Collectible cards are printed in different places, every country has its own supplier.  With worldwide trading, the cards travel all over the world so it becomes easy to compare them and notice the differences in printings.

For example, cards printed in Japan are popular for their high quality in terms of the consistency of the paper, resolution of the text and less curvature for foil versions.

Foil Japanese print vs Foil European print

There are many confusing aspects that can mess up with players and sellers, because of different printing technologies and different types of paper. This aspect cannot be ignored when verifying the authenticity of cards. And yes, they are doing everything possible to lead us to make mistakes.

The purpose of this guide is to help the global community trust and collect cards from worldwide markets.

Different Printings Technologies 

Cards printed in Japan cover multiple languages, so they are not only Japanese versions.
English, Chinese, Korean and other languages are also printed in Japan but distributed globally. The same holds true for cards printed in Belgium and in the US.

Before 2016, the printing technologies of factories in Belgium, the US and Japan were very similar. During 2016 and 2018 , WotC announced an adjustment on the printing process in Japan.
They specifically pointed out that cards printed with the new technology have a different fluorescence, surface consistency, cutting, as well as rigidity since the paper used is different . Although it has been more than five years since the adjustment of printing technology, many of the above mentioned differences are still not clear to many collectors, players and sellers.
Comparison of two different prints of the same expansion

The print quality can also vary by product: many times, cards found in Fat-Pack Bundles, Prerelease kits or Preconstructed Decks have a lower and different print quality than the regular main set's Booster Boxes. As you can see from the image, the difference is often easily noticeable given the color gradation, ink intensity and print quality.

Card Weight

MTG card weights are different between single-sided and double-sided cards. The same is true for token, Art Series and advertisement cards. There is a major difference in the weights of cards that are printed in Belgium, US and Japan.

A single-sided MTG non-foil card printed in the US and Belgium weighs about 1.78 grams whereas a card printed in Japan weighs about 1.63 grams.

As can be seen from the image, the difference in thickness is clearly visible by combining two packs of cards printed respectively in Belgium and Japan. The production standard differs because in Japan the cards are made with more expensive material to be recyclable (as required by law), so the color and thickness can be different from those printed in the EU and USA.
The weight of the papers can also be affected by "production errors". For example, there have been reports of errors in the production of the double-faced cards of the "Ixalan" set (printed in several languages) because a different stock was used than usual.
The cards in this set are lighter, the weight of the foil versions is around around 1.35g~1.40g. This difference can lead you to think that you are dealing with proxies, even though the cards are authentic!

It is more complicated to determine the average weight of foil cards as the method by which they are printed has varied over the years. Over time, different types of foiling have been implemented in addition to the classic foil cards (such as etched, full art, galaxy etc ...) which may have multiple printing differences from one country to another. We recommend that you read more in the paragraph "Foil & Surface" e "Foil Types".


Although the fonts and sizes are the same, text on cards printed in Japan have sharper edges with characters that appear thinner than on cards printed in Belgium or the United States.

Magic The Gathering cards are printed in a process called offset printing.  In offset printing each of the 4 printing colors (CMYK) are printed separately from one another.  Additionally, there’s a 2nd layer of black specifically for the card’s text and borders.
Each color being printed separately gives us room for errors to happen at each color: single or multiple color channels can have the incorrect ink consistency, have something obstruct the channel (like a splotch), or have the rubber rollers not properly cleaned between passes resulting in all sorts of neat misprints.


The differences in making the cards are not only given by the printing machines, but also by the cutting machines.One of the most significant differences is given by the type of corner cut, with which we can recognize if a card was printed in Belgium, the United States or Japan.

Cards printed in Japan in fact have very "rounded" edges: the corners of Japanese cards are perfectly rounded and do not have that slight "squaring" that cards printed in other countries have.

Cards printed in the USA and Belgium, on the other hand, are less consistently cut. The cut is more external, thus making the corners more angular and causing breaks in the curvature.

