What ‘Vintage’ Really Means for Pokémon Cards

What ‘Vintage’ Really Means for Pokémon Cards

The literal translation of vintage is “of age”. This definition leaves a lot of room for interpretation when it comes to Pokémon cards. This can be confusing for folks new to the hobby or even for some veterans. The truth is that vintage means more than one thing in the world of Pokémon, so let’s get into it.

Which Pokémon Cards are Considered Vintage?

Since the term vintage is open to interpretation, there is no hard line to draw for Pokémon cards. However, all collectors will agree that WotC cards are vintage. 

Wizards of the Coast (WotC) was responsible for publishing, translating, and distributing Pokémon cards from 1999 to 2003 when The Pokémon Company (TPC) took over. 

All WotC cards are vintage, but not all vintage cards are WotC. The WotC era ended during the e-series cards, which were carried on briefly by TPC. Even though the production of Pokémon cards changed hands, the cards themselves didn’t change that much. This makes it difficult to draw the line between what is vintage and what is not.

As time goes on and we get new sets of cards, the old out-of-print sets become rarer and more sought-after. The term vintage is often given to out-of-print sets.

Many collectors will claim that any cards before [set name] are considered vintage. However, some third-party retailers will slap the label on basically anything. MJ Holdings produces mystery boxes that can be found at Walmart. On the package, they claim that some of the mystery boxes contain “vintage” packs. 

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A mystery box that claims to randomly insert “vintage” packs into some boxes.

In this case, the “vintage” packs are basically any set that is out of print. Most collectors will agree that last year’s Pokémon cards are not vintage.

There is no official timeframe that designates a Pokémon card as vintage. However, the older the card is, the more likely it is a vintage card. And anything older than 2003 is definitely a vintage card.

How to tell if a Pokémon Card is Vintage

Since vintage is a vague term, it is somewhat open to interpretation. But all Pokémon cards have a date at the bottom of the card, and this can be used to determine if a card is old or not.

If the date is 2003 or older, the card is vintage.

If the date is 2004-2012, it may be vintage, depending on who you ask.

If the date is 2013 or newer, the card is probably not considered vintage.   

Are Vintage Pokémon Cards Worth More?

In most cases, vintage cards will be worth more than modern cards. However, many rare modern cards will be worth more than a common or uncommon vintage card.

Pokémon card prices all come down to supply and demand. Vintage cards are often lower in supply as they are out of print and many have been lost over time. But ultra-rare modern cards are also low in supply due to limited printing, and in demand due to rarity. 

Promotional cards are often in low supply because of the limited amount of copies printed, but not all are in high demand. Vintage promo cards are all valuable, as they are becoming increasingly rare.

What to do if you Find Vintage Cards

If you’ve stumbled upon some Pokémon cards that you think may be valuable, you must first protect them. The most important factor in Pokémon card value is condition. If the cards become damaged, their value will drop significantly.

An easy and cheap way to protect your cards is to insert them into card sleeves. In addition to this, you can purchase top loaders, card savers, binders, and acrylic cases. Look for “Products we Recommend” at the bottom of this article for more. 

Next, you can determine the value of the cards. This is a simple yet precise process that involves you closely inspecting each card one by one. 

After this, you can decide to hold onto them or sell them. We have guides all about selling your old collection and getting the most money possible out of it.

Final Thoughts on Vintage Cards

The hobby of Pokémon card collecting is often divided into vintage and modern. But it’s important to remember that all cards were modern cards in 1999. As time goes on, today’s modern cards will eventually be vintage. 

When a Pokémon card truly becomes vintage, is irrelevant. What is important is collecting the cards you love the most, as they will be cherished in this way. Collect only for monetary value, and your collection may not feel the same.

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Learn how to appraise and sell vintage Pokémon cards!