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The Silver Bible: The Path to Japanese Pokemon TCG Enlightenment

Rumor has long had it that a powerful book exists. It is said to rest hidden beneath a scroll in a small temple high in the hills of Japan. Even if you could find the unmarked temple you’d have to make it through all the traps set around it and the wildlife drawn to protect it as though it were their young. The odds of death are high but whoever finds it will find life like no others have had it. The rumor is crazy but absolutely true. Fortunately, Media Factory outsourced the expedition, obtained the book, and mass produced it for our enjoyment. Enter: The Silver Bible. *angelic chorus*

While it is commonly referred to as The Silver Bible, the more official title is “Pokemon Card Official Book 2000.” If it is not already self-evident, the book was put out by Media Factory in 2000. Most Pokemon literature sucks because it lacks depth, significance, or any real memorable angle. The Silver Bible stands out from the pack because it cuts straight to the point: the cards. Those familiar with the book are nodding vigorously and knowingly. If you’ve never seen the inside, here’s how it starts.

The book gloriously displays the cards we all love. To be more specific, this book contains to-scale, full-color images of every single card printed in Japanese through Gym 2. And when I say every card, I mean it. Regular releases, promotional cards, tournament participation prizes, trophy cards, and campaign cards all make appearances in this book. The book is most famous for these pages:

And, of course, this picture:

But I’m going to make a bold statement: the trophy cards are not the reason this book is revered. Today, with the fortune of having seen every major original Japanese trophy card sold, we have access to scans that are better and more accurate than the stock photos contained within The Silver Bible. No, The Silver Bible is loved because it captures the culture of Pokemon card collecting. The thoroughness of the publication brings to life aspects of the hobby that would otherwise be forgotten.

These are the same advertising posters that drew fans in off the streets to purchase cards from their local card shops and game stores. In the ways that we fondly remember our favorite card or commercial, thousands of people harbor sweet sentiment for these posters that were almost always destroyed at the end of the promotional period. Most have yet to ever appear on the modern secondary market despite multiple waves of hype and value throughout the world. Furthering the poster love, if you pre-ordered the Silver Bible when it first came out, you got a poster of your own! 

Niche collectibles within Pokemon card collecting make an appearance such as the notorious Legendary Bird phone cards and Jumbos, which are affectionately explained with a small diagram.

Even printed collectables are transcended. The book outlines the coins produced up until that point in time and displays the physical trophies which are as much a part of a victory as the trophy cards themselves, despite their underwhelming appearance in collectors’ conversations.

As if you weren’t convinced of the scope of the book, it has shirts for mew’s sake!

The Silver Bible isn’t about the cards--we come to the book to find the culture the cards are embedded in. It’s for this reason that The Silver Bible is priceless. In recent years, copies have become harder to find and fetch as much as $100 a copy. Many people might be dissuaded by the price but I would urge anyone who has the chance to buy a copy to leap at it right away. The value is so far beyond most of the pieces in the Pokemon TCG collectables world. I hold my copy near to my heart and look through it regularly as a constant reminder of why I do what I do.

Ultimately, everything in Pokemon boils down to community. If you’re looking for the book on Japanese sites, here is the title: ポケモンカード オフィシャルブック 2000. I would provide everyone on earth with a copy if I could but I cannot. I sincerely hope that this guide to the book, what it contains, and what it represents gives a taste to those who cannot obtain a copy on their own. It is the cornerstone of most of the world’s largest and most extravagant collections. While the phrase “The Silver Bible” pokes fun at its importance, there is a good deal of truth underlying the nickname.

'til next time,

Charlie Hurlocker