Many MTG players consider Black Lotus to be the rarest card in existence, but its rather obvious nowadays that this simply isn’t true anymore. That title now, in part, goes to The One Ring’s one of one serialized variant, opened by MTG player Brooke Trafton and sold to Post Malone for two million dollars.
Since The One Ring was only birthed into Magic recently considering its 30-year anniversary the Black Lotus should be the rarest MTG card ever printed before Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth released in June, right? That’s technically not true.
While there is technically another one of one card in existence titled 1996 World Champion which was awarded to the… 1996 MTG World Champion, there are some other cards that are technically rarer than Black Lotus. In fact, one of them went for sale this week!
There is definitely going to be a subset of MTG players who have never heard of Splendid Genesis. That’s because this card is not legal for constructed play. Splendid Genesis is a card we’ve discussed in the past as it seemingly reappeared around this time last year as well.
To reiterate, Splendid Genesis did not see a normal release. This is instead a card that was gifted by Richard Garfield to 110 of his close friends to celebrate the birth of his child, a girl named Terry. This is well-defined in Splendid Genesis’s artwork and effect, essentially allowing players to introduce a third player into the game.
Notably, there are two different variants of Splendid Genesis. The more common with a known quantity of 110 copies looks more like a regular card. There is a much rarer version of this card with square corners that is abnormally thick. Sadly, we do not know how many copies of these there are. The card first appeared in 1997.
Last year, one of the rarer iterations of Splendid Genesis went on sale for auction. Fortunately, for those who are interested in buying this piece of MTG history, it is once again available on the well-renowned Hareruya MTG shop.
The Current Sale
Earlier this week, for the first time in almost a year, a copy of Splendid Genesis was identified to be for sale. The current asking price for this card on Hareruya’s shop is 10,000,000 JPY. This converts to about $68,400 USD. The sale appears to be for a copy of one of the more common Splendid Genesis variants in lightly played condition. That said, we cannot confirm this.
Since this card is unplayable in actual games of MTG without a Rule Zero conversation, collectors are likely to be the only ones interested in purchasing this copy of Splendid Genesis. The card doesn’t have the best effect in-game either, but that’s not the point of it. Splendid Genesis is a way for MTG creator Richard Garfield to immortalize one of the biggest moments of his life. That is the history that this card holds.
Wait… There’s a Cycle?
Splendid Genesis is actually part of a larger incomplete cycle of cards highlighting major points in Richard Garfield’s life.
Fraternal Exaltation is another card celebrating the birth of another of Richard Garfield’s children. This time, Fraternal Exaltation showed up in 1999 celebrating the birth of Schuyler. There are a few more copies of Fraternal Exaltation available than Splendid Genesis, numbering 220.
Proposal is the white card in this cycle that Richard Garfield literally used to successfully propose to his girlfriend Lily in a game of Magic. The following quote comes from our past article discussing these cards:
“There are, apparently, only nine of these in existence. Garfield wanted to propose to Lily while playing a game of MTG with her and cast the card within the game. Ironically, the story goes that Garfield could not draw the spell for three games in a row, with Lily asking him if he wanted to stop because he couldn’t win with the deck he was playing. He eventually legally casted the card in his fourth game, where his proposal was successful. Garfield did not want this card to be distributed, so it just about disappeared after the proposal itself.”
With only nine copies in existence, Proposal is the rarest card in this MTG cycle, while also being one of the rarest cards in the game’s history.
How Many Copies of Black Lotus Exist?
Even though Splendid Genesis is rarer than Black Lotus, Black Lotus remains the more expensive card of the two. Unlike Splendid Genesis, Black Lotus can legally see play in the Vintage format. While players don’t necessarily need this card to play the format, excluding it puts you at a significant disadvantage.
When discussing only the legal copies of Black Lotus for sanctioned play, the card saw three printings in Alpha, Beta and Unlimited. The commonly accepted number is that roughly 22,800 Black Lotus cards were printed between these copies, which is a lot more than the extremely limited number of this cycle of promotional cards celebrating major milestones in Richard Garfield’s life.
Back in the day, however, Black Lotus was not what it is now. I’ve heard plenty of stories from older players who played since the beginning of using Black Lotus for things like putting the card in your bike’s back wheel to make motorcycle sounds. Even though thousands of copies of Black Lotus saw print, a lot less of those are still available today.
There are also even rarer versions of Black Lotus available. The $800,000 Black Lotus that Post Malone owns, for example, is an Artist Proof signed by Christopher Rush. These copies never saw a pack release, only Rush himself has access to these copies of the card.
Either way, it is certainly interesting to see one of Magic’s rarest items available on the open market. It will certainly be out of the price range for many, but we can only hope whoever does end up with Splendid Genesis can truly appreciate it.