Question about the holy grail of the hobby

This is probably a noob question to many, but why is Illustrator considered to be the Holy Grail and most valuable card, not the “No.1 Trainer” (Gold Trophy Pikachu) from 1997?
The pop count as well as the overall distribution number for the trophy Pikachu is much lower than that of the Illustrator, and one could subjectively argue that the prize for winning the First Official Pokemon Tournament is more significant than the prize for winning the Original Illustration Contest.


Too late to change it now Brockoli


Its definitely not my holy grail, cool card though


I have had the same question.

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The Pokemon Company didn’t tell us the Illustrator is the Holy Grail, we as a community collectively chose it over many years.
If you want a '97 #1 as your Grail, you’re allowed to. It was for me for a long time, then I moved on to other goals.

The holy grail is T17 imo


The rarest card doesn’t have to be the holy grail or the most expensive.

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The 1997 pikas are right under the illustrator. They are head and shoulders above all other trophy cards. The Illustrator however has and always will be the holy grail. It’s singularity and inertia is unparalleled. But these are both the literal top of the hobby. The 97s are probably a bit undervalued for how historic and rare they truly are.

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@shizzlemetimbers no bully plz, I’m just trying to be healthy :stuck_out_tongue:

I understand that this card doesn’t have to be my personal holy grail, I just thought there’s some sort of consensus that it’s the most valuable card.
@smpratte, I see. I also just watched your video on the Illustrator (and the other video on why trophy cards keep increasing in value) and you made some pretty good points there.

The original story of how the illustrator is the holy grail of the hobby came from the understanding of the distribution number being at 4-6 copies in the early 2000s and also having very unique traits on the card like the ‘Illustrator’ title and the pen symbol.

Even though the distribution number was misunderstood at the start, the legend and value of the illustrator has been rooted very deep into the collecting community for a long time. Only in the early 2010s the number 39 has been confirmed by a Japanese collector from a Japanese source but it has already been the holy grail for, like ever.

It is also a misconception that the rarest = holy grail. There are many examples in other card hobbies that their holy grail is far from being the rarest.


@chok Makes a good point! Honus Wagner isn’t the rarest baseball card, but is the Holy Grail. The Pikachu illustrator is rarer. Mickey Mantle as well isn’t as rare as any trophy card in Pokémon, yet they outsell all Pokémon cards.


1st ed Charizord is not any rarer than any other holo in the set and I think has the highest pop (maybe next to machamp). There’s nothing that makes the charizord special other than the emotional connection people have to it and years of inertia.

Similarly, the literal number of copies of the illustrator is irrelevant. It just developed more noteriety and recognition over time.


The real irony is pre-release raichu was the holy grail for the longest time. It’s gotten to the point where people have let it go for whatever reasons.

To me I still argue that the illustrator isn’t necessarily the holy grail. I could easily make the case that 1st ed charizard is the holy grail. In the end I like to say illustrator is the holy grail for Japanese Pokémon, 1st ed charizard for English.

In all it’s what people see as the most desired/iconic card in their collection. If that’s the ‘97s so be it. If there weren’t three of them/reprint art, I think they would have had the title long ago.


If “holy grail” means the most expensive card then it’s always been the Illustrator. If it means something more abstract then yeah there are multiple that make sense.

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That’s debatable, someone’s holy grail just means something that someone wants that’s hard to get. Price might be the reason it’s hard to get, but desirability is a bigger play into the definition. In yugioh, the original 1st place trophy BLS is for sale for 10,000,000, and there’s a make a wish card that has very high offers on it. Yet, I could easily argue the trophy cyber stein is a much more iconic card.

Sure but that isn’t really parallel to Pokémon. The illustrstor has always been the most valuable card. Which is more discernible than any opinion or feeling.

I want to reiterate that this post does not intend to be about everyone’s personal holy grail. Everyone has their personal chase card and I’m not trying to dictate what card that should be. This post is based on the assumption that there are certain parameters that determine a certain card as the holy grail of Pokemon TCG collectibles in its entirety. Maybe I should have used a different term because holy grail can be interpreted in so many different ways.


I get the idea for say Charizard or really popular cards. But at that point if “holy grail” is just an emotion assertion, it has less value and relevance than “most valuable” which is a fact.

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It’s semantics of holy grail = most valuable. I’m not making the claim of value = holy grail. I’m making a claim that iconic is more of a simile to holy grail, than valuable.

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