A rare Pokémon card released for the series’ smash-hit movie over 20 years ago has sold at auction. Making the mint-condition card even more flawless? A typo.
Ancient Mew was released in July 1999 as a Japanese promo card for the series’ second movie Revelation Lugia, known in the US and UK as Pokémon the Movie 2000: The Power of One. The card makes a brief appearance in the movie itself, in the collection of villain Lawrence III. The original card was only available via the movie promotion; Japanese cinema-goers could obtain it as part of a promotional booklet, while UK and US fans could only grab the English version during the first week of the film’s box office run in the summer of 2000.
The Ancient Mew card is notable for featuring no Japanese or English text, replaced instead by the runes of an ancient language that players could translate by participating in an official Pokémon event or visiting the game’s website. (The lack of easily-readable text meant that the card was banned from Standard tournaments for two decades, before a 2019 reprint rescinded the ban - as long as the player brought along a copy of the card’s official card database entry.)
Despite the absence of readable text, a fairly obvious typo in the little text that does appear - the copyright information along the bottom edge of the card - makes the first printing of the Japanese card even rarer. The copyright text reading “1995, 1996, 1998 Nintedo/Creatures inc./GAMEBREAK inc.” misspells the name of Pokémon maker Nintendo as “Nintedo”. Whoops.
The error was swiftly corrected after the card’s initial release, leaving a relatively small number of the first print run - known as Ancient Mew I among collectors - in circulation. A second print run featured corrected text with the card’s distinctive holographic foil finish, while a third printing - the version released outside of Japan - introduced a new ‘cosmos’ finish to the card. The international version of the card can also be separated from its Japanese counterpart by the addition of a copyright for US distributor Wizards of the Coast, as well as visual changes to the card’s font and border.
“The Ancient Mew I design in itself is incredible,” said Peter Petipas, TCG manager at auction house PWCC. “But that error makes it very interesting to collectors. Not many of these ‘Nintedo’ error cards exist compared to the English release of the card, especially not ones in Gem Mint condition. This is an impressive and exciting card that falls in the affordable price range when it comes to hard-to-find Pokémon assets.”
A PWCC auction for a Japanese copy of Ancient Mew I, featuring the Nintedo error and rated at a perfect Gem Mint 10 condition by grading specialist PSA, saw the card sell for $900 on January 15th.
According to PSA, only 478 copies of the ‘Nintedo’ Ancient Mew card have been graded at a Gem Mint 10 level, with 2,255 copies of the card graded in any condition. By comparison, over 3,400 copies of the later Ancient Mew II card have been graded.