It is possible that US/Belgian cards have one or two perfectly rounded corners like Japanese cards. However, the remaining corners will be more pointed, and the overall quality of the print will still not be as good as the counterpart printed in Japan.

The corners of the cards printed in the USA are slightly more pointed than those printed in Belgium, but have the same curvature.

In summary, cards printed in Japan have more rounded corners, those printed in the USA have less rounded corners, while those printed in Belgium are intermediate.

Attention: there are sets (such as Alfa and Beta) in which the edges are universally rounded, less rounded, or clean, regardless of the country where the cards were printed. See chapter how to "recognize versions".

Foil e Superficie

There are significant differences in the surface gloss of foil cards printed in Japan, Belgium and the United States. The surface quality of cards printed in Belgium and Japan is generally higher than their counterparts printed in the United States.

Looking at the Full-Art cards (Planeswalker Alternate-art, Borderless or the Extended Art) found in Collector Boosters, the versions printed in Japan show a finer granularity in the foiling, have little reflection and have a smoother surface.

To protect the cards from daily wear, a varnish is applied during printing which is one of the main gloss factors. The coating can vary from country to country, thus resulting in a tactile difference of texture and brightness that are very different from each other.

In the image we can see the difference between an "Oracle of Mul Daya" printed in the United States and one printed in Japan, both coming from the "Double Masters 2022" expansion.
The Japanese version (left) has a smoother surface and more diffuse reflectivity, while the American one (right) has a darker finish, contrasting colors and a direct reflective effect.
JAPANESE print vs AMERICAN print
JAPANESE print vs AMERICAN print
The surface of cards printed in the USA is rougher and this texture can easily be felt with bare hands. In contrast, the surface of cards printed in Japan is smoother and more regular.

In some recent sets (for example "Mystical Archives" or the new basic lands of "Innistrad Midnighthunt and Crimson Vow") you could notice a difference in the "thickness" of the card's details and layout.

For example, the expansion symbol and outline lines of cards printed in Belgium and Japan are well defined and raised over the rest of the paper and foiling.
Cards printed in the United States, on the other hand, they do not have the details embossed, maintaining a homogeneous foiling throughout the card.

JAPANESE foil print vs AMERICAN foil print
This difference in "embossed details" can be found above all in the "Kaladesh Inventions", a further example of the differences between printing houses.
Versions printed in the US are all foil (visibly glossy and smooth), while those printed in Belgium feature only the foil border box (matte and embossed).
Le stampate in Giappone sono simili a quelle europee, con la leggera differenza di avere il foil ancora più opaco e in rilievo, risultando meno riflettenti alla luce.

Kaladesh Inventions

matte EUROPEAN print vs glossy AMERICAN print

Color of the paper

While you might think there's a production standard, Wizards of the Coast has used different types of paper over the years. Paper quality has improved over time and is fairly consistent nowadays, although there are some exceptions.
This factor affects the weight and color of the paper. There are several sets that may look strange or counterfeit just because they are printed on a different type of paper.

The color of the paper may vary in tone (from white to yellowish, from red to orange) or be lighter/darker based on the country of origin in which they were printed. For example, in Japan the paper is bleached with chemicals compared to most European papers, as the fibers are also different. In fact, the very structure and materials of which the paper is made have a great influence on the final result.

american print vs european print

Magic The Gathering cards are made in layers, with some colored plastic in the core of the card. Most sets printed in the United States have a blue core, while sets printed in Japan have a purple core. It becomes quite easy to recognize them as the edge of Japanese printed cards is darker.

The foiling process adds another variable: in general, the white of which the paper is made determines how it reacts to UV light. Cards made in Japan have a UV protective coating, so they don't react to UV light. As you can see from the image below, when you subject the cards to UV light, you will notice distinct differences in the colors.

