Ken Sugimori's Different Signature Styles

Ken Sugimori, the man we all know and love. His signatures are very widely sought after and therefor carries an very big premium. Because he is very sought after and the price tag is high, it is now very known that his signature unfortunately is forged a lot. The signature style we’re all aware of is this:

The japanese Kanji combined with both his name in english aswell as (most of the time) the famous Pikachu. I’ve seen other variations here aswell such as Torchic and Charizard. His name in english also has very many tells in the way it is written, some letters are more easy to recognize then others.

A couple of months ago, I talked to a guy (I don’t want to mention his name) who attended the Super Trainer Showdown in 2001, New Jersey. He is as of now not a very big pokemon collector but used to enjoy it as a kid and therefor attended the event and got 2 of his cards signed by Ken Sugimori. When he first showed them to me I wasn’t sure what I was looking at since they were not at all like the signature style above. Knowing he had very little knowledge of the pokemon market aswell as being a genuine cool guy who wasn’t even looking to sell them, I had a hard time not believing him. The signatures looks like this:

The absence of the Kanji aswell as a signature in lowercase letters makes these stand out.

When looking through smpratte’s guide to autographed pokemon (Autographed/Signed Pokemon Cards (Ken Sugimori)) he includes a picture of this signature style on a Machamp card and mentions that “This signature appears quite frequently” and that is for a reason I believe.

The other day I came across an ebay listing for a sugimori signed piece with this type of signature style. This is NOT the person above with the 2 other cards which makes these 2 persons independent sources. This was also a guy who even lives in New Jersey and also attended the event as a kid and got his card signed. With 2 independent sources showing the exact same signature style and both claiming the cards were signed in 2001 New Jersey (Which is something we lack knowledge of Sugimoris early signature style, to my knowledge). Here is the card listed on ebay the other day:

I would therefor say that this was his signatures style at that event and that these should not be thought of as forged signatures just because they don’t resemble the one at the top we all know of.

Please let me know what you think about this, I am very eager to hear your guys opinion on this matter as well as what you think of the 3 signed cards. Thanks!

EDIT: Just saw that the Machamp card smpratte referenced in his post surfaced on ebay with a PSA AUTHENTIC label, Ebay item nr 324396614433. Seller also claims the card was signed in 2001 on the Super Trainer Showdown in New Jersey!

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I haven’t had a chance to get a hold of any of his beautiful artwork first hand I hope one day to be able to afford a nice signed promo 13 venusaur but I don’t know if any exist! I have just begun practicing replicas of his works of his pokemon after seeing @liron painting some! He’s always been the most influential artist to me in the tcg growing up. My renditions are crude but I still enjoy them!

Here’s that thread too if anyone is interested and hasn’t seen it

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I would love to meet him, and have him sign one of my Gym Challenge cards. He did such an amazing job with the artwork in that set. I kind of like the lighter/earlier version of his signature, I think it allows the card to stand out more.


@apanrune , I think you are absolutely correct. This signature has surfaced many times, sometimes from people that are not looking to sell. They (all?) say they were attendees at the New Jersey event. I’m sure it is an earlier style.

Here are a few more examples:

Erika’s Clefairy:

Blaine’s Charizard (previously purchased and then sold by TCA Gaming - claimed to have seen a photo of the original owner having it signed, but unable to find the photo unfortunately):

Chansey (See third image in post #5, owned by a forum member from years ago):


I also have pictures of:

– Surge’s Pikachu (Japanese, no pikachu drawing)
– Mew promo (no pikachu drawing)
– Rocket’s Mewtwo
– Lapras
– Jungle Pikachu
– Nidoking

I was hoping that the community would continue thinking these are fakes and manage to pick some up cheap :stuck_out_tongue: – but they are rarer than the signature everyone knows. The Machamp is the first instance I’ve seen for sale in a while - thanks for sharing it.

Edit: here is the blastoise for anyone interested:

No wonder it slipped under the radar for me - “signed by artist” isn’t in my search terms

I agree that these are more than likely legitimate signatures signed at the Super Trainer Showdown.

The only issue I have with these are we have no hard evidence to prove it. Sure we have word of mouth, and word of mouth is how a long of oddities in the hobby get their provenance, but without something like a photo of the signing or actual documentation of this being a early signature of his, I am not as “eager” to defend or endorse them.

With the 2004+ signature we all know and love today, there’s multiple photos as well as documentation in multiple art books and even videos that solidify the legitimacy of his signature.

I was second highest bidder on this :sob:


It looks like PSA now recognizes this version of his signature: