Childhood Trading Cards Could be Worth Pokémon(ey)

Pokemon Card - Sold Jan 2021 (1)

Occasionally, a specific smell will take me back to childhood. The scent of an elementary school, someone grilling in the backyard, chlorine from the public pool, and the smell of a freshly opened pack of trading cards all take me back to about 12-years-old.

I’m definitely not the only one feeling a sense of nostalgia for trading cards, as demand for trading cards of all types has increased significantly over the last few years.

In November, we sold a collection of Garbage Pail Kids Collector Cards from the 1980s for $1,100. That’s an impressive price for cards that originally sold for just 25-cents per pack.

Sports trading cards have also seen a resurgence in popularity. YouTube stars and TikTok influencers dedicate entire channels to opening packs of trading cards for their audiences. Rare, historical cards have sold for hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars at auction.

In my opinion, however, the cards that have experienced the biggest surge in demand recently have been Pokémon Cards. We regularly see collections of Pokémon cards go for hundreds of dollars.

Pokémon was first introduced to the world as a video game in 1996; Pokémon cards were released later that same year. Today, it is one of the most successful gaming franchises of all time, with millions of copies of the video games sold and more than 30 billion (yes, billion with a B) Pokémon cards printed and sold worldwide.

What makes a Pokémon card valuable?

  • Rarity – Like most collectibles, an item that is rare tends to have a higher value. One way to tell the rarity of a Pokémon card is to look for a symbol in the bottom right-hand corner of the card. A black circle means the card is common, a black diamond is uncommon, a black star is rare, and a star of a different color means the card is ultra-rare. A card with a first-edition mark on its side is also likely to fetch a higher price, as are holographic cards. The simplest way to find out more about the card you have is to search the set number, found in the bottom right corner of each card, online.
  • Condition – Scratches, bends, and tears can all lower the value of a card. To protect any cards you may be considering selling, store them in a protective sleeve out of direct sunlight.

Do you have a collection of trading cards from your childhood stored in your closet or garage? It might be time to dust them off and see if they could be valuable. Demand is high right now, making it a perfect time to consider selling your collection.

If you’re not sure how valuable your cards are, consider taking them to a free appraisal fair or to a certified appraiser to learn more about their potential value.

Erik Hoyer owns EJ’s Auction & Appraisal in Glendale. Contact him at,, or 623-878-2003.


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