JAPANESE print vs AMERICAN print -  UV light test
These protective coatings are standard practice in the playing card industry, but weren't adopted until Wotc had to produce cards specifically for the Japanese market, opening a printing house in Japan.
Other printing houses outside Japan do not yet add this coating, probably a cost-saving measure. Also, cards printed in Japan use a different stock because they need to be recyclable* while cards printed in Texas don't, so Wotc doesn't print them on the supposedly more expensive recyclable stock.
(*Japanese laws require cards to be recyclable. Normal cards are not due to the plastic contained in the core and the plastic+metal on foil cards, so it has become necessary to adapt and change some materials).

Japanese and European prints look brighter overall than the images as US prints are darker.

Foil EU vs Foil USA

Recognize versions

It can be difficult for those new to Magic The Gathering to distinguish cards from visually very similar editions.
The following guide, which describes and illustrates the first editions of Magic, is intended to help players recognize the different sets that were not distinguishable by means of symbols or other clear identifying marks.


These cards have black borders and are distinguished mainly by their large, very rounded corners. Alpha deck boxes have a UPC barcode.

Alpha (and Beta) boosters are a solid brown color and are labeled "Magic: the Gathering". The Alpha rules booklet consists of 32 pages; on the cover is the illustration of the Bog Wraith and contains the Worzel's Story written by Richard Garfield


These cards also have black borders and are distinguished mainly by having the corners of the cards less rounded. (All cards printed since Beta have this type of corner). Beta card boxes have a barcode on the bottom (which Alpha boxes lack).

Alpha and Beta booster packs are identical. The 40-page Beta booklet also has the Bog Wraith on the cover, but "Worzel's Story" has been dropped in favor of a game summary, FAQ chapter, and table of contents.


These cards have white borders and can be distinguished from other white-bordered editions by the presence of a drawn "beveled" border. Also, there is a copyright at the foot of the card attributing the illustration to the author.

Boxes and Booster packs are marked "Unlimited Edition". The Unlimited instruction booklet is identical to the Beta


These cards have white borders and can be distinguished from other white-bordered editions by the absence of the drawn"beveled" border. Also, due to a change in printing foils, many Revised cards appear lighter and with less contrast than Unlimited and Fourth Edition cards.

The word "Tap" is replaced by a 45° angled "T" symbol. The boxes and booster packs are labeled "Revised Edition". Revised instruction booklet has a Shivan Dragon on the cover.


These cards have white borders and can be distinguished from other white-bordered editions by having both a "beveled" border design and the "1995" Wizards of the Coast copyright on the bottom of the card. Also, the symbol appears for the first time in this set.

The boxes and booster packs are labeled "Fourth Edition". The Fourth Edition base decks feature the five mana symbols, and the foil booster packs feature one of the five illustrations from the set. For the first time, the instruction booklet has a color cover.


Fifth Edition cards are recognizable from Fourth Edition cards by the year (1997) that appears next to the copyright, at the bottom of the card layout. Furthermore, it is easily recognizable and distinguishable due to the much brighter print colors.

Showcase, Borderless, and Alternate Art cards

The cards printed in recent years have often received prints with artwork or alternative layout designed to better bind with each new expansion. However, it often happens to get confused in correctly recognizing and classifying the different types of alternative cards.
In this guide you will find the official classification of the various alternative cards.
"Showcase" cards were introduced starting with "Throne of Eldraine". This term indicates the unique style present in the frame and in the artwork of the card, which varies from expansion to expansion trying to best represent the theme.
"Borderless" cards feature an alternative "full-art" that extends through the full edge of the cards (including the top and sometimes the bottom as well). Part of the illustration can be seen behind the text box. Although they have no borders, they are still tournament legal.
"Extended Art" are cards similar to "Borderless" with the difference that the image of the card is the same as the original print, extending only on the left and right side of the card.
It loses its frame and border only laterally, keeping the rest of the paper outline layout. The text box can be lowered slightly, depending on the amount of text present. This was the initial treatment used for the "Ultimate Masters - Box Toppers", only to be featured in every expansion since "Throne of Eldraine".
To pay homage to the nostalgic layout of the very first Magic: The Gatheing sets, Wizards of the Coast began introducing retro-framed cards in 2021 starting with "Modern Horizons 2".

