A Short History Of Black Lotus, MTG’s Rarest Card

A Short History Of Black Lotus, MTG’s Rarest Card

Most Magic: The Gathering (MTG) players will be aware of the mystique of Black Lotus. The rarest card the game has ever seen, it was a mere flash in the pan in terms of how long it was actually in circulation. But it’s still considered to be incredibly special — here’s why.

What is the Black Lotus?

Black Lotus was one of the cards from the original MTG Alpha and Beta core sets back in 1993.

It was one of the cards known as the Power Nine that were all printed at the same time. As the name suggests, these were incredibly powerful cards. They consisted of:

  • Black Lotus
  • Ancestral Recall
  • Time Walk
  • Mox Pearl
  • Mox Sapphire
  • Mox Jet
  • Mox Ruby
  • Mox Emerald
  • Timetwister

Black Lotus was so powerful because it granted the player three mana at zero cost before being discarded. This provided a huge early-game advantage, allowing the player to ramp up what they could get on the table at an exponential rate.

Considering you could have up to four Black Lotus in your deck, it was incredible broken. And beautiful.

Unsurprisingly, Black Lotus was not brought back in subsequent editions of MTG. It was also banned in almost all official tournament formats. The only public exception is Vintage, but that format limits players to one Black Lotus per deck.

Why is it so expensive?

black lotus
Image: Alex Walker (Kotaku Australia)

In the subsequent three decades since its release, the Black Lotus has become a coveted MTG card and collectors item. Black Lotus cards were ever printed across the Alpha and Beta editions so it stands to reason that they would be in high demand.

And we do mean high.

Since its printing was so limited, there are comparatively few left in the world. Some estimate that less than 5,000 are still out there.

and over the past few years the value of mint condition copies of Black Lotus have grown considerably.

Back in 2019 Alpha version of Black Lotus sold at auction for $US1166,000, which is almost $215,000. It had a Beckett Authentication Services (BAS) rating of 9.5 out of 10, meaning it was incredibly close to being in perfect condition.

In early 2021 this record was beaten by a mint Alpha version of the card. It was sold on eBay for $US$511,100, which is around $663,000.

In addition to this particular Black Lotus being free of chips and scratches, the case was signed by artist Christopher Rush, who unfortunately passed away in 2016.

black lotus
The signed copy of Black Lotus that sold on eBay for over $US511,000.

While it may seem like the only way to get a Black Lotus these days is to buy one, some fans have gotten lucky.

Back in 2014 one fan did an unboxing video of an old booster deck and managed to pull a Black Lotus worth around $US27,000 at the time. Let’s hope he held onto it.

Most of us, however, will have to make do with less rare decks. And if you’ve found yourself hankering for some MTG, the new Kaldheim expansion is out now.


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