From Bulbapedia, the community-driven Pokémon encyclopedia.
1st Edition cards in the Pokémon Trading Card Game refer to those that are printed in the first print run of a particular set. 1st Edition cards are typically only available in booster packs for a limited period after the initial release of a particular Expansion, and are then replaced by an Unlimited Edition until the printing of that set ceases.
English (left) and Japanese (right) 1st Edition symbols
1st Edition cards are identified by the appearance of an "Edition 1" symbol on the card, often on the opposite side of the Expansion symbol (or next to it with early Japanese 1st Edition sets). This symbol is also present on 1st Edition booster packs and boxes.
The concept was used by Wizards of the Coast for the English and European releases from the beginning of the TCG's introduction to the West, starting with Base Set. Japanese cards did not have 1st Edition runs at this time. 1st Edition runs were produced for every set (except Base Set 2) up to and including Neo Destiny. A factor that likely led to Wizards scrapping the idea of 1st Edition cards was down to the pressure they faced to release sets on dates they had specified, which became particularly apparent during the Neo-era. Wizards even ceased pre-planned timed releases in late 2001. This led to 1st Edition runs being released alongside or even after their Unlimited release, rendering them obsolete. Another factor was likely due to the increased pressure on Wizards to release the e-card sets quickly before their license expired in 2003. After Nintendo gained control of the TCG, 1st Edition runs were rejected altogether. Coincidentally however, around the time English 1st Edition cards were beginning to face scrutiny, Japanese 1st Edition runs began to be produced. Japanese 1st Edition runs began with the release of Pokémon VS and have continued since.
In terms of value, 1st Edition cards are typically worth more than their Unlimited counterparts. However, as mentioned above, some of the last English 1st Edition sets were released either at the same time or after their Unlimited release, making them much less valuable compared to early TCG Expansion runs. The most valuable 1st Edition cards are regarded to be those from Base Set, as they were released before the Pokémon phenomenon got into full motion in the West. By the time the TCG became fully established, much of the 1st Edition had already sold out. With the first starter decks produced containing a foiled 1st Edition Machamp they laid down the style in which 1st Edition cards would appear.
1st Edition runs from later Expansions also showed card inconsistencies from their intended appearance (see Error cards). Many error cards provide additional material for collectors, as they are usually corrected in subsequent Unlimited runs. Those that are not (usually text in attacks that do not match what was intended) are detailed in card errata issued by the gaming body.
Comparison between Base Set 1st Edition, "Shadowless" and Unlimited runs.
Base Set is also unique in that Wizards were still experimenting with the layout and aesthetics of the cards after the 1st Edition run, which becomes apparent when cards from both 1st Edition and Unlimited are compared. The most obvious change is the weighting of text for HP values and attacks; they are much bolder in Unlimited. Another was the inclusion of a drop shadow under the character illustration window, supposedly added to give the card more depth. This later inclusion led to the naming of a transitional run, often called Shadowless, in which a small print run of Base Set was produced without the 1st Edition symbol, as well as without the changes mentioned above that were added in the actual Unlimited run. The Shadowless cards are also highly sought after by collectors because of their rarity being close to that of the first edition.
Trainers and Energy cards from Base Set, don't have the image box lacking the shadow, so can't be Shadowless, however, there are other differences from this print run.
The major difference is: The copyright info.
- The Shadowless print run says "© 1995, 96, 98, 99 Nintendo" while the Unlimited runs leave off the "99".