of Charizards appear to be graded at PSA and yet its still less than 4000 to this day in the registry. Of course you have some BGS and CGC ones out there but they’re very low numbers. Could there even be 6000 more out there? If so they aren’t for sale or remain ungraded which is entirely possible. I’m just not convinced there’s millions or even 100s of thousands of 1st Edition Base holos out there, but I could be totally wrong.

There are also other weird numbers and rumours that for some sets such as neo destiny and neo rev, the unlimited are actually more scarce than 1st.

Nothing confirmed but those have been floating around for years.

I think you might be overestimating the percentage of cards that PSA has graded. These were mass market consumer products when they came out and then largely completely forgotten about for two decades. Between attrition and the number of cards sitting forgotten in attics, basements, and closets, I would be shocked if even half of the production run was still intentionally in someone’s possession.


Only certainty was the initial plan was for 1st base to be 10% of the print run. Then the demand exploded and they printed tons of the unlimited blowing that goal out of the water.


Agreed. It’s just not feasible that 40% of an entire print run from 25 years ago is graded by PSA/BGS/CGC at this time. That would be a stunningly high number if true


I started by saying the 10,000 figure was a ball park estimate based off the PSA article which is nothing more than a rumor so I wasn’t trying to fully imply that 40% of all the Charizards have been graded, but more so I’m just not convinced that a ton of them are out there still (i.e millions or even 100s of thousands of copies). I used Charizard as the example because that would be the most financially feasible card from the entire set to submit for grading/authentication purposes and it’s also well known that 1st Edition Base is the most/consistently graded set in the hobby. Consider also that WOTC simply did not produce that much of the 1st Edition Base compared to later 1st Edition printings (anticipating low sales) and they pretty much immediately switched over to Shadowless/Unlimited printing within days/weeks of the early 1999 release.

I just think that if even 100,000 or more existed that we would see more ungraded examples for sale online much more often than we do and I’m definitely not convinced that a bunch could be sitting in an attic or closet like later Base Set releases. 1st Edition Charizard was not that type of card from everything I have seen/read and experienced. It’s always been valuable and very unlikely you would have had one by accident, especially as a young kid. Every kid I knew had an Unlimited copy and even that took a while to track down because everyone wanted it, pretty much no one had 1st Edition version ever and this is the experience you hear from just about everyone who lived through the 1999 cycle.

Anyway, it’s all speculation… this is all just my thoughts on it.

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I get how someone could think that about Neo Rev. It’s the only Wotc set where I’ve personally seen regular unlimited go for more than the 1st ed boxes, and there was a pretty long period when there were fewer unlimited than 1st ed for sale.

That last thing has certainly been the case for other sets at times but, in my experience, never to the point where they sell for more. The Destiny 1st ed premium was always sky high.

Totally agree, even if it was “officially” confirmed that unlimited for those sets is more scare, i would still think people would want to pay a premium for the 1st variant.

Even finding holos from those set in NM condition is pretty hard nowdays unlimited or 1st, graded or not.