Do not let the name confuse you: International Sports Authentication (ISA) grades more than just sports cards. Grading collectible and game cards is something we have always done. In the last few years, though, graded gaming cards have really become a mainstream, legitimate investment option.
Although there are differences in meaning, the terms Collectible Card Game (CCG) and Trading Card Game (TCG) can be used pretty much interchangeably in the hobby. Just as the major sports have their iconic cards like the 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle rookie, 1986-87 Fleer #57 Michael Jordan rookie, and 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee #18 Wayne Gretzky rookie, TCGs also have their own iconic and notable cards with eye-popping values for graded copies.
The “holy grail” card from Magic: The Gathering (or MTG, for short) is the 1993 Alpha Black Lotus. Within the past year alone, two different graded copies have sold for over $500,000 each through major auction houses. While there are several powerful and rare cards from the entire history of the game, some of the most valuable in both graded and raw forms come from the early Alpha, Beta, and Legends sets.
Benefitting from worldwide popularity of its television shows, movies, and especially video games, Pokémon cards are as popular as ever, and can be incredibly valuable. Last year, a 1999 First Edition Shadowless Holographic Charizard in Gem Mint 10 condition sold for over $220,000. This first ever English printed version of Charizard remains the Pokémon standard bearer. There are rarer Pokémon cards, mostly printed in Japanese, of arguably the most popular character Pikachu, but it is hard to imagine that the game would be anywhere as popular today without the Charizard card.
The Yu-Gi-Oh! equivalent to the First Edition Charizard is the 2002 Yu-Gi-Oh! First Edition Blue Eyes White Dragon. A Gem Mint 10 copy sold for over $47,000 in a public auction in late 2020. Like a lot of popular and powerful cards from all TCGs, the Blue Eyes White Dragon has been reprinted in different sets. Later versions of one of the most powerful creatures in the game have still sold for hundreds of dollars in both raw and graded forms.
Does all this mean that you can retire from that box of game cards you or your child hasn’t touched since middle school? Not necessarily. Just like with sports cards, TCGs have different set releases, printings, reprints, variations and foil versions of most of their cards. First edition cards can safely be assumed to be the “rookie” cards. With grading, condition is everything, and commonly with trading game cards, these were taken out of binders, made into decks, and actually played with as their creation intended. This often damaged the edges and corners and removed the original gloss, making them even more difficult to find in the best condition today.
Please feel free to contact us for help identifying and preserving your valuable Trading Card Game cards. If you “Gotta Catch ‘Em All!”, ISA Grading’s affordable pricing, incredible turnaround times and consistent, quality product can help meet your TCG grading needs.