Shining a Light on Shadowless Pokémon Cards: What They Are and How to Identify Them

There’s a lot of special terms and lingo that gets thrown around when it comes to any hobby. If you’re new to collecting Pokémon cards, you may have run into one of these unique terms: Shadowless.

What does this term mean? What are shadowless Pokémon cards and how can you spot them? Read on to shed some light on how shadowless Pokémon cards may be the hidden treasure in your collection. 

What are Shadowless Pokémon Cards? 

"Shadowless" is a term used for specific sets of cards from the early days of the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG). These sets of cards were designed and printed without a shadow around the outside edge of the artwork. Later versions of these cards all included the shadow in the design, marking the original printings as unique.

Shadowless cards only existed in the earliest printing series of the TCG. They highlight an developing phase in the production of Pokémon cards where the design was yet to be polished. Because of their place in franchise history and their rarity, shadowless cards are highly sought after and can be quite valuable. 

How to Tell if a Card is Shadowless

You can easily spot Shadowless Pokémon cards by a few key features:

  • The easiest way to spot a shadowless card is by looking at the Pokémon’s artwork. If there is no shadow next to the yellow border, then the card is shadowless. If the card is slightly darker next to the yellow border, then it is not a shadowless card. 
  • Another subtle method to spot shadowless cards is to look on the top right corner of the card. There you will find the Pokémon’s Hit Points (HP). Shadowless Pokémon cards have the HP printed in slightly thinner red text compared to non-shadowless cards.
  • A final way to identify shadowless cards is to examine the copyright dates on the bottom edge of the card. Shadowless Pokémon cards are all dated 1995, 1996, 1998, and 1999.


Drawing a Pokemon card from a deck

How Much Are Shadowless Cards Worth?

There are a lot of things that go into valuing your Pokémon cards correctly. When it comes to evaluating shadowless cards, it helps to understand the different kinds of cards that fall into this category. 

  • The most valuable Pokémon cards by far are the 1st Edition Shadowless cards. These cards are the original printings and carry the first edition stamp.
  • Next are the standard Shadowless Pokémon Cards. These don’t have the first edition stamp, but they are still old and rare, so therefore valuable.
  • Most Pokémon cards you see are not shadowless and are considered part of the unlimited print run of cards. That does not mean that these cards cannot be valuable, but they are not unique because of their age.

On top of age and rarity, a card’s value is also determined by its condition. Card’s are usually graded on a scale of 1-10 on their condition. Most cards sold at auction are graded 7 or above.

When all of these factors come together, it can really increase the value of a card. For example, one of the most expensive Pokémon cards sold at auction is a Shadowless Charizard 1st Edition Base Set. This card consistently sells anywhere between $30,000 and $500,000.

The Original Pokémon Base Set

All of the shadowless and 1st edition cards are considered part of The Original Pokémon Base Set. The english version of the base set of Pokémon cards was printed by Wizards of the Coast in 1999. It was released as an expansion pack in Japan, but was the first set of Pokémon cards released in the U.S. 

After the huge popularity of this base set, The Pokémon TCG released much larger print runs. This Unlimited Print run also changed the design of the cards slightly by adding a shadow around the borders. This is the point at which shadowless cards went out of print and became rare collector’s items. 

Where to Find Rare Pokémon Cards

Looking to increase the value of your Pokémon decks? Check out our Pokémon Card Packs and Bundles for a chance to add Rare Pokémon Cards to your collection!