These new Retro Frame cards feature two types of foil: "Pre-Modern Foil" (classic first type foil, with a shooting star in the lower left corner of the card) and the new "Etched Foil" foil.
If you find it difficult to distinguish the different types of foil, we recommend our dedicated guide that you will find in the next paragraph.
(Onslaught Set - Released 2002)
(Modern Horizons 2 - Released 2021)

Foil Type

Throughout MTG's history, the layout of cards has changed a lot. Recently, new types of foils that are unique and very different from each other have arrived in the expansions starting in 2020, although they can still cause confusion in distinguishing them clearly from the classic original foil.
On CardTrader, cards that have a different version from the classic foiling are clearly marked and easily recognizable thanks to the version shown in the brackets next to the name.
Foil "Etched" cards are slightly dull and a little less shiny in the foil parts. They also have a slightly rougher finish than traditional foils and therefore reflect less light. This particular metallic grainy finish is clearly perceptible to the touch compared to a traditional foil paper which will be smooth in comparison.

On CardTrader, "Etched Foil" cards are distinct and recognizable by having "Etched-Foil" writing on the image, which will distinguish them from the normal version of the same card (non-foil/foil).
Regular Foil vs Etched-Foil

Particular attention should be paid to Strixhaven's "Mystical Archive" set when it comes to etched foil. The set only features this type of foiling in the gold layout (Western-style cards), while etched foils in the Japanese exclusive layout will have this noticeable treatment only in thin outlines and set symbol.
Etched-Foil - JAPANASE Layout
Etched-Foil - WSTERN Layout
(We recommend that you always check the serial number and the symbol that indicates foiling: the "star" will indicate that the card is foil, while the "dot" will indicate that it is not foil.)

First introduced in Streets of New Capenna, "Gilded Foil" is a new type of embossed foil applied only to the gold frame of multi-colored Showcase-style cards.
These cards remain legal for play in Magic: The Gathering sanctioned tournament play, despite this laminate treatment being slightly raised off the surface of the card.

To distinguish it from cards in the traditional foil version, the card must be tilted (as in the photo) to bring out the foiling: if it has raised, shiny and metallic edges, it will be a gilded foil (left image).
It's a great help to always check the serial number: from 361 to 405 the cards will only be gilded foil.
Introduced with Double Masters 2022, this type of embossed foil has a special pattern that covers the entire surface of the card, from which it takes the name of "Textured" foil.
This treatment is recognizable to the touch, but remember to be careful when distinguishing them from the same normal foil versions.

At a glance, it may not be immediate to see the shiny, textured surface. To avoid making a mistake, we always recommend checking the serial number and checking the cards carefully if they are placed in a protective sleeve.
Foil "Galaxy" cards have a shiny, reflective look, very similar to the holo cards in the Pokémon Card Base Set.

As the name suggests, this new type of foil recalls the galaxy, emphasizing the planets and stars that appear in the card treatment.

This type of foil was recently introduced in the Unfinity set (2022), becoming extremely popular especially for borderless shock lands.
In the photo, a "Steam Vents" galaxy foil compared to the classic foil.
The "Step-and-Compleat" foil is a new treatment that uses the Phyrexian symbol as a stamp layer for the foiling process.
This effect only appears on "Phyrexia: All Will Be One" cards, to highlight that they are " contaminated" by the shimmering Phyrexian oil.

