PSA/DNA Pokemon autograph authentication is in a bad place

Following up from this thread: PSA stopped authentication of Pokemon autographs?

PSA/DNA has started grading Pokemon again. But unfortunately there doesn’t really seem to be an Pokemon expert at the helm. The previous expert engaged in questionable behavior but at least he knew his stuff. For example, many previously graded fake autos were removed from the PSA database:

https://www.psacard.com/cert/45224882

However, they seem to be currently lacking any expertise. Here are a couple of examples among many others I’ve seen.

https://www.psacard.com/cert/84589968/psa (still live)

This sketch to me is very clearly not Himeno, and if you don’t want to take my word for it, she also said it was not legitimate on Twitter

It’s also part of a series of similar looking forgeries all coming from one source. Here’s another one:

In contrast here is a legitimate one

Here’s another one that the artist calls out directly for being fake. The auto looks off to me too. But in this case it looks like PSA has done the right thing and deactivated the certs after the fact psacard.com/cert/85485235

Here is another example

The signature off, every single character deviates from the standard Arita autograph.

Real:

There’s never any guarantee that an autograph is real or not ‐ maybe Arita was being super lazy. (Edit: I’ve also been told this one is potentially real). But an autograph has to stand on its own merits to be authenticated, there is no reason to encapsulate such a questionable autograph.

This is part of a larger order

I have seen many more examples. PSA/DNA is not currently in a position of competence. Forgeries are on the rise and are getting better and better, because the auto premium is so high. If you can trick PSA, you can basically write yourself a check for $1000 per card.

My advice has always been to treat a PSA auto as if it was ungraded. For a brief period of time where I had more value placed on their opinion but unfortunately that does not seem to be the situation today. As always, the context of who got the autograph and from where is most important. Or better yet, save your money and get your owm autographs done in person!

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Great write up! Also something to note on the Himenos; in addition to using a different pen, the date format are also flipped differently and coincidentally are written on the same day.

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Personally for me, It’s getting to a point where it’s starting to feel like a boycott of sending autographed cards in may need to take place.

It doesn’t feel right or make sense to send my autographs to a company that doesn’t actually have any expertise on them, just for the sake of a plastic slab that’s losing its credibility by the day.

The sad truth is PSA relied too much on one persons expertise, for what seems like huge majority of Pokemon autographs, and the cracks are starting to show now with them authenticating again.

Idk what it will take to wake them up and start making a real effort to roll the ball for getting someone in the building, who not only knows what they’re doing, but also has a genuine interest in this part of the hobby.

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As if there wasnt enough drama and struggle around pokemon artists and their autographs. Id one day like to get an autograph myself but fake autographs like this is quite sad and Im sure turns off artists from doing signings.

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The nice thing is that when you get it done yourself, there’s never a question of the legitimacy and you directly support the artist financially. Using PSA or valuing their opinion is also optional.

But I know a lot of people just want to buy an auto on the secondary market and this is primarily a warning for them

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Quick question. Isn’t there like a field in like signatures and how people write and stuff? I would assume that PSA would be hiring people who specialize in this field for autographs. If they are, how are these signatures getting past them? is the science just a bunch of mumbo jumbo gut feelings?

Honestly, I have no idea on how exactly this field of study goes besides those criminal TV shows with like ink depth, smoothness etc etc. It would be great if we could get some insight from someone who studied in this field.

Good to see some certs have been deactivated. Hopefully there is recourse for people that were misled.

Despite this there are still many more Sugimoris that I feel should get the same treatment.

Autograph ‘authentication’ has no influence on my purchases – it’s only useful for having cards protected and serial numbered.

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Imagine you’re a medical examiner and you are expertly trained on identifying the cause of death of people.

Now image 100 people die every day and you have to make a determination on all of them. Will you be capable of maintaining a professional level of expertise at this volume?

There has to be some heuristics in place to perform the job if you’re giving a 60 second opinion on an autograph.

And as @swolepoke mentions below, they aren’t hiring forensic-level analysts.

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Unfortunately these Authenticators have a starting pay of something like 50-60k a year… I don’t think anyone who went to school for this sort of thing would even consider taking a position for that amount.

PSA often heavily relies on enthusiast of the hobby and the knowledge they have acquired on their own.

It’s not something that difficult to self learn or teach, but I would say the starting point is you need to have a genuine love and interest in the hobby as your foundation if you truly want to be an “expert” in the field.

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The show Pawn Stars has a signature guy coming to authenticate signed stuff. They basically have a what I assume, large database of sample signatures to compare with. Besides that they also verify the ink, smoothness of the strokes etc to make sure it is all actual signature strokes as compared to someone trying to make a copy.

I got this from a highly dramatized TV show but I am sure experts know what they are doing.

Cheers!

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I brought this topic up in Scott’s Patreon last Q&A. I really hope the can find someone eventually. If things like this continue, this will definitely negatively impact their brand.

However, I saw that they have been authenticating more autos as of late, so I decided to submit another submission of 9 cards (Fuse, Ariga, Arita, and Harada) to see if any of these will be graded this time. I sent it together with my February special order, so it wouldn’t be a complete waste if they all came back inconclusive again.

Hopefully they grade actual legit autos this time rather than terrible fakes.

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What terrifies me the most about this whole ordeal is the fact that there are plenty of people in this hobby who do know signatures well enough to take this position. Though they won’t as swole mentioned due to the quality of pay.

If fakes this obvious are making it through, then someone with knowledge and skill could easily make signatures that would pass all day regardless of how much training Psa have the authenticator

Currently if it wasn’t for the artists and the community calling this stuff out Psa would be none the wiser

Short answer Psa doesn’t pay enough for someone truly qualified to take the position and it will take far too long for someone to gain the knowledge they need to be successful. At that point to much fake trash will have gotten through and the reputation will be ruined

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Maybe E4 grading should be more than a meme. :sweat_smile:

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The reason the previous guy, Seth, was so competent was because he actually went to signing events, had autographs (sold autographs :sweat_smile:), active on Instagram and was part of like private Discord servers were people discuss autographs. So his opinion was informed by a lot of stuff happening at the ground level.

Currently there is no one even remotely comparable at PSA afaik.

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The process of “authenticating” is a complete joke. Any one of us can grab a card, draw it to the best of our ability, send it in and it having a high probability of getting slabbed.

Clearly their objective is to make the shareholders happy. Profits over everything at the expense of their reputation. My autos have been going in a binder for sometime. It’s not worth them fumbling the ball.

I’ll send my resume🫡

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I Wonder if PSA will run into any of these in the future. Still can’t believe some of these even sold. Prices would be a dream if these were real :joy:


This is pretty sad. Too many bad people in the hobby

A lot of it is coming from a pretty specific geographical region

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it all comes down to money. if autos were worthless no one would bother to try.