CGC Trading Cards Certifies a Pokémon Growlithe with a Magic Back

Posted on 3/17/2021

Saved from destruction during the production process, this awesome rarity appeals to both Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering collectors.

CGC Trading Cards recently graded the only known example of a Pokémon Growlithe from the 1999 German Base Set with a Magic: The Gathering back! This incredible error card was inadvertently created during a time when Wizards of the Coast (WotC) printed both Pokémon and Magic cards. Collectors have an exciting opportunity to bid on this unique card in an upcoming Heritage Auction sale starting on April 1, 2021.

In 1999, Pokémon mania was gripping the world. The Base set was issued in numerous different languages, including English, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish. At the time, WotC owned the rights to manufacture and distribute Pokémon cards in all languages except Japanese. This license was awarded to WotC due in part to its experience and success with the Magic trading cards game.

Unsurprisingly, the same print facilities that WotC contracted to print Pokémon cards were also producing Magic cards, which led to this error.

First Edition Growlithe from the 1999 German Pokémon Base Set with a Magic back.
Click images to enlarge

The conspicuous card was submitted to CGC Trading Cards after it was previously verified by another third-party grading service. One of only 10 known examples with this error, the other nine are four Nidoran cards, two Tangela cards, two Weedle cards and one Arcanine card. All known examples were cut on the same day at a pack-out facility. These facilities are where some printers send their uncut sheets to be cut into individual cards. The cards’ corners are then rounded, and they are placed into packs.

An eagle-eyed employee at the pack-out facility caught the error cards just after the initial cutting phase, and all of the affected cards were pulled from production before they made it to the corner rounder and into booster packs. Most of the cards were destroyed, but apparently this employee saved 10 of them. While stories are nice, CGC Trading Cards always conducts the research necessary to ensure the authenticity of every card graded.

Close-up of the error Growlithe card.
Click image to enlarge

Demonstrated in the photo above, the rosette patterns are very clear and crisp. These printing patterns show that this card was produced with original printing plates on the same type of press used for Pokémon and Magic cards. Any counterfeit or copy would not be able to replicate the exact rosette patterns without the original plates and inks.

Edge of the Growlithe with a Magic back.
Click image to enlarge

The edge of the card shows the internal structure of the cardstock used by the printer. Considering that the backs of trading cards are printed first, it is not surprising that the card has the normal blue core of Magic cardstock as opposed to the black core seen on non-holo Pokémon cards of the era. In the above photo, the bottom shows a thin black line, which is the back of the Magic card. Continuing upwards, there is a layer of white paper, a blue core, another layer of white paper and, finally, a thin yellow line — the border of the Pokémon card.

Back of the Growlithe error card (left) and a normal Magic card of the same era (right) under UV light.
Click images to enlarge.

The back of the error card reacts to ultraviolet light in exactly the same manner as another Magic card of the same era. This shows that both the cardstock and the inks used to print this card are the same, which further proves the legitimacy of this example.

Close-ups of the back of the Growlithe (left) and a normal Magic card of the era (right).
Click images to enlarge

Finally, one of the key points many people look for to determine the authenticity of a Magic card is the rosette pattern on the back. While the black ink on the Growlithe’s back is slightly heavier, it is well within normal tolerances, and the key “constellation” of tiny red dots is clearly visible within the green dot’s shine.

CGC Trading Cards applies the same professional expertise and advanced technology used to authenticate and grade comic books, coins and currency to the world of collectible trading cards. Our experts have authenticated and graded many rarities once thought to be fake, including four prototype Blastoises, one of which sold for a record $360,000 at auction!


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