The Step-and-Compleat foil cards will be easily recognizable, they will have serial numbers from 417 to 479. In addition, this foil treatment has been reserved for the five praetors belonging to the previous expansions, reprinted in "Phyrexia:All Will Be One" with an exclusive "Concept Art" version .
Available only in the "Compleat Edition Bundle" of "Phyrexia: All Will Be One", "Oil Slick Raised" cards are a second type of new foil treatment from the Phyrexian expansion.

These cards give the idea of ​​phyrexian oil contamination thanks to the sheen and depth of the texture visible on the entire surface of the card.

As the name suggests, these papers are in fact embossed and distinguishable by touch from the classic foil, with a clearly visible metallic effect.
Available only for the "Multiverse Legends" cards found exclusively in "March of the Machine" Collector Boosters.

This foil wants to give the idea of the "Halo", the magical substance made of angelic essence which is preventative against Phyrexian contamination.

This treatment is characterized by the presence of linear shiny holographic texture, visible on the entire surface of the card.

YU-GI-OH! How to recognize the different prints

In this guide we will help you compare and understand the differences between international printings, in order to reassure you about your purchases in case you find yourself with a slightly different card than usual.

American cards are printed in North America and distributed only in America. These cards are printed in the English language only.
European cards are printed in Belgium and distributed throughout Europe. These cards are printed in all EU languages ​​including English.
Asian cards are printed in Japan or Korea. These are printed in Japanese, Korean, Chinese, or "Asian English" and can only be played in Asian territories.*

*In Yu-Gi-Oh! it must be remembered that the cards are divided in the world market by their legality:
OCG is short for Original Card Game and is the version of Yu-Gi-Oh that is released in Asian Markets.
TCG is short for Trading Card Game and is the version released in European and American markets.

The two are divided and not playable together: the play out rather differently due to three major differences.
1) They have different banlists:
Cards that are banned in the TCG may not be banned in the OCG and vice-versa. In general, the OCG is more likely to Semi-Limit cards than the TCG. For YCS Worlds, players compete under a merged banlists.
2) Some Archetypes are available in only one version of the game:
Konami likes to release Archetypes exclusive to one region of the game for a while. In addition due to where Konami is headquartered, the OCG receives releases sooner than the TCG. Obviously, you can't play a deck that hasn't been released yet.
3) Rulings:
Some rulings are different. Some rulings exist in the TCG that are different in the OCG. In the absence of a TCG ruling, the OCG ruling is correct however.

Main differences between American and European cards

Cards printed in the West (TCG) are commonly distinguished between "American" and "European" cards as they have differences that are now known by most players and collectors.

Although differences can be found that are visible at a glance, cards printed in western languages ​​are legal and playable despite coming from different countries.

From the first editions to the most recent sets, you can compare the cards printed in America with the European ones printed in Belgium to find the differences which make their origin easily recognizable.
Here's a list of the most common and visible differences that will allow you to distinguish the print of your Yu-Gi-Oh! cards.
European has darker tone of color throughout the card, while American is lighter. European cards use darker ink than American cards, which I feel makes them of a higher quality.
Text on American cards is slightly bolder and darker as the background color is slightly different from European, which tend to feel glossier and have a slightly darker finish.
American Secret Rares and foil cards have a brighter picture and a more linear pattern (less glittery) than European. EU have darker color, patin is more glittery. More noticable on light colored cards.
American printing has lot more purple than European prints.
Some people find cards printed in Europe to be superior in quality to american ones, expecially foils have better print quality as they are much brighter and more colorful. It's differences rather than quality. Essentially, scarcity of European cards in America makes them more valuable, because they are different and they aren't easy to get ahold of.
The same goes for American cards, well known for being at a glance different and more coveted by European players.

Thanks to our platform, it has become more accessible to obtain cards from sellers around the world, allowing the American and European market to cross-breed different prints. We therefore try with this guide to reassure our users to recognize the authenticity of the cards if they have printing differences.

"Sky Striker Ace - Raye"
American print (left) vs European print (right)
"Timestar Magician"
American print (left) vs European print (right)

Main differences between Asian cards

However, many people do not know that papers printed in asia may have slight differences if printed in Japan or other countries (e.g., Korea).

