The Pokémon illustrator card was awarded to the winners of the 1998 CoroCoro illustration contest in Japan. The card was not printed in English.
When it comes to the number of copies printed, the origins of the Illustrator remains a mystery. There's a big misconception about the card, claiming it to be the rarest Pokémon card in the world. It’s factual that the CoroCoro Illustrator is incredibly rare, but we also know other Pokémon cards exist that have been printed in smaller quantities.
It took until 2013 for the general public to realise the Illustrator achieved celebrity status within its own right. This was when a PSA 9 copy was listed on eBay as “Buy It Now” for a staggering $100,000. The asking price was unprecedented at the time, which resulted in multiple publication companies documenting the card to a wider audience outside of its current niche.
While the card didn’t receive the asking price of $100,000, in November 2016 another PSA 9 copy sold on Heritage Auctions for $54,960. However, it should be noted that the $54,000 price tag, included Heritage Auction’s 19.5% buyer’s premium. Now almost three years later on Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019, another copy in the same PSA MINT 9 grade sold by Wiess Auctions for $195,000.
The card sold achieved a MINT 9 at PSA, which is considered a mint copy of the Pokémon Illustrator. Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA) is a company that authenticates and grades cards based on condition. The higher the grade, the better the condition of the card.
At the time of writing this, the population report shows PSA has graded 18 copies of the card.
4 x Authentic
1 x VG-EX 4
1 x EX 5
1 x EX-MT 6
4 x NM-MT 8
6 x MINT 9
1 x GEM-MT 10
We (Ludkins Collectables) were also fortunate enough to grade an Illustrator back in 2018 when a customer from France used our PSA grading services. The card can be viewed here.
I think it’s great to finally see individual cards within the Pokémon Trading Card Game maturing to this level. Hopefully, we’ll see other cards of similarity rarity achieve new heights in the near future.