Assuming youre talking about base set, I would go for shadowless/ 1st edition over unlimited any day. As mentioned by others, the colours are more deep and saturated and the shadowless border is very clean. 1st edition base is iconic and shadowless is basically affordable 1st base without the stamp. Personally, i dont collect unlimited base graded.
If youre talking about the entirety of WotC, its basically impossible to collect unlimited in 10 due to the very low pops of certain cards in like neo. In this case, psa 9 1st ends up being much cheaper and ive always personally valued 1st edition more than the condition jump from 9 to 10 in unlimited.
For me it always comes down to whether you are putting value in the card or in the grading company. Put a different way, if I was to crack the two sets and put them in a binder, which would I value more? A mint 1st edition set or a slightly minter unlimited set? Which would other people value more?
I have every PSA 9 1st edition WOTC holo so I made my choice a long time ago.
I don’t believe in paying 10x more just for a tiny ink stamp* on a TCG card, whereas the card design + artwork are exactly the same as the common version. However I don’t mind pulling it so that I can resell to people who value that tiny ink stamp so greatly.
*Before any smarty-pants correct or judge me, yeah I know the pic’s frame got that shadow for 1st edition. But I simply don’t care and don’t buy it.
^The REAL 1st editions are the JPN version, without rarity asterisk. For your info
For me personally, 1st Ed all day. With WOTC in particular, people always desire the 1st Ed stamp the most for basically any set release and it’s one of the few ways to add some chase to collecting old Pokemon cards. With Base Set especially because of how popular it is already and the fact that the 1st Ed print for Base Set was much smaller than the Unlimited print has many advantages for collecting. It also had added liquidity/demand if you ever decide to sell any cards.
In the end though it really comes down to your long-term goals. If for some reason you prefer Unlimited more, then by all means collect them. But I’d say the majority of collectors will want the 1st Ed version over Unlimited if given the choice. Personally I value 1st Ed Base so much that I bought a PSA 5 1st Ed Charizard when I could have bought a way higher grade Shadowless or Unlimited. But I consider the 1st Ed version to be ‘legendary’, as do most other collectors and so I went for it instead (and I already have a Shadowless and Unlimited copy anyway ).
I feel that is how it goes for most people. You come back for nostalgia or fun at first, and end up going after a lot of different cards eventually as you gain more experience and learn more. For example, I didn’t really touch Japanese cards much at all when I returned, but I’ve become more and more interested in them over time and have built up a modest collection now.
Whether it’s historical or nostalgia, I feel there’s a lot of great offerings to pick up across the hobby as you get more engaged with it all.
You want really high rarity stuff, be prepared to pay the price. You want affordable stuff, then settle for artificial scarcity. Everything in life has pros and cons.
When one is in the hobby long enough, one may eventually get dissatisfied with the “usual”, commonly accessible stuffs. Then such persons move up the hierarchy of needs in search of rarer and more expensive stuffs. People’s mindset, needs and plans do change too, however on the other hand some people remain unchanged.
Nostalgia aspect is subjective. For most of us, growing up with Wotc ENG cards means it’s nostalgic for us. For fans growing up in Japan battling other trainers in those tournaments, those trophy/medal cards would be nostalgic for them.