Japanese-Asian cards are Japanese cards produced and intended for sale in Asian countries outside Japan. They are commonly abbreviated JA, but listed as JP in the cart set number.

Cards printed in Japan (JP) have better print quality (paper and contrast) than cards printed in other countries (JA).
On higher rarities as "Secret Rare" cards, even the foil pattern is different: JA would be horizontal and JP would be vertical.

[ "Condemned Darklord" - Secret Rare]
JAPANESE  (JP) print

Cards printed outside Japan (JA) are much more contrasty and full of color in general than those produced in Japan (JP). Furthermore, you can perceive the difference in the quality of the coating and coloring of the foiling in versions such as the "Ghost Rare" or in the thickness of the text (the JA cards have a more marked font than the JP cards).
"Dark Magician Girl"
JA print (left) vs JP print (right)

Card Weight

A Yu-Gi-Oh card weighs an average of 1.65g but can vary according to edition, rarity and type of foil. The weight of the cards also varies between American and European printings. As shown in the example, American ones usually weigh less.
US Print "Sky Striker Ace - Raye" weighs 1.53 grams
EU Print "Sky Striker Ace - Raye" weighs 1.69 grams

Pokémon - Difference between Western and Eastern prints

Pokémon cards differ between editions printed for the Eastern market and those intended for the global Western market. The differences go beyond just the language that appears on the card.
In the 1990s, it was easy to tell which set the Japanese and English cards came from because the set names were named the same. However, in modern sets, they are not the same.

Japanese Pokémon TCG sets tend to be smaller subsets of the English variety. Usually, the Japanese set will consist of two smaller sets than the English set, but of course there may be exceptions.

For example, the English set "Astral Radiance" is split into multiple sets in Japanese:  
Battle Region (s9a)
Time Gazer  (s10D)
Space Juggler (s10P)
To recognize which set a card belongs to, just look in the left corner. Usually the western-language sets have a certain symbol that distinguishes each expansion, while the Japanese sets are distinguished by an abbreviation of letters and numbers.
To recognize which set a card belongs to, just look in the left corner. Usually the western-language sets have a certain symbol that distinguishes each expansion, while the Japanese sets are distinguished by an abbreviation of letters and numbers.In Japan, Pokemon cards are released in a steady drip of small releases- these include smaller full sets, new starter decks with unique cards, micro sets, Pokemon Center promos, and Pokemon Gym promos.
In English and other European languages we get sets every 3 months, while Japan gets a set every month/month and a half.
For example, Battle Region (s9a) was released on February 25th 2022, Time Gazer and Space Juggler on April 8th 2022.
Astral Radiance (the corresponding set for the west containing all the cards of these 3 Japanese sets) was released 27th May 2022.

Aesthetic Differences

Aesthetically, Japanese (Asian) cards and English (EU/US) cards have many differences. Beginning in 1999, English cards got a refresh after experiencing a rough entry into the North American market. This led to various improvements to the card’s design such as shadows around the illustration box, more vivid coloring, and bolder font.

Updating the design of the card has been a frequent occurrence in the Pokémon TCG. Sometimes both Japanese and English experience design updates, sometimes just one. Of course, English Pokémon cards have a different back than the Japanese cards do.
Japanese cards actually have two backs, after being updated in 2001.

Vintage cards may have a different holo pattern, depending on the card’s language. English cards used the "star galaxy" holo pattern for Base Set, Jungle, and Fossil, only switching to the "cosmos" holo pattern for Base Set 2. Japanese cards used the "cosmos" holo pattern right from the start.
Modern Japanese cards have exclusive reverse holo patterns that English cards do not have. Each Japanese expansion has a unique reverse holo.

