Educating about fake cards. Pokémon Illustrator example

Hello everyone,

Recently I have purchased three Pokémon Illustrator cards from eBay and two of them just arrived. I purchased them for several reasons: I wanted to own at least one fake copy to look at the artwork more closely, I wanted to take them off the market, also to be able to compare the job they did, and point out the differences that stand out so that if similar cards do end up selling again but without an explicit warning that it isn’t authentic, then people are educated to learn the difference and avoid them.

First, allow me to share the seller description of the cards I purchased:

Unfortunately, the cards themselves do not state proxy or custom or fake written anywhere as far as I was able to gather.

Here is the authentic Pokémon Illustrator card (courtesy of Bulbapedia). Keep referencing back to it as you compare the following pictures.

Here are the proxy cards I bought for comparison:

Already from the get go you can see one striking difference: all of the card is glossy and holographic. As a result the colors are slightly changed as well. If you look at the surface closely, you can see that this illustration was likely printed from a normal printer as the usual black/white/grey stripes in the surrounding grey area are more pronounced and look like a cheap print job.

Another thing that should stand out immediately to you is the title! The title is incomplete and only reads “Pokemon Illustra” (the letters ター are missing). Also, the spacing between the letters has been increased.

(Notice the smudge right there in the top right as well)

Additionally, let’s take a closer look at the paintbrush symbol. It’s a completely different symbol, having only the black outline rather than white color with black outline.

One last detail that you need a keen eye and good quality pictures for, is the way the card was made and how it reflects in the back. I think this card features a real pokemon card in the back which had its front wiped off (probably with acetone), and then placed the new fake illustration in the front with a plastification method of some sort. As such, you can actually see the sloppy job of the creator by the way that plastic layer is cut off from the edge of the card, and how there’s excess material left:

edit: as ditto mentioned below, the back is also completely wrong and should feature the old japanese back

And this is not to mention all the centering issues in the cards!

I hope this is a somewhat useful post for existing and future collectors. This particular card had many warning signs and was sold as a proxy, but it’s likely that future cards will become even harder and harder to differentiate and will try to sell as authentic. I foresee that we will have to rely more and more on PSA authentication as a protection layer, and that websites like eBay themselves might only allow PSA-graded copies of these very rare cards in the future.

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@johto99 , thank you for trying to help out the community!

I believe however, there are even better fakes than this that has already been created. I also know you have good intentions trying to get them off the market, but the seller will just print more with the profit they made from selling the illustrator proxy cards.

One noticeable thing you missed…the back is wrong. The pokemon illustrator back would not have the English TCG card back, but have the original Japanese one: (courtesy of Scott’s old pictures)


I can’t believe I missed the back! haha so obvious thanks for point it out! I guess I subconsciously thought it was too obvious to even mention it ^^

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Totally normal, that’s a pretty big rookie mistake for them to use a English tcg card back. Thank you for your contributions regardless :blush:

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You are supporting these producers by purchasing fake cards. I know you’re trying to “help” the community by navigating fake cards, but why not focus your energy on a legitimate part of the hobby and contribute that way?

I appreciate your helpful intentions, but all i see when I view this post is that you just financially supported these fake card pushers and now you’re here all non-chalant framing this like you’re doing the community a good service under the guise of helping us identify fakes.

If I’m coming off as harsh it’s because I have zero tolerance for fake cards.

I wouldn’t have a problem if your sole reason was to help identify qualities of fakes to protect people trying to buy real cards. It’s just that you’ve bundled the “community service” with this degree of support and complacency for fakes.

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Be sure to point these errors out to the seller so he can create a higher quality product.

JK, dont do that. I’m glad there are a LOT of noticeable differences to easily red flag these as fake. Great post for creating a comparison thread, but the idea of buying them to “get them off the market” is akin to the South Park episode where Randy gives a bum some change and then they all have to evacuate the town when all the bums start showing up.

You should make a video of you burning these next! :grin:

I have focused my energy and money on the legitimate part of the hobby. 99.99(9) % of my cards are all authentic. This was the first time I knowingly dealt with fake cards since I had a specific purpose in mind.

Also I did not buy them from a producer as much as I could gather (the seller does not sell any other cards at all), and my “support” has apparently not been sufficient since they haven’t made any new listings even though according to your theory I have shown there is demand for these fake cards and they have an incentive to make more.

PS: I’ll gladly link to the seller and the listing if it helps the community screen off this sort of behaviour in the future.

And contribute to global warming? Then these cards would be twice as damaging!

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I mean, no offense, but we all know its fake. Cards like this, or other fake high end cards are very obvious. Not to mention the listing prices of these cards. I understand you were trying to help, but all you did was buy a fake card and show us the fake card that we could see in the pictures already, while also already knowing its fake, since its a horrible fake.

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All counterfeits do is eliminate the opportunity for someone new. In Rolex watches, high end counterfeits are so abundant that people buy the seller. Meaning they only buy from a handful of sellers. This will be the final step in pokemon, and is already happening.

Two quick pointers for trophies/illustrators:

If anyone is selling an illustrator ungraded, it is fake.

If anyone complains about grading fees for any trophy card, block and ignore them.


Good points smpratte!

Are all 5 illustrators in existent Graded then? Or are you just saying if it’s not graded to not trust it, not that all of them have been graded so far. That didn’t quite make sense but I hope you understand my point :sweat_smile:

5? If I recall correctly there are 39 Pokémon Illustrator cards in existence. And I doubt all of them are graded.

EDIT: 15 Pokémon Illustrator cards are PSA-graded according to their POP-page.


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Those are not the good fakes but even this incompetent goof could get better so don’t support him. By doing so you’re just creating a market for them.

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Would’ve been a good idea to just show us the pictures on the eBay listing. As Gary said above, buying fakes just makes them worthwhile to be sold, so fake-card makers will continue to sell them thinking its profitable.