Grading A
1st Edition Shadowless
Charizard From 1999

The image above represents the graded card submitted to PG Grading on the 17/10/2023

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This post documents the unique grading and authentication process of the 1st Edition Shadowless Charizard to give future potential buyers as well as hobby enthusiasts a clear understanding of the procedures, techniques and considerations used to determine this card.  

Grading Structure - It's All In The Process

How will the card be authenticated?

To authenticate this card effectively, we must follow a list of clear procedures. They are as follows:

  • Non-authentic Indicator Elimination: There’s a wide range of fake examples of this card in the market. The easiest fakes to spot are most commonly listed as raw versions including proxy cards. The best fake examples however are featured within counter fit slabs.  
  • So what does this mean? It means we should be extremely cautious comparing the submitted card against any versions of this card that are currently featured online within slabs from alternative grading companies. If we do, we must check the serial numbers in question against thus grading companies pop-report to determine if the card has been removed from their database.
  • Non-First Edition Shadowless Charizard Comparison – It is not uncommon for fraudsters to take real shadowless examples of this card and simply apply a counter fit 1st edition stamp. Most often, fake stamp ink will appear raised, blotchy and positioned incorrectly due to incorrect printing techniques / plates being used.
  • Base Set Charizard Comparison – It is also common to see fraudsters use base set examples of this card and simply strip ink surrounding the holofoil with acetone and then print over again.   
  • Highlight And Compare Against The Key Features Of A Genuine Version of this card – Genuine versions of this card tend to highlight key features such as Darker Green Wing Colour, Texture Pattern Behind TextFlame Pokemon. Length:5’7″, Weight:200lbs.Darker Red Depth Colouring In The Holo vs BASE – We also notice a small break in our example of the holo foil on both the left and right margin of the character image. Is this a genuine or non-genuine flaw? Time will tell….
  • Card Dimension – Again this may seem obvious but no stone must be left unturned. Correct size comparison must be made to ensure no red flags arise. It is known that Pokemon make errors however, to our knowledge, no miscut examples of this card currently exist in the open market place. If you’re reading this and know otherwise, please feel free to reach out. 
  • UV Light Test – The eye can only see so much. As similar printing methods for the holo are used for both shadowless and base, we want to see the same results on both under UV Light. 
  • Card Thickness – In our experience, shadowless cards do seem to be thicker and less flimsy than base cards. We will use a microscope to ensure no additional layers have been used to manufacture this card. 
  • Rear Card Authentication – Real Pokemon cards feature a grainy texture as well as well known pattern upon magnification. Our example already shows the grainy texture to the touch, however it is not uncommon for real cards to be stripped once again using acetone and then re-printed. 
  • Font Analysis – We must inspect the text. Dot the I’s and cross the T’s so to speak. 
  • Common Flaw Analysis – Versions of this card will have potentially been manufactured during similar time-frame print runs. Dust and particles can get into printing machinery leaving common flaws. Can we identify any of these?
Firstly, lets look at some of obvious incorrect manufacturing methods used to spot the easiest fake examples of this card. If you’re reading this, we may as well help educate you on the basics. For more experienced collectors, you may wish to skip to the next paragraph. 

Fake Charizard Flaws - Some Are More Obvious Than Others

As an initial place to start, we are able to confirm that non of the above flaws apply to our card that has been submitted.

As per the initial bullet points, we were able to find and verify one previously graded version of this card for consideration purposes only. Upon close inspection, we will note any similarities. 

Previously Graded - Examples For Concideration

It is now time to check the cards thickness to ensure the correct layors are present. For this particular card we have provided a previously authenticated image of the cards thickness and compared it against our own.

Cards Have Layers! - Microscopic Inspection

Now it is time to check for card similarities such as: Holo Pattern, Card texture, Print Pattern, 1st Ed Stamp Inspection. 

1st Ed Stamp- Print, Pattern & Placement

The print pattern is absolutely parallel of a legitimate 1st edition Charizard. We can also see the circular pattern that sits within the golden box. Not all Shadowless cards show this circular pattern from what we can see so don’t worry if you have a shadowless card that doesn’t show this upon magnification. From information gathered, legitimate 1st edition versions of this card, do seem to have this circular detail though. It is also noted that the position of the stamp for this card differs from a 1st Edition Machamp. The same can be said for later 1st edition set variants. Within an authentic card, the middle of the ‘T’ should sit just underneath the border of the cards artwork. For other 1st edition cards from the likes of base, fossil etc, the stamp is slightly further to the left. The ink appears to show no abnormalities and shows consistent texture in what we can expect when comparing against other 1st edition stamp printing. We’re happy.

UV Testing - Identifying Abnormalities

On the left you can see our Charizard under normal light showing once again, the circular pattern within the wing. This further suggest a consistency in print opposed to dual method used when comparing the character and other details of the card. Had the Charizard been place upon the holo, it is unlikely we would once again see this pattern. Under UV the same pattern can still be seen revealing no abnormalities. Less ink reveals more of the foil where it should with no blotches or signs of counterfeit. This is consistent throughout the card.

Common Print Flaws - Looking For Print Run Similarities

Above you can see two noticeable flaws within this card that can be seen in previously graded examples of this card. They are as follows:

  • Another microscopic flaw in certain print runs of this card is this. A small bleed in red that can be found in some previously graded examples of this card in the top right border.
  • A common flaw in a legitimate version of this cards print run is this. The Foil stops just short of the left border. Please note all variants do not contain this flaw.

Rear Card Surface - Looking Further

The rear texture appears to match that of a genuine Pokemon card. Once again, we note the appearance of a circular pattern commonly seen in authentic Pokemon card printing. All spacing, card dimensions meet the requirements expected that of a genuine card. 

Authentication Certificate - Further Grading Data

Above you can see the grading report generated as part of our inspection process. 

Overall Centering Front: 57:43

Overall Centering Back: 61:39

Minor Flaws: Rear Surface Wear / Rear Bottom Edge Wear 

Graders Feedback: This example demonstrates a near-mint condition showing no minor or major flaws on the front other than 57:43 overall centering. The obverse (rear) side of the card shows minor surface wear and a small part of whitening on the bottom edge of the card. 

Valuation - Utilizing PriceCharting API Sold Price Data

At PG Grading we offer a valuation service. Our prices are not plucked out of thin air. We use API from PriceCharting. This data gives us the average sold prices fro each grade for Pokemon cards across Ebay and TCG Market place since June 2022. If you are reading this after 25/10/23 the price may have increased or decreased.

Summary - A Proud Day For PG Grading

So lets summarise. You can now see the lengths we go to ensure that rare cards within the hobby are rigorously authenticated, graded and valued. Of course, authentication and grading in itself is subjective. This is why a strong focus on consistency will always be at the heart of the work we do. We don’t like to brag, but we are proud that we have received this card. The holy grail so to speak. We look forward to documenting more top flight cards within the trading card and most importantly, sharing our journey with you! The collectors.


If you would like to have your trading cards authenticated and graded from us, simply use the link below.