One of the most notable changes developed in Japan was silver borders. With the arrival of Pokémon "Black & White" in December 2010, some Japanese holographic Pokémon cards switched from yellow borders to the new silver/grey borders.

Even Japanese booster packs are way different than their English counterparts. Japanese boosters will feature different artwork and have different pull rates.

Card Quality

Japanese Pokemon cards can be worth more money than their English counterparts. Pokemon trading cards from Japan are of higher build quality and, where relevant, still come with first edition markings
It’s easy to assess card quality if we look at standard grading sub-categories. These include Corners, Edges, Surface, and Centering.

Surface: Hold the card below a lighting source and slowly move it, focusing on the reflection. If the card is straight from a booster pack, you’ll primarily be checking for print lines. A print line is a straight line often across the foil area of the card. Print lines have become much more common in the past year. Also check for any blemishes, ink dots, or other printing errors.

Corners: The corners of a Pokémon card should be perfectly round and symmetrical, with no raised edges. The corner should be smooth, without any jagged cuts.

Edges: The edges of the card should be smooth, leaving no evidence of a dull blade. A dull blade will often result in a rough edge, with burrs along the cut.

Centering: Most Pokémon cards have a yellow border, but they will sometimes have other variations such as GX cardswhich have a silver border with a black line going through it. The border should be perfectly even all around the card. It is easiest to spot an off-center card by looking at the corners of the border, then checking the width of the border from left to right, then top to bottom.

Japanese cards often have near-perfect corners, edges, and centering. English cards often have poorly cut corners, rough edges, and poor centering. Print lines are also much more common on English cards.Even though Japanese cards are of higher quality, they are actually thinner. It is easy to feel if you have both cards side-by-side. This could be due to the fact that Japanese cards don’t sell as much as English cards do, so a thinner card would cut down production costs.

The better build quality of Pokemon trading cards from Japan also means that they’re less likely to be damaged. Condition is king when it comes to deciding the worth of collectibles, and Pokemon cards from any region are no different. While a Japanese card is harder to damage, an English card in better condition is usually worth more money.

Foil Difference

Over the years, the Pokémon TCG has featured many different patterns used on their holographic cards. Some patterns lasted for years, while others had short stays, making them markers for their short time in the franchise.
Something you might not know is that the holofoil may be different between Japanese foil cards and US/Eu cards from the same sets.

In contrast to a regular Holofoil card (where the effect is applied to the picture) a Reverse Holofoil usually has the effect applied to the entire card apart from the picture containing the Pokémon. There is usually the Reverse Holofoil variant for every card in a set, excluding Ultra Rare and Secret Rare cards, and any full-art cards.

Galaxy Foil (1999- 2002) -"star-kind" pattern, first foil ever produced for western market while in Japan the foil was "Cosmos". Last time this pattern was used in "Legendary Collection".
Cosmos Holofoil (2000-2001 | Base Set 2 through Call of Legends) - Dotted pattern with occasional swirl
Full Holo (Ancient Mew) - applied on front and back of the card with 5 printing variants ( see versions here)*
Shining & Special Patterns (2001) - foil only on the pokèmon, not on the background image
VS Series (2001 -Japan only) - foil applied only on the background of the pokèmon image and on "VS" logo
Crystal (2003) - galaxy pattern on the background image and soft holo pattern around the borders

• Ex Holo
(2003) - foil silver border
Energy Pattern (2004) - this pattern has tiny energy symbols applied inside the picture box
Recognizing the difference in the type of pattern allows you to better identify your cards and put them on sale correctly.
For example, he easy way to tell the difference between all the Ancient Mewsis through a combination of both their copyright date and holofoil pattern (this card was printed in two different holofoil patterns: "speckle" and "cosmic").

• Japanese Ancient Mew I (Nintedo Error)
holofoil pattern
Copyright date: ©1995, 1996, 1998 Nintedo/Creatures inc./GAMEFREAK inc.

