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Magic the Gathering Trading Cards

There are many trading card games that have been created over the years, but not many have been more popular than Magic the Gathering. This strategy-based, spell-casting game is officially the oldest “collectable” card game in the world, meaning the cards are sought after in auction houses. Magic the Gathering paved the way for collectable trading card games such as Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh!, which are perhaps some of the most well-known examples seen nowadays. Our team here at Cullens of Surrey, led by Derrick, have over a decade of passion and expertise in Magic the Gathering, so if you’re looking for valuations or advice on your trading cards, you’re in the right place.

Background Information: Magic the Gathering

Magic the Gathering (MTG) is regarded as the first true modern trading card game, and the first “collectable” trading card game where cards were available to purchase in packs. This 1993-born game, created by US mathematician Richard Garfield, is full of strategies, spells and creatures which have captivated many players, encouraging communities of MTG enthusiasts who compete in a variety of different tournaments.

Cards from this game are sought after in auction houses, due to the fact that they were the first of their kind in modern-day collectable trading cards. There were two early sets, called “Limited Edition Alpha” and “Limited Edition Beta”, with Alpha selling out first, followed by Beta. Being a limited edition, these cards are more valuable at resale than those that are not classed as limited edition, so they are the ones to keep an eye on in auction houses. Alpha and Beta cards have a black border, with the former containing 295 cards, and the latter having 302 cards.

Magic the Gathering is still a popular game today, making original cards even more desirable and valuable. New cards are created every year, integrating the long-serving fanbase with new players, young and old. These cards include different sets of rules, mechanics and themes based on their format, such as Commander, Booster Draft, Pioneer and Standard. On the MTG website, online ways of playing have been introduced, such as “MTG Arena”.

High-Value Sales

Like many trading card games, there are often standout cards which are much more valuable than others; MTG is no different. In 2023, the “Black Lotus” card sold for a staggering $540,000 (£428,000) at auction, breaking the 2021 record which was set by the same card. This trading card is one of the most expensive cards ever to exist across any game, most likely due to its rarity from the original Limited Edition Alpha pack, as well as the significant power it grants players who use it in-game. In fact, it is banned from being used in most tournaments because of those abilities that players are granted.

Most cards from the Alpha and Beta packs are valuable - a common theme for most first-edition trading cards.

PSA Grading

The PSA Grading System is used amongst collectors and valuers to determine the quality of trading cards, which is essential for determining their value. The system follows a number of different scores, considering factors such as how sharp the corners are, the quality of the gloss surface, if there are any stains, and so on. These are the PSA scores for trading cards:-

  • GEM-MT 10: Gem Mint

  • MINT 9: Mint
  • NM-MT 8: Near Mint-Mint
  • NM 7: Near Mint
  • EX-MT 6: Excellent-Mint
  • EX 5: Excellent
  • VG-EX 4: Very Good-Excellent
  • VG 3: Very Good
  • GOOD 2: Good
  • FR 1.5: Fair
  • PR 1: Poor

Fake Cards

Unfortunately, scammers create counterfeit Magic the Gathering trading cards to try and con people into buying high-priced cards, falsifying their true value. We offer a comprehensive appraisal service for trading cards, but it is worth knowing the signs of a fake card yourself, so you can avoid the chances of obtaining one;

  • Avoiding sellers with either no or poor feedback on sites such as eBay is a good first step if you’re purchasing online.

  • Watch out for aged reprints, where cards are soaked in a liquid to give them a more vintage look; this is a common counterfeit action.

  • Language errors and misspells are another red flag for fake cards, as well as dodgy-looking borders around the card.

  • Use a torch to assess the quality of hologram cards, and look to see how thin the card seems; if light passes through easily, this is often a sign that it is fake.

Looking to Sell With Us?

If you have Magic the Gathering trading cards that you’re looking to sell or indeed any other collectables, we offer various routes of sale, such as auctions, direct purchasing or third party sellers. You can read about each selling route in more detail here.

Do You Have Any Further Questions?

At Cullens of Surrey, we have over 15 years of expertise in antiques, mid-century furniture, toys, trading cards and collectables. If you want to know more about our trading card expertise, valuations, or any other parts of antique auctions, please feel free to get in touch with us.