What are Pokemon Error Cards?
Error cards or misprints are cards that have incorrect printing elements ranging from missing or additional text/ink, more or less holo than normal, square corners, miscuts, and more. Some are the result of errors in the printing process (e.g.,miscuts, ink or holo issues) or human error (e.g., missing information on the card such as damage or stage). Errors are usually quickly fixed by the printer leading to varying degrees of collectability. Errors that aren’t quickly corrected lead to higher populations of those cards and are considered less collectable/valuable. Errors can be designated as corrected (generally more desirable) or uncorrected (generally less desirable). Corrected errors usually have lower populations while uncorrected have higher populations. Today we'll take a look at a few of those errors that are the most commonly related to issues in the printing/cutting quality control.
What are some Common Errors?
Bulbapedia has an extensive list of corrected and uncorrected errors going all the way back to Base set including information about possibly misidentified errors such as the Base set Red Cheeks Pikachu which is a less common version of the Yellow Cheeks Pikachu. The card was originally printed with red cheeks but was later changed to yellow as was the intention of Mitsuhiro Arita, the artist behind the card’s artwork. Regardless of whether this is a legitimate error or not, the Red Cheeks version is still considered more desirable by collectors and a great card to have in your collection. You can definitely go down a rabbit hole researching human generated errors such as the Red Cheeks Pikachu so we will save that for another day!
Instead, let's focus on some easier to identify and more common errors that be found in nearly every set of Pokemon cards because they are related to the quality control of the printing/cutting process not based on the colors or information printed on the card. These errors are easy to spot even to new collectors such as square cut corners versus the correct die cut (rounded) corners or OC (off center)/ miscut cards where the card clearly did not line up properly when cut from a large sheet of cards into single cards resulting in significantly off-center cutting of the card or in some cases, cards comprised of two halves of different cards. All Pokemon cards are manufactured in what are called "uncut sheets" which are essentially a really large sheet filled with cards which are then cut by machine into the cards we pull from packs. Miscuts can be classified as minor miscut, miscut, and major miscut. The minor miscut is essentially what looks like a really off center card. A miscut is not only off center but also includes part of a neighboring card and a major miscut includes as least two neighboring cards from the sheet.
Holo errors are also fairly easy to spot. Double-holo patterns, while rare, happen when the holo pattern is applied twice in the printing process. Holo bleed happens when the holo pattern is printed over the entirety of the card instead of just the holo section of the card. This happens more frequently than double-holo patterns and is desirable just from an aesthetic perspective even if there is not a ton of value added to the card.
Can you Grade Error Cards?
Yes! Most error cards can be graded and some errors are even recognized and noted on the graded label. CGC Cards is considered a leader in the graded error card space and has extensive information about different errors commonly seen in TCG. They also provide some great visual examples of less common errors related to the printing process such as too much ink, not enough ink, missing surface texture, etc. PSA accepts error cards for grading if the error will not affect the card’s overall grade, they do not always accept what they would consider misprints (e.g., an error in the printing process such as a miscut, typo, or incorrect printing). The safest bet when grading with PSA is to reach out to their customer support prior to submitting an error card for grading.
What Kind of Error Cards should I Collect?
You should collect cards that you like! If you love the look of holo-bleed or double-holo, try to find examples of those cards for your collection. If super miscut, off-center cards are your thing, go for that! There is a huge range of price points for error cards and misprints to fit every budget. Part of the fun of collecting is the search for new cards and if you're looking for a new variant to collect, errors might be your thing! Happy Collecting!