Legendary Prerelease Raichu Certified and Graded for First Time!

The prerelease Raichu card of myth and legend has been certified by grading company CGC Cards. The card has often been called the “holy grail” of English Pokemon cards because so few are said to exist.

As many longtime fans know, the card was said to have been accidentally created in the late ’90s when Wizards of the Coast was printing the prerelease Clefable promos for Pokemon Leagues. The story goes that some Raichu cards were accidentally mixed in with Clefable at the printing factory and were supposed to be destroyed, but some Wizards of the Coast employees pocketed a few of them (one account says 11 copies were saved from the factory, though the exact number isn’t known). Over the years some employees showed off their copies at Pokemon events, but a photo of one didn’t surface until April 2006. This was when former WOTC employee Mike Boozer posted his copy to the PokeGym. This was the first published evidence that one existed.

Since then, the card has been spoofed by people using stamping machines on Base Set Raichu. This lead to grading companies not wanting to certify any, as the cards could be so easily faked they might as well not exist.

But now CGC has done a deep dive into authenticating two prerelease Raichu cards known to originate from former Wizards of the Coast employees, including Boozer. CGC used forensic technology, XRF scanning, and imaging techniques to determine the two cards were manufactured in the same fashion as the prerelease Clefable cards. This seems to indicate the cards are legitimate. (The one graded as a 5.5 was the same one shown by Boozer in 2006.)

The first prerelease Raichu analyzed by CGC was sold by Mike Boozer in 2006 to a card collector, who then sold it to a collector named David Persin in 2009 for $10,500. (According to Persin, he is the owner of the most comprehensive English Pokemon TCG collection in the world.) The second Raichu was also bought by Persin from the other WOTC employee for $20,000 in 2018. Persin shared this price data with PokeBeach.

To be clear, “prerelease Raichu” was never officially released. This means that if you want a complete collection of Pokemon cards, this arguably doesn’t count. Rather, the card is important to the early history and lore of the Pokemon TCG fandom.