The first Ancient Mew that was released was Ancient Mew I. However, there was a printing error: the copyright date had a misprint, where Nintendo was spelled "Nintedo". This error didn’t get corrected right away and the corrected version of the card is actually much rarer than the error version.

• Japanese Print Ancient Mew I (Nintendo Corrected)
holofoil pattern
Copyright date: ©1995, 1996, 1998 Nintedo/Creatures inc./GAMEFREAK inc.

Corrected version of Ancient Mew I, correctly spelling the "Nintendo" name. Both the error version and corrected version share the same sparkle holofoil treatment and can only be differentiated by their copyright information where the error exists.

• Japanese Print Ancient Mew II
holofoil pattern
Copyright date: ©1995, 1996, 1998, Nintendo/Creatures inc./GAMEFREAK inc.

The big difference between an "Ancient Mew I" and the "Ancient Mew II" is the holographic pattern. This transition from the dot pattern (speckle) to the cosmic holographic pattern (cosmos) is the only way to distinguish between a corrected version of Ancient Mew I and Ancient Mew II.

• International Print Ancient Mew
holofoil pattern
Copyright date ©1995, 96, 98, 99 Nintendo, Creatures, GAMEFREAK. © 1999-2000 Wizards.

The international Ancient Mew is the first release outside of Japan. All versions of the international release are the same. This means the Italian, German,French version looks the same as the USA version, which looks the same as every other internationally released Ancient Mew.

• Japanese 2019 Ancient Mew Reprint
holofoil pattern
copyright date: ©2019 Pokémon/Nintendo/Creatures/GAME FREAK.

In 2019, "Ancient Mew" was reprinted to resemble the original "Ancient Mew I" and visually accomplished the task. The cards are identical except for the copyright data.


Shadowless (literally "without shadow"), is a term that summarizes a series of graphic differences that have characterized only the products of the BASE SET printed in English language.
The famous missing shadows are clearly visible in this comparison of the side and bottom of the box containing the Pokémon. In general, the correction took place to ensure that the box has a much more raised and three-dimensional effect, unlike the first prints where the box was flat, as if it were glued to the background.

Since the original English "Base Set" had four different print runs, we want to make sure you will undestand how to recognize each version of a base set card:

Shadowless 1st Edition - it has the "1st edition" symbol at the left, and it lacks shadows around the artwork.
The font (especially noticeable at the top red "HP") is slightly different than the unlimited ones, and the attack name ("Thunder Jolt") also has a slightly different layout.

Shadowles non-1st Edition - lacks the 1st edition symbol. This is referred to as "Shadowless non-1st Edition" instead of "Shadowless Unlimited", because there was still only a single print run like this.

Unlimited Base Set - (not shadowless) have a slight variations, where the ©1999-2000 one on the bottom right is from a factory in the UK that was printed later.

Shadowless Pokemon Trainer cards
are almost indistinguishable from normal base set cards, except they have the extra year 99 typed at the bottom of the card in the copyright section.

Copywrite on the bottom is ©1995, 96, 97, 98, 99 Nintendo, Creatures, GAMEFREAK. ©1999 Wizards.

Expansion Release Dates and Sales

Some collectors prefer Japanese to English, and one of those reasons is that Japanese cards release months earlier than their English counterparts do.

For example, Blue Sky Stream (the Japanese equivalent of Evolving Skies) was released on July 8, 2021. This was 2 months before Evolving Skies was released in English.

In 2021, The Pokémon Company broke all records when they reported that 3.7 billion cards were sold. In addition to this, Shiny Star V was the most sold product on eBay Japan.
North America buys far more Pokémon cards than Japan, and we even bought a considerable amount of Japanese cards in 2021, too.

Non-Japanese products tend to have a lot more cards in them, on average. For example, English booster packs have 10 cards and Japanese boosters only have 5. We all tend to get more booster packs in our collection boxes, and our booster boxes have 36 packs instead of Japan’s 10 packs per box.